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Inextricable

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Zhao Yunlan ducked back from the window so that he was out of sight, swearing under his breath. Damnit, Guo Changcheng just had to fall from the window right when someone who looked like he was in a position of authority was walking by. If that person lodged a complaint against the S.I.D. for reckless behavior, he would be in deep trouble. At the very least, he would have to write a report. Uggh, please, no. 

Well, okay, Wang Zheng would write the report, but still! It was the principle of the matter! More reports were always A Bad Thing. 

Time to smooth down some potentially ruffled feathers. 

He was dashing down the stairs with Da Qing by his side when an idea occurred to him. “Hey, go down there and act cute.”

“What,” Da Qing said, offended.

“You know, act cute. Distract the guy a bit. We need to soften him up,” Zhao Yunlan told him. “Meow a little or something.”

Making a sound of disgust, Da Qing nonetheless transformed into his cat form mid-step and bounded the rest of the way down the stairs ahead of Zhao Yunlan. 

With the distraction in motion, Zhao Yunlan made his way out of the building at leisure, casually strolling up when he saw the man bending down to pet Da Qing. Looked like the damn cat’s charms worked after all.

“Aiyo, I’ve never seen him behave so cat-like before,” Zhao Yunlan said as he approached them, crouching down to stroke Da Qing’s furry head. He noticed that the man was scratching under Da Qing’s chin, quite expertly too. Clearly he was familiar with cats. “Hey, what happened?” he murmured to Da Qing, pretending that this hadn’t been his plan from the start. 

Then he looked up to see the man looking right at him, before the stranger ducked his head. 

Holy fuck. 

Zhao Yunlan wished the stranger hadn’t ducked his head, because Zhao Yunlan needed at least another ten hours of staring at that face. 

This person, crouched down in front of him, petting Da Qing with gentle hands, was easily the most beautiful man Zhao Yunlan had ever seen in his life. 

With his dark hair neatly parted to the side and thin wire-framed spectacles sitting on his straight, high nose, this stranger looked to be every inch a respectable professor. If respectable professors also looked like they were ready to step onto a catwalk at any moment. He had unbelievably smooth, pale skin, and cheekbones to murder for. His dark eyes were framed by lovely long lashes, and they seemed impossibly deep and soulful from the much too brief glimpse Zhao Yunlan had caught of them. Those pink lips that had been parted with surprise looked like they should be kissed every single hour of every day. Preferably by Zhao Yunlan. 

A beautiful man, with a beautiful face and beautiful eyes. 

Zhao Yunlan willed him to look up, so that he could see more of him. 

“He’s very intelligent. What’s his name?” the man asked, glancing up from beneath his lashes. That look combined with that deep, delicious voice… It was a bit much. It didn’t seem fair that someone like this even existed

“Yes, his name is Da Qing, nicknamed Damn Cat. You can also call him fattie,” Zhao Yunlan said as he watched the man in front of him. 

The stranger looked up again, smiling almost involuntarily before looking away. 

Zhao Yunlan’s heart thudded in his chest. Was he having a heart attack? Not that it mattered. The more important question was how could he get this person to smile at him again? 

He shooed Da Qing away absent-mindedly, knowing he would pay dearly for that later, and straightened up. The other person followed suit. Zhao Yunlan’s eyes did a quick once-over and what the hell, did all professors dress like that nowadays? The man had on tight tan pants with a form-fitting gray vest over a white dress shirt, his sleeves folded up to reveal lean but muscled forearms. And there were these sleeve garters. Zhao Yunlan didn’t even know such a thing existed, but now that he did, he knew they were going to be starring in several of his fantasies from now on. He wanted to bite them. 

He needed to know this person’s name, the better to know what to call out in his fantasies. Putting on his most charming yet professional smile, Zhao Yunlan said, “Oh, I forgot to introduce myself, my surname is Zhao, and I’m here for the case. What’s your name, sir?”

The faintest smile touched the man’s lips and he said, “My name is Shen Wei, and I teach here.” He held up the files in his hand as if to prove his words.

“Shen Wei,” Zhao Yunlan repeated, his mouth moving on autopilot as he drank in this Shen Wei’s face and voice. “That is a good name.” And it really was. A good strong name to match a masculine beauty such as this. 

Shen Wei looked a little dazed at that, lashes lowering as he blinked slowly. Zhao Yunlan wondered if he was laying it on a little thick, so he hurriedly handed over his business card. 

Deciding he should retreat now and gather his thoughts, and okay, maybe also because he did have a case to get back to, he held out a hand for a handshake and said, “Please contact me if you want to discuss anything...about the case I mean.”

Shen Wei clasped his hand and smiled warmly. “Alright.”

His grip was firm, a good handshake. Under Zhao Yunlan’s palm, he thought Shen Wei’s skin felt smooth, a little cool for the temperature outside. Then he realized that Shen Wei was still holding onto his hand even as Zhao Yunlan started to pull away after the requisite amount of time generally involved in a handshake. 

Zhao Yunlan looked at Shen Wei in surprise, and was amused to see Shen Wei staring at him, as if entranced, before his expression shifted to startled embarrassment, and he quickly let go of Zhao Yunlan’s hand. Now, Zhao Yunlan was very intrigued. Was Shen Wei just as interested in him? But it seemed more like Shen Wei was looking at him with...expectation. Which was strange. He could have sworn he had never met Shen Wei before, but there was something in the way Shen Wei looked at him…

It was possible that he had just forgotten this particular pretty face… Possible, if he had met Shen Wei and then immediately been hit by a car, leaving him with brain damage, which was the only conceivable way he could ever have forgotten such a person.

“Is he alright?” Shen Wei asked, looking at Guo Changcheng who was dusting dirt off his pants and giving Zhao Yunlan a hurt look. Zhao Yunlan ignored it. 

“He’s fine,” Zhao Yunlan said dismissively, smiling. He turned. “He’s good at—” Zhao Yunlan cut himself off abruptly. 

Because he had just turned around to come face-to-face with Shen Wei again. Was he seeing double? Seeing the same beautiful man everywhere? Was his mind that obsessed already?

But then his dumbfounded brain kicked into gear. This wasn’t Shen Wei, but it was someone whose face looked almost exactly the same as Shen Wei’s. The similarities were just as breathtaking, the differences were startling. This person had longer hair, an eye-catching shade of silver, pulled into a short ponytail. His features were just as fine, his skin just as inhumanly beautiful, his soft lips just as sweet and pink. But his expression was far less reserved, shock written all over his face. 

Unlike Shen Wei’s well-tailored formal clothing, he was wearing a pair of form-fitting dark jeans with an open-collared white shirt tucked into the waist, and a long thigh-length jacket over the top. He looked more casual but no less beautiful than Shen Wei. 

The longer Zhao Yunlan stared, the more he realized it wasn’t just a resemblance. Their beautiful faces were exactly the same. 

Twin brothers? 

This other person who was also the most beautiful man in the world stared at Zhao Yunlan with complete surprise on his face. Zhao Yunlan had no idea what he had done to have earned this amount of scrutiny, but he was glad it gave him more time to think this through. Now he knew for sure he hadn’t met these two before. There was no possible way he had met a pair of twins as beautiful as these and forgotten about them. Not even a head injury would be sufficient to induce such memory loss. 

The other person opened his mouth. “Kun—”

Shen Wei interrupted. “Ye Zun, this is Chief Zhao from S.I.D. who is working on the murder case on campus. Chief Zhao, this is my brother who also teaches here, Ye Zun.”

Ye Zun’s open mouth audibly snapped shut. He stared at Zhao Yunlan with an intensity bordering on violent, his eyes boring into Zhao Yunlan’s face before giving him a very distinct, deliberate look from head to toe. 

What on earth was going on?

Zhao Yunlan was not modest about his own good looks, but he had never garnered this kind of stunned rabbit surprise followed by intense interest from anyone he had just met. Not even when he squeezed into his sluttiest jeans and went on the prowl for a quick fuck. The mysterious lingering gaze coming from Shen Wei was strange enough, receiving it from his twin Ye Zun as well was downright bizarre. 

“Chief Zhao. From S.I.D.,” Ye Zun repeated, a strange emphasis on Zhao Yunlan’s department. 

“Yes,” Shen Wei murmured. 

Finally, Ye Zun stopped staring at Zhao Yunlan and instead looked over at Shen Wei. They exchanged a long, wordless conversation before Ye Zun started forward towards Shen Wei. Except Zhao Yunlan was standing between the twins, so Ye Zun ended up brushing right against Zhao Yunlan to get to Shen Wei’s side. 

It wasn’t a testosterone-driven collision that some men did to prove that they had bigger dicks. No, Ye Zun angled his body slightly so he wasn’t slamming into Zhao Yunlan, but he didn’t step to the side to avoid contact either. It meant he brushed right up against Zhao Yunlan’s side as he passed. He was close enough that Zhao Yunlan breathed in his sharp cologne, felt his firm body press fleetingly against his own, before Ye Zun was by Shen Wei’s side instead. 

When Zhao Yunlan turned after a brief moment having frozen in place, he saw that Ye Zun had put an arm around Shen Wei’s shoulders, his face bent unusually close to his brother’s. 

“Are you alright, gege?” Ye Zun murmured, his tone so concerned and warm that Zhao Yunlan felt inexplicably like blushing, like this was much too private for an outside observer such as himself. 

Shen Wei turned to Ye Zun and smiled. “I’m alright. What about you, didi?”

“A little surprised, but I’m fine as well. Don’t worry about me.”

Were all twins so...affectionate with each other? Did they all go around draping themselves over each other, saying ‘gege’ and ‘didi’ with that deep warmth in their voices? 

Zhao Yunlan tried to tell himself not to indulge in base fantasies in broad daylight, but it was much too late for his perverted brain. 

He tried to wrench his mind back into work mode. Why were they asking each other that? Why were they both so concerned? It seemed a little much for it to be over this brief encounter with the head of S.I.D., unless they had something to hide. But why would they openly talk about it in front of him?

Oh wait, maybe their concern was over the dead body found on campus. Right. Yes. Not everything was about him. Zhao Yunlan really needed to stop thinking with his dick. 

And he really needed to stop thinking about his dick with two hot twins in front of him. 

Feeling faintly embarrassed at his own train of thought, Zhao Yunlan decided it was high time to escape and said, “I had better get going.”

“Yes, of course,” Shen Wei said, nodding. 

Ye Zun looked at him with an inscrutable expression, before saying, “We’ll be in touch.”

In touch over what? 

Zhao Yunlan decided if he asked, he might never leave. He might ask never to leave. 

He most definitely needed some time to put his brain in order, as best as he possibly could. With that in mind, Zhao Yunlan promptly turned on his heel and fled. 

~ * ~

“Get your mind out of the gutter, Lao Zhao,” Da Qing hissed at him, slinking out from behind a tree, already back in human form.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Zhao Yunlan proclaimed loftily as they headed towards the science faculty building to speak to the witness who had found the body. 

“Please, you smelled like you were in heat when you saw the twins,” Da Qing said, making a face as he waved a hand in front of his nose. 

So Da Qing must have scampered up a nearby tree and eavesdropped instead of leaving. Damn. Zhao Yunlan continued to feign ignorance. “So what if they’re twins. That’s not so strange.” 

“They’re hot twins,” Da Qing insisted. “And you’re you. You know you can’t get involved right?”

Zhao Yunlan frowned as they pushed open the main door of the building, making their way to the office where apparently they should be able to find the witness. “Who said anything about getting involved?”

“Your face said. And by getting involved, I meant fucking. You can’t have sex with someone, or two someones, so closely tied to the case,” Da Qing pointed out. 

“How are they closely tied to the case? Just because they’re professors here?” 

From behind them, a voice stammered out, “A-A-Actually, the victim is also in Professor Shen’s class.”

Zhao Yunlan had forgotten all about Guo Changcheng, who had apparently been trailing after them the whole time.

“I’m sure she was in many professors’ classes. After all, she was here at university to attend classes,” Zhao Yunlan pointed out. Then he wondered aloud, “Why ‘Ye Zun’? They’re brothers with different surnames? And Ye Zun is...certainly unusual as a name, although it does seem to suit him.”

Da Qing groaned. “Have you heard anything I said? You’re meant to keep your distance, not get more intrigued.” 

“I’m getting intrigued from a distance,” Zhao Yunlan insisted. 

Sighing, Da Qing rubbed a hand over his face. “This is doomed. You’re going to get involved with a pair of murder twins.”

“Professor Shen seemed nice,” Guo Changcheng suggested meekly from behind them. 

“Murderers can seem nice,” Da Qing sniped at Guo Changcheng, but by this point, Zhao Yunlan was lost in thought, ignoring their bickering. 

Nice wasn’t exactly the vibe he was getting from either twin, but that just made them all the more intriguing.  

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan was sitting on the desk, legs crossed, well-aware that he was being a little too intimidating for the witness. Li Qian hadn’t thought they would believe her story about a large shadow murdering Lu Ruomei, and she had only unthawed when he told her that their department investigated less than normal crimes, usually cases related to Dixingren with powers. Even after she had told them what she saw, he knew Li Qian was still hiding something. It was clear from the way she was behaving. She was scared of something specific, not just frightened by some mysterious shadow in the night. 

But despite her fear, she wasn’t spilling her secrets.

Then he heard a familiar voice and when he looked to the side, Shen Wei was walking through the door. Well, at least Da Qing couldn’t blame Shen Wei’s presence here on him. Shen Wei had walked right in on his own!

Zhao Yunlan had wondered if his overactive brain had exaggerated Shen Wei’s looks at their initial meeting. But no, he was just as beautiful under the harsh fluorescent lights as he was when bathed in natural morning light. 

“I assumed we would meet again,” Zhao Yunlan said, knowing he sounded unprofessionally flirtatious, especially with a lollipop sticking out of his mouth. “But this is still much sooner than I expected.”

Shen Wei gave him a steady look, unruffled. “Li Qian is my student and she has a lesson later. I’m just here to fetch her.” 

Well, that was a bullshit reason if Zhao Yunlan ever heard one. Professors weren’t going around fetching each student for their classes, so this must be Shen Wei shielding her from further questioning. But why?

Immediately, Li Qian was on her feet, clearly seeing Shen Wei as a savior of sorts compared to the less than kind S.I.D. investigators.  

“Since we’ve asked all our questions, you can go ahead,” Zhao Yunlan said amiably to her. “Although if we come up with any more questions, maybe we can speak to you after your class, Li Qian.”

“I have work after class,” Li Qian said in a wavering voice, an implied denial. 

“Maybe another day, Chief Zhao. Thank you,” Shen Wei said firmly, closing the door on the topic and turning to go as Li Qian scuttled to his side. 

Casually, Zhao Yunlan spoke to Shen Wei’s back, “The dead victim Lu Ruomei was your student as well, am I right? You must have seen her body.” Almost as if he was making a passing observation, he added, “It’s strange that you don’t seem to have a reaction to her death.”

There was a pause.

Shen Wei started to speak without turning, “That’s because I understand that—”

“Gege is just in shock,” a voice interrupted from the doorway. 

Zhao Yunlan had been so busy staring at Shen Wei’s slim hips, emphasized by that well-cut vest, that he had missed Ye Zun entering and leaning against the doorframe. Zhao Yunlan shot Da Qing a look for not stalling Ye Zun, but Da Qing didn’t notice, too busy staring strangely at Ye Zun. Didn’t Da Qing just warn Zhao Yunlan not to get involved with the twins? Why was he so riveted by Ye Zun? 

Ye Zun didn’t come in any further, but he continued talking, “When gege is in shock, he internalizes all his reactions. It’s a common coping mechanism.” The look he gave Zhao Yunlan was dark, almost challenging.  

Hah. What nonsense. He had never seen anyone calmer than Shen Wei in his life. Even Ye Zun, riding to his rescue, was displaying more agitation than Shen Wei. Zhao Yunlan didn’t bother engaging in a glaring contest with Ye Zun, knowing that the dark look was only an attempt to provoke him and draw attention away from Shen Wei. He had only known the twins for five minutes but he could already read that much into their interactions. 

Pushing himself off the table, Zhao Yunlan sauntered over to Shen Wei’s side, turning to stare at his profile. “Is that so? Are you in shock, Professor Shen?”

There was a heartbeat of silence, before Shen Wei turned to Zhao Yunlan. He was smiling calmly, eyes earnest as he replied, “In some ways, very much so.”

Something about those wide eyes, something about the way Shen Wei had hesitated to look at him initially, made Zhao Yunlan think that wasn’t a lie. But there was also something about that placid smile, impenetrably calm and radiating ‘nothing to see here’ that made Zhao Yunlan think that it wasn’t the whole truth either. He held the gaze for a moment longer than polite decorum dictated, because screw polite decorum, before Zhao Yunlan let out a soft sigh and shook his head, smiling. 

“What about you, Professor Ye?” Zhao Yunlan asked, before slowly turning to look at him, taking in the way he was languidly leaning against the frame. “Are you in shock as well?”

Ye Zun touched his chest with his hand, the move entirely affected as he said in a deadpan voice, “Extremely so.”

This, Zhao Yunlan thought, was actually a more honest reaction than Shen Wei’s, despite how false his behavior was on the surface.  

But Zhao Yunlan had nothing on them, so he smiled wide around his lollipop and said, “Alright then. When you’re both less shocked and if you remember anything, remember to call me, okay? I will respond right away, without any delay.”

Shen Wei looked away, but then surprisingly added, “Then please find the murderer as soon as possible, Chief Zhao, to bring my student’s killer to justice.”

“Of course I will, protecting the citizens is our duty,” Zhao Yunlan said, and then for reasons he himself couldn’t comprehend, he reached out and patted Shen Wei’s shoulder. 

Yep. He patted Shen Wei’s shoulder. Awkwardly.

After the previous flirtation, the intense eye contact, how was awkward shoulder-patting a reasonable follow-up to all that? What happened to his much-vaunted flirtation skills? 

Mind, if anyone asked Da Qing, he would testify that they never existed, because putting on the sluttiest jeans he owned didn’t count as flirtation, according to Da Qing. Zhao Yunlan wanted to bury his face in a pillow at his utter lack of game. 

“Gege, let’s not disturb the extremely busy S.I.D. officers any longer,” Ye Zun interjected, looking like he was very bored, but his gaze was intense as he stared between Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan. 

“I can always spare some time for you both,” Zhao Yunlan said, voice dropping a little in automatic flirtation. Maybe it wasn’t too late to redeem the situation. 

For some reason, Ye Zun seemed to relax at that, while Shen Wei stiffened. 

Zhao Yunlan sent them off with a jaunty wave, watching as Shen Wei and Ye Zun brushed shoulders as they walked down the hall, leaving a clear gap between them and Li Qian. 

Thoughtfully, Zhao Yunlan went through what he knew about them so far. Shen Wei was a professor of Bioengineering, apparently a brilliant young genius in his field, much beloved by his students. Ye Zun was a professor of Psychology and almost better known for his role as the Dragon City University’s Drama Club supervisor, helping the club put together very popular amateur plays at the university. Their records were so clean and dull that they just couldn’t be real.

Both Li Qian and Lu Ruomei were in Shen Wei’s class. Both Shen Wei and Ye Zun were unnaturally calm in light of these stressful circumstances. 

There was something about these twins…

Maybe Da Qing was right. No matter how beautiful and intriguing they were, he needed to be on his guard around them.  

~ * ~

He was not at all on his guard around them.

That was mainly because it was very difficult to be on his guard when he was sitting on the sidewalk, curled up over his stomach, trying not to die. Fuck, fuck, fuck… He tried to remember what could have caused his gastritis to flare up. 

There was the alcohol he had downed yesterday, quite a lot of it in fact, as part of his usual efforts to grease the wheels of the departmental social network. The people at the bar had been old pals of his from the police academy, now in various positions in the police force and even in the government. It was important to maintain those contacts in his position as the S.I.D chief. 

Then today, he had eaten…

Nothing. He had eaten nothing. Ah, he had drunk lots of tea and eaten lollipops when he had felt his hunger flare up. Right. Well, no wonder. He had been fine though, until he exited the Ministry of Supervision. Standing in the cool night air, he had suddenly been taken over by nausea and a terrible cramping in the pit of his stomach. 

He might actually be dying. 

Wait, dying would probably be preferable. Dying wouldn’t be so agonizing, he was sure. He needed to call a cab, but that would involve standing up. The idea of uncurling made him feel like passing out from pain. 

“Chief Zhao.”

That voice… Oh god, please don’t let it be one of the most beautiful men in Haixing, seeing him in this terribly embarrassing and embarrassingly terrible condition. Zhao Yunlan squinted up and there was definitely no god, because his wish was not granted. 

It was Shen Wei and Ye Zun. 

Even through his fog of pain, he didn’t fail to notice that Shen Wei was dressed in a beautiful, blue three piece, a silk scarf tucked under his white collar against his pale neck. Ye Zun was wearing a white suit with a black shirt, the collar open and his throat bare. They were a balm for his tired eyes, but still not enough to overcome his pain. 

Waving weakly at them, he just pressed his face back down to his knees, not up for any talking. 

“Are you unwell? Do you need to go to the hospital?” Shen Wei asked, crouching down beside him. 

Zhao Yunlan shook his head, really not wanting to deal with a hospital right now. “It’s just gastritis. I’m fine,” he managed to croak out. 

Before he could say another word, he felt Ye Zun crouching down on his other side, placing a hand on his shoulder. He sounded acerbic when he said, “You clearly don’t know what ‘fine’ means.”

“I just need to go home. I have medicine there,” Zhao Yunlan mumbled, not up for any witty banter. 

There was a moment of silence as the twins presumably did some of that creepy silent communication again. Then he felt hands supporting him by the elbows on both sides, arms curled around his shoulders and waist as they helped him to his feet. He didn’t even really need to employ his own muscles here, because they were both lifting him bodily, supporting his entire weight without the slightest effort. Damn, they were strong. 

Everything passed in a blur of pain and dizziness as they got into a taxi. At some point, he thought his head rested on someone’s shoulder, thought he felt a hand in his hair, another on his stomach. But perhaps it was just extremely wishful thinking in the face of that much pain. 

He didn’t remember much of how he got home, was pretty sure he hadn’t even told anyone his address. He didn’t remember how he got his door open or what, if anything, was said. All he knew was that he was finally on his soft comfortable mattress, that he could lie down and close his eyes and relax. 

At some point, he thought Shen Wei scolded him. And Ye Zun mocked him. How did he know which was which, when they had the same voice? 

But they sounded different, he knew that much. 

Zhao Yunlan’s eyes stayed closed and he thought vaguely that maybe he should be worried that he was defenseless with two potential suspects in his home. But he let himself drift into sleep, knowing somehow, that he was safe with them.

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan woke up feeling warm under his thick duvet, comfortable like he had had a really good night’s sleep. He frowned, thinking it was unusual for him to be tucked in like this, with the duvet right up to his chin. Even though he loved burrowing into warmth, he also knew he was a restless sleeper who tended to throw off his blankets during the night. 

Stretching, he sat up, turning to get off the bed when he suddenly realized there were two figures right in the periphery of his vision. He flung himself back with a cry, staring in shock at Shen Wei and Ye Zun both sitting by his bed. 

Well, Shen Wei was sitting. They had both pulled chairs right up to the side of Zhao Yunlan’s bed. Shen Wei was upright, back straight in his chair. The second chair was pressed right against Shen Wei’s, and Ye Zun was practically draped over Shen Wei, his head on Shen Wei’s shoulder, both arms wrapped around Shen Wei’s waist. Even though Ye Zun was slumped over and loose limbed, he wasn’t asleep. Two sets of beautiful dark eyes were staring right at Zhao Yunlan. 

Despite Shen Wei’s upright, perfect posture, he looked entirely comfortable being hugged like that and even had one arm around Ye Zun’s shoulder to hold him close. Was this really normal behavior for adult twin brothers? Zhao Yunlan felt like he was losing his mind a little, staring at the two of them curled close together, and trying not to think of anything inappropriate. He forced his mind back on track. 

“You both didn’t sleep and stayed by my side all night?” he asked, a little incredulous, desperate for a distraction.

Shen Wei didn’t reply, his face mostly blank, like the question didn’t make sense to him at all. Rubbing his head into Shen Wei’s shoulder like an oversized cat, Ye Zun said, “Gege didn’t sleep. I slept most of the night.”

Zhao Yunlan wanted to ask where Ye Zun slept, because he couldn’t see someone like him taking the couch, but he was afraid to hear the answer. Mostly because he really didn’t need more fantasies involving these two and his own bed. He also wanted to ask why Shen Wei hadn’t slept at all, but then he was suddenly distracted by how Ye Zun’s black shirt was open down to the third button, revealing the long line of his throat and his lovely collarbones. And there was a glimpse of a lovebite almost hidden by his collar, the dark red mark peeking out from beneath silky black fabric. It looked fresh, like someone had just sucked on his pale skin mere hours ago. Except...there had only been Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan in this apartment with Ye Zun, and Zhao Yunlan hadn’t turned into a sleep-vampire last he checked. 

Zhao Yunlan looked up to see Ye Zun staring right back at him, lips spreading slowly into a sly smile. 

It absolutely could not be what Zhao Yunlan’s fevered imagination was conjuring up. Definitely not. No way. It was probably a large mosquito bite, not a lovebite. Get your act together, horny brain!

Eyes darting away, Zhao Yunlan desperately sought something else to look at and surprisingly, found that there was a lot to look at. A lot of clear empty space. The wide wooden desk between his bed and the window was completely clear of clutter. Looking around, Zhao Yunlan realized that everything was clean and tidy. His home actually looked respectable and more like a home rather than a garbage dump, in Da Qing’s words.

“This is repayment for your hard work investigating the case at the university,” Shen Wei said calmly, face placid. 

Ye Zun smiled, his arms tightening around Shen Wei’s waist. “And because he couldn’t  bear to think of you living in what looked like a trash heap.”

“Yes, I’m the only one who cares how he lives,” Shen Wei murmured drily. 

Making a face, Ye Zun looked away, not answering.

Wait, what did that mean? Why should they care how Zhao Yunlan lived? It made Zhao Yunlan feel like wriggling around with a burst of joy, the idea that they were worried about him, but at the same time, he didn’t understand why they worried about him. They barely knew him. He rubbed at his forehead, feeling a headache growing. 

A white bowl of congee was held out under his nose, and he looked up to see Shen Wei offering the food while saying, “The congee is still warm, eat it and then take your medicine.”

When was the last time Zhao Yunlan woke up to someone handing him hot breakfast, worrying over his gastritis? He felt warm even before trying the congee, just cradling the bowl of home-cooked food in his hand. 

He sighed, looking up from beneath his lashes at Shen Wei and Ye Zun. “You’re both so nice to me... I’m not going to be able to let either of you walk away.”

At that, Shen Wei’s bland expression cracked and his lips curved into a small smile as he let out a huff of disbelief at Zhao Yunlan’s shamelessness. 

Ye Zun smiled lopsidedly and said in a low voice, “I don’t do cooking and cleaning, but I’ve got other talents you might find interesting.”

The synapses in Zhao Yunlan’s brain short-circuited as he drew in a sharp breath at those clearly flirtatious words. It was very hard to figure out what to think, with Ye Zun draped all over Shen Wei in a way that didn’t read as particularly familial so much as possessive, but at the same time, Ye Zun was also flirting with him while Shen Wei had cleaned his whole apartment and cooked for him. What was a simple man like Zhao Yunlan supposed to take from all this? 

Zhao Yunlan didn’t feel like he was awake enough to deal with this so he started spooning congee into his mouth. And damn, it was the best congee he had ever had. The texture was smooth and silky, with just the slightest hint of salt to flavor it. For his poor abused stomach and his mouth that tasted like death after a night of drinking, it was like food from the heavens. 

As he ate with deep appreciation, Shen Wei said quietly, “Zhao Yunlan, any time you want to eat anything, just come over and knock on our door. I advise that you take your meals more seriously.”

“Yes, be more careful, you idiot,” Ye Zun scolded more forcefully. “We don’t want to have to pick you up off the street anymore. So troublesome.”

Zhao Yunlan drank down the congee in the bowl, too greedy to take it slowly and lowered the bowl in time to see Shen Wei stroking Ye Zun’s hair before squeezing his shoulder, as if encouraging him to play nice. Right at that moment, Zhao Yunlan decided that he was just going to pretend he didn’t see that. There was just no way this was normal, but he was going to park this for later contemplation. Maybe in the shower, where it would be easier to clean up. 

Deciding to combat the twins’ outrageous behavior with some outrageous behavior of his own, Zhao Yunlan said with an unrepentant smile, “If you care about my meals and you want to ensure I eat on time, why don’t you visit me more? Consider my place open to you. You can even drop in at the S.I.D. offices if you like.”

“Are you looking to hire a nanny?” Shen Wei asked with a deadpan look. 

“Are you looking for a side hustle? Because I wouldn’t say no to be taken care of,” Zhao Yunlan responded with a shameless grin. 

Ye Zun arched, before straightening and releasing his hold around Shen Wei’s waist. But somehow it looked even more provocative since he seemed to be rubbing the side of his torso all up against Shen Wei in that stretching motion. His hand came up to run affectionately through Shen Wei’s hair, the neat hairstyle that had valiantly remained intact the whole night completely mussed up under Ye Zun’s fingers. Ye Zun murmured, eyes sliding back to Zhao Yunlan, “Gege is very good at taking care of people, Chief Zhao, if you’re really up for it.”

Wow, okay, that alone was enough wank fantasy for a year

Zhao Yunlan was going to go for broke and say something about a care package and if he could ask for extra personalized benefits, in his most suggestive voice, when something Shen Wei had said earlier finally registered in his drowsy and horny brain. 

“Wait, rewind. What did you say about me coming over and knocking on your door any time I want to eat something?” Zhao Yunlan asked, frowning. That was definitely a strange thing to say, because from official investigations — not private ones, no matter how much he was tempted — he knew that they both lived on campus in Dragon City University’s lodgings for the academic staff. Inviting him to just pop over there any time for food was a little unusual, not to mention hardly convenient considering the distance.

As if in sync, Shen Wei and Ye Zun got up from their chairs, still standing far too close together. 

“Our accommodation at the university was becoming a little cramped so we just moved to new lodgings yesterday,” Shen Wei explained politely. 

Ye Zun smiled angelically. “Who knew that when you gave the cab driver your address, we would find out that our new place is right across the hall from yours. What a coincidence, neighbor.”

Zhao Yunlan could only stare as they both turned and made their way out of his apartment. Even as he tried to untangle his messy thoughts, he couldn’t help but enjoy the doubly exceptional view from behind as they left. 

How was he actually going to survive being neighbors with these twins?

Chapter Text

The next day was spent doing all the unfun stuff you never saw on TV when it came to murder investigations. There was a lot of paperwork, endless reviewing of surveillance footage, more interviewing and reinterviewing, reaching out to all their contacts in Haixing and Dixing… 

During that time, Zhao Yunlan wondered if he should tell the rest of the team that the two professors from the university where the murder had taken place had moved in across the hall from him. He ultimately decided against it. Da Qing would find out soon enough and kick up a huge stink. Might as well delay that for as long as possible. 

Zhao Yunlan really didn’t know what to think about Shen Wei and Ye Zun being his new neighbors. He didn’t believe in coincidences. But at the same time, he couldn’t figure out why they had moved there. 

If they were really involved in the murder, they would be avoiding him, not staying so close by his side. If they were completely uninvolved in the murder, then why had they taken the effort to find out where he lived and moved in as his neighbors? 

Alright, he wanted to believe some truly X-rated reasons for why they had decided to be his neighbors, but no matter how good his ass looked in tight jeans, he knew he wasn’t that hot, not for this level of pursuit after only two encounters. And twin fantasies just weren’t reality. Twins weren’t fucking each other and eager for him to join them, just because he had watched one too many porn videos featuring twins. 

So, all that left him were more questions. 

And the number of questions increased the morning after when he received a text message from an unknown number right as he was walking out the door. 

Unknown number: Hello, handsome~ Guess who?

Zhao Yunlan stared at the message and considered who would send him a message like that. Not anyone in S.I.D., not if they valued their bonuses. For anyone he was particularly familiar with, he already had their phone numbers down as contacts. 

He had given out his business card to a few people recently, as a result of Lu Ruomei’s case, but none of those people would be starting a conversation like that with him. 

Except…

He thought about the people he had just met, who pushed boundaries, stayed by his bedside while he slept, cleaned his apartment, moved in next door…

If the greeting had been more reserved, he would guess Shen Wei. But with that kind of opener, it could only be one person. Zhao Yunlan created a new contact for the number, lips curling. 

Zhao Yunlan: how can i help you, ye zun?

Silver Vixen: Ooh, no wonder you’re a detective. You didn’t think it was my gege?

Zhao Yunlan snorted. As if. 

Zhao Yunlan: i would be really bad at my job if i thought it was your gege

Silver Vixen: For more than one reason. Gege doesn’t have a mobile phone. So if you want to talk to him, feel free to message or call me instead.

Who didn’t have a mobile phone these days? Stranger and stranger. Before Zhao Yunlan could reply, he received another message.

Silver Vixen: I’ll be happy to go-between the two of you. ;) 

What. 

What.

Seriously, Zhao Yunlan could not be imagining this. Ye Zun was definitely flirting with him, by implying a threesome with his own brother...right? He wasn’t imagining this! He definitely wasn’t! Was he?

Zhao Yunlan pressed his phone to his forehead, hiding most of his face in his hands. He was going insane. One side of his brain was saying his instincts weren’t wrong, the other side of his brain was saying what were the odds of hot twins flirting with him? Also, was he really thinking with one side of his brain or with the anatomy down his pants instead?

Before he could think of a suitable response, he felt his phone vibrate in his hand against his head. With trepidation, he looked at the screen. 

Silver Vixen: Gege made too much breakfast. He says come over for some hot food?

Zhao Yunlan really, really shouldn’t. Lines had already been severely crossed when it came to Ye Zun and Shen Wei. The recent text messages from Ye Zun were proof enough of that.

But Zhao Yunlan had never been good at maintaining boundaries anyway. Or saying no to what he wanted.  

He had been heading out so all he had to do was stuff his feet into his shoes and shuffle into the hallway. He was about to knock when he realized the door was slightly ajar. It seemed like enough of an invitation. 

Pushing the door open, he peeked into the apartment, a little uncertain about entering without knocking. 

Ye Zun was seated at the dining table and facing the front door, his eyes closed in clear bliss as Shen Wei stood behind him and combed his shoulder-length silver hair. While Ye Zun looked like a cat melting into a particularly good cheek rub, Shen Wei’s expression was one of open fondness and concentration as he carefully tied Ye Zun’s hair up into a low ponytail. 

Unsure what strange twin-grooming ritual he had just walked into, Zhao Yunlan almost ducked back into the hallway, feeling embarrassed and like the worst of intruders. 

But Shen Wei looked up without any hint of surprise, as if he had known Zhao Yunlan was there the whole time. He smiled, warm and friendly. “Come in, Zhao Yunlan. We were just waiting for you.”

That was odd, since he hadn’t even responded to Ye Zun in the affirmative. But it seemed like they were expecting him anyway. 

Ye Zun finally opened his eyes and demanded, “Hurry up, I’m hungry.”

Feeling a little like a stray dog slinking into a posh hotel, Zhao Yunlan walked in, trying not to be too obvious as he looked around. Unlike the chaos that dominated Zhao Yunlan’s apartment, their apartment was unsurprisingly neat. There were some eclectic decorations, which Zhao Yunlan wasn’t convinced were all contributed by Ye Zun, but everything was neatly arranged such that it didn’t look too cluttered. Unsurprisingly, there were shelves upon shelves of books, but there was also a whole shelf covered in knick-knacks such as a set of twelve calligraphy brushes, five globes of the world, a whole array of really tiny miniatures of people and animals, what looked to be a collection of fossils, and a variety of different colored stones and crystals. 

The layout in this apartment was exactly the same as Zhao Yunlan’s except mirrored. It was a one bedroom apartment, not a very large place, and it looked like Shen Wei and Ye Zun had turned the bedroom into an office instead, exactly as Zhao Yunlan had done. 

In a glance, Zhao Yunlan could tell that there was only one bed in the whole apartment. It was a very big bed, a king size that sprawled enticingly in its corner. And Zhao Yunlan could clearly see two plush pillows neatly arranged, partially covered by a perfectly spread comforter. 

Right. So they shared a bed. That...that wasn’t too abnormal right? He was sure that adult siblings who were very close shared beds all the time. As long as he ignored every other interaction he had seen between them, this seemed perfectly innocuous. Right. 

Then Zhao Yunlan turned his attention to the food and paused in shock. It wasn’t just a simple breakfast affair. There was a whole range of different dishes on the table, like this was a breakfast party. Three steaming bowls of congee were laid out for them, along with shared plates of sliced fried dough sticks, steamed buns, prawn dumplings, thin crispy egg pancakes, and a generous plate of hot-and-dry noodles.

“That looks like enough to feed an army,” Zhao Yunlan said in surprise as he pulled out a chair and sat down, staring at the spread of food. 

He regretted commenting when he noticed how red Shen Wei’s ears were, how he didn’t look up from where he was placing an empty bowl and utensils in front of Zhao Yunlan. 

“Are you complaining?” Ye Zun demanded, making it clear there was only one acceptable answer here. 

“No, no, I’m marvelling,” Zhao Yunlan quickly said. “And appreciative of my good luck to have such generous neighbors.”

Shen Wei settled down beside Ye Zun, murmuring, “Didi…” in mild admonishment. 

But Ye Zun’s ruffled feathers immediately settled at Zhao Yunlan’s placating words, even if he still seemed a little pouty, his lower lip looking extra plush. 

Zhao Yunlan asked with some concern, “Shen Wei ah, what time did you have to wake up to make all this?”

With an easy smile, Shen Wei shrugged off the question. “Not too early. I cook very fast.” 

Everyone settled down in their seats and began eating. They didn’t talk at first, preoccupied with their meal. Or maybe it was just Zhao Yunlan and Ye Zun who were preoccupied with their food. Zhao Yunlan was savoring the crisp sliced fried dough with his silky smooth century egg congee when he noticed that Shen Wei was surreptitiously watching him eat. When their gazes met unexpectedly, Shen Wei ducked his head and bit into the soft steamed bun he held between his chopsticks. 

“Shen Wei, this is delicious,” Zhao Yunlan took the initiative to pay him a heart-felt compliment. “I’m feeling very, very spoiled.”

Shen Wei met his gaze quickly before looking down again. “Thank you,” he said politely to his bun. 

Leaning against Shen Wei’s shoulder, Ye Zun waved his own bun at Zhao Yunlan, “You should appreciate it. Shen Wei doesn’t cook for just anyone.”

“Oh, to what do I owe the honor?” Zhao Yunlan asked with raised eyebrows. 

He expected Ye Zun to respond with something suitably flirtatious, but it was Shen Wei instead who said quietly, with a note of almost wistful longing, “To have you enjoy what I prepare is my honor, Zhao Yunlan.”

Zhao Yunlan’s mouth fell open as he stared at Shen Wei, taken aback by the depth of feeling behind those words, emotions that Zhao Yunlan couldn’t even begin to parse. 

Running a hand down Shen Wei’s back, as if in comfort, Ye Zun said, eyes steady on Zhao Yunlan, “An honor that Yunlan will hopefully grace us with on a regular basis, hm?”

The words were casual and flirtatious, but he wasn’t smiling. Those dark eyes looked very serious. 

“I— I’m getting the most benefit here, I would have to be very stupid to turn that down,” Zhao Yunlan said, retreating behind humor in the face of this sudden seriousness. 

The look on Ye Zun’s face could only be read as disappointment, as if Zhao Yunlan’s response hadn’t been quite what he was hoping for. But when he opened his mouth, Shen Wei laid a clearly restraining hand on his elbow. 

Shen Wei’s expression hadn’t changed; his eyes still touched with intensity, his expression reserved and mild in contrast. He only said, “The food is getting cold. Let us eat.”

It was no hardship to get back to eating the delicious fare laid out in front of them. Even as Zhao Yunlan mentally churned over what had just been said, he still enjoyed the food. He didn’t understand these twins, didn’t know what they wanted from him. Without conscious thought, he started observing them again as he ate. Unlike Shen Wei’s attempts at surreptitious staring, Zhao Yunlan was more skilled at looking at someone without actually looking, pretending to set his gaze on the plate of egg pancake while observing Shen Wei and Ye Zun in the blurry background.  

Ye Zun had finished his congee and was picking idly at the food, sampling one of everything. By his side, Shen Wei was limiting his choices to the congee and the plain steamed bun from before. He picked up choice bits and put them in Ye Zun’s bowl, moving on automatic. At one point, Ye Zun intercepted Shen Wei’s chopsticks with his mouth, eating directly from the chopsticks rather than letting Shen Wei put the prawn dumpling into his bowl. Shen Wei’s slight smile indicated that he didn’t mind at all. 

Watching them, Zhao Yunlan didn’t think it was only his mind living in the gutter that was reading too much into their interactions. It wasn’t just about how sexy or hot they looked next to each other, with Shen Wei already in a buttoned up shirt and a blue waistcoat, while Ye Zun was wearing a long-sleeved white turtleneck. 

There was something...sweet between them. 

Zhao Yunlan knew it couldn’t just be his imagination feeding dirty raunchy ideas to his hindbrain. The soft way they looked at each other, the way they subconsciously leaned towards each other, their gentle, absent-minded petting… This wasn’t some twin fantasy come to life. These were two people with the same face, the same body, who loved each other a great deal. What kind of love that was between them...it wasn’t for Zhao Yunlan to ask. 

Although sometimes, it felt like Ye Zun and Shen Wei were telling him that it was his place to ask, and he just needed to reach out and grasp for it. 

Perhaps that part was where his imagination came in, trying to reach out for something that wasn’t on offer. 

“Zhao Yunlan, do you like working for the S.I.D.?” Shen Wei asked out of the blue. 

Looking up in surprise, Zhao Yunlan found two watchful gazes trained on him, so similar yet different. “It pays the bills,” he answered with a shrug. 

“You don’t enjoy the work?” Shen Wei asked, a slight frown appearing between his brows. Ye Zun’s lips were turning down in clear displeasure as well. 

For some reason, their matching unhappiness moved Zhao Yunlan to elaborate, to be a bit more truthful so that they both wouldn’t look so upset, for whatever reason that was. “I enjoy it. The people there are good, but don’t tell them I said that, and the cases are usually interesting. The police force tends to think of us as a dumping ground for weird cases they can’t bother to solve, but we have a lot of freedom of movement and when we solve a case that’s right up our alley, it feels like we’re making a real difference.”

Abruptly, Zhao Yunlan stopped talking and shovelled some delicious spicy noodles into his mouth. He hadn’t meant to say so much and now he felt a little embarrassed at how earnest he sounded.

But neither twin looked bored or annoyed by his little ramble. In fact, their earlier frowns had faded, and they looked at him with renewed interest. 

Ye Zun asked, “What do you think about the Dixingren you have to interact with then?”

Zhao Yunlan swallowed his mouthful of food. Now this was an interesting tidbit of information. He raised his eyebrows and said, “So you’re aware that the S.I.D. primarily works on Dixing-related cases. Not many in the general public even know Dixing exists.”

“We pay attention to some things,” Shen Wei murmured, eyes watchful. 

Zhao Yunlan didn’t know how to interpret that. 

“You must meet many Dixingren,” Ye Zun persisted. “What do you think of them?”

What did he think of Dixingren? It was hard to shake old prejudices, to forget his old man’s lessons about dangerous people whose bodies were weapons, who were never really safe. 

A Dixingren had taken his mother hostage. But the one who had chosen to sacrifice his mother was Haixingren, his own father.

He thought about Chu Shuzhi, who growled, snapped, eyes lit up with a disturbing glee when he used his puppet strings to subdue criminals. But he also knew Chu Shuzhi was the most dependable S.I.D. member, who would take the hits so someone else wouldn’t have to, who glared viciously at Guo Changcheng and yet, Guo Changcheng hid behind him when afraid, like he knew instinctively that Chu Shuzhi would keep him safe. 

You didn’t have to be Dixingren to be a monster. You didn’t have to be a monster just because you were Dixingren. 

They were lessons that Zhao Yunlan had worked hard to learn, to overwrite his own father’s teachings. 

“They’re people, just like any one of us,” Zhao Yunlan said firmly. “They have friends, family, things they love and hate and fear. Our cases go much smoother when we treat them like anyone else, people who can do wonderful and terrible things, but are not inherently good or bad.” He paused, looking up. “Why do you ask?”

He hoped he wasn’t going to find out that Shen Wei and Ye Zun were part of some underground Anti-Dixing group. Despite most Haixingren not knowing about the existence of Dixingren, there were still people who did. Some Haixingren were aware through their own experiences or family connections that Dixing was most definitely real and there were small numbers of Dixingren who lived among them. And of course, amongst those Haixingren who knew, there were small Anti-Dixing groups that had been popping up with increasing frequency over the years. 

But even if Shen Wei and Ye Zun did have prejudices against Dixingren… Well, so did Zhao Yunlan, once upon a time. People could learn to be better, if they were open to it. 

Somehow though, Zhao Yunlan didn’t think that was the issue. He already had his suspicions about the two of them, and Ye Zun’s line of questioning was more than a little telling. If they weren’t Dixingren themselves, they either knew many Dixingren, or were supporters of the Dixing Rights in Haixing movement, another emerging group among those who knew.

That would be a whole different problem. The Anti-Dixing groups hated the S.I.D. because they thought the S.I.D. wasn’t harsh enough towards Dixingren, almost like they thought the S.I.D. should be a militia group instead. Meanwhile, the Dixing Rights in Haixing supporters hated the S.I.D. because they thought the S.I.D. was too harsh on Dixingren, deporting Dixingren for the slightest indiscretion. 

If only both sides knew the sort of shit the S.I.D. got into. 

He almost wanted to ask both Shen Wei and Ye Zun if he had passed their test, but really, he didn’t have to. Ye Zun’s pleasure and delight at the response could be read even if Zhao Yunlan was all the way back in his own apartment. Shen Wei’s reaction was much more restrained, but his lips curled up in clear relief as well. 

That answered Zhao Yunlan’s own question then. 

“I’m glad you have such an open mind regarding Dixingren,” Shen Wei said. He glanced at the watch on his wrist, frowning. “I would love to discuss this further, but I have to leave now, otherwise I’ll be late to my first class. Please take your time with the food.”

“Actually, why don’t you drop gege off, Yunlan? To make sure he isn’t late,” Ye Zun suggested, volunteering Zhao Yunlan’s services just like that. 

Zhao Yunlan looked at the many plates on the table, most of them only half eaten. He was already full to bursting, unused to having breakfast at all. But still… “I should help clean up,” he said uncertainly, the concept of cleaning before the sink was full of dishes a little foreign to him. 

Ye Zun waved him off. “I’ll do it. You can do it next time.”

It was very presumptuous of Ye Zun, but that casual comment left Zhao Yunlan feeling warmed at the assumption that shared breakfasts would be a regular occurrence going forward. 

“You don’t have to trouble yourself,” Shen Wei started, looking at Zhao Yunlan with a frown. 

“No trouble at all,” Zhao Yunlan said, even though Dragon City University wasn’t on his way to the S.I.D. offices. It didn’t matter, he was being honest. It was no trouble at all, not if it was for Shen Wei or Ye Zun. 

Shen Wei looked at him for a moment before a faint look of pleasure crossed his face. He got to his feet, saying, “I’ll get my things.”

Then for some reason, Ye Zun hissed at him, “Gege likes to start his day quietly. So don’t listen to your garbage music on your way over.”

“Hey, my music isn’t garbage,” Zhao Yunlan protested. 

Ye Zun gave him a thoroughly unimpressed look, and Zhao Yunlan narrowed his eyes at him in turn.

~ * ~

Some perverse side of Zhao Yunlan caused him to sing for the duration of the trip to Dragon City University. 

Shen Wei might have complained and snarked, but there had also been a soft smile on his lips the entire time. 

Zhao Yunlan counted that as a win. Hah, take that, Ye Zun!

~ * ~

It wasn’t that he was bad at responding to text messages, it was…

Yeah, he was bad at responding to text messages. 

Which was why his team was eyeing him with great suspicion what with the way he was glued to his phone these days. 

In his opinion, if someone was sending you a text message, it probably wasn’t that important. It could wait. Sometimes, he didn’t even read it until several hours later. If it was urgent, they would call, right?

Zhao Yunlan said he was just being efficient in how he sorted his urgent and non-urgent communication. 

Da Qing said he was just being lazy. 

The reason why Zhao Yunlan had changed his approach to text messages could be summarized in a few words: Ye Zun and Shen Wei. 

Technically, it was just Ye Zun who was sending him messages, because he hadn’t been kidding when he said Shen Wei didn’t have a mobile phone and wasn’t good with technology. But even though Ye Zun was on the other end, it felt like he came as a package deal with Shen Wei. 

Every third message would mention Shen Wei in some way. Sometimes, Ye Zun would even send messages on behalf of his gege. 

Silver Vixen: Good afternoon, handsome. :) Gege wants to know if you’ve eaten lunch yet.

Zhao Yunlan: nope

Silver Vixen: He’s giving me sad, sad puppy eyes.

His next message included a photo of said sad puppy eyes. To be honest, it looked less sad and more like an exasperated puppy, complete with a deep frown and pursed lips. 

Yes, other than the messages, there were photos. So many photos. Ye Zun took shameless selfies of himself. In his office, on campus grounds, over lunch, at home… Sometimes he took selfies of what he was wearing, and Zhao Yunlan would have to pause to take a deep breath over the sight of his shirts, unbuttoned indecently low to reveal delicate collarbones and a long slim neck, sometimes even of his tight pants riding low on lean hips. 

Those were bad enough, but worse still was when Ye Zun took photos of Shen Wei, because he was a lot more creative with those. Sometimes, it would just be of Shen Wei’s face, smiling at something Ye Zun was saying, or frowning at something Ye Zun had told him about Zhao Yunlan’s bad habits. Sometimes it was of Shen Wei’s profile, when he was in the middle of cooking, the top of his head when he was marking his papers, the view of his backside as Shen Wei was bending over and cleaning the dining table. 

Was that something twins photographed of each other? Really?

There was a lovely close-up of Shen Wei’s sleeping face, long dark lashes fanning across high cheekbones, soft kissable lips slightly parted. For some reason, that felt even more personal and inappropriate than the photo of Shen Wei’s well-shaped behind. 

Then there was that selfie of Ye Zun sucking on a pale pink popsicle, cheeks hollowed obscenely, eyes heavy-lidded. That was followed by a photo of Shen Wei licking what looked to be the same popsicle, his eyes wide and innocent behind his glasses, even with his tongue lewdly pressed to the tip of the popsicle. 

Zhao Yunlan almost had a nosebleed in his office when he saw those photos. He tried to tell himself that he was reading too much into them. Regardless, he saved those photos for...special days. Yeah. 

They had only been exchanging text messages and sharing breakfasts for almost two weeks now, and Zhao Yunlan already knew he was in too deep with the twins. 

Even Da Qing, who was initially full of protests, had softened up after just one time Shen Wei had invited him in for breakfast too. The way to that damned cat’s heart was definitely through his stomach. How did Shen Wei and Ye Zun know his weakness for dried fish?

So Zhao Yunlan had completely changed his texting habits, because if he was being honest, he was always interested to see what Ye Zun and Shen Wei were up to, keen to see the next text message or photograph they had in store for him. 

It was why Zhao Yunlan checked his phone immediately when his phone vibrated continuously, a sign of multiple text messages. Zhao Yunlan’s eyebrows went up, wondering what on earth Ye Zun was sending him. 

Silver Vixen: So, not to cause a panic or anything, but Li Qian and I are being attacked in the Science Faculty building

Silver Vixen: Some shadow Dixingren

Silver Vixen: We’re going to head for the roof.

Silver Vixen: Send help pls

Silver Vixen: The quicker the better, thnx

Fuck. Fucking hell. 

Zhao Yunlan leapt off the couch and shouted, “We need to get to Dragon City University. The attacker is back!”

To give credit to his team, when they weren’t fooling around with stupid music or popcorn machines, they were very fast and efficient. In less than three minutes, they were all moving out. 

Zhao Yunlan drove like a madman, ice-cold fear gripping his heart. Ye Zun was a university professor, used to a soft life behind a desk or in front of a podium. He wasn’t meant to be mixed up in this kind of bad business, tackling murderers and trying to keep the students safe. This was the S.I.D.’s job, if only they had managed to do their jobs properly and actually catch the perpetrator before they struck again. 

Swearing under his breath, Zhao Yunlan ran a red light, ignoring the screams of protests coming from the other passengers. 

Ye Zun had to be okay. He just had to be. Zhao Yunlan didn’t know what he would do if Ye Zun was hurt or worse. 

If something happened to Ye Zun, Zhao Yunlan would never forgive himself. Shen Wei would never forgive him either. 

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan was a step behind Chu Shuzhi, running out the door onto the roof just in time to see glowing blue threads wrap around a shadowy figure, tightening around their neck and flinging the person bodily against the wall of a stone pavilion on the roof. The force of it was enough to leave the shadow person stunned, lying on the ground. Li Qian stood off to the side, looking shaken and afraid.

Normally, this would be the moment when Zhao Yunlan would quip and crack jokes at the Shadow Man, prod at his pride until he spilled the secrets of why he was after Li Qian. But he didn’t have time for games right now. 

Ye Zun was nowhere in sight.

“It’s time for you to go back, you’ve done enough harm here,” Zhao Yunlan gritted out. “Now tell me where Ye Zun is.”

The shadowed figure only got to his feet, stumbling at first before standing firm. It was clear he was intending to fight instead of talk. That only made Zhao Yunlan more worried. Where the hell was Ye Zun? What had this Shadow Man done to him? He imagined finding a pale, lifeless body, silver hair spilled against the ground, beautiful but manic smile lost forever. 

He couldn’t bear it. 

Then from the clear blue sky, thunder rumbled. 

Goddamnit. Now wasn’t the time. 

But he didn’t have the power to stop this.

Zhao Yunlan made a face as the bright afternoon day was suddenly pitched into a gray dusk, a gloominess settling over all of them. Lightning arced from the abruptly dark sky, striking the ground in front of Zhao Yunlan. By the time the momentary shadow across the world lifted, a figure wearing a long dark cloak had materialized between Zhao Yunlan and the Shadow Man.  

The dark figure struck the ground with the blunt end of the glaive in his hand, the sound of metal striking cement ringing through the air. Beside him, Chu Shuzhi shoved Guo Changcheng into a bow, just as ice suddenly shot out from beneath the glaive to stretch across the roof. The ice rapidly crawled up the Shadow Man, literally freezing him in place and giving him no opportunity to strike back. 

As expected, the power behind Heipaoshi was immense. Zhao Yunlan had heard all about this black-cloaked figure of authority. He was the stuff of legends, and Zhao Yunlan had begun to think that he would remain a legend for the rest of his career since Heipaoshi had never turned up in person before, even when there had already been plenty of opportunity for him to do so.

Impatience led Zhao Yunlan to speak without much thought. “This is the first time you’ve graced us with your presence since I became the Chief, Heipaoshi. The way to Haixing must be very difficult or did you just forget how to get here?”

“Dixingren attacking Haixingren is due to my negligence,” Heipaoshi acknowledged seriously, not rising to his bait. Zhao Yunlan had to hold back an eyeroll at that. He was pretty irritated with Heipaoshi’s untimely entrance, but he wasn’t crazy enough to blame the guy for every single Dixingren’s transgression. 

Heipaoshi released his hold on the glaive, and the weapon disintegrated into dark smoke. Zhao Yunlan wondered uncharitably if his Dixing ability was the power to be dramatic. Slowly, Heipaoshi turned, but kept his stare fixed into the distance, not looking directly at any of them as he said, “I have been busy due to other matters, so I apologize for my late arrival.”

Zhao Yunlan was dying to have a better look at this legendary figure who was known to defy the most common understanding about Dixingren — that they only had one power each — but he couldn’t see much with that hood pulled so low, most of his face hidden by the mask or by the hood’s shadow. 

After a moment, Heipaoshi lifted a hand to gesture towards the Shadow Man as he asked, “Do you mind?” 

The polite question grated on Zhao Yunlan, knowing as he did that he had no say at all in what Heipaoshi did with his witnesses or perpetrators. As long as they were Dixingren, Heipaoshi had final say in what happened to them. Him asking was just a matter of courtesy and had no real meaning to it. It was why Zhao Yunlan hadn’t been overly fussed about the lack of cooperation with Heipaoshi in the past. He had preferred the freedom of dealing with his own cases. 

“Go ahead,” Zhao Yunlan said with feigned nonchalance, pushing down his annoyance that he wouldn’t get to question the suspect. 

Before Heipaoshi could do anything though, the newest recruit, who clearly didn’t value his life, let out a loud sound of protest. Zhao Yunlan turned to Guo Changcheng, wide-eyed and horrified. Guo Changcheng wasn’t completely stupid since he immediately clung to Chu Shuzhi and started trying to edge behind him, even though Chu Shuzhi looked like he was going to smack Guo Changcheng himself. As Heipaoshi’s number one fan, Chu Shuzhi was probably ready to murder Guo Changcheng himself for daring to question Heipaoshi. 

The atmosphere chilled, possibly literally, and Heipaoshi turned ominously. “Do you object?”

“Aaaah, Heilao-ge,” Zhao Yunlan quickly interjected, stepping between the new idiot recruit and Heipaoshi, probably taking his life into his own hands. “He’s new to the team and a little dumb. Don’t take offence.” Then, Zhao Yunlan suddenly remembered a more pressing matter. He exclaimed, “And we have bigger worries at hand. Li Qian, where’s Ye Zun?”

He directed the last urgent question to Li Qian, suddenly recalling why they had almost killed themselves breaking several traffic rules and running all the way up to the roof. Ye Zun had texted them to come to the roof, so he should have been here. 

Li Qian gasped, completely dismayed. “Professor Ye!” She rushed to the edge. 

Zhao Yunlan’s heart plummeted. What the fuck was he doing making small talk with Heipaoshi when Ye Zun had fallen off the roof and could be lying severely injured...or worse. The building was a few storeys high, could anyone survive such a fall? He ran to the edge as well, looking over it frantically, his heart pounding and cold sweat breaking out in fear of what he would see. He couldn’t bear the idea of seeing Ye Zun’s broken body, sprawled below, but he couldn’t not look either…

A familiar silver-haired figure was climbing awkwardly out of a great big bush which must have broken his fall. Zhao Yunlan felt his knees weaken with relief and had to hold on to the wall for support. It had to be some sort of miracle for Ye Zun to still be mobile after a fall like that, even with the foliage breaking the impact. 

To Zhao Yunlan’s surprise, a dark portal bloomed open in front of Ye Zun and Heipaoshi stepped out. Zhao Yunlan watched, staring with an open mouth, as Heipaoshi conversed with Ye Zun, ignoring the passing students who had stopped to stare at this sudden spectacle. Most likely a few of those students were questioning their eyes right at that moment. From Ye Zun’s casual hand gestures, it was clear he was waving off whatever Heipaoshi was saying. After another couple of exchanged lines, Heipaoshi stepped back into the roiling portal again before it closed entirely. 

Zhao Yunlan turned in time to see Heipaoshi step into being beside the Shadow Man who was still frozen in place. 

“I was checking if he required medical treatment,” Heipaoshi said. Was Zhao Yunlan imagining it, or did he sound a little defensive when everyone turned to stare at him? Heipaoshi faced Li Qian and added, “Your professor is fine and seems to have sustained no injuries.”

So...what? If Ye Zun was injured, Heipaoshi would act as a portal-traversing ambulance and send him to the hospital? Actually, that was pretty convenient. That he had checked on a potentially injured person was pretty good as well. This legendary God of War might be more of a soft touch than all the doom and gloom records of him had portrayed. Maybe Zhao Yunlan needed to quiz Chu Shuzhi a little more about Heipaoshi. 

“Thank you for checking, Heilao-ge,” Zhao Yunlan said sincerely. 

Heipaoshi only nodded and placed a hand on the frozen Shadow Man, the two of them disappearing into a whirl of blackness as another portal took them away. That sure was a useful power. 

But Zhao Yunlan had more important matters to attend to. He headed for the stairs in a hurry, ignoring his team’s murmuring behind him. With the rest of his team and Li Qian hot on his heels, Zhao Yunlan exited the building in a rush and headed for where Ye Zun was still standing in front of the bush that broke his fall. 

“Professor Ye, are you okay?” Zhao Yunlan asked as he approached Ye Zun who was already surrounded by three worried groupies masquerading as students. 

Ye Zun sighed, dusting off his outfit. “Do I look alright to you? I think I sprained my hand and worse, I stained this jacket.” One of the students promptly started fussing over Ye Zun’s hand, though it looked fine to Zhao Yunlan. Even so, he could admit that he would have liked to fuss over that elegant hand too. “I hope you caught that menace?”

“Yes, he’s been apprehended,” Zhao Yunlan said, failing to disclose who exactly had apprehended him. While Heipaoshi wasn’t exactly a secret, his involvement was usually kept on the down-low, as S.I.D. policy dictated. 

“Well done,” Ye Zun said, sounding relieved. “Are you alright, Li Qian?”

She nodded, eyes wide, seemingly too shocked to speak. 

“I think we had better take you to the infirmary. You might need to sit down for a bit,” Ye Zun murmured. 

“You should let Shen Wei know what happened,” Zhao Yunlan said. 

Ye Zun made a face. “I was hoping not to disturb him, because he has a lecture at the moment, but I guess it’s too late for that now.”

That...didn’t entirely make sense. But before Zhao Yunlan could question him on that, one of the hovering students piped up, “You and Li Qian should go to the infirmary, Professor Ye. I’ll go find Professor Shen and let him know where you are.”

“Thank you, Ming Yan,” Ye Zun said with a grateful smile. “What would I do without you helpful students around here?”

The students practically vibrated with happiness at the praise. Geez, Ye Zun really had his students eating out of his pretty palms. As they ushered Ye Zun and Li Qian away, Zhao Yunlan pondered over the day’s events. 

Something didn’t sit right with him about what had just happened. Other than the annoyance that he had lost his perpetrator after several days of investigation, he was sure that there was also something else going on. He just couldn’t put his finger on it. 

But he would find out.

Chapter Text

Before Ye Zun took a diver off a building, Zhao Yunlan was sharing only breakfast with Shen Wei and Ye Zun in a very weak effort at maintaining some professional distance. That was right, only breakfast. He wasn’t having dinner with them as well. Having breakfast and dinner together would definitely be crossing a line. What line that was, Zhao Yunlan had no idea, but he was damn well maintaining it.  

That one time he had casually dropped in on Shen Wei and eaten the cake that his students had left on his desk? That same time when he had accidentally flirted with Shen Wei and given him long looks from beneath his lashes while wrapping his lips around a cake-covered fork? That was just a once-off. An outlier that was not to be included because it would mess up his bell curve of professional behavior. 

Never mind that Ye Zun had come in and kicked up a fuss because apparently Shen Wei’s cakes were for him alone to eat. Never mind that Ye Zun had grabbed Zhao Yunlan’s hand, still holding the fork with the last remaining bite, and at an excruciatingly slow speed, closed his mouth around the cake and pulled off the fork like he was performing some kind of cake-fork-fellatio. And when Zhao Yunlan had turned to look at Shen Wei in shocked silence, he swore he saw Shen Wei licking his lips. 

Clearly...Zhao Yunlan’s fevered imagination was just reading too much into all of this. Somehow.   

So only breakfast, with once-off cake eating, and no dinners. 

But today, Ye Zun had fallen off a four storey building, and Zhao Yunlan had been too busy to even see him to the University’s medical centre. So naturally, like any good S.I.D. Chief concerned about the well-being of a public citizen, Zhao Yunlan had checked up on him. 

Zhao Yunlan: r u ok?

Silver Vixen: So injured. :( So hurt. :(  

Zhao Yunlan: srsly

Silver Vixen: Gege made too much dinner. Why don’t you come over and check me out, handsome? ;)

That wording could not be a coincidence. 

And if he remembered correctly, Shen Wei had claimed to have made too much breakfast as well on that first day. Mysteriously, he had also made too much breakfast every day since. In fact, while Zhao Yunlan wasn’t technically sharing dinner with them, he was often sent away with leftovers from breakfast which he ended up eating for dinner.

It still didn’t count. Zhao Yunlan was holding on to that. 

Just for today only, for the sake of checking on the continued well-being of a civilian who had almost become a victim of Zhao Yunlan’s suspect, he would have dinner with Shen Wei and Ye Zun. It was not crossing any lines, because this would be another once-off. 

Definitely. 

Once only, not to be repeated again. 

Zhao Yunlan pushed open the door, which had never once been locked when they were expecting him. He walked into the small apartment to find it...empty. Which was strange. Zhao Yunlan looked around in confusion and noticed that while the kitchen was clean, there were signs that food preparation had happened recently. He could even see food in the oven, keeping warm, and there were some covered plates on the kitchen counter as well.

Did they have to leave suddenly?  

Before he could reach for his mobile phone, the bathroom door opened and Shen Wei walked out…

Zhao Yunlan’s brain ground to a stop.

Shen Wei walked out wearing nothing but a dark blue robe, wrapped tight around his body and cinched at the waist but still open enough to reveal a shocking amount of chest and collarbone and neck for Shen Wei. This was Shen Wei who considered the top button being undone as the height of relaxation. Zhao Yunlan had never even seen his collarbones before, never knew he wore some kind of spherical pendant on a leather tie around his neck. The robes only fell to his knees so Zhao Yunlan could also see shapely calves and lovely ankles that joined with perfectly formed bare feet. Oh god, those bare vulnerable feet against the wooden floor. Was Zhao Yunlan developing a kink? A fetish for calves, ankles, feet, collarbone and neck? Or maybe it was just a Shen Wei-related fetish.

Immediately, Zhao Yunlan felt a little short of breath, his cheeks heating up as well. Why were his cheeks heating up? Zhao Yunlan was the reigning champion of slutty shamelessness back when he was in university, he couldn’t possibly be blushing over Shen Wei in a robe? He couldn’t be affected just because Shen Wei’s hair was wet, curling at his neck, and his lashes looked even darker since they were damp. His cheeks were also temptingly flushed and his lips were very pink, most likely heated from the shower. 

“Zhao Yunlan,” Shen Wei said without a hint of embarrassment as he smiled warmly. “I’m glad you could join us for dinner. I wanted to thank you for saving my didi.”

“Oh, it was nothing. All in a day’s work. Uh, I must be early, Ye Zun might have given me the wrong time to come by,” Zhao Yunlan said, well aware that he was starting to ramble but not able to rein it in at all. “Where is he by the way? Did he get—” 

His words dried up as Ye Zun sauntered out of the bathroom behind Shen Wei, steam billowing around him.

Heavy-lidded eyes met his and Ye Zun smirked. “Hello, handsome.”

He was wearing deep red robes, a startling contrast to Shen Wei’s rich blue robes. Ye Zun’s longer hair was loose around his neck and shoulders, wavy in dampness. Unlike Shen Wei, he didn’t have his robes so tightly wrapped around his body, so he was revealing quite a bit more chest. But Ye Zun’s everyday wear tended to show off a bit more skin anyway, so somehow, Zhao Yunlan didn’t feel as bowled over by the sight of his chest and calves. 

But Zhao Yunlan was feeling pretty shocked anyway by the sight of Ye Zun walking out of the bathroom behind Shen Wei. They had clearly just showered, with their wet hair, damp skin, and flushed complexions. 

And they had clearly both come out of the same bathroom, the only bathroom in the apartment. 

But...that meant…

It couldn’t be. 

But what else could it be?

Shen Wei and Ye Zun had been showering together… There was no other conclusion he could draw here. 

Zhao Yunlan stared in complete silence as Ye Zun walked over and handed a small white towel to Shen Wei, keeping another one with him. Without a word, Shen Wei gently put the towel over Ye Zun’s hair and started squeezing excess water from his long hair. It should be awkward, since they were the same height and facing one another. But Shen Wei did it with practiced ease, and Ye Zun ducked his head for Shen Wei. 

“I’m sorry for the delay in dinner,” Shen Wei said, as if he hadn’t just come out of the shower with his own twin brother and was now drying his hair for him. “There was a mishap during dinner and I needed a shower to clean up.”

Ye Zun turned his head a little, looking at Zhao Yunlan and smirking. His lips were very pink as well. “We both needed to clean up.”

There went Zhao Yunlan’s frantic excuses that maybe Ye Zun had just gone into the bathroom to change into robes to fuck with Zhao Yunlan’s head. But no. Shen Wei didn’t deny anything, just patted Ye Zun’s hair with the towel. No longer dripping but still damp, Ye Zun’s hair was the color of burnished steel instead of its usual pale moonlight.  

Lifting his head, Ye Zun smiled at Shen Wei, eyes bright. “Your turn, gege.”

Shen Wei obediently ducked his head to receive the same treatment from Ye Zun, letting Ye Zun squeeze and pat his hair dry with the second towel. With his shorter hair, the affectionate hair-rubbing was finished quicker. Out of its usual gelled perfection, Shen Wei’s dark hair was fluffier than Zhao Yunlan expected and curled at the ends beneath his ears. 

Zhao Yunlan might be having heart palpitations at the sight of the damp twins and the fact that they showered together

Two adult siblings showering together? Combined with all their affectionate cuddling and coddling? 

Surely it wasn’t all in his imagination that there was something unusual about their relationship?  

Zhao Yunlan was still reeling when Ye Zun ushered him into a chair at the dining table. Shen Wei was already plating up the food.

“Aren’t you going to change?” Zhao Yunlan asked a little faintly. 

Shen Wei shook his head, not looking up from where he was removing a tray from the oven. “I don’t want the food to get cold.”

“And we’re at home, there’s nothing wrong with wearing bathrobes at home, Yunlan,” Ye Zun said as he weaved and moved around Shen Wei, carrying things over to the dining table with silent and easy coordination. 

There was nothing wrong with wearing bathrobes at home except for how it was clearly a personal attack on Zhao Yunlan’s sanity. He sat at the dining table, taking slow deep breaths, trying to convince his brain to stop playing an endless loop of Shen Wei’s calves and cute knees, Ye Zun’s damp hair against his pale neck, the way the two of them affectionately touched each other without reserve... 

Zhao Yunlan thought he had managed to get his thoughts mostly under control when abruptly his eyes tried to bug out of their sockets because did Ye Zun just pat Shen Wei on the butt to nudge him out of the way? No way. 

No way. 

Zhao Yunlan closed his eyes. Reality was actually worse than his imagination for his libido. He needed to not look so he would be able to eventually leave this apartment without disgracing himself. He needed to be calm, cool, collected, and not come in his jeans from picturing what Shen Wei and Ye Zun were doing in the bathroom. He needed to not think about the two of them, completely naked, water sliding down their bare skin in rivulets as they pressed closer together, legs shifting, backs arching as their similar voices gasped… 

Oh god, no, no, no, think about Da Qing’s smelly farts, Lin Jing on a bad hair day, Zhu Hong’s screech when she broke a nail…

Taking deep breaths, Zhao Yunlan got himself under control. Thank you, S.I.D. team, for being such excellent boner-killers. 

“Are you alright?” 

Zhao Yunlan opened his eyes and looked up to see Shen Wei standing right by his chair, frowning a little with worry. From this close, Zhao Yunlan could smell the clean scent of their shampoo, something that smelled a little like pears. From this close, Zhao Yunlan could see that Shen Wei’s pale chest was really absurdly smooth, like marble, and the sphere hanging around his neck was an almost-glowing yellow jade. From this close, Zhao Yunlan thought he could just lean right over and suck on Shen Wei’s nipple right through his bathrobe…

OKAY. NOPE.

TIME OUT, BRAIN.

Da Qing’s smelly farts, Lin Jing on a bad hair day, Zhu Hong’s screech when she broke a nail, he chanted to himself on repeat. 

“I’m fine,” Zhao Yunlan said, his voice sounding a little squeaky and not at all like he was fine. 

Shen Wei stared at him for a moment longer, before Ye Zun called, “Alright, all the food is served.” He swept an arm over the food dramatically, like a magician revealing his latest spectacle. Then he blinked at Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei. “Oh, am I interrupting? Please continue.”

He gave them both a long, appreciative look. 

Shen Wei pressed the back of his hand to Zhao Yunlan’s forehead and said, “Are you unwell, Zhao Yunlan? You look a little flushed.”

That cool hand against his feverish face was almost too much for Zhao Yunlan to handle. He ducked away from the touch, turning to face the food and scooting his chair under the table so Shen Wei couldn’t maintain contact. He manfully ignored the flicker of hurt in Shen Wei’s gaze as he stepped away. 

Peeking from beneath his lashes, Zhao Yunlan watched as Shen Wei walked to the other side of the table. Ye Zun was frowning, reaching out to squeeze Shen Wei’s arm, but Shen Wei only smiled. Then Ye Zun leaned in and whispered something in Shen Wei’s ear, and it just looked so intimate that Zhao Yunlan quickly dropped his gaze onto the food instead. 

Shen Wei had definitely prepared too many dishes again. There was a plate of stuffed eggplants, fried to a light golden-brown, next to a dish of steamed codfish generously bathed in ginger and soy sauce. The gleaming braised pork belly in dark soy sauce right in front of Zhao Yunlan smelled heavenly, and the bright green of the water spinach stir fried with chilli, garlic and dried shrimp added color to the table. Two big bowls sat in the middle of the table; one holding tofu and minced pork, while the other smelled like it was radish and beef brisket soup. 

“Wow, you really went all out today. This is a full feast, I don’t think we’re going to be able to finish everything. What’s the occasion?” Zhao Yunlan said, trying to bury his surge of lust and longing with words and more words. 

“To thank you for keeping didi safe,” Shen Wei said, which...right, he had said that earlier. 

“It was no big deal,” Zhao Yunlan tried to demur, feeling a little uncomfortable because really, he hadn’t done anything. 

Ye Zun snarked as he dug his chopsticks into the soft flaky codfish, “Oh, so saving my life is no big deal now?”

Huffing, Zhao Yunlan said, “It’s a big deal, but I didn’t do anything. We didn’t turn up on time to stop your attacker from throwing you off the roof. And then Heipaoshi was the one who really stopped the suspect. Before he made off with said suspect.” Nope, he wasn’t completely bitter about that still. 

A piece of stuffed eggplant was deposited into his bowl of rice and he looked up, raising his eyebrows at Shen Wei. 

Smiling, Shen Wei said, “You might have felt like you didn’t save didi, but the fact that he’s still sitting here disproves your point, I believe.”

“Exactly. Gege is right,” Ye Zun interjected, running a hand through his damp silver hair. “If you hadn’t been there, maybe the Shadow Man would have thrown Li Qian down too. Or maybe he would have followed me off the roof to ensure he really finished me off.”

The thought sent a chill through Zhao Yunlan, and he shook his head. “It was our fault that we hadn’t caught the suspect earlier and that you were in danger at all. And we don’t even know why the Shadow Man did all that.”

“Do Dixingren need an excuse to behave like that?” Ye Zun asked, voice mild and curious. Deceptively so. 

Zhao Yunlan gave him a look. “You know my views on Dixingren already. You don’t have to test me again.”

Holding his gaze, Ye Zun didn’t apologize or back down. He just stared back before nodding slowly, looking blatantly pleased. The approval and pleasure was echoed in Shen Wei’s understated expression, through the bare curve of his lips and the dark gaze that tracked Zhao Yunlan. 

In the lull between words, Zhao Yunlan took a moment to look at both Ye Zun and Shen Wei. Ye Zun, sitting in a robe which gaped wide at the chest and with his silver hair curling long over his shoulders, looked like a decadent lord from a different era, elegantly picking up some water spinach with his chopsticks. 

In contrast, Shen Wei’s bathrobe showed more of his neck than his button-ups ever did, but he still somehow managed to look completely poised and collected. People tended to look more vulnerable without their glasses on but the removal of his spectacles seemed to have the opposite effect on Shen Wei. He looked more serious, no glass lenses to hide how intensely he was watching Zhao Yunlan from across the table. 

Sitting opposite the twins who were freshly showered and wearing nothing but their bathrobes, Zhao Yunlan felt poorly dressed and embarrassingly dishevelled. Zhao Yunlan, who often put on clothing with holes in them with the sole purpose of annoying his father or a superior at work, tried to push down his feelings of inferiority and focus on what was important.

“You aren’t happy that Heipaoshi took away your suspect?” Shen Wei asked curiously, changing the subject. 

Zhao Yunlan grimaced. “That obvious, huh?” He picked up some choice pieces of pork belly and deposited them in Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s bowls, figuring he should return the gesture especially since the plate was on his side of the table. They looked absurdly pleased by such a simple action. 

“Why aren’t you happy about it?” Ye Zun asked. “Isn’t that part of the agreement with Dixing? And doesn’t that solve your case?”

Hmm, so they even knew about the agreement between Haixing and Dixing. Zhao Yunlan shrugged and said, “Sending the Shadow Man back to Dixing for punishment solves his immediate crime. But if we don’t know the reasons behind his actions, we might not be aware of any bigger problems lying in wait for us.”

“Heipaoshi will probably find out the reason, won’t he?” Ye Zun pointed out with casual confidence. 

“I wouldn’t know since the information sharing only goes one way, and it’s certainly not in my direction,” Zhao Yunlan grumbled. 

Shen Wei and Ye Zun exchanged looks. Finally, Shen Wei only murmured, “Perhaps it’s safer for you that way.”

Ah, it was kind of sweet that they would worry about his safety, but Zhao Yunlan tried to put them at ease anyway. “More information makes one safer, not less. But you shouldn’t worry about my safety anyway. I’ve a strong team and we look after each other.”

Shen Wei nodded at his words and said, “I’m glad to hear that, Zhao Yunlan.”

“They had better keep you safe,” Ye Zun muttered under his breath, but not low enough for Zhao Yunlan to miss it.

“And work frustration aside, I’m glad you’re okay, Ye Zun,” Zhao Yunlan said as he lifted fragrant rice to his mouth.

He noticed Shen Wei leaning a little into Ye Zun’s side, brushing their arms together as if in agreement with Zhao Yunlan’s words. 

Ye Zun widened his eyes dramatically in response and said to them both with an exaggerated air of suffering, “I’m alright now, but it was still very scary. Both of you should spoil me to make me feel better.”

With a hint of exasperation, Shen Wei asked with a helpless smile, “When don’t we spoil you?”

“You could always spoil me more,” Ye Zun pointed out shamelessly. 

Laughing, Zhao Yunlan placed tofu and pork belly into Ye Zun’s bowl. “Here, here, please eat more, young prince.”

“Hn, hn, that’s more like it,” Ye Zun said loftily, accepting it with glee as his due. 

Shen Wei stole a piece of tofu from his bowl, which led to Ye Zun squawking in outrage. Shen Wei smiled beatifically. “Didi, you’re in shock from this afternoon, you shouldn’t eat so much or you’ll upset your stomach.”

That led to Ye Zun whining at Shen Wei, while Shen Wei ate placidly, unmoved. Zhao Yunlan smiled, enjoying their antics and letting himself bask in their presence. 

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan stood outside the car, looking around as Lin Jing flipped through the reports in the file. 

“This person has been trying to break into the Ministry every night,” Zhao Yunlan said, looking around casually. “Immediately after we solve the Shadow Man case, this one starts instead. Things are getting less and less peaceful around here.”

“We didn’t solve the Shadow Man case, he got taken away by Heipaoshi,” Lin Jing pointed out without even looking up, ever helpful. 

Zhao Yunlan gave him a look that was wasted on the idiot. “You don’t need to remind me of that.”

Lin Jing closed the files and suggested enthusiastically, “Lao Zhao, waiting here like this is just a waste of money and manpower, and it doesn’t seem effective. Why don’t we go home?”

This moron…

“That makes sense,” Zhao Yunlan said around his lollipop, pointing at him. “Let me make a call.”

Grinning that his dumb plan had worked, Lin Jing nodded happily. 

Zhao Yunlan hit his speed dial and put the phone to his ear. “Hello, Wang Zheng? Help me note down that Lin Jing’s bonus for this month—”

Taking his life into his own hands, Lin Jing grabbed the phone from Zhao Yunlan and quickly ended the call as he babbled, “Boss, this matter of someone trying to break into the Ministry is of utmost importance. I, Lin Jing, will bring this perpetrator to justice!”

Zhao Yunlan rolled his eyes and reached into the car to get his phone back. 

“Hey, who’s Silver Vixen?” Lin Jing asked as he looked down at the phone. “Ooh, wait, doesn’t one of the twin professors have silver hair? Oh my god, Lao Zhao, are you actually texting that professor? I heard Da Qing talk about how you were eyeing up both twins. You know just because they’re twins, doesn’t mean they actually want to fuck each other or want—”

Bonus,” was all Zhao Yunlan said as he snatched his phone out of Lin Jing’s busybody hands. 

Lin Jing mimed zipping his mouth shut, but Zhao Yunlan knew he wouldn’t stay quiet for long. He looked down to see a new message from Ye Zun, which was probably what Lin Jing had seen. 

Silver Vixen: We missed you over dinner :( 

Silver Vixen: Gege made too much food again, so we left some for you outside your door

Silver Vixen: You should give us your spare key, it’ll be more convenient in the future. 

Silver Vixen: We could leave you interesting surprises inside your apartment too ;) 

Alright, so regular breakfasts had now become semi-regular dinners. And to Zhao Yunlan’s shame, he had been thinking about giving them his spare key even before Ye Zun raised it here. After all, it wasn’t like the lack of spare key had stopped them from entering his apartment. He had woken up at least once to Shen Wei tidying up his apartment and Ye Zun going through his closet, which he was sure was completely normal behavior between friends in some alternate universe where personal boundaries didn’t exist. And that was just the one time Zhao Yunlan had caught them doing it. His apartment was definitely too neat to be possible without Shen Wei’s constant assistance and his closet contained new, very nice clothes that could only have been put there by Ye Zun. 

But Zhao Yunlan found it really hard to care that Shen Wei and Ye Zun didn’t see a personal boundary they didn’t immediately want to obliterate. It was hard to worry about their social boundaries, or lack thereof, when it got him good food, a clean apartment, new clothing, gorgeous eye-candy and to be honest, the more worrying part, really good company. 

He really liked being around them. They weren’t just easy to talk to, they were fun to talk to, with Ye Zun’s sly commentary and Shen Wei’s dry humor. And they were both smart and interesting. There was never a lack of conversation around the two of them. But even when no one was saying anything, it was strangely easy to just sit there and spend time with them, relaxing after dinner, letting their steady presence quiet his noisy brain. 

There was this warmth between them, this boundless affection, which they seemed to invite him into every time they saw him. They never excluded him, were always seeking him out with welcoming smiles and steady gazes.

But Zhao Yunlan knew that it couldn’t be real. That he couldn’t be reading this right. 

It was just too good to be true. 

Zhao Yunlan knew he was getting in too deep with the twins, especially when he had been so suspicious of them during the Lu Ruomei case. And he still had a lot of doubts left over from that entire case and some of the events involving Ye Zun and Shen Wei. So to let down his defences so much and spend all this time with them…

Well, a night away from all of it was a good idea. He needed some distance again. 

At least, this case shouldn’t have anything to do with either Shen Wei or Ye Zun. Confounding as it was to have someone try to break into the Ministry, this should be easier to deal with since Ye Zun and Shen Wei were nowhere near the case. 

~ * ~

“Don’t move!” Zhao Yunlan shouted at the figure clad in a green coat, turning away in mid-flight. 

To his surprise, the person actually stopped moving. He had expected a chase on foot down the alley, not for his order to actually work. The figure had his back to them, standing there as if frozen in place as Zhao Yunlan and Lin Jing ran up to him. Zhao Yunlan kept his flashlight trained on the back of the suspect, wary of any sudden movements.

Lin Jing stopped in front of the side-door that led into the Ministry of Supervision, examining it. “It’s still closed but the alarm definitely went off.” Fiddling with his phone, Lin Jing must have turned off the silent alarm that he had rigged up. Then he bent down to examine the ground. “A muddy footprint, likely from a man, and the shape and size are the same as those left behind at the previous break-in attempts.”

Zhao Yunlan felt a surge of satisfaction. Finally, a case that might be solved quickly. He announced, “We’re from the Special Investigation Department. Turn around.”

He stiffened when he saw the suspect raise something to his face, worried at first about a weapon or some Dixingren power. Then the suspect turned around. 

Zhao Yunlan stared. 

“Pro— Professor Shen??” Lin Jing exclaimed in shock.

Lowering the flashlight, Zhao Yunlan let out a hiss of frustration. All Shen Wei did was push up his glasses, which Zhao Yunlan realized he must have put on before he turned around. Were his glasses just an affectation? Or a disguise?  

“Lao Zhao, the Ministry guards will be here any minute,” Lin Jing said nervously. 

It was a good thing Zhao Yunlan had asked Lin Jing to set up the alarm in a way which would alert the S.I.D. at least a minute ahead of the Ministry guards. Something about the repeated break-in attempts with very specific clues left behind, followed by the Ministry’s claim that these were the actions of a Dixingren yet insisting that the S.I.D. should not get involved, had seemed very fishy to him. As a result of his paranoia, he had set some measures in place once they managed to muscle their way in. 

“Let’s go,” Zhao Yunlan said, walking forward and raising his eyebrows at Shen Wei. “Professor Shen?”

Without a word, Shen Wei fell into step with him obediently. Not that the sudden meek manner was doing anything to reduce the rising ire in Zhao Yunlan’s chest.

Chapter Text

Zhao Yunlan sat on the couch, exhausted. 

It was pretty late in the night, but this wasn’t physical exhaustion. 

He was just tired. During the Lu Ruomei case, his mind couldn’t stop picking up and examining all the anomalies, all the strange events that didn’t line up when it came to Shen Wei and Ye Zun. But in the end, the perpetrator had clearly not been either of the twins, so it was easy enough for him to let it all go, to ignore it. 

And yes, he still had suspicions, couldn’t stop his mind constantly replaying his observations. But he had also let the daily breakfasts, flirtation, intense stares, messages…had let all of that distract him. 

The twins clearly had their secrets. 

But did it really matter? Everyone had their secrets. Zhao Yunlan might want to dig in and uncover what they were hiding, that was just the kind of person he was. But ultimately, whatever those secrets were, they didn’t change Ye Zun and Shen Wei’s warm presence, the way they looked at him, looked at each other. 

Zhao Yunlan had told himself, as long as there was no crime involved, as long as they weren’t part of his criminal investigations, he could wait. Maybe eventually, they would trust him with whatever truths they had hidden away. 

But here he was with Shen Wei in an interrogation room, caught at the scene of the crime. He stared at the last message from Ye Zun, asking for a spare key so they could leave interesting surprises in his apartment. And Zhao Yunlan had been seriously considering giving them one.

What the fuck had he been thinking? 

Zhao Yunlan could neither deny his suspicions anymore nor his utter lack of objectivity when it came to Shen Wei and Ye Zun. 

He had more than an inkling that they were Dixingren. There were too many obvious clues for them not to be. The fact that Ye Zun had survived that fall from the roof? Without even a single scratch? It was impossible, regardless of the bushes underneath. And with the kind of powers the Shadow Man had, no normal human being could have kept the Shadow Man at bay long enough for the S.I.D. to turn up and not suffer any injury for it too. 

Shen Wei hadn’t shown as much suspicious behavior as Ye Zun, except the telling way he talked about Dixingren and how much he cared about Zhao Yunlan’s opinion on Dixingren. And now…here Shen Wei was. Found at the scene of an attempted break-in just as the alarms went off, with a shoe size that was a close match to the footprints found at previous crime scenes. 

If Ye Zun was a Dixingren with his powers manifested, then Shen Wei as his twin would be Dixingren too. Since he was at the break-in, the likelihood that he didn’t have powers as well plummeted. 

Shen Wei ah, Shen Wei… 

What was Zhao Yunlan meant to do with him now?

From behind the one-way mirror, Zhao Yunlan and his team watched as Zhu Hong entered the interrogation room and set a glass of water down in front of Shen Wei. 

She sat down and smiled rather unconvincingly. “Professor Shen, my name is Zhu Hong and I’ll be asking you a few questions today. You’re acquainted with some in my team, but we’ll have to put that aside for this discussion.” Zhu Hong continued without preamble, not giving Shen Wei time to regroup or respond, “The university is in the north while the Ministry is in the south. That’s two opposite directions. What’s your reason for going so far so late in the night?”

“Let’s put aside the reason and talk about the evidence instead,” Shen Wei replied calmly, in a tone similar to how he lectured his students in class. Which Zhao Yunlan might know because he might have sat in on both Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s classes once each. For investigative reasons. Definitely. 

Zhao Yunlan dragged his mind back to the interrogation at hand to hear Shen Wei saying, “Since you’ve investigated the footprints at the crime scene, you should already know that there was another man involved. He’s the real perpetrator. I just happened to be walking by when you came across me.”

Shen Wei wasn’t completely wrong there since the footprints weren’t an exact match, and it was clear Zhu Hong didn’t know how to respond to this. 

She took a different tack, tapping on the table as she asked, “You’ve just been brought in for questioning, but you seem completely unfazed. For a professor, aren’t your nerves a little too steely?” 

It was a very good point, one that had been raised before by his team and even by Zhao Yunlan himself in the past. Shen Wei looked down, and Zhao Yunlan wondered what he would say in defence of his unnerving calm, if he was mulling over a convincing answer.

Then Shen Wei looked up with a considering gaze and the hairs on the back of Zhao Yunlan’s neck stood up. Against all expectations, Shen Wei said casually, “Generally speaking, the Snake tribe excels in making antidotes, stealthy movement, hypnosis and instant explosive force.” As he spoke, Zhao Yunlan could see Zhu Hong looking more and more unsettled. Shen Wei continued with the mildest curiosity, as if he was reading something interesting from a textbook, “But from your performance here, it seems like you’re putting your acting skills to practical use instead.”

Shifting the glass of water aside, Shen Wei leaned forward and asked with a pleasant smile, “If you can’t use your hypnotism, does that mean you aren’t fully evolved?”

Zhu Hong stared at him and then burst out with, “Yes, I’m the one holding back the Snake tribe, but what does that have to do with you?” She snapped her folder shut and stormed out of the interrogation room. 

Zhao Yunlan knew he shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t, because this was his own team getting the runaround…

But he couldn’t help but smile, silently chuckling at the absolute balls on Shen Wei to poke at Zhu Hong like that and strike at her sore points so incisively. With behavior like this, was Shen Wei even trying to maintain his mild-mannered professor front? 

They sent in Chu Shuzhi next, who decided to bring in his puppet to clean at the interrogation table. Zhao Yunlan was a little amused that this was Chu Shuzhi’s implicit admission that his puppet was kind of creepy and could be used as an interrogation method just by being in the same room as the suspect. 

“That doll seems like it’s alive,” Shen Wei said mildly. 

Chu Shuzhi kept wiping at the puppet, not looking away as he replied with cold disdain, “Some lives have worth, but some have already been tainted. For the latter, they should just be like a doll and be utterly sundered.”

What the hell, Chu Shuzhi? 

Zhao Yunlan despaired at his team’s interrogation skills. 

Showing a complete lack of survival instinct, Shen Wei reached out for the puppet. Chu Shuzhi immediately grabbed him by the wrist before his fingers grazed the puppet, keeping him still with a punishing grip. In the observation room, Lin Jing turned around quickly, eyes wide as he looked at Zhao Yunlan as if silently asking if they should rush in to save Shen Wei’s arm from being torn off.

But Shen Wei only smiled again and commented politely, “It’s exquisite,” while nodding at the doll he wasn’t allowed to touch.

Zhao Yunlan stared with narrowed eyes at Shen Wei’s completely impenetrable calm. Against someone like Chu Shuzhi…did Shen Wei just lack any self-preservation? 

“They’re right. Your nerves are made of steel,” Chu Shuzhi said, although it sounded less like a compliment and more like an accusation.

“Because my conscience is clear,” Shen Wei said, pulling his hand back, which Chu Shuzhi released to Zhao Yunlan’s surprise. “I was only in the wrong place at the wrong time. The S.I.D. relies on real evidence, which you don’t have at the moment, so the most you can be is suspicious of me. You won’t really extort a confession out of me.”

Chu Shuzhi let out a disbelieving huff. “Your confidence and composure reminds me of someone I know.” That had Zhao Yunlan frowning. Who could that be? Chu Shuzhi wasn’t exactly surrounded by friends. Then Chu Shuzhi continued disdainfully, “But you can’t even compare to his toes.” Ah, Zhao Yunlan immediately knew who Chu Shuzhi was thinking about here. There was only one person Chu Shuzhi hero-worshipped to this extent.

Strangely, Shen Wei looked towards the one-way mirror, where all he should have been able to see was his own reflection. But he seemed to meet Zhao Yunlan’s gaze unerringly. “Then this person must be a righteous hero.”

Okay, what the fuck?

If Zhao Yunlan hadn’t been suspicious of Shen Wei being Dixingren, he surely would have been at this point! This wasn’t a suspenseful TV drama, a person didn’t look randomly at a one-way mirror and somehow hold the gaze of someone else through it. Shen Wei had most definitely seen through that one-way mirror which meant he most definitely wasn’t a regular Haixingren. 

Also, what was with that comment? Why did he look at Zhao Yunlan as he said ‘a righteous hero’? Because clearly Chu Shuzhi was talking about Heipaoshi, as president of his fanclub. Shen Wei couldn’t possibly think that Chu Shuzhi was referring to him, Zhao Yunlan? Because that would be hilarious. Chu Shuzhi would have a fit if he knew.

Alright, alright, enough already. If Zhao Yunlan let this continue, his entire team would have a go at ‘interrogating’ Shen Wei and end up either trying to beat him up or running away with their self-worth destroyed. That was just much too embarrassing for him, as the chief of S.I.D., to live down. 

Zhao Yunlan walked into the interrogation room and took over. As he left the room, Chu Shuzhi didn’t let any visible emotion show on his face, but Zhao Yunlan knew he had to be relieved. Interrogation wasn’t one of Chu Shuzhi’s strong suits.

Sitting down, Zhao Yunlan decided that there was no angle he could use or clever question he could ask that would get through Shen Wei’s impenetrable tranquility. He decided to get to the point. “I’m going to be straightforward and ask you one question only.” That got Shen Wei’s attention, his cool mask cracking for the first time as he looked up with wide eyes. Zhao Yunlan held his gaze and asked, “Lu Ruomei’s murder and the recent break-in attempts at the Ministry...are they connected to you?”

Shen Wei’s response was instantaneous. “No.”

He spoke without hesitation, holding Zhao Yunlan’s gaze. In fact, a sliver of emotion seemed to bleed into those unreadable eyes. Since Shen Wei walked through the doors of S.I.D., he had been calm, cool and collected. But now, Zhao Yunlan thought he saw an unexpected plea in that otherwise steady gaze, a hope that Zhao Yunlan would believe him. 

And against all reason and logic…

Zhao Yunlan did. 

He shook his head, laughing at himself hopelessly. Getting up, he shoved his chair back hard in a fit of frustration at his own gullibility and announced to his team watching on the other side of the one-way mirror, “Take his statement and let him go.”

Then he strode out the door without looking back. 

Outside the interrogation room, he took out his phone from his pocket and hit the send button on the message he had prepared earlier. 

Either this would be a continuation of his stupidity or it would be a very smart move. He should find out in a few minutes. 

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan watched Guo Changcheng take Shen Wei’s statement in a long-winded, rather haphazard way. The statement was really just a delaying tactic. They weren’t going to put Shen Wei’s interrogation on official record, not when they had pretty much stolen him from under the Ministry’s noses by whisking him off before their guards turned up. This statement-taking was just to buy Zhao Yunlan some time to see how things played out.

Occasionally, he looked down at his phone. He could see that Ye Zun had received and read the message, but to his surprise, he hadn’t sent a response or even called. 

Zhao Yunlan: Shen Wei has been detained for questioning under suspicion of breaking into the Ministry of Supervision.

That was all he had sent to Ye Zun. 

Strangely, Zhao Yunlan did believe Shen Wei. Something about the way Shen Wei looked at him...he could tell that Shen Wei wasn’t lying. They might not have known each other for long, but Zhao Yunlan knew this much at least: Shen Wei was a terrible liar. 

He deflected in strange wordy ways when he wanted to hide the truth; he came up with nonsensical distractions when he was trying to lie. In fact, Shen Wei was one of the worst liars Zhao Yunlan had ever encountered in his history in law enforcement. 

It was kind of charming. At least he knew the beautiful and smart professor wasn’t perfect. 

Ye Zun was a much smoother liar, but he was also less prone to lying. There was an edge to Ye Zun’s words and smiles that sometimes made it seem like he was lying, but from reading Shen Wei’s reaction, Zhao Yunlan could tell when Ye Zun actually was lying or not. And frequently, he wasn’t. 

So even though Zhao Yunlan knew that Shen Wei hadn’t been lying, that he hadn’t been involved in Lu Ruomei’s murder or the recent break-in attempts at the Ministry, he also didn’t believe that Shen Wei just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when they caught him. 

There was something else going on. Shen Wei might not have been trying to break-in, but he hadn’t been there by pure coincidence.

Telling Ye Zun was part of Zhao Yunlan’s blind faith in his ability to read the twins. It meant he was allowing Ye Zun to come pick Shen Wei up instead of trying to continue the farce of an interrogation. Because Ye Zun would surely come running to Shen Wei’s rescue, he had no doubt about that.

It would also serve the purpose of allowing Zhao Yunlan to observe Ye Zun’s reaction. If he couldn’t get anything out of Shen Wei, maybe he would get something out of Ye Zun instead. But that plan didn’t seem to be panning out. It had been fifteen minutes, and he had received no messages or calls from Ye Zun. Looked like he lost the gamble. 

Zhao Yunlan was about to slouch back down onto the couch when suddenly, the lights in the room flickered and a deathly cold descended upon the room. Goosebumps left his skin prickling and his heart tripped as space and time bent, as physics distorted in a flash of blackness that engulfed the wall. Fog drifted over the floor at the sudden change in temperature and footsteps echoed unnaturally as a distinctive dark-cloaked figure suddenly emerged from a black slash in reality. 

Everyone in the observation room was on their feet by the time Heipaoshi stepped fully into the room, his robes flowing behind him, his presence oppressive and imposing. 

Glancing into the interrogation room, Zhao Yunlan noticed that Guo Changcheng hadn’t noticed anything and Shen Wei was still talking, but Shen Wei’s eyes were fixed on the mirror again, looking at where Heipaoshi had appeared. Casually, Zhao Yunlan leaned over and flicked off the sound to the room so that they could no longer hear what was being said in the interrogation room. 

“Heilao-ge, we weren’t expecting you,” Zhao Yunlan said casually, raising his eyebrows inquisitively. 

“I found myself unexpectedly free tonight,” Heipaoshi said, and Zhao Yunlan immediately felt unsettled. Something about the way Heipaoshi spoke just sounded odd. “So I came by to provide some information on what I found out from the Shadow Man.”

Now that was interesting. Spreading his arms, Zhao Yunlan said with a smile, “Any information Heilao-ge can provide to us would be very much appreciated.”

“Your appreciation has been...noted.” Was it just his imagination, or did Heipaoshi sound almost...flirtatious? Zhao Yunlan glanced at Chu Shuzhi, wanting to see how the number one fanboy reacted, because surely he would have picked up on the unusual behavior too. 

But oddly enough, Chu Shuzhi looked a little pained, but he didn’t look surprised. Hang on… What did the Dixingren know about Heipaoshi? There must be yet another secret here which only Haixingren and maybe Yashou weren’t privy to. 

“So what is this information?” Zhao Yunlan asked bluntly when he looked back to Heipaoshi and saw him looking into the interrogation room instead. 

Heipaoshi turned back, his lips pursing before he said, “The Shadow Man was trying to find someone. He didn’t provide any more information, but everything he did was in search of his sister.”

Zhao Yunlan frowned. “He thought Lu Ruomei...what? Kidnapped his sister? Did he explain how?”

“Unfortunately, he wouldn’t say. He seems to be protecting his informant,” Heipaoshi stated. 

That was interesting information. But still…

“Thank you for the information, but I have to admit...it doesn’t seem urgent. Was there a reason you were rushing to pass on this information to us so late at night?” Zhao Yunlan asked curiously. 

Heipaoshi’s gaze had been drawn back to the interrogation room again. 

Waving a hand dismissively, Heipaoshi said, “As I mentioned, I had some free time right now.” Then he casually asked, “Who is that person in there? Why are you carrying out an interrogation at this hour?”

Was Heipaoshi giving Shen Wei a once over? An appreciative once over? No, that couldn’t be it. Everything Zhao Yunlan had seen of Heipaoshi indicated a no-nonsense, deadly serious personality. Although on second thought, Shen Wei was pretty hot, so it made sense that he caught everyone’s attention, including Heipaoshi’s...

It was still a little strange. Zhao Yunlan had only met Heipaoshi once before this, but the dialogue, his casual hand movements and even the way he was looking at Shen Wei were completely unlike how Heipaoshi had behaved the last time. Taking a completely unsubtle step to the side, Zhao Yunlan stood between Heipaoshi and his view into the interrogation room. 

“Respectfully, it doesn’t have anything to do with you as this isn’t a Dixing-related matter,” Zhao Yunlan responded firmly, meeting Heipaoshi’s dark gaze.

Next to him, Chu Shuzhi turned and gave Zhao Yunlan a death glare at his utter lack of respect. Interesting. So whatever was going on with Heipaoshi, Chu Shuzhi still treated him with the same reverence. Standing a little behind Heipaoshi, Da Qing was widening his eyes at Zhao Yunlan to a maniacal degree, clearly trying to get him to shut up before he got all of them killed. Zhu Hong was watching in silent appreciation like she was enjoying the show while Lin Jing was just staring with his mouth open, looking like an idiot as usual.

“If it’s not a Dixing-related matter, why is the Special Investigations Department involved?” Heipaoshi asked, his voice significantly chillier now. This sounded more like the looming figure from the rooftops. 

“Just doing a favor for the Ministry of Supervision,” Zhao Yunlan explained with an insouciant shrug, the kind designed to drive higher-ups crazy with his attitude. “I don’t ask questions, just follow orders.”

To his surprise, he thought he heard a very soft, disbelieving snort coming from Heipaoshi. Okay, sure, he was laying it on thick and anyone who knew him for two minutes wouldn't believe that statement. But still, he didn’t expect Heipaoshi to audibly react to it. 

Before he could poke and prod at Heipaoshi anymore, the door to the interrogation room opened and Shen Wei stepped out, followed by Guo Changcheng. When Zhao Yunlan shot Guo Changcheng an annoyed look, he only ducked his head and shrugged helplessly. Looked like Guo Changcheng’s natural clumsiness and purposeful attempts to delay couldn’t stand up against Shen Wei’s sheer force of will. 

Shen Wei reacted to Heipaoshi’s presence like how he reacted to everything else that happened today; with complete indifference. He was calm and steady, like it was normal for there to be looming figures dressed completely in heavy black lurking in every room he entered. 

“May I go now, Zhao Yunlan?” Shen Wei asked, ever polite, but there was a thin, razor’s edge to his voice this time. 

Turning to look at Shen Wei, Zhao Yunlan looked into his dark eyes and pursed lips…

And froze. 

How had he not noticed this earlier?

How could he have been so blind? 

Of course. It all made sense now. 

Well, not everything. But most of everything. 

Suddenly, Zhao Yunlan grinned. 

It was enough to make Lin Jing flinch reflexively from where he was sitting and for Shen Wei’s eyes to widen in shock and some trepidation. 

“Of course, of course, thank you for your cooperation, Shen Wei,” Zhao Yunlan said with a beaming smile. 

Looking a little wary, Shen Wei only nodded and walked past all of them, not looking around at anyone as he left. Keeping himself so composed to ensure he gave away nothing and instead, it gave away everything. Ah, Shen Wei, a bad liar in all ways. 

Zhao Yunlan turned to Heipaoshi, still grinning like a maniac. From behind that ugly black mask, dark eyes widened in surprise and Heipaoshi also looked visibly disturbed by Zhao Yunlan’s good cheer. 

“Heilao-ge, do you want to hang around for midnight tea?” he asked flippantly. 

“No, that will be...unnecessary. I have somewhere to be now. Thank you for the offer,” Heipaoshi said, sounding discomfited. 

“How unfortunate that we can’t chat for longer then,” Zhao Yunlan said, giving the masked figure a sad look, widening his eyes and going for doe-eyed, possibly achieving psychopathic stag in rut instead. 

Heipaoshi stepped back. It was enough to make Zhao Yunlan laugh, but he managed to choke down his snickering. As darkness began to coalesce behind Heipaoshi, the temperature in the room dropping once more, Zhao Yunlan waved and said, “Bye-bye, Heilao-ge.”

As if by instinct, the dark figure started to raise his hand, and then quickly dropped it again. He stepped back once more and disappeared into the black void before even that pool of darkness vanished. 

There was a breathless silence for a few precious seconds before the room erupted into a cacophony of sound. 

“I can’t believe you just let Professor Shen go like that,” Zhu Hong exclaimed. 

“I didn’t get to take any readings this time,” Lin Jing moaned. 

“I took a lot of notes like you said, Lao Zhao, but he was talking so fast and I got confused, I’m sorry,” Guo Changcheng babbled. 

“I’m amazed the esteemed Heipaoshi didn’t gut you,” Chu Shuzhi mused. 

If Wang Zheng hadn’t declined to watch the interrogation, she would probably have a comment of her own to add too. 

“Are you still interested in Professor Shen?” Wang Zheng asked. 

Ah, there she was, floating in through the open door to join in the fun.  

They all subsided to look at her, and then back at Zhao Yunlan. 

Zhao Yunlan’s momentary high over his revelation dampened a little, and he frowned as he turned to his team. “What are you talking about? I’m not interested in Professor Shen.”

That earned him a lot of skeptical looks. 

“You just took him at his word,” Zhu Hong interjected, crossing her arms. “What kind of interrogation tactic is that?”

“It wasn’t a real interrogation, because it was off the record. We can’t put it on record, since we pretty much stole him from the crime scene before the Ministry guards could take him into custody,” Zhao Yunlan pointed out. 

Chu Shuzhi asked with narrowed eyes, “And whose decision was that?”

Oh, yeah, good point. 

Unexpectedly, Lin Jing provided a distraction. “Wait, you still have the hots for Professor Shen? But you’re texting with his twin, Professor Ye…”

And unsurprisingly, Lin Jing’s distraction was cursed and full of traps. 

“Oh no, Chief Zhao, really?” Wang Zheng asked, her eyes wide and filled with disappointment. “You can’t be interested in both of them, are you? That’s...disloyal.”

“Not if it’s both at the same time,” Lin Jing pointed out. “Bet you Lao Zhao has a twin kink fantasy.” 

Twin kink fantasy?” Zhu Hong demanded, eyes wide and appalled. 

Chu Shuzhi clapped his hands over Guo Changcheng’s ears and asked with shocked disgust, like a virtuous maiden trapped in a muscular convict-turned-S.I.D.-officer, “How long has this been going on?”

Lao Li walked in, asking uncertainly with a tentative smile, “I thought I heard shouting? Is something wrong?”

“Oh come on, nothing has been going on. I’m just saying Lao Zhao’s dirty mind is fixating on the hot twins. It’s not like they actually reciprocate his lust,” Lin Jing said, heartlessly airing and destroying Zhao Yunlan’s hopeless daydreams in one fell swoop. He even turned to Zhao Yunlan and added, “You know that’s all just porno tropes right? Twins aren’t actually up for threesomes together.” 

“Never mind,” Lao Li said as he backed out of the door quickly.

“I don’t have a twin kink fantasy,” Zhao Yunlan shamelessly lied, saying it loudly in hopes that Lao Li heard it too, although he didn’t know why he was trying to save the scraps of his reputation. “Lin Jing, you’ve a filthy mind, don’t project onto me.”

Lin Jing muttered, “Please, I’ve seen your horny expression whenever anyone brings up Professor Shen and Professor Ye.”

“Thank you for your sharp observational skills, I’ll be sure to remember it when it comes to bonus time,” Zhao Yunlan bit out, starting to feel a bit harangued. 

Wang Zheng wrung her ghostly hands together and said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to fall in love with two people at the same time. And I’m not sure the twin brothers will both reciprocate...”

Zhu Hong said to herself but loud enough for everyone to hear, “This explains so much about Lao Zhao…”

Zhao Yunlan wanted to protest, but he was distracted as Chu Shuzhi started striding out of the room, dragging Guo Changcheng with him, hands still clapped over Guo Changcheng’s ears. “We don’t all have to be here for Lao Zhao’s perverted fantasies,” Chu Shuzhi announced as he went.

There was a surprising silent voice among the group. Zhao Yunlan looked over to where Da Qing was still seated, one leg up on the chair, chin propped on his knee. “You don’t have anything to add to this mess?” Zhao Yunlan asked with some exasperation. 

Da Qing tilted his head and asked slowly, “Why did you let Shen Wei off the hook?”

“Because there’s no proof,” Zhao Yunlan said, pointing a finger at Da Qing, the first one to ask a smart question today. “The side door hadn’t even been opened so we can’t prove he was breaking in. We took a print of his shoes and while the size matches, the treads don’t match. I just wanted to see what he would say under questioning.”

“And because you trust him,” Da Qing said, holding Zhao Yunlan’s gaze. 

“That...isn’t the point,” Zhao Yunlan tried. 

Zhu Hong threw her hands up and stormed out. Shooting Zhao Yunlan a worried look, Wang Zheng floated after her anxiously, probably to coax her out of a mood. 

For a moment, Da Qing, Lin Jing and Zhao Yunlan remained in the room, staring at each other. Then Lin Jing got up and shrugged, only saying, “Just remember, boss. Porn isn’t reality.”

“I will cut your bonus for the year,” Zhao Yunlan threatened. 

That sent Lin Jing scurrying out the door. 

Da Qing got up and walked over until he stood right in front of Zhao Yunlan, looking up at him with the narrowed eyes of a cat lying in wait for the right moment to pounce. “Lao Zhao, it kind of is the whole point. You trust them, Shen Wei and Ye Zun.”

“You think I’m wrong to trust them?” Zhao Yunlan asked, curious as to where this was going. 

Blinking slowly, Da Qing said after some thought, “I think...Shen Wei makes good fish congee and Ye Zun pets me right.”

“That’s helpful,” Zhao Yunlan said wryly. 

But he knew what Da Qing meant. Da Qing only liked Lao Li’s fish dishes and trusted few with his fur. 

He trusted them too. This was Da Qing’s tacit approval for whatever was going on with Shen Wei, Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan. 

Except nothing was going on. 

Sighing, Zhao Yunlan muttered, “Thanks, damned cat, but there’s really none of this twin kink fantasy thing going on here that Lin Jing has conjured up.”

Da Qing smiled and walked past, brushing up against Zhao Yunlan’s side. “If you say so, boss.”

Zhao Yunlan glared at his retreating back, annoyed at Da Qing’s clearly disbelieving tone. What did he need to do to earn some respect around here?

Chapter Text

Zhao Yunlan decided to wait until morning. But to maintain the element of surprise, once morning came, he pushed on Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s door about an hour earlier than usual. 

He expected that he would have to knock since he was early but the door swung open soundlessly. Damn, he needed to tell them to stop being so careless with their safety. Although come to think of it, their lack of concern about safety now made sense as well. Anyone barging in unannounced would be in for a shitshow. 

Which didn’t explain why Zhao Yunlan was doing it right at this moment of course. 

He walked through the doorway as if he usually dropped in at seven in the morning, as if he hadn’t had to set seven separate alarms to drag him out of bed on time today. 

Ready to surprise the twins, he opened his mouth to announce his presence only to snap it shut right away when his eyes finally landed on the occupants of the apartment. 

They were still in bed. 

Or rather, Ye Zun was still in bed, buried under a rumpled blanket. Not much of him could be seen because he was mostly obscured by Shen Wei who was sitting on the bed, already completely dressed in a neatly pressed shirt and work slacks, adorable polka-dotted sleeve garters in place. He was bent over Ye Zun, and Zhao Yunlan could only see the back of Shen Wei’s head, couldn’t see Ye Zun’s face, couldn’t see what they were really doing. But Shen Wei was bent low and their faces had to be pressed together at this proximity. They...surely they couldn’t be...but…

Shen Wei straightened and turned, as if sensing Zhao Yunlan’s shocked stare. But instead of looking guilty or uncomfortable, Shen Wei’s gaze softened and he smiled. “Good morning, Zhao Yunlan. You’re early today.”

Turning his head on his pillow, Ye Zun’s eyes fluttered open and he looked at Zhao Yunlan hazily. A soft smile spread on his lips as he murmured, “Good morning, handsome.”

Surely, surely if they had been...kissing…

Zhao Yunlan’s brain went offline for a few seconds at the mental image of identical soft pink lips pressing together, tongues tentatively sliding together... 

He forced a hard reboot of his pervert brain and dragged his screaming libido back into check. 

If they had been doing anything together, like kissing, then surely Shen Wei would look more guilty or uncomfortable. Instead Shen Wei remained sitting on the bed, smiling, while Ye Zun yawned and stretched, not even looking over at Zhao Yunlan anymore. 

With how casual they were behaving, it must have been something completely innocent, and Zhao Yunlan’s rampant imagination was just trying to project the wrong image onto it instead. 

Maybe Shen Wei was just whispering in Ye Zun’s ear? But why would he be whispering when they were alone in the apartment…

Or maybe Shen Wei was just blowing an eyelash out of Ye Zun’s eye. Yes, that seemed...likely…

He would take it. 

Zhao Yunlan forced his frozen muscles to start working again, and he walked all the way in, shutting the front door behind him. “I have to go to the office early today, so I just wanted to come by and tell you not to make breakfast for me.”

Shen Wei immediately frowned. “What are you having for breakfast then?”

“Oh, I’ll just skip it for today,” Zhao Yunlan said, waving a hand. 

“You’re in for it now,” Ye Zun laughed, turning onto his side, head resting on his hand as he blinked sleepy eyes at Zhao Yunlan. Damn, he looked adorable with his mussed silver hair spilling across his pillow and the pillow crease on his cheek. 

Zhao Yunlan’s observant eyes pointed out that the space next to Ye Zun with an empty pillow also looked creased and slept-in, which meant that Shen Wei absolutely did share the bed with Ye Zun. Black hair against silver, faces almost touching as they slept…

Again, Zhao Yunlan forcibly dragged his thoughts back to safer territory. 

“Zhao Yunlan,” Shen Wei said, managing to inject his exasperation, affection, frustration and disapproval all into this single utterance of Zhao Yunlan’s name. 

Raising his hands, Zhao Yunlan quickly said, “I’ll buy breakfast on my way to the office.”

“What will you buy?” Shen Wei asked, deceptively placid. 

“Uhhh… Pudding boba milk tea?” Zhao Yunlan said, even as he noticed Shen Wei’s increasingly unimpressed look. He added hurriedly, “With grass jelly.” Because grass jelly was healthy, right? 

Frowning deeply, Shen Wei stood up and strode into the kitchen like he was going to battle. “I’ll make you some breakfast to go.”

Making grumbling sounds, Ye Zun shifted into a sitting position as well, the blanket pooling to his waist to reveal his gray silk pajamas, buttons open to mid-chest. Ye Zun muttered, “Gege was warm…”

Now Zhao Yunlan’s eyes darted between Shen Wei in his crisp shirt and gray vest that emphasized his trim waist, the closely fitted pants that lovingly hugged his exceptional behind, and Ye Zun looking all rumpled with his neck and chest exposed in silk pajamas, cheeks flushed from sleep. 

This morning was proving particularly difficult for his lust-addled brain. 

Trying to keep both of them in sight — because he couldn’t help but want to greedily gaze upon all that pretty even though it was severely eroding his IQ — Zhao Yunlan leaned his hip against the dining table. From here, he could see most of the apartment. 

He said, “I actually wanted to talk to you about something.”

Ye Zun pulled himself up from the overly large bed with a cute, kittenish yawn and shuffled towards the bathroom. He tied his hair into a loose bun as he walked, using a dark hair tie with a silver bead on it that gleamed in the morning sunlight. “Hold that thought,” he mumbled as he closed the bathroom door behind him. 

Zhao Yunlan turned to watch Shen Wei bustling around the kitchen instead. It was quite a sight to behold, with his sleeves folded up neatly as he went about making breakfast for Zhao Yunlan. 

“Is this about last night?” Shen Wei asked, not looking back. 

“Somewhat, but not entirely,” Zhao Yunlan replied, trying not to stare too obviously at Shen Wei’s really nice backside. Oh, and there Shen Wei went, bending down to put something into the oven. Oh boy, oh boy… What a magnificent curve. If ever there was any evidence of a divine being, this ass was it. This could not be an accidental creation, because those fine curves had to be meticulously handcrafted by a higher power. 

The dark slacks were made of a slightly shiny material and they lovingly hugged those thighs and butt, emphasizing their magnificence. Even after Shen Wei straightened, there was some kind of wallet chain looping down from his front pocket to his belt loop in the rear that kept drawing the eye. Zhao Yunlan was finding the sway of the silver chain against the sweet curve of his hip very distracting. 

When Shen Wei turned around, Zhao Yunlan snapped his eyes up quickly like he hadn’t just been ogling Shen Wei’s butt. 

“Did you believe me last night?” Shen Wei asked, looking him in the eye. 

It was a little bit of a whiplash from what Zhao Yunlan had been thinking about, but he managed to get his thoughts back on track again. Zhao Yunlan nodded seriously. “I do.”

At that, Shen Wei’s entire posture relaxed, like he hadn’t been completely sure. He murmured, “That’s good.”

“But I do want to talk about what I saw,” Zhao Yunlan continued. 

Shen Wei blinked at him in confusion. 

“What was that?” Ye Zun asked as he sauntered out of the bathroom, face a little damp. Strands of silver hair fell against his cheeks and chin from where they escaped his loose, messy bun, and he was still wearing his pajamas with the shirt unbuttoned indecently low. He complained, “I thought I asked you to hold that thought. You’re meant to wait for me.”

“We did. I was just saying that I wanted to talk about what I saw,” Zhao Yunlan repeated as he tried to repress a smug grin. He wanted to spring this on them. For once, he wanted to be ahead of the game. 

Ye Zun looked sharply at him, examining his expression. Then he clapped his hands as if in delight. “Finally! I thought you would never figure it out!”

That...wasn’t the reaction he was expecting. 

Walking into the kitchen, Ye Zun threw an arm around Shen Wei’s neck, dragging him close. “It was so hard keeping this under wraps, and we couldn’t move things along when you didn’t know. I was pushing to tell you outright, but gege thought we should ease you into it.”

“Didi, I don’t—”

Then Ye Zun turned his head and kissed Shen Wei on the lips. 

Not a friendly, light peck on the lips. 

No. 

Ye Zun pressed their lips together, visibly licking into Shen Wei’s mouth, hand curling into the back of Shen Wei’s hair. 

And Shen Wei kissed back, his lips moving against Ye Zun’s like there was no other possible response. His hand came up to rest against Ye Zun’s waist, his body turning with familiar ease. Silver hair brushed against dark hair as the twins kissed like they had done this a million times before, like they were lovers, comfortable in each other’s arms. 

Because they clearly were lovers. 

Zhao Yunlan fell off the table he was half-sitting on. 

“What—” he stuttered, stumbling to his feet. “What the hell? What— Wha—”

Gently, Shen Wei eased Ye Zun back and sighed. “Didi, he wasn’t talking about this.”

Ye Zun whipped around, still standing too close to Shen Wei with one arm around Shen Wei’s neck. He looked shocked as he stared at Zhao Yunlan and asked, “What? You weren’t? Then what were you talking about?”

“I was talking about last night! What I saw last night!” Zhao Yunlan exclaimed. “What were you talking about?!”

“What did you see last night? We didn’t kiss in front of you last night. I was talking about you walking in on us kissing just then,” Ye Zun said, pointing at the bed with a frown. 

“I— I— You were kissing? I didn’t see—” Actually, he did see. He saw Shen Wei on the bed, bent low, hair obscuring Zhao Yunlan’s view but their faces had to be pressed close together...like they were kissing. 

But he had convinced himself that it was just his horny imagination seeing what he wanted to see, because it couldn’t be real because Shen Wei and Ye Zun were twins. Brothers! They couldn’t possibly be making out!

Except they had been. 

Zhao Yunlan was starting to feel a little light-headed. 

“So what did you want to talk about, Zhao Yunlan?” Shen Wei asked, obviously trying to be the voice of reason and calm, even though his ears looked very pink right now. 

Zhao Yunlan murmured, without really thinking, “That...I saw the two of you at the S.I.D. office last night. And I knew…”

Shen Wei tried to cut in. “Ye Zun wasn’t there last night.”

At that unconvincing denial, Zhao Yunlan came to life again and pointed at him. “Ah hah! Are you sure about that, Heipaoshi?” At Shen Wei’s stunned expression, Zhao Yunlan grinned, finally on surer footing again. He turned to Ye Zun. “And you were definitely there at S.I.D. last night, Heilao-ge. You’re both Heipaoshi, but you pretend he’s just one person. It explains all the rumors about him, how he’s unstoppable and how he’s everywhere. There’s actually two of you.”

It felt good to finally say it all out loud. For the moment, Zhao Yunlan put aside the other revelation and focused on this one. He wasn’t going to let his clever discovery be overshadowed right now. Glowing with smugness, Zhao Yunlan pulled out a chair and dropped into it. He smirked at them both, willing them to deny what he said. 

Shen Wei blinked at him, wide-eyed. He asked weakly, “Why...do you think that?”

“Because I messaged Ye Zun about you being at S.I.D. for questioning, and Heipaoshi turned up almost right away. And because the Heipaoshi I met last night behaved completely differently to the Heipaoshi I met on the rooftop,” Zhao Yunlan listed out, ticking off his fingers. 

“Hey, I didn’t,” Ye Zun protested. 

But Zhao Yunlan was on a roll. “And when Heipaoshi was standing in the same room as Shen Wei last night, it became really, really obvious. You both have the same mou— the same lower half of your face.”

He had actually been about to say the same mouth, with the same sweet pink lips, and the same lovely jawline before he swallowed those words back down.

“It could be...someone who looks like me? I’ve a very common face,” Shen Wei offered, but his wide eyes were panicked. 

Zhao Yunlan gave him a disbelieving look while Ye Zun looked offended.

“Shen Wei ah, you are a very bad liar,” Zhao Yunlan told him. He added, “And you’re the only person I’ve ever seen react so casually to the existence of Heipaoshi as well.”

Ye Zun sighed, waving his free hand, because his other arm was still around Shen Wei’s neck. “Alright, let’s just sit down and talk.” He looked fondly at Shen Wei. “He’s right you know. You’re really bad at lying.” 

“You’re not any better at lying,” Shen Wei murmured, which was really not true at all.

“That’s why I don’t try,” Ye Zun said airily, which was not true either. 

So they all shuffled about and sat down around the kitchen table. Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan were holding their cups of freshly brewed tea, while Ye Zun was nursing a cup of coffee. With the disruption, Shen Wei hadn’t managed to finish making breakfast. 

“I’m tired of the lies,” Shen Wei admitted as he reached out to Ye Zun and tugged on his left hand. He twined their fingers together and lifted Ye Zun’s hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to his knuckles. All the while, they both watched Zhao Yunlan; Ye Zun with a hint of defiance in his eyes, while Shen Wei only looked hopeful. 

Zhao Yunlan stared. Right. So they weren’t just going to talk about Heipaoshi. 

Shamelessly dragging his chair closer, Ye Zun leaned against Shen Wei’s shoulder and said, “You’re right. We’re both Heipaoshi. Shen Wei was the original Heipaoshi back during the war. But after we woke up here, his responsibilities to Dixing and maintaining a cover in Haixing were running him thin. That was when I came up with the idea to share the role.”

Zhao Yunlan blinked rapidly at them and then he lifted his hands. “Hold up. What? Wait, rewind. The original Heipaoshi? From the war? The Allied War?” 

He had read the confidential history files about Dixing, Haixing and Yashou. Heipaoshi was originally a title held by the one who led the troops of the Alliance during the Allied war. He was famed for his fighting prowess and his unique ability to have multiple Dixing powers. And yes, the file on the latest Heipaoshi also indicated that he had multiple Dixing powers, but Zhao Yunlan thought it was because the title was always handed down to someone with the same unique capabilities, from generation to generation. The Allied Wars happened ten thousand years ago. How the hell could it be the same Heipaoshi?

“Yes, the original Heipaoshi. There was always just one, and that was Shen Wei. Now we both share the role,” Ye Zun explained like he was talking to a particularly slow student. 

“You’re looking pretty well-preserved for being ten thousand years old,” Zhao Yunlan commented, giving them both a skeptical stare. 

Ye Zun sipped his coffee and nodded. “Right, that was the work of the Hallows of course.”

Before Zhao Yunlan could proclaim his confusion again, Shen Wei cut in with a sigh. “I’ll explain. Towards the end of the war, four powerful artifacts called the Hallows were made from the meteor that had hit Haixing. The four artifacts have powers far beyond our understanding and in an unexpected incident, didi and I came into accidental contact with the Hallows, which resulted in us falling into dreamless sleep for ten thousand years. We only awoke twenty years ago. Once awake, we were asked to help police Dixingren who were living in Haixing and were breaching the treaty. So here we are.”

For most of the retelling, Shen Wei had adopted an almost calm, lecturing style. Now Zhao Yunlan knew what it was like to be in Shen Wei’s class, that was, if his students were all also lusting after his ass. 

Wait, what was Zhao Yunlan thinking? Of course they were lusting after their Professor Shen’s ass too. Who wouldn’t?

“You mean we made too much noise about the possibility of weaning off the use of the Hallows and formally opening up the paths between Haixing and Dixing, so the Regent proposed we help police Dixingren in Haixing instead,” Ye Zun muttered. 

Even before hearing Shen Wei’s explanation, Zhao Yunlan had been aware of the Hallows from the S.I.D. records, although he had never been sure if they were real or mythical. It seemed like he had his answer now. But reintegrating Haixing and Dixing? He gaped at Ye Zun. “Why would you wean off the Hallows? Aren’t they the source of your light and energy? And reintegrating Haixing and Dixing…”

“Imagine your sunlight and all your electricity were generated by a bunch of mystical artifacts. No one knows how they work and there’s no possibility for say, a back-up generator, in case they fail one day. Or in case some asshole steals them,” Ye Zun explained with a twist of his lips. “It’s insane that after all these years, they still haven’t considered replacing the Hallows with newer technology, especially considering the advances in Haixing and Dixing.”

Shen Wei added, “While many Haixingren aren’t aware of the existence of Dixingren, the rulers of Haixing and Dixing have a fairly good relationship right now. We should be discussing trade agreements and how we can both benefit from each other in this peaceful time. The treaty we signed once upon a time was done to end a war, during a time when we all lacked resources. That is no longer the case in both Haixing and Dixing, and we should be able to advance both of our peoples together.”

Huffing, Ye Zun complained, “It’s not happening, because the Regent is clinging onto his old power base.”

The Regent was a high ranking official in Dixing, Zhao Yunlan recalled. His role had been somewhat diminished with the establishment of a Dixing government to replace the monarchy...about fifteen years ago.

Squinting at Shen Wei and Ye Zun, who had suddenly been revealed to be these legendary figures from history, Zhao Yunlan struggled not to feel a little overawed. He shoved his shock aside and indulged in his curiosity instead, asking, “Did you have a hand in getting Dixing to shift from a monarchy to a government?”

“We didn’t have a hand in it directly, but Ye Zun became friends with the King and...made some suggestions,” Shen Wei said, sending a fond look at Ye Zun who preened under the implied credit given to him. “The monarchy was not a stable system, and the ruler at that time was also keen to see the end of it.”

From what Zhao Yunlan recalled from his readings, the monarchy hadn’t been completely dismantled. A government mainly ran Dixing, but there was still a King who remained as a figurehead with limited power. Completely removing an existing ruling system took more time than that. 

“This is...a lot of information to take in,” Zhao Yunlan admitted, mind reeling a little. He took a sip of his chrysanthemum tea, trying to digest all that information. Then he thought about yet another question he wanted to ask, one that plagued him all this while but which Zhao Xinci didn’t know the answer to either. Oh, what the hell, what was one more question? 

He asked with keen interest, “How do you have so many powers? Dixingren are all supposed to have one power each, if a power manifests at all.”

Smiling self-deprecatingly, Shen Wei admitted, “I have the power of learning. Any time I encounter someone using their powers, I’m able to learn their ability.”

What the hell, that had to be the biggest real life cheat he had ever heard. “That is the most amazing and outrageous thing I have ever heard.” He turned to Ye Zun. “And you have the same power?”

“I got the knock off version,” Ye Zun said with a shrug. When Shen Wei turned to him with a frown, Ye Zun just leaned in and gave him a peck on the lips, cutting off any protests he was going to make. God, they were so...cute. Ye Zun continued, “I can ‘borrow’ someone’s powers for a couple days if I absorb some of their energy when they use their powers. Every morning, Shen Wei runs through some of his powers that are more useful in combat for me to ‘borrow’. Every night, he runs through some of his more fun powers for other kinds of extracurricular activities.”

Ye Zun’s suddenly heavy-lidded eyes and provocative gaze told Zhao Yunlan all he needed to know about what kind of fun powers he was referring to. Now Zhao Yunlan’s fevered imagination was suddenly spinning through different scenarios in the bedroom, involving powers that could be used to pin someone down, tie them up, touch them with cold hands, self-lubrication, endless stamina…

“Didi, don’t tease,” Shen Wei said, his neck flushed with clear embarrassment. 

“Uhm, okay, thanks for explaining,” Zhao Yunlan said, clearing his throat when he realized how gravelly he sounded. He tried to drag things back on track. “So now I know the truth, maybe you can tell me what really happened behind the Lu Ruomei case and the attempted break-ins at the Ministry.”

Ye Zun looked surprised at that. “You already know the murderer, you were there when Shen Wei took him away. And I told you the rest last night.”

Zhao Yunlan tried to extinguish all bitterness from his voice when he said, “Yes, Shen Wei took him away. Which left us with no information whatsoever, and I don’t think you told me everything last night.” From the regretful look Ye Zun and Shen Wei exchanged, he hadn’t fully succeeded in hiding his bitterness. Taking a deep breath, Zhao Yunlan dug in his jacket pocket until he found a lollipop, unwrapping it as he spoke calmly but seriously, “Either Lu Ruomei wasn’t the intended victim or the Shadow Man was after Lu Ruomei and Li Qian. That’s why the Shadow Man came for Li Qian again later. I want to know why.”

At least they didn’t hesitate in telling him once he asked them directly. 

“Yes, Li Qian was the intended target. The Shadow Man’s name is Yang Ruo,” Shen Wei explained calmly. “He had a source from Dixing who told him that Li Qian was part of a research group involved in experimenting on Dixingren. Mistaking Lu Ruomei for Li Qian, he was trying to force her to tell him how to get into the labs to rescue his sister. But when trying to frighten her, he accidentally killed her instead.”

“And that’s why he tried to come for Li Qian again,” Zhao Yunlan said, a little distracted as he sucked the lollipop into his mouth, his mind churning through this new information. 

Shen Wei nodded. He leaned back towards Ye Zun who was resting his head on Shen Wei’s shoulder. They really were like a pair of adorable puppies. 

Rolling the milky peach-flavored lollipop in his mouth, Zhao Yunlan asked, “Is there really a research group experimenting on Dixingren?” As horrible as it was, he hoped that it wasn’t true, that Yang Ruo’s sister had just gotten into an accident somewhere far away. Then he added, “And is Li Qian really involved in this research group?”

She definitely had secrets, but from his assessment of her character, she didn’t seem capable of hiding a secret of this size. 

“I’ve spoken to her and she doesn’t seem to be, not directly at least. But she has been doing some after hours lab work for Professor Ouyang at Dragon City University. She stopped right before the attack as she was being paid under the table and that left her feeling guilty that it might not be legal work,” Shen Wei explained. 

So that was the secret she was keeping quiet about. She must have wondered if the attack could be related to this lab work, but she might not have been sure enough to want to point the finger at a professor. “And you’ve investigated this Professor Ouyang?” 

“Of course we have. We followed him, and he’s been going to the Ministry of Supervision daily, even over the weekend,” Ye Zun said, sounding a little grim. 

Light dawned. Zhao Yunlan pulled out the lollipop and pointed it at Shen Wei. “So that’s why you were trying to break into the Ministry! The experimentation on Dixingren might be located in the Ministry. They do have labs there, I know that much at least.”

Shen Wei was staring intensely at the lollipop for some reason, before he seemed to gather himself and said, “No, I wasn’t trying to break into the Ministry. I was merely walking around the building and trying to extend my hearing into the building itself. I haven’t tried to break into the Ministry at any point.” He added wryly, “With my powers, there’s no need to break in through a door.”

“So you weren’t the one trying to break in, but they had shoe prints on site that matched your size and somehow, they didn’t have any footage of the person attempting multiple break-ins. I thought it was very strange at that time,” Zhao Yunlan mused aloud, putting the lollipop back into his mouth and sucking on it idly. He noticed vaguely that Shen Wei and Ye Zun were both watching him very closely, but he couldn’t spare any capacity to think on that. 

Instead, he continued, “But there have been reported attempted break-ins at the Ministry every night for the past week, ever since the Lu Ruomei case closed.” He frowned and added unhappily, “So it was a set-up. One that seems to have been targeting you specifically.”

When he looked up, he saw that the two of them were staring intently at...his mouth? What? Why… Oh, the lollipop. Maybe he should get rid of it, because he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to function when the two of them looked at him like they were hungry. But he still had half the lollipop to go, and he wasn’t about to throw the sweet goodness away.

He straightened his back and tried to ignore their gazes. “How did they know you would be investigating the Ministry? They had to have been expecting you to turn up for them to stage multiple break-in attempts as a frame job.”

Ye Zun’s pretty lips twisted into a delicate sneer as he said, “Someone in the Ministry is targeting Heipaoshi.”

“We presume you’ve written your report to the Ministry about Yang Ruo’s capture?” Shen Wei asked Zhao Yunlan, no accusation in his voice, just a simple question to confirm their assumption. 

Zhao Yunlan nodded. “Wang Zheng wrote it up and submitted it the day the Shadow Man was taken away.”

“They must have guessed that once Yang Ruo was captured, he would have told Heipaoshi about the experimentation,” Ye Zun speculated. “So they set up a trap to get us.”

“They would have guessed we would investigate the Ministry,” Shen Wei said thoughtfully.

“They guessed right, because you are investigating the experimentation,” Zhao Yunlan pointed out. He leaned forward. “I want to help.”

“The reason why we didn’t tell you about any of this was because we didn’t want you to be in danger,” Shen Wei said with a frown. 

“And we didn’t want you to have to go up against your own people in the Ministry of Supervision, who are technically your bosses,” Ye Zun said reasonably. Which was just weird, because after all the back and forth texting, Zhao Yunlan was well aware that Ye Zun was rarely reasonable. But it seemed in this instance, he was determined to be reasonable, since he was also looking at Zhao Yunlan with the same frown as Shen Wei’s. 

But Shen Wei’s comment niggled at him. Zhao Yunlan asked with some surprise, “You wanted to tell me that you were Heipaoshi? Except you thought it was too dangerous?”

Ye Zun shrugged, twining his arm around Shen Wei’s. “Of course we wanted to. It’s much easier to start something with you if you know the whole truth about us. But gege is right, it was too dangerous. You like jumping into danger too much.”

Waving aside that last sentence, which was blatantly untrue, Zhao Yunlan shook his head and asked, “What— What are you talking about? Starting what? With me?”

“Starting a relationship with you of course,” Ye Zun said simply. 

Zhao Yunlan stared at them, mouth opening and closing. 

“Were we not clear in our approach, Zhao Yunlan?” Shen Wei asked, looking concerned. 

Ye Zun’s face was starting to look a little thunderous. “What? You don’t want to start something with us? Don’t lie, I’ve seen how you look at us. Is it some stupid taboo thing? Because you can—”

“Didi, give him a moment.”

Zhao Yunlan was already raising his hands up and shaking his head. “Wait, just, stop. I haven’t— I don’t— I haven’t even processed the— the— the you two thing. I haven’t really processed it, okay? And now you’re saying...me? You want to add me to the equation?”

His voice went a little squeaky at the end there, but who could blame him really? All the twin kink fantasies that he had denied having were roaring to the forefront of his brain. 

For all that he hadn’t been able to suppress his heated imagination and unwitting dreams about Shen Wei and Ye Zun entwined together, moving in sync, he had never pictured himself in the mix. He didn’t know why. 

Maybe because, even before he knew the whole truth about them, they just seemed...complete. There wasn’t room for anyone else. 

What the hell were they doing inviting him to join them? 

“What’s so hard to process about the two of us?” Ye Zun demanded, sounding defensive. 

Shen Wei pulled his arm free of Ye Zun’s hold and instead placed it around his shoulders. He drew Ye Zun in close and pressed a kiss to the side of his head, holding the position until Ye Zun visibly relaxed in his half-embrace. Ye Zun still looked disgruntled but at least he wasn’t about to verbally castigate Zhao Yunlan. 

Zhao Yunlan forced out some words that would hopefully help him climb out of this pit, “Ye Zun, I’m not… I’m not judging. It’s not my place to judge. I just… I didn’t expect it. I haven’t really processed it. Not that there’s anything really to process, because as I said, it isn’t my place. As long as you’re both happy…”

“We are,” Shen Wei said, turning to Zhao Yunlan, smiling softly in that way which never failed to melt Zhao Yunlan’s rigid heart. His eyes crinkled at the corners, lips tucked into a genuine smile. 

Ye Zun looked at Zhao Yunlan as well, with a little more insecurity in his eyes, a slight furrow between his brows. But he smiled tentatively too, and he was just...so sweet sometimes, when he was like this. “We really are,” Ye Zun tried to convince him. 

He really didn’t need to convince Zhao Yunlan. It was clear from the start that they loved each other deeply and that they were happiest together, even when Zhao Yunlan hadn’t known the full extent of their unusual relationship. 

Looking at the two of them, how sweet they looked together, how complete, Zhao Yunlan wondered again; what the hell were they doing inviting him in as well?

“Will you consider what we’re offering?” Shen Wei asked, a little hesitant. 

Zhao Yunlan wanted to ask why. He wanted more answers from them, needed reassurance. 

But he didn’t ask, because he also didn’t want to hear anything like ‘we want to see what a threesome is like’ or ‘you’re very handsome, Zhao Yunlan’. Because whatever Shen Wei and Ye Zun were after, whatever interest they had about spicing up their sex lives, Zhao Yunlan wasn’t operating on that kind of level. 

Before he had even touched either of them, Zhao Yunlan already knew that he was in too deep. 

That he was falling in love. 

And that scared the hell out of him when he couldn’t be sure that they were interested in him in the same way. When he couldn’t see how in Haixing they could be interested in him that way, not when they already shared such a profound relationship between them. 

How could there be room for Zhao Yunlan in the long term?  

Zhao Yunlan pushed out of the chair and stumbled to his feet, saying in a hoarse voice, “I need time to think.”

Ye Zun and Shen Wei looked at him with twin hurt and disappointment in their gazes and it was just too much. Backing towards the door hurriedly, Zhao Yunlan added, “I still want to help. If someone is experimenting on Dixingren in Haixing… I have to help. Don’t shut me out from this.”

Then he turned around and beat a hasty retreat out the door. He wasn’t fleeing, nope. This was just a strategic retreat to regroup, that was all.

He just needed time.

Chapter Text

The work day passed in a hazy blur. Zhao Yunlan tried to mentally re-order all the facts based on the recent revelations.

  • Lu Ruomei was wrongly murdered due to a mistaken identity
  • Li Qian was the actual target
  • Shadow Man attacked Li Qian, thought she helped kidnap his sister
  • Shen Wei and Ye Zun hid the Shadow Man away
  • Zhao Yunlan wrote a report that the Shadow Man was taken away by Heipaoshi
  • Ministry realized Shadow Man would tell Heipaoshi about his kidnapped sister
  • Ministry tried to set up Heipaoshi for breaking into the Ministry of Supervision

Then there were the questions, such as:

  • Why did the Shadow Man think Li Qian was involved?
  • Who gave the Shadow Man the information?
  • What was the end goal of setting up Heipaoshi?
  • Why experiment on Dixingren?

He had no leads on the questions, but maybe that was because he found himself unable to focus on a single one of them.  

Zhao Yunlan sat in a daze in his office. He ate lollipop after lollipop, skipping lunch and just worrying at the round pieces of candy in his mouth while his brain worried about other more personal matters instead of the case he should be focusing on. 

His team tip-toed around him, watching him with worried eyes. Unfortunately, they also weren’t subtle enough to actually huddle further away from his open office door before they started gossiping about him, which meant he could hear all their dumb speculation.

“What’s wrong with Chief Zhao?” Guo Changcheng whispered, always the first to be concerned. 

Chu Shuzhi said blandly, “He’s thinking. It’s using all his brain power.”

“Considering the sort of perverted man that he is, I bet you he’s thinking about the twin professors,” Lin Jing claimed with confidence. 

“Why are you bringing that up again?” Zhu Hong snapped peevishly. 

Backtracking, Lin Jing said hurriedly, “Ah, don’t get mad. It’s just a fantasy. The Chief knows it’s not possible.”

Wang Zheng voiced out with some concern, “I don’t think that’s it. He seems so worried…”

Except Lin Jing managed to be right and wrong at the same time. Because Zhao Yunlan’s brain was circling the topic of Shen Wei and Ye Zun. Only Lin Jing was completely wrong, because it wasn’t just a fantasy. That was the problem. If it was just a fantasy, Zhao Yunlan could ignore it and one day, it would all go away. 

But it was reality. Shen Wei and Ye Zun were together, and they had propositioned him. 

His mind wouldn’t stop bleating about it. 

Shen Wei and Ye Zun were together and they had propositioned him.

Holy fuck. 

And they had kissed. They had kissed right in front of him and he couldn’t stop replaying the image in his mind. 

The way their faces had angled together with familiar ease, their lips pressed together, parted, moving… They were two halves of a whole, mirroring each other; one in a neatly pressed suit, the other in rumpled pajamas, one with short dark hair, the other with silver locks escaping an untidy bun. Their bodies pressed close together, perfectly identical and unflinchingly different. 

They were beautiful. 

Zhao Yunlan couldn’t stop replaying that kiss, couldn’t stop imagining other kisses. 

The kiss he had walked into, the one he hadn’t seen but could picture...how Shen Wei must have cupped Ye Zun’s cheek, waking him up gently. The way Ye Zun would have smiled up at Shen Wei, sleepy but happy to open his eyes to his gege. Then Shen Wei would have bent down, helpless against that sweet smile and pressed a kiss to those curved lips, tasted his didi’s mouth. 

Oh god, it should have been wrong. Zhao Yunlan should feel weirded out. He should be upset about this revelation because it was incest. There was no getting around it. They were brothers and fantasies aside, they were brothers who had sex with each other. It should be so very wrong. 

But he couldn’t… 

He couldn’t see how. 

Not with the way they looked at each other. 

Not with the way they smiled at each other. 

How could two people who loved each other so much, be so happy together, be wrong? Who were they harming? 

Zhao Yunlan knew it was all excuses. He knew he was fucked in the head. 

But he couldn’t make himself care. 

His body certainly didn’t.

He was stuck in his office, staring blankly at the wall, unable to even get out of his chair now, because he couldn’t stop picturing Shen Wei and Ye Zun together instead of thinking about his case. 

That day when Zhao Yunlan had watched them come out of the bathroom together… He had tried to repress this memory, tried to pretend there was some other innocent reason behind it, some reason that he couldn’t even conjure up. 

Now he knew that there was no other explanation. 

They had been showering together. They were likely doing more than just showering together. 

And his mind was filling in all the blanks now. Shen Wei and Ye Zun under the warm spray of water, completely naked and drenched. Their hair would be plastered to their scalps, completely wet, their bodies plastered together, completely wet. 

Maybe Ye Zun would have looped his arms around Shen Wei’s neck, drawn his gege closer until there was no space left between them. Maybe Ye Zun would have parted his legs so that Shen Wei could press a thigh between them. And in turn, maybe Shen Wei would have pushed Ye Zun’s long silver hair back, combing it out of his didi’s face and eyes. And maybe Shen Wei would have rocked his hips, pushing their hardening cocks together. And maybe they had kissed as they moved together, water flowing down their bare skin followed by roaming hands… And maybe… Maybe…

It was one thing if Zhao Yunlan only thought about the sex. But in between all his fevered, perverse imaginings, he couldn’t help think about how sweet they were together even before he had known the truth. He thought about how affectionate they were, how they hugged, sat close together, leaned on each other. He thought about the two of them always protective of each other, always watchful, always taking care…

And he thought about how they wanted him to join them. 

He couldn’t imagine it. 

He couldn’t believe it.

He couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Zhao Yunlan leapt to his feet. 

He almost toppled over right after, overwhelmed by a wave of dizziness. How long had he been sitting there? He looked at the clock and was shocked to see that it was already six in the evening. He had lost a whole day to doing nothing but thinking about Shen Wei and Ye Zun. It couldn’t continue like this. 

Da Qing leapt up onto the desk in his cat form, tail swaying behind him. “I told them all that they could go home an hour ago.”

That...was a good call.

“Thanks, I’m going to head off too,” Zhao Yunlan said, steadying himself against the desk briefly to fight off the vertigo. He took a deep breath when the room stopped spinning and nodded at Da Qing. “Come on.”

The furry black face looked up at him, examining him. Then Da Qing turned back into his human form and hopped down from the desk. “Alright, Lao Zhao. Let’s go.”

The drive back to their apartment was spent in silence; Zhao Yunlan too preoccupied to start any conversation and Da Qing taking a cat nap in the passenger seat in his human form. Once parked, they headed for the staircase. Zhao Yunlan found his feet dragging all of a sudden, unsure about what he was going to do, only knowing something had to be done. 

“You’re going to see Professor Shen and Professor Ye?” Da Qing asked, too casually.

Zhao Yunlan kept his gaze fixed ahead. “Yeah, I think I should.”

In response, Da Qing only made a little ‘mrp’ sound, neither an objection nor an approval. 

Sending him a sideways look, Zhao Yunlan asked, “You aren’t going to warn me to stop with my stupid fantasies like the others?”

Da Qing’s lips curled up, showing a peek of fangs. “I’m a cat on top of the food chain. I know things.”

Zhao Yunlan frowned, coming to a stop in the middle of the hallway, a few doors down from their apartment. Then, he came to the obvious conclusion and shook his head at his own stupidity. “You can smell them.”

“Yep, I can smell them,” Da Qing said, dropping his cool act and grinning instead. “Their scents are all over each other. It wasn’t obvious the first time we met, but it’s really obvious in their apartment.”

“And...you don’t mind?” Zhao Yunlan asked tentatively. 

“Why should I? Professor Shen makes a great fish congee,” Da Qing said, nose twitching as if remembering said congee, and as if good fish congee excused everything. And for Da Qing, it probably did. How easy it was to be a cat. Then, Da Qing continued with a mild frown, “And Professor Ye… There’s something about him that feels...familiar. But I think he’s alright.”

Saying Ye Zun was ‘alright’ was probably the highest praise Da Qing had ever bestowed on anyone. Zhao Yunlan briefly wondered what that was all about. 

“Wait, if you can smell them...then you would know about Heipaoshi,” Zhao Yunlan said, feeling a little betrayed that Da Qing had never told him anything.

Da Qing shrugged. “I only knew after last night. The first time on the roof, Heipaoshi didn’t smell of anything. I think he does something to his scent. But last night, maybe he was in a rush. It was definitely Professor Ye.”

“And you didn’t say anything to me, you damned cat,” Zhao Yunlan complained, smacking the back of Da Qing’s head, except Da Qing dodged so it was only the lightest of glancing slaps as usual. 

“You obviously figured it out at that point, why should I have to tell you something you already knew,” Da Qing complained with a hiss.

Zhao Yunlan rubbed his forehead, despairing at his deputy sometimes. Then he looked at the apartments ahead of them. He couldn’t procrastinate any longer. He sighed. “Well, I need to talk to them about something.”

He didn’t intend to say anything else to Da Qing other than that, because some conversations didn’t need to be shared. 

“You humans can’t communicate through scents so be sure to talk it through properly with them. Don’t leave things confused,” Da Qing suggested a little uncertainly, like he wasn’t very sure about his own advice either.

Right, maybe he didn’t have to say anything else to Da Qing, because the annoying cat and his nose clearly already knew. Da Qing didn’t wait for a response from him, just sauntered off to their apartment door and let himself in without looking back. 

Zhao Yunlan took a deep breath and walked onwards. He stopped right outside Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s door. It was stupid, incredibly stupid after everything he had faced in this lifetime, but he found his heart speeding up, his stomach twisting. Alright, maybe it was also the lack of food and only eating lollipops and drinking tea all day, but he did that often enough that he was certain this was mostly just a messy mix of anticipation, fear and anxiety all jumbled up together.  

But he was Zhao Yunlan, and he was brave. He was brave.

Zhao Yunlan turned the doorknob. 

It was locked. 

For the first time since Ye Zun and Shen Wei moved into the apartment opposite his own, Zhao Yunlan found the door locked to him. He felt a sudden sinking feeling, all his high tension free-falling into miserable disappointment. No matter his confusion, he had been ready to talk things out with Shen Wei and Ye Zun. He wanted to see them, but now the door was locked to him. He rested his forehead on the wooden surface. 

“Damn,” he whispered. 

“Yunlan?” 

Zhao Yunlan spun around to see Ye Zun and Shen Wei in the corridor, Shen Wei wearing a deep blue pinstriped suit while Ye Zun was in a long white coat and a beige shirt, both carrying work briefcases. They had obviously just returned from the university. 

Of course, how stupid of Zhao Yunlan. 

His anticipation and fear came rushing back in. The rollercoaster of emotions was making his head spin.

“I...wanted to talk,” he croaked out, knowing he sounded stupid and miserable. 

Shen Wei frowned, deep furrows between his brows, while Ye Zun looked concerned but also confused, head tilting. 

“Come, let’s talk inside,” Shen Wei said, stepping forward and nudging Zhao Yunlan aside gently so he could get to the door. 

In just a few minutes, they were all inside the apartment, briefcases left on the table by the door. 

Ye Zun curled a hand around Zhao Yunlan’s bicep, squeezing gently. “Are you alright?”

On Zhao Yunlan’s other side, Shen Wei didn’t touch him but looked at him closely. “When was the last time you ate?”

“This morning.” Tea counted as food, right? “Look, it’s not important. We need to— I need to…” Zhao Yunlan trailed off hopelessly. 

“Zhao Yunlan, you can’t keep skipping meals,” Shen Wei said, frustration seeping into his voice again. 

“I don’t want to talk about my meals,” Zhao Yunlan said, shaking his head sharply. 

“It’s important—”

Ye Zun cut in, “Gege, nag him later. Now isn’t the time.” Leaning in, he peered at Zhao Yunlan, dark eyes cautiously examining him. “What do you need, Yunlan? Tell us.”

All the day’s thoughts and fretting rushed through Zhao Yunlan, and he was just so tired of it. He wasn’t used to worrying over his personal issues, wasn’t used to second guessing himself at all. He always jumped in feet first, damn the consequences, but today he had done nothing but question himself and everything he knew. He was so tired of thinking. 

Maybe it was time to stop. 

He looked at Ye Zun, then at Shen Wei, and said clearly, “I want to see you.”

Shen Wei blinked, wide-eyed. “What do you mean?”

“I want to see you both. Together,” Zhao Yunlan said, throwing all caution to the winds, not thinking about what he was saying anymore. He just let it all spill out. “I can’t stop thinking about it. And I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what you want, but I can’t stop thinking about the two of you. I can’t work like this. You said you wanted me right? Do you still want me?”

“Always,” Ye Zun murmured. 

“Without a doubt,” Shen Wei added. 

Zhao Yunlan drew in a sharp breath and tried to ignore the fervency in their eyes which didn’t make any sense at all. “Then show me what you’re like when you’re together. I need… I need to see to make sense of this. I can’t function like this.”

But he knew he wasn’t convincing, not to Shen Wei, not with his jumbled words and his trembling hands that would not have been missed by sharp dark eyes. 

“Zhao Yunlan, maybe you need to—”

Ye Zun reached out for Shen Wei’s wrist, tugging him nearer so that he ended up standing in front of Zhao Yunlan instead of on the other side. Drawing his hand up Shen Wei’s arm so that it curled around his shoulder instead, Ye Zun said, “I think we should give him what he wants, gege.”

But Shen Wei was still unconvinced, still frowning. 

“Please?” Zhao Yunlan whispered, desperate. 

That seemed to melt whatever resolve Shen Wei had. He looked at Zhao Yunlan, eyes soft, before he turned back to Ye Zun just as Ye Zun drew him in for a kiss. 

They were gorgeous together, coming together like their lips were made to press together, like their hands were meant to curl into silver hair, to grip sleeves held tight by garters. Two halves of a whole finally coming together, complete once more as they were always meant to be.

They were solid and real.

They weren’t hazy dreams and fevered imagination and confused memories. They weren’t colored by Zhao Yunlan’s own wants, weren’t spun into being by Zhao Yunlan’s lust. 

Instead, they were present and undeniable, curling around each other, kissing, entwined, lovers. 

Zhao Yunlan could stop imagining and thinking and wondering. Instead, he only needed to look at them, less than two feet away, kissing each other. 

It was a kiss that started out soft, gentle. But they pressed closer together, breathing turned labored as the kiss became passionate, hungry. Shen Wei was pressing forward, almost devouring Ye Zun’s lips, but Ye Zun wasn’t holding back either, his hands clawing at Shen Wei’s back like he couldn’t get close enough. 

When they finally broke apart for air, Zhao Yunlan felt overheated, felt like he was short on breath. And he was definitely hard in his tight jeans. 

Then twin gazes turned to look at him, the want clear in their eyes. They hadn’t forgotten about him, not one moment. 

“Come here,” Shen Wei said, holding out a hand. 

Ye Zun smiled, inviting. “You know you want to.”

Like a puppet led on strings, Zhao Yunlan stumbled forward, limbs uncoordinated in his blind lust. 

And then he was wrapped up in their arms, surrounded.

He couldn’t think of a better place to be. 

Shen Wei nudged him towards Ye Zun, and he took the hint. He had barely turned his face before Ye Zun had a hand against his cheek, drawing him down for a kiss. Ye Zun kissed like this would be his last kiss on Earth, with a desperate edge, a hint of teeth and aggressive press of tongue. Zhao Yunlan met the challenge head on, curling an arm around Ye Zun’s waist as he kissed him back with a matching ferocity, kissed until Ye Zun whimpered and went pliant in his hold. The sound thrilled him, did more for his ego than his entire last relationship ever did. 

Then Ye Zun was drawing back, panting, his eyes dark and wide. His lips were reddened, slightly swollen after the two scorching kisses he just had. He murmured, “Kiss gege like that too.”

Zhao Yunlan turned to Shen Wei and he was right there, as if he couldn’t wait a moment longer. When Shen Wei kissed him, it was restrained at first, a skillful but careful kiss as if he was holding back to ensure he didn’t cross any lines. In response, after several seconds, Zhao Yunlan nipped Shen Wei’s lower lip sharply. That seemed to unleash Shen Wei’s inner demon, because he proceeded to kiss Zhao Yunlan like he wanted nothing better than to fuse them together. They were almost the same height, in fact Zhao Yunlan was a fraction taller, but Zhao Yunlan found himself almost bent backwards with Shen Wei’s fervor. The hand on Zhao Yunlan’s cheek tipped his head to the angle Shen Wei preferred, the mouth on Zhao Yunlan’s lips working him over so expertly that Zhao Yunlan found himself clutching at Shen Wei’s shoulders, just holding on. 

Breaking the kiss but not drawing back, Shen Wei murmured quietly against Zhao Yunlan’s lips, “Don’t turn us away again. Please.”

And how could Zhao Yunlan do anything of that sort after an entreaty like that? 

They fell into bed together. The massive size which Zhao Yunlan had previously noted was now very useful with three of them in it. How fortunate that the twins had indulged in this one decadence. 

But Zhao Yunlan had no brain power to think on any of that further because clothes were coming off and his IQ was dropping with every article of clothing removed. 

Shen Wei and Ye Zun were gorgeous. He had always known that, had noticed from the very first day. And now they were stripping with every intention of having sex with him. It was blowing Zhao Yunlan’s mind. He was right in the middle of it, and he still couldn’t quite believe it was happening. 

Zhao Yunlan was only down to his jeans when he was thoroughly distracted from stripping by Ye Zun, who was already naked and was now pulling off his hair tie. Shaking his silver hair out so that it fell in silky locks to his shoulders, Ye Zun slipped the black hair tie with its silver bead onto his wrist before running a hand through his own hair, looking at Zhao Yunlan with smouldering eyes. Zhao Yunlan felt helplessly drawn to Ye Zun, reaching out without thought to touch Ye Zun’s pale chest, thumbing one brown nipple curiously. Ye Zun breathed in deeply and pushed against his touch. 

Leaning closer, Ye Zun murmured, “You should try that on gege. He loves it.”

Shen Wei, who had managed to strip off everything except for his yellow jade pendant, gave Ye Zun a look which Zhao Yunlan couldn’t read. Bowing to expert advice, Zhao Yunlan reached out to touch Shen Wei’s chest and to pinch his already taut nipple. That earned him a gasp and rising color to Shen Wei’s ears and neck. He really did like that. 

But Shen Wei reached up to hold Zhao Yunlan’s hand, putting a halt to his exploration. Before Zhao Yunlan could ask if he had done anything wrong, Shen Wei lifted his hand and kissed each knuckle softly. He said to Zhao Yunlan, “Before we start, I wanted to tell you not to touch didi’s back please.”

Zhao Yunlan blinked, a little confused. At least, until Ye Zun turned slightly, revealing a glimpse of pale skin corded with heavy scars. Ye Zun turned back quickly so he couldn’t see it in detail, but they were clearly old scars, pale and raised, stretching from his shoulder blades to his waist. 

“Ye Zun…” Zhao Yunlan said, fury rising in his voice. “What happened?”

“Gege and I were separated when we were thirteen and the person who had me...was not good. It doesn’t hurt anymore, I just don’t like them to be touched,” Ye Zun said with studied carelessness as he faced Zhao Yunlan again. Then a sly look flashed across his face and he frowned, sticking out his tempting lower lip. “But it really hurt when it happened back then. It hurt so much. Thinking about it makes me feel very sad,” Ye Zun said piteously, playing it up for effect. 

Zhao Yunlan didn’t know to laugh or cry, torn between humor at Ye Zun’s blatant attempt to gain sympathy and rage that someone had done this to Ye Zun, had deliberately hurt him to this extent. All of a sudden, a lot of Ye Zun and Shen Wei’s mannerisms made more sense now. 

Despite Ye Zun’s deliberate playacting, the wide eyes and downturned lips that he was turning on both Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei worked well. Shen Wei seemed to know all of Ye Zun’s tricks yet displayed no ability to stand up against them. Or perhaps he just had no desire to. He immediately palmed Ye Zun’s cheek, leaning in to kiss him on the forehead. 

Zhao Yunlan drew close as well and asked a little helplessly, “What will help then?”

Pouting extravagantly, Ye Zun tilted his head and suggested innocently, “You sucking my cock?”

Those wide innocent eyes combined with those filthy words was almost enough to drop Zhao Yunlan to the ground at the clash in imagery. Helplessly, he laughed, leaning in to kiss that ridiculous pout before murmuring, “Sweetheart, it would be my pleasure.”

Ye Zun shivered, hand curling in Zhao Yunlan’s hair. “Say that again.”

Zhao Yunlan blinked and then smiled. “Sweetheart.”

At those words, Ye Zun yanked him forward and kissed him roughly, fervently. Finding his mouth suddenly ravished by Ye Zun, Zhao Yunlan was wondering if Ye Zun really liked blowjobs or really liked being called sweetheart that much, when he felt Shen Wei press up behind him, arms curling around him to get to his jeans. Shen Wei nuzzled into his neck, sucking and nipping at his tender skin and leaving him shivering at the assault from both sides. 

When Ye Zun finally released his mouth, they were both visibly panting and Zhao Yunlan was very taken by the pink of Ye Zun’s cheeks against his usually pale complexion and how heavy-lidded his eyes were. 

Shen Wei murmured into Zhao Yunlan’s ear, “Your lips are beautiful, Yunlan. I want to see them wrapped around didi’s cock.” As he said those unexpectedly shameless words, he pushed Zhao Yunlan’s jeans down his hips, palmed his bare hard dick. Zhao Yunlan gasped, both at Shen Wei’s dirty talk and the hand on his cock. 

“No underwear, you filthy boy,” Ye Zun said with delight, tapping a finger against the tip of Zhao Yunlan’s flushed erection. “Get these jeans off, I want to see everything.”

“Demanding,” Zhao Yunlan breathed out with a laugh. 

“You like it that way,” Ye Zun said, unrepentant. 

And fuck if Zhao Yunlan didn’t. 

Zhao Yunlan would have been much clumsier trying to wriggle out of his tight jeans without getting off the bed, but with Shen Wei and Ye Zun moving him around and tugging hard at clinging fabric, he managed to shuck off the jeans in record time. 

Soon, he had Ye Zun sitting the way he liked as well, on his knees with his legs spread for Zhao Yunlan to settle between them. Zhao Yunlan knew what looked good and he knelt on the bed, bending low at the waist to leave his ass temptingly up in the air. Positioned behind him, Shen Wei must be getting a hell of a view. 

Smoothing a hand down Zhao Yunlan’s back, Shen Wei murmured, “Suck and bite didi’s thighs. He likes that.”

“Only ‘cause you’re obsessed with how my thighs look,” Ye Zun protested. 

“They’re lovely thighs,” Shen Wei said in a lower, appreciative register that Zhao Yunlan had not ever heard before. 

Zhao Yunlan was inclined to agree. He turned his head and nipped at the spot above Ye Zun’s knee. At that, Ye Zun stiffened. It was a good start. 

Before Zhao Yunlan even reached Ye Zun’s cock for the promised blowjob, Ye Zun was already moaning a long steady stream of expletives and demands as Zhao Yunlan kissed, sucked and licked his way up those sensitive inner thighs. He made sure to rub his facial hair against the insides of those pale thighs, which made Ye Zun shiver with squirming delight. 

Shen Wei hadn’t been keeping still this whole time either. He nipped and nibbled his way down the curve of Zhao Yunlan’s spine, his hands roving along bare skin like he was memorizing every plane and dip he found. Zhao Yunlan’s back felt oversensitized, his skin prickling with electric tension. 

Lapping at the crease where thigh met groin, Zhao Yunlan purposefully brushed his cheek and hair against Ye Zun’s hard cock, hiding a smile when Ye Zun groaned piteously. 

“Yunlan please, please,” Ye Zun finally begged. “Lan-ge, please.”

Oh, he liked the sound of that. 

Mercifully, and with anticipatory relish, Zhao Yunlan turned and kissed the base of Ye Zun’s cock, kissed his way upwards while enjoying the beautiful sound of Ye Zun’s panting, kissed the wet tip with his pursed lips as he looked up at Ye Zun through his lashes. 

Ye Zun was staring down at him, wide-eyed, lips parted. From the corner of his eye, Zhao Yunlan noticed Shen Wei leaning forward to look as well. Well, Zhao Yunlan had to make sure he put up a good show then. 

Slowly, he rubbed the leaking head of Ye Zun’s cock against his lips. Ye Zun’s breath was coming in short and fast by the time Zhao Yunlan parted his lips and delicately sucked on the tip of Ye Zun’s cock, laving the slit with his tongue. He basked in Ye Zun’s breathy moans, the way Shen Wei’s hands tightened on his waist as he watched as well. 

Zhao Yunlan sucked Ye Zun’s cock deeper into his mouth, lashes fluttering shut as he filled his mouth with that thick hardness, enjoyed the musky taste and heavy weight on his tongue. He put more weight on his forearms where they rested on Ye Zun’s thighs, pinning him in place and using them as leverage as he arched his back, presenting his ass higher. Surely Shen Wei would take the hint. From where Shen Wei was kneeling, behind Zhao Yunlan and between his parted legs, surely he would have a very lovely view of Zhao Yunlan’s pale backside, his heavy balls and the glimpse of his erection. 

As Zhao Yunlan bobbed his head, taking more of Ye Zun in slowly, he finally felt Shen Wei’s hands on his hips, trailing to his behind. Shen Wei caressed and squeezed Zhao Yunlan’s ass, and just the thought of Shen Wei’s hands on him in that way made Zhao Yunlan’s cock leak. 

“How does he look from there?” Ye Zun panted out. 

Shen Wei murmured, “Beautiful. He fits in my hands perfectly. And he likes being touched so much.”

Fuck, Shen Wei got him alright. But more specifically he liked being touched by Shen Wei and Ye Zun. Couldn’t get enough of their hands on him, exploring and owning him. He felt a curious finger drag between his cheeks, dragging down from the tail of his spine until it pressed against his hole. Zhao Yunlan shivered and tried to part his legs even more, pushing back in silent demand for more. 

“I think he wants you to fuck him, gege,” Ye Zun suggested between his own breathless groans. 

Zhao Yunlan sucked on him harder in reward for saying the exact right thing. And because he wanted to hear Ye Zun say ‘fuck’ more often. 

“Yes, I think he does,” Shen Wei agreed amiably. “Yunlan, we don’t have condoms here, because we don’t like to use them. Dixingren can’t transmit Haixingren diseases, but if you prefer condoms, I can get one if you have any in your apartment.”

Oh hell, oh all levels of hell, now Zhao Yunlan was imagining how Shen Wei and Ye Zun preferred to go bareback, preferred to fuck and spill inside each other with no barrier in between. 

How they would do the same with him. 

Zhao Yunlan pulled off to gasp, “Nope, I’m totally fine without them.”

Then he plunged down on Ye Zun’s cock so that he wouldn’t start begging to see Shen Wei fuck Ye Zun instead so he could see the twins creampie each other. 

“You like that, don’t you?” Ye Zun asked with a gasp. From the way his hips jerked under Zhao Yunlan’s hold, he liked it too.  

“We like it too. It’s...satisfying,” Shen Wei said almost conversationally. 

Zhao Yunlan couldn’t wait for Shen Wei to start fucking him; he wanted to hear Shen Wei lose this semblance of control, to stop sounding so damn composed. 

When Shen Wei started prepping him, started opening him up, Zhao Yunlan began moaning around Ye Zun’s cock, which in turn led Ye Zun to groan and thrust as much as he could against the weight on his thighs. Shen Wei’s fingers in him were too curious and skillful at the same time. He moved slowly, as if intending to learn every inch of this most intimate part with his fingers alone, but the frequency at which he dragged against Zhao Yunlan’s prostate could not possibly be a coincidence. Every time Zhao Yunlan’s hips jerked, Shen Wei ran a hand down Zhao Yunlan’s sweating side, as if to soothe him. 

Zhao Yunlan finally pulled off Ye Zun’s cock, which led Ye Zun to groan in disappointment. Turning his head back, Zhao Yunlan looked at Shen Wei’s almost dreamy expression, eyes fixed on where his fingers were disappearing into Zhao Yunlan. 

“Baby, please fuck me already,” Zhao Yunlan begged. “I’m not going to last.”

That seemed to wake Shen Wei up from his dazed pleasure, and fuck, it was really going to Zhao Yunlan’s head that Shen Wei was getting so much out of just putting his fingers into Zhao Yunlan and making him squeeze around them. 

“Yunlan,” Shen Wei murmured. It was all he said in that soft but intense voice. Shifting back, Shen Wei pulled out his fingers and coated his own hard cock liberally with lube. Zhao Yunlan eyed Shen Wei’s erection and swallowed, desperate to have that in him. 

He turned back to Ye Zun, looking up to see Ye Zun staring at Shen Wei’s hands as well. Taking a mouthful of Ye Zun’s soft flesh on his inner thigh into his mouth, Zhao Yunlan sucked hard, wanting to mark him. Ye Zun gasped but only ran his hand through Zhao Yunlan’s hair, eyes still fixed on what was going on behind Zhao Yunlan instead. 

When Shen Wei finally pushed into him, Zhao Yunlan bit down on Ye Zun, fingers digging into luscious thighs. It felt so fucking good, the slick slide of Shen Wei’s substantial arousal pushing in relentlessly. Zhao Yunlan had been worked loose by Shen Wei’s skillful fingers, but he forced himself to relax anyway, relax enough that Shen Wei just slid all the way in without pause. Groaning into Ye Zun’s thigh, Zhao Yunlan shuddered and pushed back to meet Shen Wei. The grip around his hips was bruising, deliciously so. Zhao Yunlan was really looking forward to seeing some marks on himself tomorrow morning. 

“You’re both so beautiful,” Ye Zun murmured, stroking Zhao Yunlan’s cheek. 

Zhao Yunlan looked up into Ye Zun’s heated dark gaze and smiled. “Ditto,” was all he said, before he sucked Ye Zun’s cock back into his mouth. 

From behind him, Shen Wei groaned as he pulled back and thrust back in. From in front of him, Ye Zun’s thighs trembled, his cock leaking steadily in Zhao Yunlan’s mouth. 

Zhao Yunlan thought this was likely to be the pinnacle of happiness he’d achieve in his life, to be sandwiched between Shen Wei and Ye Zun.

His body was caught in waves of pleasure, with Shen Wei moving in him from behind, dragging deliciously against his prostate and sending sparks surging through him. The taste and weight of Ye Zun’s cock in his mouth, filling his throat, spurred on his arousal, made his own cock drip with want. God, at this rate, Zhao Yunlan was going to come untouched.

“How does he feel?” Ye Zun asked, gasping.  

Then Zhao Yunlan felt Shen Wei’s hands squeeze his ass, part his cheeks as if to better see his own cock enter Zhao Yunlan’s hole. Holy shit, Shen Wei was so filthy, it filled Zhao Yunlan with perverse glee to be privy to the fact. 

“Tight and hot,” Shen Wei murmured, as if distracted, his breathing heavy as well. “He feels so tight, didi. You’ll love it.”

Okay, okay, wow, he did not know it would be so fucking hot to be talked about so blithely between Shen Wei and Ye Zun, as if it was a given that he would be shared between them. It was really driving him insane, and he didn’t think he had ever been this hard in his life. 

“You should try his mouth next, gege. It’s so good. Ah, he loves sucking cock,” Ye Zun said breathily, with clear affection. He let out a small cry when Zhao Yunlan doubled his efforts and tried his best to choke himself on Ye Zun’s erection. He desperately needed to reward Ye Zun for this top grade dirty talk. They were both going to blow his little mind. And he was going to enjoy every minute of it.

“He really likes it,” Shen Wei said with a little laugh, and then suddenly he was fucking Zhao Yunlan harder, the sounds of flesh slapping against flesh filthy and exciting.

Zhao Yunlan’s toes curled as he moaned around Ye Zun’s cock, teetering on the edge now with the way Shen Wei ruthlessly fucked into him, pressing against his insides in a way that lit up his body over and over again. Then Ye Zun’s hips started trying to move harder, little gasping cries escaping Ye Zun as he jerked in Zhao Yunlan’s hold. Zhao Yunlan forced himself down, swallowing around Ye Zun’s jerking cock until Ye Zun curled fingers into his hair, clenching tight as he cried out and came down Zhao Yunlan’s throat, came in his mouth. Zhao Yunlan drank it all down greedily, swallowed over and over again around Ye Zun’s cock, pulling back to tongue at his slit as if to coax every single drop out. 

Finally, Ye Zun shivered and tugged Zhao Yunlan back, his hips jerking weakly. “Too much,” Ye Zun whimpered, and Zhao Yunlan pulled back with one last slow suck, delighting in the final twitch he got out of Ye Zun’s spent half-hard cock. 

He looked up at Ye Zun, knowing his lips must be red with the effort and said through a hoarse throat, “Delicious.”

Ye Zun thumbed his lower lip, eyes hazy from his orgasm and said, “You’re a filthy boy.”

In response to that, Zhao Yunlan sucked Ye Zun’s thumb into his mouth. 

Then, Zhao Yunlan groaned around that thumb when Shen Wei pulled his hips back and seemed to angle his thrusts upwards instead. The shift in position meant Shen Wei was battering his prostate now, at a ruthless pace that had Zhao Yunlan squeezing his eyes shut and gripping Ye Zun’s hips. He rolled his hips back to meet Shen Wei’s thrusts, releasing Ye Zun’s thumb because he was too busy gasping and moaning with the steadily climbing pleasure. He could hear Shen Wei’s own panting, could feel his fingers digging harder into Zhao Yunlan’s fleshy ass. And wasn’t it a treat to hear and feel Shen Wei, ever composed, unraveling like this? The thought bloomed with crimson pleasure in him as he decided he needed to see Shen Wei’s face next time, needed to see Shen Wei’s mussed hair and lustful eyes and reddened neck and chest.

Ye Zun bent low and murmured into Zhao Yunlan’s ear, hot breath gusting over skin, “Gege is really good at fucking, isn’t he? Do you like his cock in you?”

The sudden reminder that Shen Wei did all this and more with Ye Zun sent a new spike of pleasure through him. He gasped, twisting, fucking back harder.  

Suddenly, he felt Shen Wei’s body enveloping his own, bending over him and then Shen Wei was panting in his other ear, “Yunlan, Yunlan, you feel so good around me. I want to feel you come like this.”

Shen Wei’s clever hand wrapped around Zhao Yunlan’s hard cock and that was unfair, that was it, that was too much. Zhao Yunlan jerked, his ears ringing with both their voices, his cock jerking and spilling in Shen Wei’s tight grip as Zhao Yunlan clenched and fucked back mindlessly on Shen Wei’s erection. Gasping and moaning, Zhao Yunlan’s climax sang through him, was wrung out of him between Shen Wei’s cock and hands.

As Zhao Yunlan slowly, ever so slowly, came back to himself, eyes blinking dazedly, he felt Shen Wei’s hips slow, coming down from his own orgasm. Shen Wei’s heavy gasping was music to Zhao Yunlan’s ears, his hot breath still wisping across the sensitive skin of his nape. 

They all lay there for a moment, chests heaving as Ye Zun stroked Zhao Yunlan’s and Shen Wei’s hair. There was nothing but sweet bliss and bone-deep relaxation after an intense release like that. 

Then Ye Zun said, “I want to see, gege.”

Shen Wei let out a huff of laughter and slowly, pulled out of Zhao Yunlan. Immediately, Zhao Yunlan felt wetness trickling from his hole and he gasped, realizing that was Shen Wei’s come, Shen Wei’s come leaking out of him. Oh fuck, the thought sent a surge of heat through him. If he was younger, he would have been fully hard again. 

Gently, Ye Zun shifted Zhao Yunlan from those lovely thighs onto a pillow instead and rolled him onto his back. Ye Zun moved on his knees until he was beside Shen Wei, turning to exchange a soft kiss with his gege. Blinking blearily, Zhao Yunlan watched as they parted and turned identical expressions of interest towards him instead, one with mussed dark hair, the other framed with longer silver locks, both staring down as their hands parted Zhao Yunlan’s limp legs and angled his hips up. 

Zhao Yunlan’s eyes widened as Ye Zun reached down and dragged his fingers through the mess between Zhao Yunlan’s legs, gathered Shen Wei’s spilled come and pushed it back into Zhao Yunlan with two fingers. 

“You came so much in him,” Ye Zun said to Shen Wei with a note of delight. Affectionately, he curled his free arm around Shen Wei’s waist and pressed up against his side. 

Shen Wei’s ears were very red, his chest flushed as well as he leaned into Ye Zun’s weight. But he also reached out and slipped a finger in alongside Ye Zun’s digits, pushing into Zhao Yunlan’s come-sloppy hole. “He felt very good,” Shen Wei said, as if in explanation. 

Oh fuck. Fuck, Zhao Yunlan was actually getting hard again with those three fingers playing with the come inside of him. 

Zhao Yunlan gasped, shivering as Shen Wei and Ye Zun stared intently at where their fingers were pushing in and out of him. 

“Your turn?” Shen Wei suggested with a smile, kissing Ye Zun’s cheek. Then he looked at Zhao Yunlan and turned his face to kiss Zhao Yunlan’s knee, the gesture so soft and gentle that Zhao Yunlan thought he was going to combust with feelings he didn’t understand. “Do you want Ye Zun to fuck you too?” he asked with a smile that definitely, definitely had an edge of mischief to it. 

Shen Wei knew well enough what he was doing to Zhao Yunlan’s poor brain. 

“Oh, fuck yeah,” Zhao Yunlan agreed enthusiastically. 

Ye Zun beamed, smoothing one hand up and down Zhao Yunlan’s inner thigh, even as he continued to move his fingers inside Zhao Yunlan. “And then after that, you can fuck me while gege fucks you again.”

Zhao Yunlan was going to die and it would be completely worth it.

Chapter Text

Everything ached, but in the most fantastic way. He would say it was the satisfying ache after really good sex, but Zhao Yunlan had never had sex this good before. 

From the moment Zhao Yunlan slowly drifted into consciousness, there was not a single moment where he wasn’t aware of what had happened last night. The moment his sleepy mind started booting up, the only thought he had was: “I had sex with Shen Wei and Ye Zun.”

And what fucking great sex it was. 

If Zhao Yunlan died right here and now, his only regret was that he wouldn’t have more fucking great sex with Shen Wei and Ye Zun. 

And it wasn’t just the physical act of kissing, licking, sucking and fucking. 

They had also teased, laughed, talked and cuddled. 

Zhao Yunlan had had sex with long time lovers that hadn’t felt as intimate and comfortable as last night had. 

Surrounded by warmth, head resting on a soft pillow, limbs pressed to smooth skin, Zhao Yunlan thought this was the way he wished he could wake up every morning. He didn’t know what he needed to do to make that happen, but he was determined not to be a passive participant in this developing situation between the three of them anymore. From here on out, he was going to woo the fuck out of Ye Zun and Shen Wei to ensure he could keep this. Keep them. 

Zhao Yunlan opened his eyes, lips curving up at the pleasant thought of being able to keep Ye Zun and Shen Wei. 

Then, he blinked slowly. 

Zhao Yunlan was lying on his back, and even before he opened his eyes, he had known Shen Wei and Ye Zun were pressed to his sides because of the cosy warmth surrounding him. What he hadn’t expected to see was that Shen Wei and Ye Zun were both awake in a mirrored pose on either side of him; propped up on an elbow, cheek resting on an open palm, gazes resting on Zhao Yunlan as they watched him sleep. 

The looks on their faces were almost identical. Ye Zun’s eyes were a little more narrowed, as if cautious, while Shen Wei’s gaze appeared more open and fond. When they caught him looking back at them, they shifted their gazes to each other instead, some kind of silent communication passing between them. 

No matter what Da Qing said, Zhao Yunlan wasn’t a complete fool. Prior to the development last night, he had thought that the twins were perhaps inviting him in for some kinky threesome sex, that maybe they just wanted to try something different with someone they found attractive. It was already hugely flattering that two total hotties like them considered him attractive. His muddled thoughts and unusually low self esteem could only be blamed on too many revelations occurring in too short a time. 

And he did think some blame had to be put on Shen Wei and Ye Zun, who seemed to place a lot of stock in actions and assumptions, not so much in actual discussions and explanations. 

But he felt like he had a better handle of the situation now.

Shen Wei and Ye Zun had invited Zhao Yunlan into their domestic lives right from the start, inviting him for breakfast and keeping in close contact with him. It seemed entirely unlikely that they had moved into the apartment across from his entirely by sheer coincidence. They had also seemed to assume a right to his personal space as well, cleaning his apartment and fussing over him from early on. 

Then there was the phenomenal sex. Not just the physical act of it, which was mind-blowingly amazing in and of itself, but everything else too. Zhao Yunlan had had many hook ups in his life, many more one night stands than long term relationships. He knew how they were meant to go, and nothing that happened last night had felt like a random hook up or sexual experimentation. Shen Wei and Ye Zun were excited but tender, completely filthy but careful. And they made off-hand references to future sexual occurrences, displaying that casual expectation that this would happen again, regularly even, with Zhao Yunlan right in the middle of it all. 

Then now, this. 

No casual hook up involved watching someone sleep like they did, not with soft gazes like that. 

Zhao Yunlan had no idea why, but it felt like some kind of mental block over the past few weeks had been lifted. All his back and forth conviction that he had to be imagining all the things that were right in front of his face when it came to Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s relationship, all his confusion over how they treated him and how they drew him in over and over again… All of that mad chaos in his mind had just lifted like fog with the morning. 

Maybe what he had needed was a really good fucking to stimulate the brain and make him see clearly again. 

It was entirely possible that he really didn’t need to woo the fuck out of Shen Wei and Ye Zun, because whatever he had done the first time he had met them seemed to have already done the job. 

Not that he couldn’t indulge in some wooing anyway, there was definitely some fun involved in that. And there was nothing wrong with really making sure he had sealed the deal. 

All these thoughts went through his mind in the length of time it took for Shen Wei and Ye Zun to complete their own silent communication. 

“I was just wondering what you wanted for breakfast,” Shen Wei said, turning to Zhao Yunlan with a small smile. 

“My guess is some congee, because you seem to like gege’s congee best,” Ye Zun chimed in, as if he didn’t like Shen Wei’s congee best too. 

Zhao Yunlan had a suspicion that the silent communication between Shen Wei and Ye Zun involved trying to play off how they had obviously been staring at Zhao Yunlan sleep for a potentially disturbing amount of time and not scare him away by seeming overly intense. 

But Zhao Yunlan rather liked their version of intense, so he smiled at them both and ran his hands up both Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s bare arms. What a lovely sight to wake up to, really. 

“I was thinking that I would like to start the day with kisses from my baby and my sweetheart instead,” Zhao Yunlan said, not caring how soppy he was being.

Shen Wei’s ears turned pink even as he smiled while Ye Zun outright grinned. Then they both leaned down and Zhao Yunlan got to claim a kiss from each. 

Which turned into groping and more kissing and well… they didn’t get out of bed for another hour. 

Then they shared an hour-long shower after that. 

By the time Zhao Yunlan sat down for breakfast, he was at once languid with satisfaction and sore from too much intense cardio. He was tempted to go right to bed after breakfast, preferably with Shen Wei and Ye Zun curled up with him. But he doubted he could get Shen Wei to agree to skip a day of work, and he would be too guilty to have a lie-in with Ye Zun if Shen Wei was off being a hardworking professor on his own. 

And Zhao Yunlan actually did have important work to do, work that was starting to come together more clearly now. 

Maybe it was the hunger from not having eaten for a whole day, or maybe it was his brain working in overdrive, but he didn’t notice all the food laid out on the table until a hand squeezed his shoulder. 

“Are you alright, Yunlan?” Shen Wei asked, concern radiating from every word as he stood beside Zhao Yunlan after putting down the final plate. He was probably one step away from spoonfeeding Zhao Yunlan. 

Which…on one hand, there was his dignity to think of. But on the other hand, having a beautiful man, possibly two, feeding him while gazing at him with lovely worried eyes… The height of indulgence really. 

But Zhao Yunlan decided to stay strong and not worry Shen Wei and Ye Zun anymore. “I’m fine, sorry. Just zoned out a little,” he explained, looking up with a smile before looking down at all the plates laid out. And there were many, many plates. “Xiao Wei, are you inviting the whole neighborhood for breakfast?”

There was his usual bowl of congee to one side and thinly sliced fried dough sticks on a plate in front of him. Several small dishes of shrimp dumplings, spinach and mushroom dumplings, steamed rice noodle rolls and turnip cakes were grouped together, next to some pan fried pork buns, steamed buns, scallion pancakes and soybean pudding.  

Shen Wei ran his fingers through Zhao Yunlan’s hair, as if he couldn’t keep from touching him. “You didn’t eat anything yesterday. I was worried.”

“You didn’t make all this, surely,” Zhao Yunlan said, staring in surprise. They had been so preoccupied this morning...

“When would he have the time? We were too busy with other things,” Ye Zun said with a leer, echoing Zhao Yunlan’s thoughts as he pulled his chair over so that he was sat around the corner of the table, perpendicular to Zhao Yunlan. That meant he was closer than his usual spot on the opposite side of the table. 

“I just made the congee and bought the rest,” Shen Wei explained, finally pulling away reluctantly to sit down on his usual side, although he pulled his chair over so that it was directly opposite to Zhao Yunlan and closer to Ye Zun. 

“When did you do that?” Zhao Yunlan asked in confusion. They had been preoccupied together for much of the night and morning. 

“You were still sleeping when he went,” Ye Zun said, leaning over to kiss Shen Wei on the cheek before turning back to Zhao Yunlan. “He misused his portalling powers too.”

Shen Wei didn’t seem embarrassed at all by this revelation and was too busy frowning at Zhao Yunlan. “Eat the congee to start off with to ease your stomach into it.”

Obediently, Zhao Yunlan lifted the bowl of congee and started eating. He felt warmed by the care, a sweet ache in his chest thrumming over how well he was being looked after, how long it had been since he had had someone look after him like this. 

Every morning he had breakfast with Ye Zun and Shen Wei, but today, the care and worry for him was palpable. It was hard not to be moved by it. 

“Thank you,” Zhao Yunlan murmured, not looking up. 

He felt a brush of soft lips against his cheek, turning in time to see Ye Zun sit back down in his chair and smile. “You’re welcome, Lan-ge.”

The affectionate term made Zhao Yunlan want to melt further into his chair. 

Not eating for a day did leave him starving, and he knew he was probably just a couple hours away from stomach cramps if he didn’t feed himself soon. It was a good thing he had Shen Wei’s breakfast spread to pick from, even though he would have to limit himself so he wouldn’t end up sick anyway. 

Maybe it was the food refueling his brain that had been so muddled the previous day, or maybe it was the mindblowing sex which kickstarted his thinking process again. But suddenly, some things seemed much clearer to him today. 

After a mouthful of deliciously succulent prawn dumpling, Zhao Yunlan suddenly asked, “How did the Ministry know to lay the trap for you?”

Frowning at him, Ye Zun reminded him, “They probably thought that Yang Ruo would spill the beans to us the moment we caught him. Which he did, so they’re not wrong.”

“But how did they know you would believe this Shadow Man, a criminal who had just killed?” Zhao Yunlan pressed. “They faked the attempted break-ins for days, even planted fake evidence. They seemed pretty confident that you would be trying to investigate them at least.”

Shen Wei frowned. “Maybe they were just taking precautionary action.”

Chewing and swallowing a bite of flaky scallion pancake, Zhao Yunlan considered that and then said, “That’s possible, but combined with everything else, it doesn’t seem likely.”

“What’s everything else?” Ye Zun asked, head tilted. 

“First, who is the Shadow Man’s source? Second, what will the Ministry gain from catching you breaking in? You’re Heipaoshi, they can’t detain you forever, Dixing wouldn’t allow it and that’s assuming you couldn’t just walk right out of any cell they put you in,” Zhao Yunlan pointed out, emphasizing the point with his chopsticks. “Third, how did they know how to implicate you? How did they know your shoe size?”

Shen Wei stopped eating and considered the questions. He asked haltingly, “You think this was all a trap, that Yang Ruo and Li Qian were both pawns to get our attention. And that there is another party at play, one who knows Heipaoshi’s identity.”

Delicately, right before he spoke, Ye Zun licked at the red bean paste inside the steamed bun he had torn in two to share with Shen Wei. Zhao Yunlan had to drag his attention from that flick of the tongue to focus on what Ye Zun was saying instead. “I think Lan-ge has a point. If it’s someone who knows Heipaoshi’s identity in Haixing, that narrows it down considerably.”

“The main thing you have to ask yourself is what is their motive. Who will benefit in the long term from setting up Heipaoshi? Do they want to injure you or kill you during an ‘arrest’?” Zhao Yunlan’s brow furrowed, chilled at that thought. He shook his head and suggested something less awful but with the same outcome, “Or maybe get you stripped of your title as Heipaoshi. Whichever it is, Dixing would find someone else to step in. Maybe not with the same amazing powers or beautiful face, but they would find someone. What would the Ministry of Supervision get out of it?”

“The Ministry would only benefit if they could get someone in the Heipaoshi role who will look the other way when they perform their experimentation on Dixingren,” Shen Wei said with some disgust, his eyes cold.

“Which means the Ministry of Supervision must be working with someone from Dixing who knows our identity and can influence who will be the next Heipaoshi,” Ye Zun came to the same conclusion Zhao Yunlan did. 

Shen Wei’s face was dark as he said, “The Regent.”

Tearing the rest of his bun into pieces and dropping them onto the plate instead of eating them, Ye Zun said viciously, “Ever since the King decided to form a government based on our suggestion, the Regent’s power in Dixing has greatly reduced and all he’s done since is cause trouble. We should have killed him when we woke up.”

“Didi,” Shen Wei said with a sigh. So it turned out Shen Wei’s ability to inject exasperation, sternness and fondness into a single word wasn’t limited to just Zhao Yunlan’s name. 

Ye Zun subsided but still grumbled under his breath, “So much less trouble if he was dead.”

There was that slightly homicidal, mad-eyed silver-haired professor that Zhao Yunlan knew and loved. 

Wait, love?

Never mind, moving on, no time for that right now. 

“How would he benefit?” Zhao Yunlan asked, even though he could guess. 

Ye Zun answered immediately, “Get rid of current Heipaoshi, install his own puppet in Heipaoshi’s place.”

“We don’t know for sure if it’s the Regent. We’ll need evidence,” Shen Wei pointed out reluctantly. Then he looked at Zhao Yunlan. “If it is the Regent, he’s slippery. He hides his tracks well. The best potential lead would be the Ministry of Supervision.”

Zhao Yunlan had no doubt that Shen Wei’s decision was partly due to the fact that there were Dixingren rumored to be held there for experimentation. Shen Wei and Ye Zun must have been champing at the bit to get in there.

It was the same reason why Zhao Yunlan was itching to get in there too. 

He grinned. “Then let’s plan an actual break-in.”

~ * ~

After a day without food and then a morning eating a day’s worth of food, Zhao Yunlan should have felt sluggish and slow. Instead, he was energized, for reasons he couldn’t determine. 

He dropped both Shen Wei and Ye Zun off at the University, almost leaning in to give them each a kiss as they got out of the car before he remembered himself. While Shen Wei and Ye Zun did their professorly duties, Zhao Yunlan and his S.I.D. team brainstormed a plot to break into the Ministry of Supervision.

As they had agreed in the morning, Shen Wei portalled into the S.I.D. building as Heipaoshi to collaborate after he was done with classes. By that point, the team had a workable plan. It was pretty simple, which was how Zhao Yunlan liked it. Anything too complicated, which was the only kind of plan Lin Jing ever came up with, never survived first contact with the enemy. 

His rowdy team quieted down as the dark gateway sliced through the air, a black impossibility in space as Heipaoshi strode out of the portal. 

“Heilao-ge, we’ve got an easy solution,” Zhao Yunlan proclaimed around his lollipop, reaching out and looping an arm around Shen Wei’s shoulder, ignoring the billowing dark cloak. 

Shen Wei didn’t react to Zhao Yunlan’s impression of a limpet. That just made Zhao Yunlan want to prod him more, so he turned and asked from up-close, “Did you have a good day at work?”

That didn’t get a reaction either. Shen Wei just strode forward, forcing Zhao Yunlan to drop his arm and pout a little. Chu Shuzhi was giving him a filthy look at his utter disrespect while Lin Jing and Zhu Hong looked more than a little incredulous at his behavior. 

Ignoring their stares, Zhao Yunlan clapped his hands together and said, “Okay, here’s the blueprints of the Ministry building that Zhu Hong managed to get from her contacts in the municipality building department.” He nodded at Zhu Hong even as he tapped at two spots on the blueprints spread out over half the table. “We think these two places on level two and three are where the labs have most likely been built.”

“I’m on the phone regularly with Minister Gao’s personal assistant. I remember that she complained about renovation contractors dirtying the lifts about six months ago and how level two and three were a mess. But when we checked today, there are no official records of any renovations,” Wang Zheng explained, her voice serious and steady. 

The masked face nodded solemnly, Shen Wei’s voice pitched a little lower as he said, “So that is likely when the labs were built. They weren’t part of the original building, but something that was put in recently.”

Zhao Yunlan pointed at him with his lollipop before sticking it back in his mouth again. “Exactly right. Based on the plumbing, it’s likely the labs are in one of these two spots, to be able to hold prisoners for a longer period of time without detection. Now, we have a theory about your portal powers. Lin Jing?”

Hovering to the side, Lin Jing came forward and started jabbering away in excitement, “I theorized that the Ministry must have some kind of shield around the lab to stop you from entering at will. Otherwise, it would be way too easy for you to just walk in through a portal, grab the prisoners and leave. So they must be using a shield like S.I.D.’s.”

“How would they have one?” Shen Wei asked. 

“Er, well, I mean. I kind of had to share the information on the shield I created for the S.I.D.? We report to them after all,” Lin Jing said with some embarrassment. Then he tried to move on quickly, as if afraid Heipaoshi would blame him for the current situation. “So, we should be able to figure out where the lab is by having you try to use your powers. Just consider opening a portal to each of these two spots we’ve marked. Whichever doesn’t work, we’ll know that there’s where the lab is.”

Ah, that’s why he kept Lin Jing around, despite his annoying ways. 

Beside him, Shen Wei flexed his hand as if focusing on something. There was no visible sign of effort but less than a minute later, Shen Wei reached out and tapped on a corner of the blueprint. “This place...it feels like it’s blocked. I can’t reach it.”

“That would be it then,” Lin Jing crowed in excitement, circling the area with a red marker. 

“How will we get in if there’s a shield?” Shen Wei asked, clearly unhappy with this result. 

“Time to earn your keep,” Zhao Yunlan said to Lin Jing. 

Rolling his eyes, Lin Jing reached out to the other half of the table and picked up a small silver card. “This is the access card I spent all afternoon making and as long as you have it on you, it should allow you through their shield. It’s similar to the stamp that allows people through the S.I.D. shield, but it’s more complicated since I don’t know their exact shield configuration, which is why I’m using access cards instead of a little stamp. I can’t completely guarantee it’ll work, because I didn’t make the shield for the lab, but I’m about sixty, no seventy percent sure you should be able to get in with this.”

Da Qing snorted from where he was lounging in a chair. “Didn’t you say you were eighty percent sure this afternoon?”

Lin Jing waved his hand at him to shush him. Before he could say anything, Shen Wei had already taken the card. He held it for a moment and said, “It’s still blocked.”

Puzzled, Lin Jing speculated with a frown, “The access card isn’t going to be a perfect match since I didn’t make the shield. It could be that you can’t portal directly in with just the card. But I’m pretty sure you should still be able to pass through the doors as long as you’re holding a card.”

“So we’ll portal into the building and walk through the lab doors,” Zhao Yunlan said, reaching out to snag two silver cards for himself, slipping them into his pocket. 

Lin Jing swept his arms over the little pieces on the table and explained, “That’s where the rest of my tech comes in. The lab door is definitely going to have some kind of hi-tech lock on it. Don’t look down on this little machine that looks like a phone,” Lin Jing picked up a flat electronic device. “It’s a universal card decryptor. Anything electronic that requires a passcard to get through, this one will solve it. I call it ‘Open Sesame’.” 

Zhu Hong said bitingly, “The downside that he hasn’t mentioned is that it takes about twenty seconds to activate so you should make sure no one sees you using it or it’ll be very obvious it’s not a regular card.”

“I was getting to that,” Lin Jing muttered. 

Underneath the hood and cloak, Shen Wei nodded solemnly, even though Zhao Yunlan knew that he was probably at a complete loss over everything that was just said. 

“What’s next?” Da Qing asked, probably to stave off a sulk from Lin Jing. 

“So we suspect that they must have power suppressant handcuffs on the Dixingren, otherwise they might be hard to manage. Yeah, sorry, I had to share my power suppressant handcuff designs with them too,” Lin Jing admitted to Heipaoshi a little nervously. “But this master key should open all handcuffs, so I’ve made a couple. And if that somehow doesn’t work, this mini bolt cutter will definitely handle any cuffs.”

In demonstration, Lin Jing pushed the cylindrical masterkey into the keyhole on a pair of handcuffs and the little cylinder suddenly unfolded in a soft whirr, little bits and pieces shooting out to fit into the hole, before the cuffs snapped open easily. 

Zhao Yunlan picked up the bolt cutter and a key to the cuffs, pocketing them, while Shen Wei picked up the other masterkey for it to disappear into his cloak.

Lin Jing continued his explanation on the other devices laid out. “Here, you have a dark energy detector, so that you can help find the Dixingren they have captive. You just need to—”

“Lin Jing, you’re a disgrace,” Zhao Yunlan declared. 

Frowning, Lin Jing asked, “What, you usually like my dark energy detectors. This one has even been improved on!”

“He’s going with Heipaoshi, do you think he needs your device to detect dark energy?” Da Qing asked with a disdainful eye-roll. 

“Oh...right,” Lin Jin said, realization dawning. He coughed into a fist, looking embarrassed, before hurriedly picking up the last thing on the table, a small round skin-coloured device. “This is a high quality communication device. You can hear and talk through it, so you can both keep in touch if you get separated. I’ll have one on speaker in the office too, so we can monitor the situation back here.”

“No, I don’t want any of you implicated more than you already are. Keep the device off on your end unless I contact you directly on the phone,” Zhao Yunlan ordered. 

The truth was he couldn’t have them listening in, not when it could compromise the identities of Shen Wei and Ye Zun. 

Lin Jing made an ugly face, clearly ready to protest, but Zhao Yunlan steamrolled him with more orders, “Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. Lin Jing and Lao Chu, hang around for the night, you’ll be paid overtime for it. Wang Zheng, stand-by at the phone. If I get caught and I can’t talk myself out of it, I’ll use my excuse that I’m investigating the break-ins at the Ministry as being potentially an inside job, so that’s why I didn’t give anyone the heads up about what I’m doing. I’ll contact you and you’ll all pretend you’re all just waiting for me to come back from my undercover sting. Make sure all the paperwork is ready.”

“What about the rest of us?” Guo Changcheng asked, eager to help. 

“Go home and sleep.”

“Really?” Zhu Hong asked, arms crossed. “You’re going on a dangerous secret mission to free people kidnapped for human experimentation and you want us to go back and sleep?”

“If too many people go into the Ministry, there’s a higher chance of being caught. If too many people stay here waiting, it would be weird if anyone checks up on it.” Zhao Yunlan stepped to the side so he was right next to Shen Wei, feeling him stiffen under his heavy cloak. Resting his forearm on Shen Wei’s shoulder and leaning his body against him, Zhao Yunlan said with a teasing smile directed at Shen Wei, “Hei-gege and I will do the infiltration. That should be enough.”

There was a moment of shocked silence before Zhu Hong suddenly reached out and grabbed Zhao Yunlan’s other hand. She said through gritted teeth, “We’ll just be a minute, Heipaoshi. Emergency team meeting with the boss.”

She dragged a protesting Zhao Yunlan to his office, everyone hurrying after and slamming the door shut behind Guo Changcheng who was the last to scurry in. Zhao Yunlan shrugged himself free of Zhu Hong’s grip and flung himself into his chair behind his desk, trying to regain some semblance of authority here while Da Qing clambered up and sat on the side of his desk.

“Have you lost your mind?” Zhu Hong demanded as she glared. 

Zhao Yunlan returned her angry look, rubbing at his elbow. “I should be asking you that for manhandling your Chief like that.”

Zhu Hong pointed at him. “You were flirting with Heipaoshi.”

Half of her ire had to do with her unfortunate crush on him, Zhao Yunlan could tell. But the other half was pure incredulity at his daring. 

“It was disrespectful,” Chu Shuzhi muttered, giving him a dark glare. 

“Chief, is this because you can’t have the twin professors? So now you have some kind of death wish instead?” Lin Jing asked tentatively. 

“Just because your relationship with Professor Shen and Professor Ye didn’t work out, you shouldn’t try to start something with the next person you know,” Wang Zheng said a little worriedly. 

Surprisingly, even Guo Changcheng piped up. “I— I understand, because Heipaoshi is tall and m-m-mysterious, and he has a very nice voice, but— but— relationships between managers and subordinates are a bad idea.”

Zhao Yunlan stared at him. “Are you sure you’re not the one who wants to start something with Heipaoshi?”

Guo Changcheng paled, waving his hands in front of him. “I don’t!”

“Wait, who is the boss and who is the subordinate here?” Zhao Yunlan demanded.

“Obviously you’re the subordinate,” Lin Jing pointed out. 

Zhao Yunlan was going to dock his bonus right away when he noticed almost everyone else in the room nodding at Lin Jing’s declaration. Wow, what the fuck, betrayed by his own team’s lack of respect for him. 

The only one who had kept silent the entire time was Da Qing, but when Zhao Yunlan shot him a look, he could see Da Qing grinning away, utterly amused as the only other person who knew the truth behind Heipaoshi’s identity. The others couldn’t see Da Qing’s face since he was perched on Zhao Yunlan’s desk, facing him, so they completely missed the wide amused grin Da Qing sent in Zhao Yunlan’s direction. 

Rolling his eyes, Zhao Yunlan got up and announced, “The next person to comment on my love life is getting their bonus for the rest of the year completely cut.”

Everyone fell into moody silence at that, parting reluctantly for Zhao Yunlan as he made his way past them. When he exited the office, he quickly turned to Shen Wei to stall any further arguments, “Heilao-ge, open up a portal. Let’s get going.”

And then they were off, thankfully leaving the disgruntled rumbles and judgemental looks behind in a swirl of darkness.

Chapter Text

They didn’t portal straight into the Ministry, despite what they had told the S.I.D. team. Shen Wei opened a portal to his apartment instead, because they had to pick up Ye Zun on the way. At first, Shen Wei had said he could handle this on his own, but Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan had put their foot down and Shen Wei had to give in to both of them.

Later on, Ye Zun had told Zhao Yunlan with a smile that he only ever won arguments with Shen Wei roughly fifty percent of the time. With Zhao Yunlan around, their combined efforts might be able to curb Shen Wei’s self-sacrificial, burden-monopolizing ways. 

Ye Zun had wanted to be there to help Shen Wei, just in case the Ministry had something unexpected up their sleeves to deal with Heipaoshi. So as not to stand out, Ye Zun was dressed in his most respectable professor’s attire, which meant he was actually wearing Shen Wei’s clothes. His usual penchant for all white suits or long flaring coats didn’t actually work very well for an evening of light espionage. 

The idea was that Shen Wei was going to go in as Heipaoshi, Zhao Yunlan was going in as himself and Ye Zun was pretending to be Zhao Yunlan’s consultant, there to help understand the psychology of the attempted intruder as a Professor in Psychology. It was a paperthin excuse, but they had the paperwork for Ye Zun’s consultancy filled out at the S.I.D. and it would be enough to keep them out of jail if they did get caught. 

“Ready?” Shen Wei asked from inside his hood, standing in the middle of the living room. 

With a grin, Zhao Yunlan ducked under the hood and kissed Shen Wei’s lips under that black mask of his. “For luck,” he said with a grin. 

If only he could see Shen Wei’s ears, they would surely be red. Then he turned to Ye Zun for a kiss but Ye Zun had already swooped in and kissed him hard and fast, biting sharply at Zhao Yunlan’s lower lip. He didn’t break skin, but it was a near thing. 

“Not for luck, just because I wanted to,” Ye Zun murmured against Zhao Yunlan’s lips, before leaning back with a feral grin. 

While Zhao Yunlan blinked dazedly, Ye Zun’s hands slipped under Shen Wei’s hood and he was pulling Shen Wei in for a deep, passionate kiss that was mostly hidden by the black fabric. 

Once Ye Zun was done, he announced, “Alright. Now we can go.”

It was Shen Wei’s turn to blink dazedly at Ye Zun this time. After a glazed moment, he finally smiled and said softly, “Stay safe, didi, Yunlan.”

Then the portal opened like a gaping maw behind him. 

Travelling through the portal was disorienting, like smashing through glass except colder, much colder, and when you reached the other end in less than a heartbeat, you expected to be gravely injured but all your body parts were still somehow intact. 

Maybe Shen Wei and Ye Zun were used to it by now, or maybe Dixingren biology wasn’t affected in the same way. They seemed unfazed while Zhao Yunlan shivered, trying to shake off the immediate chill. 

Shen Wei looked like he was going to remove his cloak to drape it over Zhao Yunlan, but Zhao Yunlan quickly forestalled him. “We’re going to break into the lab now. It’s not going to work if I’m swimming in your cloak.” And it would take away so many of his cool points. He could not pull off the cloak like Heipaoshi did. 

It was late, long after dark and most of the building was empty. In a stroke of luck, they didn’t encounter anyone at all on the way to the lab. 

When they reached the corner of the floor where they suspected the lab was located, all they found was a regular-looking wooden door. There was a card scanner by the door, and since there was no one else around, Zhao Yunlan didn’t hesitate to use Lin Jing’s universal card decryptor on it. Ye Zun peered over his shoulder, watching how he used it curiously, while Shen Wei stood to the side ignoring all electronics shenanigans. 

After twenty seconds, the card reader flashed green and there was a distinct click from the door. Zhao Yunlan turned to Shen Wei. “You stay out here first, in case there are guards. We don’t want them to send out the alert that Heipaoshi is here. Ye Zun can come in with me since he doesn’t look so ominous.”

After they agreed, Zhao Yunlan turned the doorknob and pushed it open. He didn’t try to sneak in or look around carefully. He just strode right in like he belonged there. 

Only he didn’t enter a lab. Instead, he entered a small white room and was faced with a large circular door that looked to be pressure-sealed. There was a glass panel on the door which showed that they had definitely found the right place, since a sterile white lab lay beyond the door. But behind the panel were also two guards. Damn. Not good, but not totally unexpected either.

Zhao Yunlan passed the universal card decryptor to Ye Zun surreptitiously without looking down as he walked up to the door and smiled at the guards. 

A little speaker by the door crackled to life. “Sir, this is a restricted zone, please leave at once,” one of the guards said through the speaker. 

Putting his face close to the window panel so that they could only focus on him, Zhao Yunlan said, “Hello, I’m Chief Zhao, head of S.I.D.. I’ve got clearance for the restricted zone.”

The guards exchanged uncertain looks. “We weren’t told there would be any visitors.”

“If I didn’t have clearance to be here, how did I get through the first door?” Zhao Yunlan pointed out, nodding to the open wooden door at his back. 

As they couldn’t dispute that reasoning, one of the guards said, “That doesn’t mean you have clearance into the lab.”

Before he could continue, the card reader beeped and a loud click sounded from within the large round door. Zhao Yunlan grinned and grabbed the large lever, pushing it down and pulling the heavy door open. “Looks like I do,” Zhao Yunlan said cheerfully. 

The guards’ eyes widened as Zhao Yunlan and Ye Zun stepped in, their hands falling to their weapons. “Sirs, please step back outside.”

Before Zhao Yunlan could try to confuse them any further, Ye Zun suddenly gasped out, “It’s a trap.” Then Ye Zun turned to the open door, “Don’t—”

But it was too late. Shen Wei had already swept in, as per their earlier plans for Zhao Yunlan and Ye Zun to gain access and have Shen Wei surprise any potential guards. 

Shen Wei slammed into the first guard, knocking him unconscious straight away with a blow to his head. But then he stumbled, as if taken aback by something. The remaining guard hit Shen Wei across his back with a baton, electricity crackling out. Shen Wei never made a sound, but he shoved back from the guard, widening the distance between them. It was a shock to Zhao Yunlan. Based on what he knew about Shen Wei’s powers, there was no way an electric baton would be enough to harm him. 

The remaining guard fell back but quickly slammed the heavy door shut. 

Reaching out, Zhao Yunlan grabbed Shen Wei’s arm as he pushed Ye Zun back further into the lab, standing between the twins and the guards while he cast a quick look around the lab. It was a large room, with a few benches that had equipment on it that he didn’t recognize, presumably related to whatever experiments they were running. There were a couple whiteboards covered in writing and a few computers on desks to the side. In the middle of the lab were two beds with straps on their sides, and who knew what unsavory things were done there in the name of scientific experimentation. Behind the beds was a disturbing pillar of some kind, with straps and a metal contraption at head height. On the other side of the room were five doors lined up close together, which was presumably where the kidnapped Dixingren were being held. 

The look around the room only took a few seconds and even as he moved, his hand slipped into his pocket and he hit a few buttons on his phone. He couldn’t see anything overtly dangerous that had caused Ye Zun to pick up that this was a trap, but the guards’ reactions to shut the door and block it with their bodies indicated strongly that Ye Zun was right. 

“What’s the trap?” Zhao Yunlan asked Ye Zun lowly. 

From behind him, Ye Zun’s voice sounded tense. “It isn’t a shield that was stopping gege from opening a portal directly into this room. We could have walked in without the silver cards too. Dixingren power suppression has been built into the whole room. I can’t use my powers in here.”

“Neither can I,” Shen Wei said, straightening, his voice steady like he hadn’t just been electrocuted. 

Damnit, so it hadn’t been a shield and they hadn’t been using power suppressant cuffs on the prisoners. They turned the entire room into some kind of dark energy suppressant cell. 

Zhao Yunlan started advancing on the guard. “You planning on kidnapping the S.I.D. chief now?” Shen Wei and Ye Zun were without their powers, but he was confident he could take out the remaining measly guard. 

That was when all five doors at the end of the room opened and several guards came pouring out. 

It had been a thorough trap after all. 

Among the group of approximately twenty guards dressed in black uniform, there were three scientists wearing buttoned-up white labcoats. 

Zhao Yunlan recognized the older man as Professor Ouyang, the one who had been paying Li Qian for under-the-table after-hours lab work at the university. He had looked up Professor Ouyang’s records the moment Shen Wei and Ye Zun had revealed that bit of information to him.

“I’m Chief Zhao, head of Special Investigations Department.” Zhao Yunlan took the initiative to speak. “I’m here investigating the break-ins at the Ministry which S.I.D. has been enlisted to help with. Why have you locked us in here?”

“I knew that break-in was too contrived to work,” Professor Ouyang complained, and then asked almost curiously. “How were you going to explain the presence of Professor Ye here?”

Zhao Yunlan decided he had to continue to keep up the pretense to at least keep things above board on his side. “He’s my consultant on this case. I’ve invited the esteemed Heipaoshi as he advised that he had information on the inside job as well.”

Shaking his head, Professor Ouyang said, “I would be more surprised to see Professor Ye here if I didn’t already know you were Heipaoshi, Professor Shen. But it’s still a little unexpected that you would involve him when he hasn’t manifested his Dixingren powers.”

So they were right. Whoever was the leak from Dixing, they had informed Professor Ouyang of Heipaoshi’s Haixing identity. The only positive was that it seemed like they weren’t aware that Ye Zun had already manifested his powers as well. When Ye Zun started sharing the mantle of Heipaoshi, they must have kept it from Dixing officials.

“What do you want?” Shen Wei asked, not trying to deflect any further. 

Professor Ouyang’s eyes flashed with anger, a strange amount of rage for a simple question like that. “I want to crack the mystery of how Dixingren powers manifest. I want to understand how Dixingren powers affect the body. And I want to know how we can make that work consistently on Haixingren.”

“Consistently,” Ye Zun said immediately, sounding perturbed. “You’ve already tested it on Haixingren.”

“We have. It has a high failure rate,” one of the other scientists said, sounding cold. 

“Except for one success case. And based on the wild intonation and fluctuation in mood, there are side effects on mental stability even when it’s successful,” Ye Zun said pointedly, sweeping a hand towards Professor Ouyang as if to present his case. 

Zhao Yunlan understood immediately. Professor Ouyang had tested whatever he had discovered on himself, and he was now compromised as a result. This was going from bad to worse. 

“You don’t think you’ll be able to keep us here without a warrant indefinitely, do you?” Zhao Yunlan interjected. “I’m running an official investigation, I have my team waiting on the sidelines. If we don’t check-in, our back-up will turn up in short order. Your work here cannot be government sanctioned, not if you’re participating in reckless self-experimentation. And the government would be wary of breaking the current treaty with Dixing.”

Baring his teeth in a crazed grin, Professor Ouyang said, “Good point, I suppose we better hurry then.” He looked at the guards. “Restrain them.”

Even without the suppression in place, Shen Wei was a force to be reckoned with and neither Zhao Yunlan nor Ye Zun were slouches when it came to fighting. In fact, Ye Zun’s fighting style reminded Zhao Yunlan of his own, the kind typically taught at the police academy. Zhao Yunlan was only kicking himself that he hadn’t brought a regular gun in addition to his anti-Dixing gun. They fought back with all they had, ducking blows and throwing several of their own, trying to stay back-to-back to keep the guards at bay. 

But twenty against three were impossible odds, especially when the guards were also using electric batons. They were subdued in mere minutes, Shen Wei forced to his knees by four guards due to his refusal to stop fighting, hands twisted behind him and put into handcuffs. 

Zhao Yunlan had his arms twisted behind him as well, wrists already cuffed together. More worrying was that they weren’t doing the same with Ye Zun. One guard was holding him by the wrists, another two kept hold of his arms.

“Bring him here,” Professor Ouyang said, gesturing at the metal pillar Zhao Yunlan had seen earlier. 

Shen Wei started struggling anew, trying to surge off the floor. A hard kick to his chest from one of the guards sent him back down, and Ye Zun cried out, “No, gege, stop. Don’t.”

Professor Ouyang ignored the outburst. The guards dragged Ye Zun to the pillar, turning him around so that his back was against the metal surface. They quickly fastened the leather straps around his wrists, shoulders, chest and legs to keep him in place. Then one of the other scientists came up and lowered a metal ring around Ye Zun’s forehead, adjusting some screws so the band sat flush against his skin. 

“What are you planning to do?” Shen Wei asked, his voice low and furious. 

Professor Ouyang shrugged. “It’s a science experiment. Our latest batch of Dixingren haven’t produced great results. Your powers are one of a kind among Dixingren, haven’t you wondered what your brother would be able to do if his powers were ever awoken? Well, we’re going to try to find out now.”

Horrified, Zhao Yunlan asked, “You’re trying to forcibly awaken his powers?”

Among the Dixingren, most of them came to power due to a momentous event in their lives. For a majority, it was due to a trauma or an injury. What were they planning to do to Ye Zun?

Zhao Yunlan was prepared to point out that Ye Zun’s powers were already awakened, to hopefully stop this pointless experiment, when Ye Zun shot him a look and snarled at Professor Ouyang, “You’re a failure of a scientist if you think this is how experiments work. If by some slim chance my power awakens, I’ll destroy you first.”

“Sacrifices must be made for progress,” Professor Ouyang said in a solemn tone, a nonsensical comment that only proved further how far gone he was. 

All of a sudden, Zhao Yunlan interjected, “I wonder what Zhao Xinci would say if he knew what you’re doing.”

Professor Ouyang laughed, turning to Zhao Yunlan. “Who do you think authorized this project?” he asked with an almost grandfatherly, patient look. 

His damned father… All those times he held Zhao Yunlan to impossible standards, and now he was approving experimentation on people? Did his racism against Dixingren really run so deep? 

No, Zhao Yunlan knew his father well. His father had a hell of a lot of hateful characteristics, but he was also a careful bastard. This whole thing was too much of a threat to the treaty between Haixing and Dixing for Zhao Xinci to buy into it.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he approved the study of how to recreate Dixingren power, but did he really sign off on kidnapping Dixingren and experimenting on them?” Zhao Yunlan asked with a sneer. 

At that, Professor Ouyang fell silent and turned away. Zhao Yunlan seized on the point and continued, “So he doesn’t know then. Your program will be shut down, and you’re going to be put in a dark hole in the ground once Zhao Xinci is informed.”

“When I have my breakthrough, I’ll be lauded for it, not arrested,” Professor Ouyang said. He turned to the scientist beside Ye Zun. “Flip the switch.”

They had run out of time. 

Ye Zun stiffened as the band around his head lit up with a faint blue glow, but he didn’t react in any other way. He continued to glare at Professor Ouyang, eyes wide and maddened, a feral set to his face. 

“Record the start time,” Professor Ouyang said, seeming a little perturbed by Ye Zun’s hate-filled gaze. 

“You think this little child’s play is enough to trigger anything?” Ye Zun asked with a contemptuous sneer. 

But whatever the pillar and the metal band around his head were doing, it was starting to take effect. Zhao Yunlan could see the way Ye Zun’s set gaze was starting to waver, as if he couldn’t focus on Professor Ouyang anymore. His stare flickered to the side before he tried to glare at Professor Ouyang again, like he was seeing other things in his surroundings now. 

Shen Wei surged up, only to be shoved back to the ground by the four guards who were holding onto his shoulders, keeping him in place. His black hood was knocked back and from where Zhao Yunlan was held in place next to Shen Wei, he could see the fury and fear in his profile. 

“Administer the dose,” Professor Ouyang ordered. 

“No! Stop!” Shen Wei shouted, likely not knowing what the drug was meant to do, but guessing it couldn’t be anything good. 

Despite Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan’s thrashing, they were held in place by the numerous guards while one of the scientists sank a hypodermic needle into Ye Zun’s arm. Ye Zun didn’t even twitch, didn’t seem to register it at all. Instead, his eyes were going hazy now, unfocused. 

Suddenly, Ye Zun flinched back, as if avoiding a blow even though there was nothing in front of him. His whole body jerked, twisting in his bindings. 

Zhao Yunlan’s heart clenched at the sight, at the way Ye Zun’s face seemed to lose all color, turning pale from clear fright. Ye Zun who was always so confident and flamboyant, who never seemed to be afraid of anything and could stride around as Heipaoshi without hesitation, who was now completely terrified... It was clear in the way he was shrinking back into the pillar, eyes wide as he turned his face away, as if trying to hide. Ye Zun was cowering. He was shaking and trying to curl into himself as much as possible. 

Blood freezing in his veins, Zhao Yunlan flung himself forward against the restraining hands. “Let him go, you bastards. Let him go! I’ll kill you, I’ll kill all of you.”

Ye Zun should never be afraid like that. He should never be so lost and hurt. 

“Didi, I’m here. It’s just a hallucination, it’s not real,” Shen Wei called out, his voice steady even as his body shook with anger. 

But Ye Zun couldn’t hear those words. Whatever he was seeing or hearing, it was all in his own mind. 

“It induces the person’s worst nightmare,” Professor Ouyang explained. “I don’t take enjoyment in this, but it’s the fastest way to awaken powers in a Dixingren.”

“I’ll destroy you for this,” Shen Wei promised with deathly conviction, his expression frigid with vicious hate completely out of place on Shen Wei’s usually calm facade. 

Ye Zun whimpered, the sound slicing straight through Zhao Yunlan’s heart. His lips were trembling as he cringed back and whispered, “I’m sorry, Leader Huang. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please, I’m sorry. Don’t— Don’t, I’m sorry, please.”

Zhao Yunlan felt frustrated tears well up in his eyes at Ye Zun’s terror. 

Then Ye Zun started screaming. 

It was a pained shriek, a hysterical scream that went on and on and on. Zhao Yunlan drew in a sharp breath, felt like he would go crazy if this continued. 

Ye Zun’s scream cut off suddenly and he threw himself against his bindings, jerking forward as he cried, “No, no, no, don’t, gege! Gege! Yunlan!”

At first, Zhao Yunlan thought Ye Zun was shouting for their help, and he thought he might die from the pain in his chest, felt he was being cleaved in two at the sight and sound of Ye Zun’s suffering and desperate pleas for them to help him. 

But then Ye Zun started screaming, “No, don’t hurt them, don’t, don’t! Don’t, please!”

And this was worse. This was so much worse. Ye Zun wasn’t hallucinating about his own torture, or at least, not just his own. He was seeing Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan there too, and whatever he was seeing, it sounded like it was killing him. Ye Zun was whimpering and crying and begging for this Leader Huang to stop whatever he was doing to Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan, shivering and falling to pieces as tears dripped from his face. 

Zhao Yunlan turned away, looking instinctively at Shen Wei who was forced to kneel on the floor, knowing this must be killing Shen Wei to bear witness to. 

In that quick glance, he saw Shen Wei’s clenched jaw, lips white from how tightly he was pressing them together. But he saw something else too. 

There were small movements from Shen Wei’s fingers, curled up towards his handcuffs. Instantly, Zhao Yunlan realized that Shen Wei must have managed to retrieve Lin Jing’s masterkey and was trying to work his handcuffs open. The guards were distracted by Ye Zun’s screams, eyes trained on his thrashing figure. 

But even as Zhao Yunlan watched, one of them looked down and startled. “Hey, what are you—” 

Before he could finish what he was saying, Zhao Yunlan threw himself sideways with all his strength. The guards holding him were used to him struggling in his attempts to go forward, towards Ye Zun. They didn’t expect this sideways lunge, and Zhao Yunlan momentarily escaped their hold to crash into Shen Wei’s guard who had looked down. It was like a row of dominoes as Zhao Yunlan’s violent movement smashed him into the guard, who stumbled into another guard. They all staggered back from Shen Wei, giving him a moment of freedom on one side of his body. 

From Zhao Yunlan’s position where he was half-fallen on a guard, he could see Shen Wei surging to his feet and handcuffs falling from his wrists. He elbowed one of the guards ruthlessly in the ribs, landing a solid punch against another’s jaw and sending that one reeling back. 

Then Shen Wei turned and sprinted. 

Zhao Yunlan was surprised at first, because Shen Wei was heading away from Ye Zun. Then he realized Shen Wei was heading for the door and understood. Zhao Yunlan tried to fling himself against the other guards, making a nuisance of himself. But one of them pulled out a fucking gun and started firing on Shen Wei. The gunshots were deafening in a closed room and at this proximity, causing Zhao Yunlan to jerk against the hold on him with each shot. There was also a guard left at the door and he pulled out a gun as well, firing on Shen Wei too. 

Shen Wei dodged from side-to-side, curling his body down to make himself a smaller target. Between the screams from Ye Zun and the gunshots firing at Shen Wei, Zhao Yunlan felt the tension in him rise to almost intolerable levels. 

Shen Wei closed in on the guard at the door at shocking speed, smashing right into him so that the back of his head slammed into the door. He went limp and Shen Wei shoved him out of the way as he pulled the heavy door open. 

At that point, Zhao Yunlan expected Shen Wei to pour out dark energy to stop the guards and scientists. But instead, Shen Wei seemed to use great effort to summon a roiling ball of dark energy in his palm. With the door open, it seemed the power suppressant shield in the room had diminished enough for Shen Wei to use his dark energy, but it wasn’t completely gone with how Shen Wei struggled to use his powers.

But Shen Wei was going to change that. 

There were more gunshots and Zhao Yunlan tried to throw himself at the other guard with a gun, but the other guards were grappling with him now. Shen Wei ignored the shooter and flung his hand out. The ball of energy smashed into the wall, tearing a large chunk out of it. And then Shen Wei threw another one, and another one, until the wall where the door had been set into was torn completely down. Hopefully it wasn’t a load bearing wall.

Opening the door and destroying the wall must have done the trick. Suddenly, Shen Wei turned towards the guard still firing at him. The man stumbled back at the sheer rage on Shen Wei’s face, but kept firing. Shen Wei slashed his hand through the air and the bullets froze in the air, literally. They halted completely in their trajectory, before falling uselessly to the ground, each projectile encased fully in ice. 

Even as it happened, Shen Wei was already in motion, a dark blur that was too fast for the eye to follow. A glaive shimmered into being, slashing through the air. The man with the gun screamed, his arm falling away at the elbow as Shen Wei sliced straight through. Then Shen Wei pivoted, not stopping as he came at the guards around Zhao Yunlan. They barely had time to lift their batons, to try to pull their own guns. Shen Wei’s glaive moved so fast but precisely that Zhao Yunlan only felt the rush of air as the blade at the end of the glaive swept across his shoulder and neck. Then there was a hot splash of liquid against Zhao Yunlan’s cheek and neck as the man who had an arm around his neck in a chokehold started screaming, his arm only a bloody stump now as the restraining forearm fell to the ground. There wasn’t even a scratch on Zhao Yunlan’s skin.  

The other man gripping Zhao Yunlan’s arm tried to release him and move back, but Shen Wei’s glaive spun in the air, the blunt end smashing down onto the man’s head and sending him to the ground mercilessly. Zhao Yunlan was suddenly free of the guards as the third guard who had been trying to pin him down flung himself at Shen Wei, electric baton crackling. Shen Wei didn’t even duck, didn’t even use the glaive to block the blow. He took the blow to his shoulder and the electricity on the baton arced. But this time, Shen Wei didn’t even react, like the baton was nothing more than a feather on his back. Instead, the glaive blurred and was suddenly a sword which Shen Wei ruthlessly stabbed into the guard’s gut. 

Then Shen Wei had an arm around Zhao Yunlan’s shoulders and was dragging him forward, heading towards the pillar with Ye Zun and the remaining guards and scientists. 

Zhao Yunlan was ready to rush forward, to release Ye Zun from the pillar. But Ye Zun was no longer screaming and crying. He was still in a trance it seemed, his eyes still unfocused. But he wasn’t afraid anymore. There was madness on his face, madness and vicious fury. 

Ye Zun’s powers had never needed unlocking, had only been blocked by the power suppressors built into the room. Which Shen Wei had just destroyed.

What did they say his power was? The ability to absorb dark powers and borrow a person’s abilities for a few days. 

Now, Zhao Yunlan was truly seeing it in action, and he didn’t think Ye Zun’s powers were limited to just absorbing Dixingren powers.

Some kind of energy was flowing from Professor Ouyang and the other two scientists, visible as a hazy gray smoke being drawn straight into Ye Zun who seemed to be steadily inhaling this foggy vapor. The scientists were frozen in place, as if they couldn’t move, and Zhao Yunlan could see that whatever it was Ye Zun was doing, it was weakening them, their legs trembling as they slowly sank to the ground. 

Suddenly, Shen Wei said hoarsely to Zhao Yunlan, “Stop didi. Don’t let him finish them, he’ll regret it. I’ll stop the other guards.”

Then he was a black blur as he proceeded to smash his way through the guards, his sword lengthening into a long staff he used to subdue with somewhat less maiming and murder. 

Zhao Yunlan rocketed his way to Ye Zun who was straining against his bonds, chest heaving as he inhaled in deep, desperate gulps. There were no more guards around Ye Zun, just the scientists who were now laid out on the floor. Zhao Yunlan had no idea if they were still alive, but he had to try anyway. But as he flung himself forward, he abruptly staggered as he saw the air in front of him waver, as sharp pain pierced his chest and a feeling of sucking agony dragged through his body. 

His vision blurred and he realized that whatever Ye Zun was doing to the scientists, he was doing to Zhao Yunlan too. Ye Zun was still deeply trapped in his hallucination and everyone was an enemy. 

Gritting his teeth, Zhao Yunlan forced his feet to keep moving, to propel him closer and closer to Ye Zun as the excruciating pain wrenched deep in his guts. The air in front of him was smoky with the energy that was being pulled from him, but he could vaguely see Ye Zun’s pale face through the haze, could see that he was very close now. 

“Ye Zun,” he forced out through his tight throat. He pushed his arms up through the cloud of exhaustion that enveloped him, lifted until his hands touched cold waxy skin and he held Ye Zun’s beloved face. “Sweetheart, it’s me,” Zhao Yunlan said, barely able to force the words out through heaving lungs. “Please, stop. Shen Wei is here too. Your gege asks if you can stop, please.”

He gasped through the devouring agony, was close enough to see Ye Zun’s wide eyes trying to focus on him. Taking a last deep breath, Zhao Yunlan whispered, hating himself for saying this but knowing it might be the only way, “Sweetheart, please...you’re hurting me.”

Ye Zun’s breath choked off on a gasp, turned into a racking cough that rattled his lungs, and the overwhelming pain finally eased. Sagging forward, Zhao Yunlan folded his arms around Ye Zun’s shaking form. 

“Yunlan?” Ye Zun whispered in a very small voice after his coughing subsided. 

“I’m here, sweetheart, I’m here. It’s all just a very bad dream,” Zhao Yunlan murmured into his ear as he tried to remain on his feet, leaning on Ye Zun and the pillar. With fumbling hands, he reached up and pushed the metal band around Ye Zun’s forehead up and away. Then his trembling fingers worked on the leather bands holding Ye Zun to the pillar. 

He turned his head as he worked on the bands, searching to see if Shen Wei had handled all the guards. Twenty guards in the room and he watched as Shen Wei put down the last one, dodging a gunshot as he slammed his staff into the side of the man’s head, leaving him to crumple to the floor. 

Then Shen Wei was turning around and sprinting towards them. 

Didi.” Shen Wei’s voice was urgent and afraid as he practically ran into them, his arms coming up around Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan. 

“Gege, I’m okay, don’t worry,” Ye Zun said unsteadily as Zhao Yunlan worked the last band loose from around his wrist. As someone who had seen Ye Zun sadly showing Shen Wei his papercut just to get some tender loving care, it was amazing to hear Ye Zun claiming he was fine when Zhao Yunlan was holding most of Ye Zun’s weight up with his own body.

Shen Wei helped prop Ye Zun up, hand coming up to brush silver hair back tenderly. His fingers were trembling. Then he touched Zhao Yunlan, curved his hand around the back of Zhao Yunlan’s neck, wet fingers unsubtly feeling for his pulse point. “Are you alright, Yunlan?” he asked with equal concern. 

“I’m okay, baby, let’s just— Let’s get away from this thing,” Zhao Yunlan said as he finally pulled Ye Zun free from the pillar. 

They both held Ye Zun between them and stumbled away from the contraption towards the bank of computers and the chairs there. They were only halfway there when Zhao Yunlan felt Ye Zun seemingly growing heavier, sagging against his shoulder. 

“What—”

He turned in time to see Shen Wei sink to the ground, letting go of Ye Zun at the last moment so as not to drag him down. 

“Gege!” Ye Zun cried out, letting go of Zhao Yunlan and lurching downwards for Shen Wei. 

Zhao Yunlan eased him to the floor instead, quickly going to his knees to turn Shen Wei over onto his back. He suddenly remembered the sticky wetness against his own neck where Shen Wei had touched him. 

“Shen Wei, Shen Wei,” Zhao Yunlan called out urgently. 

Under Shen Wei’s black mask, his face was white. Zhao Yunlan quickly felt along the front of Shen Wei’s dark robes. The black fabric was tacky, soaked through, and when Zhao Yunlan lifted his fingers, they were wet now, stained a dark red. 

Blood. 

Ye Zun’s vision was clearly recovering because he cried out in horror at the sight. 

Zhao Yunlan ripped open Shen Wei’s robes without hesitation, revealing a bare torso covered in blood. The source was obvious; four bullet wounds. One was a graze against his side, but three had hit him straight on, one perilously high on the right side of his chest, potentially a hit to a lung. Blood stained Shen Wei’s lips as he coughed, and his raspy breathing was audible now that Zhao Yunlan wasn’t busy panicking over Ye Zun. 

With his powers suppressed, Shen Wei wouldn’t have had the advantage of unnatural speed or agility on his side. He had been shot at from the back, shot at point blank from the front as he ran towards the guard at the door. It had been impossible for Shen Wei to avoid being hit. He had known it and done it anyway. 

“Call for an ambulance, Shen Wei has been shot,” Zhao Yunlan ordered. 

“I— I—” Ye Zun said, reaching with shaking hands for his pockets. 

“Not you, sweetheart. Lin Jing is calling the ambulance,” Zhao Yunlan explained, modulating his tone. “I have my communicator in, he’s been listening in the whole time.”

Ye Zun touched his own ear in realization and muttered, “Whatever that machine on the pillar was, I think it broke the communicator.”

From the moment Zhao Yunlan had realized they had walked into a trap, he had put his hand in his pocket, unlocked his phone and sent the message that he had prepared beforehand. That had been the Emergency Plan he had prepared with his team. If they received the message, then Lin Jing would turn on the communicator on his side and they would start listening in, secret identities be damned. 

“The ambulance is on its way,” Lin Jing reported through the communicator. 

Removing the Heipaoshi mask, Ye Zun pressed a kiss to Shen Wei’s bloodstained lips and whispered, “You have to be alright, gege. You can’t leave me.” His voice trembled on those last words.

Zhao Yunlan had taken off his jacket and pressed it onto the wounds as best he could, pressing down hard despite Shen Wei’s pained groan, trying to stem the bleeding. 

“I’m— I’m fine,” Shen Wei whispered, blood bubbling out between his lips as he spoke. 

“You’re not fucking fine,” Zhao Yunlan gritted out. “Stop trying to comfort us.”

Tears were dripping from Ye Zun’s downturned face, falling onto Shen Wei’s cheeks. “Gege, please.” He couldn’t even form more words than that, voice trembling with terror. 

“Didi, don’t cry,” Shen Wei murmured, lifting a hand up before letting it drop, as if too weak to move. 

Ye Zun grabbed his hand and lifted it to kiss his knuckles, just held Shen Wei’s hand to his lips after, shaking his head in silent helplessness. 

“Xiao Wei,” Zhao Yunlan said in anguish, running out of words himself. 

But Shen Wei was smiling slightly, a little gruesomely through the blood, as his other hand nudged lightly against Zhao Yunlan’s hands pushing down on his torso. “Move your hands, Yunlan,” he breathed out.

That would be insane. Zhao Yunlan shook his head. “I’m stopping the bleeding. The ambulance is on its way.”

“No ambulance,” Shen Wei murmured, barely parting his lips. “It was...a calculated risk. I’m fine.”

Zhao Yunlan frowned. “What are you talking about? No, wait, save your strength, you’ll be okay, we can talk later.”

Shen Wei nudged at Zhao Yunlan’s hands again, too weak to actually move him. “I can...heal myself.”

With a gasp, Ye Zun seemed to come to live. “Do you have enough strength for it?” he demanded. 

Shen Wei nodded and Ye Zun immediately pushed Zhao Yunlan’s hands away with suddenly renewed vigor. Obligingly, now that Ye Zun was in agreement as well, Zhao Yunlan pulled the jacket away to reveal the still-bleeding bullet wounds. 

But even as Zhao Yunlan watched, something was happening to the wounds. Slowly, the flesh was moving, almost imperceptibly. 

“It’s slow...cause there’s a lot of damage,” Shen Wei said with halting breaths. 

Then he placed his hand over his torso and dark wisps of smoke crawled from his hand over his wounds. Suddenly, Zhao Yunlan could see a glimpse of gleaming metal in the wounds and two bullets were pushed out from the bloody wounds at an incredibly slow pace, like a force inside Shen Wei’s body was slowly nudging them out. Zhao Yunlan felt a complicated mix of relief and nausea. Quickly, Ye Zun swept the bullets away onto the floor, as if unable to tolerate their close proximity to Shen Wei any further. 

“The other bullet went through,” Shen Wei murmured. 

Dark smoke continued to curl around and seep into Shen Wei’s skin and flesh. Zhao Yunlan wasn’t sure if it was wishful thinking, but it looked like the bullet holes were knitting shut. 

“Chief!” 

Zhao Yunlan looked up to see his whole team come skidding into the lab, eyes wide as they looked around at the fallen people. 

From behind his S.I.D. team, Zhao Xinci walked in.

Of course he arrived after the chaos had already been resolved. Zhao Yunlan glared at his father. If the situation hadn’t called for desperate measures, he wouldn’t have signalled for his team to call Zhao Xinci. 

About fifteen minutes ago, Lin Jing had told Zhao Yunlan through the communications device in his ear that they had arrived at the Ministry building, but the guards weren’t letting them in. The S.I.D. had no portaling ability for easy access and there were too many guards waiting in the lobby, as if expecting this intervention from the S.I.D.. 

Zhao Yunlan had asked Professor Ouyang if Zhao Xinci authorized this research, including the kidnapping of Dixingren. That had been for Lin Jing to hear as well, especially when Professor Ouyang admitted that Zhao Xinci wasn’t in as deep. Lin Jing had obviously understood Zhao Yunlan’s message. Only Zhao Xinci’s authority could have gotten his team through the front door without force.

His father looked impeccable as always with his neatly styled salt and pepper hair and well-groomed facial hair, dressed in a suit that made him look like he had been on his way to work rather than it being past ten at night. He looked around the room, at all the injured and dead, taking everything in before finally looking at his own flesh and blood kneeling on the floor. The lack of surprise as he looked at Shen Wei in his black robes indicated that Zhao Xinci had always been aware of Heipaoshi’s civilian identity. That wasn’t too unusual since Zhao Xinci had been the S.I.D. chief for so long. 

“Zhao Yunlan, what have you gotten yourself into now?” Zhao Xinci asked. 

Completely out of fucks to give, Zhao Yunlan looked down at Shen Wei, his hands still pressed to Shen Wei’s side lightly, as if he could help with the healing process through touch alone. 

He hadn’t been imagining it earlier. Shen Wei’s injuries were healing, slowly but surely. The four bullet holes were already at half their original diameter, their jagged edges having knitted together. Shen Wei was breathing in deep and slow, his face still shockingly pale, but the rattling in his lungs had lessened. Hand stroking Shen Wei’s hair back, Ye Zun was murmuring encouragement to his brother as Shen Wei blinked slowly, looking from Ye Zun to Zhao Yunlan then back to Ye Zun again. 

Having verified for himself that Shen Wei’s injuries were healing steadily, Zhao Yunlan finally looked up at Zhao Xinci again, although he didn’t bother getting up from the floor. “I’ve gotten myself into your mess. You signed off on questionable research and didn’t check that the head scientist wasn’t self-experimenting and losing his mind.”

“The research was important for the safety of Haixing,” Zhao Xinci said, immovable and stern as always. 

“Important enough to kidnap and murder over?” Zhao Yunlan demanded, finally getting up from the floor to glare at Zhao Xinci. 

Zhao Xinci paused and said calmly, “Do you have evidence of that?”

From the other side of the room, Chu Shuzhi called out, his tone even more pissed off than usual, “There are four Dixingren here, chained to a wall. A fifth one has been dead for several hours. Only a teenager.” He spat out the last part. 

Zhao Yunlan turned to see Chu Shuzhi walk out of the last cell, face dark, obviously having gone in to see if he could save the last person.

Turning back to Zhao Xinci, Zhao Yunlan swept his arm in Chu Shuzhi’s direction, saying nothing else verbally, but he didn’t bother to hide the disgust and anger in his expression. 

“I didn’t know about that,” Zhao Xinci said, a little quietly. 

At Zhao Yunlan’s feet, Shen Wei pushed himself up into a sitting position with Ye Zun’s help. Shen Wei’s voice was quiet but hoarse as he said, “You authorized Professor Ouyang to do this research. They’re your responsibility. Whether due to your carelessness or purposeful malice, people are still hurt or dead.”

He should seem weak from where he was sitting on the floor, staring up at Zhao Xinci, torso bare and visibly injured. But instead, Shen Wei looked every inch the feared and respected Heipaoshi, even unmasked and bloodied. Perhaps more so when he was bloodied. His gaze was steady, eyes dark as the endless night as he called Zhao Xinci to task. 

Zhao Xinci finally said, “There will be an investigation and we will work this out with Dixing.” But because Zhao Xinci was a dickhead of the highest order, he continued, “What of the men you injured and killed?”

“Self-defense,” Zhao Yunlan snapped out. “They were torturing Ye Zun.”

Looking at the men groaning on the floor, at the bodies that were silent and still, Zhao Xinci said quietly, “Twenty guards and three scientists. The guards are dead or maimed. The scientists are barely alive. And you still don’t think Dixingren are inherently dangerous?” The last question was clearly directed at Zhao Yunlan. 

Zhao Yunlan met his father’s eyes and said softly, “They would all be dead if I had gotten to them first, and I’m not Dixingren.”

At that moment, Zhu Hong cut in, probably tired of their bullshit, “Lao Zhao, the ambulance is downstairs.”

Shen Wei murmured, “No hospitals. I’m fine. But the other guards and scientists will need them.”

Zhao Yunlan decided that there was something poetic about the way Shen Wei had put down all these men and was now reminding everyone that they needed to be taken to the hospital. Ever responsible. 

He dropped to a crouch beside Shen Wei, bending to examine his wounds. “Are you sure?”

“They can’t do anything for me,” Shen Wei said, looking up with a weak smile. “I just need to rest, and I would prefer...home.”

That weak smile, coupled with the blood still on his lips, was like a knife twisting in Zhao Yunlan’s guts. Even now, Shen Wei was trying to offer him comfort. Grumbling under his breath about martyrs, Zhao Yunlan draped Shen Wei’s arm around his shoulder and helped him up. Ye Zun did the same on the other side, but Ye Zun was still pretty wobbly himself so Zhao Yunlan felt like he was carrying everyone at this point. 

“We’re leaving,” Zhao Yunlan told his father. “You can clean up your own mess and expect a report from me the day after tomorrow.” He turned to Chu Shuzhi. “Bring the Dixingren to the hospital as well for a check-up, make sure they get the help they need. The team should sort out a rotation to protect them. They’re key witnesses.”

Chu Shuzhi nodded, stoic and fierce, always dependable. 

“Nothing will happen to them. Professor Ouyang was the one who stepped out of line, and he’ll be detained,” Zhao Xinci said to Zhao Yunlan. 

Spreading his lips in an insincere smile, Zhao Yunlan said, “Chief of Xingdu Bureau, I’m sure the victims will be glad to hear that, but as you’ve always said, we should always take precautions against unexpected events.”

Together, Zhao Yunlan, Shen Wei and Ye Zun limped their way to the exit, which was a really fucking big exit now, since Shen Wei had torn down an entire wall. Looked like it wasn’t a load bearing wall after all, since they were all still alive. Yay.

“Da Qing, you’re in charge,” Zhao Yunlan said, looking towards Da Qing, keeping the insults away for once. It was a plea for a favor, and Da Qing got the message, nodding with wide eyes. 

As they left the cursed lab, Zhao Yunlan heard Lin Jing whisper in an undertone — still completely audible through their communications device, that moron — to Guo Changcheng, “Hey, did you know Professor Shen was Heipaoshi? This explains so much about Lao Zhao’s flirting with the professors and Heipaoshi! Wait, so what we heard earlier… Are the three of them together??”

Chapter Text

Zhao Yunlan wasn’t completely sure if he should be staying over, not when both Ye Zun and Shen Wei were exhausted and hurt, physically and mentally. He thought they might want some time alone to recuperate, to recharge. To his surprise, they both clung to him, with Ye Zun suggesting that he help them in the shower.

“Maybe we should just go to bed,” Zhao Yunlan suggested, eyeing the way Shen Wei wobbled where he stood, while Ye Zun still looked pale and shaken. And honestly, while Zhao Yunlan was in the best shape out of all of them, he was still bruised and exhausted, emotionally drained from the stressful day.

Ye Zun was already shaking his head. “Gege is fussy. He’ll rest better after a shower.”

“I just...like to be clean,” Shen Wei protested weakly. 

“Fussy, got it,” Zhao Yunlan agreed, ignoring the look Shen Wei shot him.

The three of them somehow managed to stumble their way through a shower without anyone falling over and cracking their skull open. It was a near thing at one point and shamefully, the person who had almost slipped had been Zhao Yunlan. Very embarrassing. 

All that remained of Shen Wei’s injuries were shallow wounds by the time they were done showering, puckered raw flesh that seeped pinkish plasma. Bullying him into bed, Ye Zun had fussed over the wounds, dabbing disinfectant over them and then plastering white dressing on. While Ye Zun played nursemaid in silk pajamas, Zhao Yunlan ducked back across the hall to his own apartment wearing nothing but a towel to dump his dirty and bloodied clothes, and came back wearing his ratty pajamas and carrying three cans of soup. He made everyone tomato soup for dinner through the complicated process of pouring them into bowls and sticking them one at a time into the microwave. 

When Shen Wei paused before drinking his soup with a painfully stoic expression, Zhao Yunlan rolled his eyes. “Aiyo, you took being shot better than having to drink canned soup.”

They were all sitting in the large bed, drinking their dinner. Shen Wei had wanted to have dinner at the dining table as usual, but he had been unanimously vetoed. Shen Wei and Ye Zun were leaning against the headboard while Zhao Yunlan sat cross-legged across from them. 

“Gege is a snob when it comes to food. The only good food is food he’s made,” Ye Zun said with a teasing smile, even though his face still looked a little wan. 

“You’ve never complained about the food I make for you before,” Shen Wei said with a sideways glance. “I can stop if you prefer.”

Immediately, Ye Zun leaned his head on Shen Wei’s shoulder and looked up with doleful eyes. “Gege, I was wrong.”

“If you don’t want to drink tinned tomato soup, don’t get yourself shot next time,” Zhao Yunlan said peevishly. 

“I knew once the power suppression barrier was destroyed, I would be able to heal myself again. It wasn’t a great risk,” Shen Wei said without a hint of regret. He might as well announce he would do it all over again, which made Zhao Yunlan feel even more annoyed. 

But it was Ye Zun who spoke up, straightening up from Shen Wei’s shoulder and glaring at him. “You shouldn’t be using your body like it’s a spare tool. It shouldn’t be part of your calculated risk,” Ye Zun said, emphasizing the phrase Shen Wei had used in the lab. For the first time since they had left the lab, his voice wasn’t faint and a little flat. Unfortunately, he sounded angry and afraid instead. 

“He’s right. You shouldn’t be risking yourself like that,” Zhao Yunlan said, trying to add more weight to Ye Zun’s words. 

Shen Wei only blinked slowly before he said, “I couldn’t let them continue what they were doing.”

“We all knew Yunlan had already summoned reinforcements,” Ye Zun pointed out. They had all been wearing Lin Jing’s communication device. Before the metal band had been put on Ye Zun’s head, Ye Zun would have heard Lin Jing confirming that he had received Zhao Yunlan’s message and that they were on the way. 

“They were hurting you,” Shen Wei said, turning a little to meet Ye Zun’s gaze. 

“It was only temporary. They weren’t killing me or hurting me physically. It was just hallucinations,” Ye Zun insisted. 

“They were hurting you,” Shen Wei repeated with emphasis, his face a frozen mask that looked like it would shatter at any moment, his eyes hard and furious and most of all, afraid.

Ye Zun’s face crumpled a little at that. He reached up and cupped Shen Wei’s cheek. “They were. But I can’t lose you, gege. I can’t.”

Taking their mostly empty bowls from them, Zhao Yunlan stacked them haphazardly with his own on the floor by the bed. They had all reached their emotional discussions quota of the day. And right this moment, it didn’t seem like there was any way to budge Shen Wei’s view that his body was just another weapon, another shield, to be used and risked accordingly, or to change Ye Zun’s mind on how everyone should just stand around, tolerating his mental torture because back-up would arrive at some point.  

“Let’s get under the covers and rest,” Zhao Yunlan suggested, pulling the blankets back. 

As they shuffled under the covers, he dithered about whether to join them in bed or make some excuse to head back to his apartment. But Shen Wei snagged his wrist and Ye Zun clung to his threadbare white T-shirt. The unspoken request was loud and clear so he crawled gratefully into bed with them. Exchanging a look with Shen Wei, they shuffled Ye Zun to the middle so they could both sandwich him. While Ye Zun seemed better, there was something frail about him that worried them both. 

Lying in the dark, all three of them breathing quietly, not sleeping, not talking, Zhao Yunlan was once again filled with amazement that he was allowed to be here with them. He hadn’t been sure if they would want him here, if they wouldn’t need some space away from him to talk things out. 

After all, they had just confirmed their suspicions that a bunch of mad Haixing scientists had been experimenting on Dixingren — torturing them, to be exact — with Zhao Xinci’s authorization. Sure, Zhao Yunlan’s father wasn’t aware of the kidnapping and torture, but he had signed off on the questionable research and the reason for his authorization had been as usual, his fucking paranoia and xenophobia towards Dixingren. 

It now made a lot of sense that Shen Wei and Ye Zun had never met Zhao Yunlan until that fateful day when Zhao Yunlan himself had invaded their space while investigating Lu Ruomei’s murder. If Shen Wei, because he had doubts Shen Wei would let Ye Zun spend much time around Zhao Xinci, had to work with the S.I.D. of the past, had to spend time around Zhao Xinci because of his role, it was completely understandable that he had developed quite an aversion for Zhao Xinci. And hearing the new S.I.D. chief was Zhao Xinci’s son, he must have drawn his own conclusions and written off the relationship from the start. Zhao Yunlan didn’t begrudge Shen Wei that decision at all. If he could, he would write himself off on account of his blood relation with Zhao Xinci. 

Just remembering how Zhao Xinci accused Ye Zun and Shen Wei of being dangerous, murdering Dixingren, even when standing in the middle of a lab where Haixingren had been imprisoning and torturing Dixingren, galled Zhao Yunlan. He wanted to pick up the phone and yell at his father just thinking about it. 

But that would have been for his own sake, more so than Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s, who needed rest more than anything right now. 

Roiling thoughts about his father’s involvement, about Shen Wei and Ye Zun being hurt, followed him into restless sleep. 

He woke in the middle of the night a few times, each time to Ye Zun’s whimpers as nightmares plagued his rest. Stroking Ye Zun’s hair, he murmured to him until he settled back down, watching Shen Wei doing the same from the other side, an arm slung protectively around Ye Zun’s waist as he whispered in Ye Zun’s ear. 

The next day, Shen Wei’s injuries had healed completely and he could move without wincing. Occasionally, he would reach out to Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan, casually touching them as if to confirm they were there and whole. He looked a little tired, a little drawn, but he was otherwise alright. 

But Ye Zun wasn’t. 

Ye Zun fussed over Shen Wei’s dressings, but when they were removed and only smooth pale skin remained, it was like Ye Zun lost all direction. He kept staring blankly at nothing, lost in his own mind. It was a good thing they had all already decided to take the day off, because it didn’t seem like Ye Zun would be able to focus much on anything at all. 

Breakfast was a muted affair with Zhao Yunlan buying food from a nearby food stall after convincing Shen Wei to take a break. Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan tried to coax Ye Zun out of his shell, tried to talk to him as normal, but Ye Zun fell into longer and longer silences. 

They curled up together on the couch to watch television after breakfast, Ye Zun sandwiched between them again. Shen Wei had an arm around Ye Zun’s back, and Ye Zun was curled into Shen Wei’s shoulder while clinging to Zhao Yunlan’s forearm like his personal body pillow. But Ye Zun’s eyes were distressingly vacant as they stared listlessly at the screen. 

Finally, Shen Wei cupped Ye Zun’s cheek, turning him from the television to face him instead. With a deep frown between his brows, he murmured, “Didi, you’re scaring me.”

Ye Zun looked up, the dazed expression slowly clearing as he blinked. From his other side, Zhao Yunlan could see how Ye Zun’s eyes welled up with tears and his heart broke at the sight. 

Lips trembling, Ye Zun finally admitted, “Gege, I can’t stop...thinking. About that time. When I didn’t have you… when I didn’t have anyone. When I was alone and there was only...the Rebels…”

Zhao Yunlan finally realized that Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s history was even more complicated than he had thought. They had been around since the Allied Wars of ten thousand years ago. Ye Zun had mentioned being separated from Shen Wei before and now he spoke of being alone with the Rebels. But the records held by S.I.D. had been clear that Heipaoshi had been on the side of the Alliance for the whole war. Which meant that at some point, Shen Wei and Ye Zun had been on different sides of the war. And it didn’t sound like Ye Zun had willingly stood with the Rebels. 

The memory of long cruel scars across pale skin flashed through Zhao Yunlan’s mind. That first night they were together, Shen Wei and Ye Zun had told him that Ye Zun had scars, that Ye Zun didn’t like to be touched on his back. 

The Rebels had done that…

And whatever Professor Ouyang did, it had brought back all the memories. Vengefully, Zhao Yunlan wished he could have given Professor Ouyang a beating of his own. 

“Didi, you’re not alone anymore. We’re here,” Shen Wei whispered with careful insistence, drawing Ye Zun into his arms, holding him close. From how Shen Wei’s eyes were reddening, he was barely holding back his own tears. 

Zhao Yunlan would wonder if he was intruding except Ye Zun still had a tight grip on his hand. With his free hand, Zhao Yunlan gently stroked Ye Zun’s arm. 

When Shen Wei seemed at a loss for words, Zhao Yunlan asked softly, “Sweetheart, what can we do for you? What will help?”

It seemed better to just ask than guess, and hopefully Ye Zun would be able to articulate what he needed. 

Ye Zun lifted his head from where he had buried his face in the crook of Shen Wei’s neck. He looked at Zhao Yunlan, and then back at Shen Wei. Dropping his head, his brow furrowed lightly before he looked up again and said, “Make me forget. You know how, gege. Make me forget, please…”

Then Ye Zun was clambering into Shen Wei’s lap and it was pretty clear what he meant when he suddenly kissed Shen Wei hard, almost brutally. But Shen Wei met his intensity without hesitation, matched him in force and fervor. Their arms were wrapped around each other, squeezing tight as if they were trying to meld together as one. 

Then Ye Zun’s arm reached out and grabbed the front of Zhao Yunlan’s T-shirt, reeling him in. Zhao Yunlan lurched forward, steadying himself with hands on their shoulders when Ye Zun turned and kissed him in turn. Zhao Yunlan’s lower lip was immediately bitten harshly, a sharp sting that was followed by Ye Zun drawing that lower lip into his mouth, sucking on it. The contrast of sensations sent a shiver down Zhao Yunlan’s spine, and he didn’t think he had gotten hard so quickly before. 

Ye Zun turned back to Shen Wei and said with desperation in his voice, “Gege.” Then he ground his hips down against Shen Wei’s groin. 

Things moved fast after that, so fast that it was like Zhao Yunlan was in some kind of stop-motion film, moments flashing by almost disjointedly. He helped them both undress, just the bare minimum required to get things going. Ye Zun’s sweatpants were shoved down, left hanging from one leg, while Shen Wei’s pants were unbuttoned and unzipped just enough for Zhao Yunlan to stroke his cock to full hardness. Ye Zun fished out lube from somewhere, squeezing it sloppily into Zhao Yunlan’s hands. 

Zhao Yunlan dragged his slippery hand up Shen Wei’s cock as he murmured, “You’re so hard, baby. You’re leaking for Ye Zun, aren’t you?”

Shen Wei gasped, his eyes dark as he looked between Zhao Yunlan’s hand and face, like he couldn’t settle on either. 

Then it was Ye Zun’s turn. Ye Zun threw his head back as he rode Zhao Yunlan’s lubed fingers. Zhao Yunlan couldn’t resist leaning in to nip on his ear, to suckle on an earlobe, before whispering, “Sweetheart, you’re so soft and hot here. Shen Wei is going to love putting his cock inside you.”

“Ah, ah, now, now, please,” Ye Zun begged at that, moving his hips wildly like he couldn’t wait another second. 

He let out a protesting moan when Zhao Yunlan pulled out his fingers, but then Shen Wei’s hands were guiding Ye Zun forward by the hips. Zhao Yunlan held Shen Wei’s cock steady, watched with surging arousal as Ye Zun lowered himself down, the tip of Shen Wei’s cock kissing Ye Zun’s wet hole before sliding slowly, inevitably in. Ye Zun opened up beautifully for Shen Wei, so wanton for Shen Wei’s length in him that there didn’t seem to be the slightest pause or hesitation as he slid down, only their heavy breathing as an accompaniment to the deliciously erotic view Zhao Yunlan was getting. 

“God, this looks amazing from here,” Zhao Yunlan said, rubbing a finger against Ye Zun’s rim, pressing up against Shen Wei’s cock buried inside him. 

Ye Zun ground his hips down, threw a hand blindly out to dig his fingers into Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder. Obediently, Zhao Yunlan knelt on the couch and pressed himself to Ye Zun’s side, circled his arms around Ye Zun’s moving waist. He pressed a kiss to Ye Zun’s cheek and looked down at Shen Wei’s devouring gaze. 

“Baby, you should give Ye Zun what he wants,” Zhao Yunlan said, pressing another kiss to Ye Zun’s cheek, to the corner of his lips. “He wants you to fuck him hard, right, sweetheart?”

“Yes, yes, now,” Ye Zun gasped. 

And Shen Wei obeyed. He fucked up with powerful thrusts, lifting Ye Zun easily with every move of his hips. The muscles on his forearms corded every time he yanked Ye Zun down in his lap, and Zhao Yunlan was rocked by the motions where he was pressed up against Ye Zun. Fuck, it felt amazing. With his cock inside his jeans, rubbing up against Ye Zun’s hip with every thrust, he felt like he was fucking by proxy. 

Then Shen Wei leaned forward, holding Ye Zun’s gaze. “You’re so tight for me, didi. Do you need this? Do you need my cock in you?”

Ye Zun gasped, squirmed, arm squeezing around Zhao Yunlan’s waist as he kissed Shen Wei hard. He pulled back and whispered with a note of wonder in his voice, “Gege, you’re here.”

“I’m here. I’ll always be here,” Shen Wei promised with desperate devotion, thrusting up with such force that he bounced Ye Zun harder in his lap, shook Zhao Yunlan from where he was clinging to Ye Zun. “I’m here, can’t you feel me here?”

Then Zhao Yunlan looked behind Ye Zun’s back to see Shen Wei touching Ye Zun’s hole, pushing a finger in beside his own cock. Zhao Yunlan felt his erection pulse, felt precome leak in his jeans, because fuck, that was hot. He felt unbearably warm just looking at Shen Wei’s probing finger, pushing into Ye Zun’s hole that was already stretched tight around Shen Wei’s cock. 

Sobbing, Ye Zun moved faster against Shen Wei, crying out, “Yes, gege, yes, ah ah, yes.”

He was close, much faster than usual with his emotions and sensations ramped up. Zhao Yunlan pushed a hand down, lifting Ye Zun’s soft oversized sweater so that he could touch Ye Zun’s hard arousal. The moment his fingers rubbed against that leaking tip, Ye Zun shuddered and turned, kissing messily against Zhao Yunlan’s cheek, a smear of lips and tongue. Zhao Yunlan took that as encouragement and wrapped his hand around Ye Zun’s cock. 

“We’re here, we’re both here for you. Shen Wei is right here inside of you, and he’s going to come so deep in you, you’ll be leaking so much of his come when you stand up,” Zhao Yunlan said in a low voice. 

Ye Zun arched his back, rolled his hips once and Zhao Yunlan swore he could feel Ye Zun’s cock jerk in his hand before he pulled at it with tight, ruthless, unrelenting strokes. When Ye Zun came, it was a magnificent sight, cock splashing come all over Zhao Yunlan’s hand, all over Shen Wei’s shirt and pants as Ye Zun’s mouth parted around an obscene cry. Zhao Yunlan used the spilled come to smooth his strokes around Ye Zun’s cock, dragging the thick fluid along that still-hard shaft. 

Then Shen Wei gasped, jerked, hips thrusting up in sharp quick succession as Shen Wei threw his head back and came as well, voice rising on a choked off moan. 

“You’re both amazing,” Zhao Yunlan said, in awe at the gorgeous sight before him. 

Still panting, still dazed, Shen Wei tugged at Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder until Zhao Yunlan bent down for an open-mouthed, clumsy kiss. As they parted, Shen Wei whispered against Zhao Yunlan’s lips, “You’re the one who is amazing.” 

When he pulled back far enough to see Shen Wei’s face clearly again, the sincerity and emotion in those wide, gorgeous eyes left Zhao Yunlan almost breathless. Shen Wei’s lips were parted and his eyes red with emotion, with gratitude, and maybe with something more that Zhao Yunlan was too afraid to really believe right that moment. 

Ye Zun sighed, slumping against Zhao Yunlan’s hold. “Yes, yes, we’re all amazing. Can we go be amazing in bed?”

For the first time since they had walked into that cursed lab, Ye Zun sounded like himself. He wasn’t completely fine. His voice was still a little small, his words clearly an attempt at normalcy even if he wasn’t quite there yet. But he was getting close. 

Shen Wei visibly gathered himself and nodded, saying, “We can move to the bed.” Then he looked at Zhao Yunlan and his right eyelid almost imperceptibly dipped. 

Was that...was that a wink?

Zhao Yunlan grinned and leaned back. Without warning, Shen Wei tightened his hold on Ye Zun’s waist and stood up, still buried inside Ye Zun. 

Gasping, Ye Zun clung to Shen Wei’s shoulders and exclaimed with shocked delight, “Gege.”

In their small apartment, it took just a few steps to get to the bed, and Ye Zun’s cheeks were flushed by the time Shen Wei slowly laid him down, slipping out of him with the movement. Sprawled on the bed now, wearing only a thick sweater with legs parted and come leaking out and down his thighs, Ye Zun was quite the debauched sight. 

Zhao Yunlan crawled onto the bed as well, putting a hand on Ye Zun’s thigh. He smiled at Shen Wei who was kneeling between Ye Zun’s legs, eyes casting a look at both Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan that seemed to hover between satisfied and possessive. 

Zhao Yunlan said almost casually, “I think you mentioned before that Ye Zun’s thighs were sensitive. Do you want to show me?”

Smiling in return, Shen Wei bent down as he murmured, “Please pay attention, there might be a quiz afterwards.”

“I’m a very fast learner, Professor Shen,” Zhao Yunlan continued the joke. 

“Oh god, I hate you both, stop chattering,” Ye Zun cried out. But any further protestations were cut off as Shen Wei nipped at his inner thigh, then licked up the come smeared on the tender and sensitive skin there. Ye Zun squirmed in Shen Wei’s grip, mouth falling open as he panted. 

“You really are sensitive here,” Zhao Yunlan commented, drawing his fingers along Ye Zun’s inner thigh. 

Ye Zun twisted, trying to push his hips up towards Shen Wei. Taking the silent direction, Shen Wei suddenly swooped down and pressed his face between Ye Zun’s thighs, pressed low. And now Zhao Yunlan could see Shen Wei’s tongue licking and driving into Ye Zun’s wet hole. Ye Zun was left sobbing in a constant cry of pleasure and desire. Zhao Yunlan thought his cock might genuinely be in danger of falling off if he didn’t relieve some pressure, so he undid the button fly on his jeans and pulled out his cock as well. Giving his erection a brief stroke, he watched as Shen Wei thoroughly fucked Ye Zun with his tongue, watched as Ye Zun fell apart.

Fell apart and stopped thinking about darker times. 

Zhao Yunlan pressed closer and reached out to jerk Ye Zun off as Shen Wei ate him out with single-minded dedication, pulled at his cock until come splattered once again over Ye Zun’s sweater. Shen Wei eased away, pressing soft and tender kisses to Ye Zun’s thighs as he slowly straightened. 

Hungrily, Zhao Yunlan leaned in and kissed Shen Wei, tasted Shen Wei’s own bitter come that he had licked out of Ye Zun’s wet hole. The thought made Zhao Yunlan squirm, made him press deeper into Shen Wei’s mouth to chase every drop and suck on that agile, clever tongue. 

When Shen Wei pulled back, his eyes were dark as he lifted a hand to thumb Zhao Yunlan’s lower lip. “Your lips are obscene.”

Zhao Yunlan groaned at those words coming from Shen Wei’s always-so-proper mouth and he drew Shen Wei’s thumb into his mouth, hollowing his cheeks as he sucked hard. Shen Wei’s eyes were fixed intently on Zhao Yunlan’s lips in a way that thrilled him, made his breath come in faster. 

“Gege is obsessed with your lips,” Ye Zun said almost casually, still sprawled limply on the rumpled sheets. “We talked about them when we were pretending you were with us in bed.”

Oh fuck, they had fantasized about him? Together? Zhao Yunlan’s hand tightened on his own cock, moving his hips restlessly at that unbearably hot image. 

Shen Wei batted Zhao Yunlan’s hand away from his cock and placing a hand in the middle of Zhao Yunlan’s chest, pushed him firmly down onto the bed. “You like his lips too, didi,” Shen Wei murmured, glancing at Ye Zun fondly. 

“I love his lips,” Ye Zun said, leaning over to kiss Zhao Yunlan hard, as if to prove his words true. “They’re lovely,” Ye Zun added, his eyes soft as he gazed down at Zhao Yunlan. The quiet, almost vulnerable words tugged at Zhao Yunlan’s heart. They seemed so sincere with those beautiful eyes looking down at him, silver hair falling to frame Ye Zun’s face. Zhao Yunlan reached up and pulled Ye Zun down for another soft kiss. 

Heat suddenly enveloped the head of his cock, and Zhao Yunlan gasped against Ye Zun’s mouth. Ye Zun broke away with a smirk, whispering, “He’s pretty good at that, isn’t he?”

Zhao Yunlan looked down to see Shen Wei mouthing at the tip of his cock. The sight of those pink lips kissing and parting coyly over his cock would fuel his jerk off fantasies for years. Shen Wei opened his mouth and took more of Zhao Yunlan’s cock in, tonguing hard at the slit in a way that made Zhao Yunlan’s hips jerk, his feet pushing against the mattress. 

He looked over at Ye Zun and found that Ye Zun was staring at Shen Wei, but in a way that made him look like he was seeing through his gege rather than seeing him. 

Shen Wei must have noticed because he lifted off Zhao Yunlan’s cock with an obscene pop and said firmly, “Didi, come here.”

Blinking, Ye Zun seemed to come back to himself. He looked at Shen Wei and asked quietly, sounding a little lost, “Gege?”

“Don’t you want a taste as well?” Shen Wei asked Ye Zun and then he licked a line up Zhao Yunlan’s cock, holding Ye Zun’s gaze. 

Zhao Yunlan was shamefully torn between worry for Ye Zun and having his brain melted by Shen Wei. 

At Zhao Yunlan’s breathless whimper that he couldn’t for the life of him suppress, Ye Zun’s gaze seemed to fix on him instead, and a mischievous smirk grew on his face. “Oh, he does look delicious,” Ye Zun agreed. 

Then he was nudging Zhao Yunlan’s legs further apart and bending down shoulder-to-shoulder with Shen Wei. Zhao Yunlan wasn’t sure if he was still conscious or if this was a very realistic, overly gratuitous, wet dream. He stared open-mouthed as Ye Zun and Shen Wei both bent their heads over his cock. Shen Wei held Zhao Yunlan’s cock for Ye Zun as Ye Zun wrapped his lips around the tip and sucked, cheeks hollowing as he held Zhao Yunlan’s gaze. When Ye Zun let his erection drop from his mouth, he swirled his tongue lewdly over the head and then murmured, “Hmm, gege tastes sweeter.”

That surprised a snorting laugh out of Zhao Yunlan. Huffing, he said, “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay. Gege is unusually sweet,” Ye Zun said with a smile, dropping a delicate kiss to Zhao Yunlan’s cock. 

Shen Wei nudged Ye Zun’s shoulder and said teasingly, “If you don’t like how he tastes, then you can leave him to me.”

Ye Zun frowned. “I didn’t say I didn’t like how he tastes. Don’t be selfish, gege.”

“Alright, then we’ll share,” Shen Wei agreed, looking up at Zhao Yunlan from beneath his long dark lashes. 

Zhao Yunlan didn’t think he could breathe.  

They both kissed and licked up his cock, their tongues tangling together occasionally as they went, which led to shared kisses instead. Then Shen Wei sucked Zhao Yunlan’s erection halfway down his throat, while Ye Zun kissed his hip, squeezed at the base of his cock. Shen Wei pulled off with a sigh, only for Ye Zun to take a turn lapping at his cock with teasing kitten licks. They traded back and forth, twin faces looking up at him with shared mischief, bending their heads together to whisper occasionally. They coquettishly kissed his erection, lovingly sucked kisses along his shaft. 

They drove him insane and he welcomed it.

He almost didn’t notice the slippery finger pushing into him, what with the way his mind was so preoccupied by the identical beautiful faces teasing his cock between them. He was so deep in pleasure that he felt no discomfort, only lifted his hips to give them better access. Through his lust-filled fog, he realized it was Ye Zun’s fingers in him, stretching him out as Shen Wei took a turn swallowing around his cock. Zhao Yunlan would absolutely have come right there and then if it wasn’t for Shen Wei’s tight grip at the base of his cock, holding his orgasm back like some kind of sexy, sexy tyrant. 

Ye Zun asked, “Do you want to come in our mouths or do you want to come on gege’s cock?”

Was Zhao Yunlan expected to make decisions at a time like this? He was just a mass of pleasure and lust, body melting into the bed with want. 

He blinked and moaned in defeat, unable to make a choice. 

“I think he means both,” Shen Wei pulled off Zhao Yunlan’s cock to say, dark eyes bright with amusement. 

That...wasn’t…

Ye Zun smiled. “You’re right, I’m certain he means both.”

Without waiting for another word, Ye Zun captured Zhao Yunlan’s leaking erection with his mouth and proceeded to slowly inch his way down, bobbing his head as he worked Zhao Yunlan’s cock deeper and deeper even as his fingers crooked and rubbed mercilessly at Zhao Yunlan’s prostate. Shen Wei reached up and gathered Ye Zun’s hair to the side, gently stroking his neck. Then Shen Wei leaned over and bit down on the sharp jut of Zhao Yunlan’s hip. The sting along with the heat and tightness squeezing around Zhao Yunlan’s cock as Ye Zun swallowed repeatedly around him was beyond his ability to resist. Zhao Yunlan’s hips jerked, and Ye Zun seemed to welcome it, humming and swallowing again. 

Sweet pleasure rose in a wave and spilled out of him as his fingers clawed at the sheets, chest heaving with shameless moans. 

By the time Zhao Yunlan blinked slowly to awareness, Ye Zun and Shen Wei were both leaning over him, and Ye Zun had already pulled out his fingers. Ye Zun smiled. “Here he is,” he murmured, touching Zhao Yunlan’s cheek. Then he licked his lips. “You make for quite the meal, Lan-ge.”

Zhao Yunlan unexpectedly blushed, despite everything that they had done together. It was just that heavy lidded gaze on him, combined with the way Ye Zun’s pink tongue had darted out. Something about it made the heat rise to Zhao Yunlan’s cheeks. At that sight, Ye Zun finally looked completely present once more, dark eyes laughing at him as those reddened lips curled up. 

Shen Wei’s hand smoothed down Zhao Yunlan’s side, reaching his thigh and pushing it up in a tight grip. Shifting up, Shen Wei kissed Zhao Yunlan hard, pressed his legs further up and apart. His position was clear. 

“Can I have you, Yunlan?” Shen Wei murmured into the kiss, then continued to mouth and lick at Zhao Yunlan’s lips as if suddenly distracted from his own question. 

“Yes, yes,” Zhao Yunlan mumbled, chasing after Shen Wei, trying to deepen the kiss. 

Shen Wei obliged, licking into him, and without any further preamble, bent him near in half and slid his cock slowly into Zhao Yunlan without ever breaking the kiss. Despite Ye Zun’s clever fingers, Shen Wei was still more substantial, and the weight and thickness pushing into Zhao Yunlan stole away his breath. 

His hands came up to grip Shen Wei around the shoulders, fingers digging in as he held on, tried to anchor himself as Shen Wei filled him completely, possessed him whole. 

It was Zhao Yunlan who broke the kiss, turning his face away with a gasp. “Shen Wei. Shen Wei,” he repeated without meaning, just needing to say his name. 

He was so full and it was almost too much immediately after his own orgasm. And then Shen Wei didn’t give him any more space to breathe. 

Pulling back a little, Shen Wei began thrusting, his eyes burning as he stared at Zhao Yunlan. Zhao Yunlan clawed at Shen Wei’s back, gasping, feeling Shen Wei’s long cock fill him over and over again, drag relentlessly against his prostate, that sensitive spot lit up under Shen Wei’s persistent battering. His cock was still soft, spent from having been laved and sucked by both Ye Zun and Shen Wei. The pleasure deep in him sparked and burned, surged in him restlessly with nowhere to escape to.

Zhao Yunlan sobbed, turning to look at Ye Zun through glassy eyes. Immediately, Ye Zun kissed him, kissed his cheeks and eyelids, kissed his forehead and hair. “Lan-ge, does it feel good?” Ye Zun asked, stroking his hair back. 

“Too good,” Zhao Yunlan moaned, tossing his head from side to side on the pillow. 

“It’ll feel even better,” Ye Zun murmured in promise. 

Shen Wei picked up the pace, squeezing Zhao Yunlan’s thighs with his strong hands. He groaned as he fucked Zhao Yunlan harder and faster, folding him further into the bed. “Yunlan, you feel so good.”

Then he leaned down, nipping and licking at Zhao Yunlan’s pert nipple, making him jerk at this new pleasure. By his side, Ye Zun started to suck on his earlobe, tongueing his ear obscenely. Assaulted from all ends, Zhao Yunlan squirmed as against expectation, he realized he was getting hard again, much too soon after his last orgasm. 

Releasing Zhao Yunlan’s ear, Ye Zun asked Shen Wei, “Gege, who do you like fucking better?”

Zhao Yunlan blinked in surprise at that, waded his way through the endless pleasure to stare at Shen Wei. He managed a slightly wobbly grin and added, “Yeah, Xiao Wei, who do you like fucking better?”

Shen Wei looked distinctly exasperated to have this moment interrupted by the sudden mischief from both Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan. In response, he drew back and thrust in harder, unerringly pummelling Zhao Yunlan’s prostate. Zhao Yunlan’s toes curled and he let out an embarrassingly high whimper, pleasure sharp and overwhelming robbing him of further words. 

“I’ll take that to mean Zhao Yunlan is the better fuck,” Ye Zun said in a faux-sulky voice. 

Pausing mid-thrust, Shen Wei leaned down instead, bending Zhao Yunlan in ways he hadn’t thought he could bend, and kissed Ye Zun hard. 

When he pulled back, Ye Zun looked a little dazed, and Shen Wei looked more than a little smug, his lips curling up on one side. 

Then he resumed his hard thrusts and Zhao Yunlan stopped thinking any further. 

Unexpectedly, Shen Wei did respond to Ye Zun. Breathlessly, he groaned, “I’ll need...more tests to confirm.”

Ye Zun seemed to wake up from his kiss-induced stupor. He laughed, delighted. “More tests, hm? I like the sound of that.” Then he dragged his hand down Zhao Yunlan’s stomach and curled his fingers around Zhao Yunlan’s cock. 

“You’re so hard and wet,” Shen Wei said with deep enjoyment, eyes following Ye Zun’s hand. “You like this, Yunlan?”

“I love when you fuck me,” Zhao Yunlan panted out, tightening around Shen Wei, because he would be damned if he was the only one who was going to have his brain cells destroyed by these two sex maniacs. But it was a move that backfired on himself, as his whole body jolted with the reminder of how solid Shen Wei felt inside of him, and when Shen Wei’s movements stuttered, it sent new shudders of heat inside Zhao Yunlan. 

Shen Wei’s eyes were dark and fathomless as he jerked on Zhao Yunlan’s hips to meet his own thrusts, somehow managing to go deeper. Groaning, Zhao Yunlan twisted and rolled his hips as best he could in Shen Wei’s grip, leaning up towards Ye Zun for another smoldering kiss. When he parted from Ye Zun’s biting kiss, rhythmic gasps escaped his lips, loud and shameless under Shen Wei’s punishing speed. Shen Wei fucked him like an utter beast, driven and relentless, never failing to drag his cock against Zhao Yunlan’s prostate. 

But the dark gaze and sharp movements designed to drive Zhao Yunlan crazy were also offset by the sweet flush sweeping down Shen Wei’s neck to his collarbone, by the way his soft lips parted as he panted. The dichotomy was beautiful and even in the midst of getting fucked, Zhao Yunlan felt helplessly charmed. 

Then Shen Wei shifted a hand to join Ye Zun and it was too much, to see their hands joined like that around his hard leaking cock, to feel them squeezing and pulling even as Shen Wei continued to drive into him, hammering his prostate until Zhao Yunlan arched and cried out. He spilled over their fingers, groaned and pushed up into their hands that squeezed and stroked, fully intent on milking him of every last drop. 

He didn’t miss the way Shen Wei’s head dropped down, the way his hips jerked in quick succession as he came, and how Ye Zun leaned up to kiss him deeply. 

Ye Zun coiled his arms around Shen Wei after, even while Shen Wei was still inside Zhao Yunlan. He lifted his right hand, glistening wet with Zhao Yunlan’s come and started lapping at his fingers like porn come to life right before his eyes. Zhao Yunlan stared raptly at the pink tongue that flashed between fingers, disappeared briefly between pink lips before re-emerging for more. Then Shen Wei lifted his own hand, similarly covered in Zhao Yunlan’s come. He grabbed hold of Ye Zun’s hand and brought it to his mouth, holding Zhao Yunlan’s gaze as he licked both their fingers, going a step further by sucking Ye Zun’s index finger hungrily into his mouth. 

“I might die if we go another round,” Zhao Yunlan admitted. “But I’m willing to take the risk.”

“Don’t joke about that,” Shen Wei said, but the way he blinked, slower than normal, softened his stern words. 

Ye Zun rested his head on Shen Wei’s shoulder and pulled his hand free. Popping the buttons on Shen Wei’s shirt, he slipped his hand inside, pinching at a nipple. 

Shen Wei shuddered, which caused Zhao Yunlan to inhale sharply since they were still joined at the hip. “Didi, I can’t either. Not so soon.”

Sighing, Ye Zun shrugged. “I know, I just want to touch.”

Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei exchanged amused tolerant looks over Ye Zun’s head, which Ye Zun most definitely noticed and ignored. 

Turning his head, Shen Wei kissed Ye Zun’s hair even as he affectionately stroked his hand down Zhao Yunlan’s thigh. Then, being the responsible one out of the trio, Shen Wei said, “I’ll clean us up.”

Ye Zun willingly untangled himself from Shen Wei at that, flopping down beside Zhao Yunlan to curl around him instead. It was like Ye Zun was afraid he would be roped into helping out if he remained upright, which was nowhere near possible because this was Shen Wei. He probably got off on some level from looking after other people. 

When Shen Wei carefully pulled out, Zhao Yunlan shivered at the slow retreat, the inevitable sense of loss as he was left empty. Of course, then Ye Zun reached down and slipped two fingers into his hole. He wasn’t even thrusting his fingers, just idly fingering Zhao Yunlan as he rested his head on Zhao Yunlan’s chest. 

“I think gege came more inside you,” Ye Zun said, a note of complaint in his voice. 

Zhao Yunlan laughed. Ye Zun really was a little mad. 

When Shen Wei came back with several damp towels, he amiably joined Ye Zun in fingering Zhao Yunlan’s sloppy hole as well, as if to also gauge how much of the come he had shoved into Zhao Yunlan was now leaking back out. Cheeks burning, Zhao Yunlan groaned and shoved his face into a pillow, squirming at their touch. It felt good, but also too much after two orgasms in quick succession. 

“Alright, be good,” Shen Wei said after a few moments, as if he hadn’t been doing the same as Ye Zun just seconds ago. 

Shen Wei wiped them all down with numerous wet cloths, escaping Ye Zun’s clingy arms to wash them in the bathroom despite Zhao Yunlan attempting to reason that it could wait until later. But finally, Shen Wei finished up and joined them in bed again, completely nude this time. Zhao Yunlan pulled off his own shirt lazily, not even getting up to do it, but Ye Zun kept his sweater on. They didn’t question it. 

Instead, they curled up in bed with Ye Zun between them again, blanket pulled up to their chests. Warm afternoon sun poured in through the windows as bands of light across the bed, but the atmosphere felt quiet and sleepy, restful. 

Out of nowhere, Ye Zun murmured, “I was taken from gege when we were thirteen years old. He only found me again when I was eighteen.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Zhao Yunlan said, heartbroken at the idea that the two of them, so close that it was hard to imagine that they didn’t come as a pair, had been forced apart for so long. And they would have been so young. Zhao Yunlan couldn’t imagine the agony it must have been for them, the kind of horrors such young kids had experienced during the Allied Wars. 

“But what’s important is that he found me,” Ye Zun said, turning on his side to look at Zhao Yunlan. 

When Zhao Yunlan looked over Ye Zun’s shoulder to meet Shen Wei’s gaze, Shen Wei said calmly, like he was talking about the price of tomatoes, “I killed them all.”

Scratch that, Shen Wei probably got more worked up over the price of tomatoes. 

Ye Zun grinned, teeth bared. “He did. I got to watch.”

“Good,” Zhao Yunlan said, leaning forward and pressing a fervent kiss to Ye Zun, thinking about thick ropey scars on a pale back, thinking about this proud man whimpering and crying through his nightmares. “I’m glad.”

Ye Zun startled at that, as if he didn’t expect that response. Gently, Zhao Yunlan squeezed his hand and said in a quiet voice heavy with tight vehemence, “They deserve worse than death for what they did to you.”

Blinking, lashes wet with tears he was clearly holding back, Ye Zun finally said, “I’m better now. The nightmares and zoning out… They hardly happen anymore.”

“It was understandable, considering the circumstance,” Zhao Yunlan murmured, his voice low and soft. The circumstance being mad Haixing scientists strapping Ye Zun down and forcing him to face his worst fears, but Zhao Yunlan was loath to state that when Ye Zun seemed so much calmer now.

“Also, when I get like that, sometimes I like to have sex to help me come back,” Ye Zun said, like a dam had broken and all the words were tumbling out of him in a rush.

“You like to have sex regardless,” Shen Wei pointed out with a soft smile from where he had pillowed his head on Ye Zun’s shoulder. 

Zhao Yunlan said, a little cautiously, “You won’t hear any complaints from me on that. However, I’m also here if you want to talk about it.”

Examining his face, Ye Zun nodded tentatively. “I’ll tell you the rest some day. Some day soon I think.”

After those trusting words, Zhao Yunlan cupped Ye Zun’s cheek, running a gentle thumb under his eye. Shen Wei leaned forward and kissed the hand Zhao Yunlan had laid on Ye Zun’s cheek, before tenderly pressing another kiss against Ye Zun’s forehead. 

Pleasantly exhausted, they curled up for a long afternoon nap, safe and comforted in each other’s presence.

Chapter Text

Shen Wei had clearly overtaxed his body with all the healing followed by their sexual escapades, because he actually allowed Zhao Yunlan to have dinner delivered. But by the next day, Shen Wei was up and making breakfast for them again. Zhao Yunlan was fed a big meal and given sweet kisses at the door that left him lingering for a further twenty minutes before he returned to his own apartment. He felt a twinge of jealousy that last he saw, Ye Zun was tugging Shen Wei back to bed since they still had another day off. He really wished he could spend another day just curled up in bed with them, but being the Chief meant responsibilities. 

The moment he walked through the door to his own apartment, Da Qing came running over in his cat form and started winding around his legs. “You need to get rid of your dirty clothes, they stink,” Da Qing complained stridently. 

“That’s how you greet me, you damn cat? By complaining about old laundry?” Zhao Yunlan retorted, bending down to pet Da Qing’s head. 

Da Qing butted his head up into Zhao Yunlan’s hand before ducking away, walking off with his twitching tail held high. “It’s not just any laundry. Your clothes are covered in blood. It smells gross, get rid of them.”

Oh, that was right. There wouldn’t be plain old laundry lying around anymore since Shen Wei regularly slipped into his apartment to tidy up and do the washing, without ever asking Zhao Yunlan because Shen Wei seemed to take for granted that Zhao Yunlan would be fine with all that. 

And he was right. 

These would be the clothes he had dumped in his apartment last night, after coming over to collect his pajamas and the canned soup. They were splattered and sprayed with blood, mostly from the guards. But his jacket wasn’t anywhere near salvageable after he had used it to apply pressure on Shen Wei’s wounds. 

In respect to Da Qing’s sensitive nose, Zhao Yunlan went to the laundry basket where he had left his clothes and sorted through the clothing. He pulled out all of Lin Jing’s little gadgets from various pockets and then stuffed them into his jeans pockets to be returned to Lin Jing later. 

“Come on, time to earn your keep,” Zhao Yunlan called out as he shoved all of the bloodied clothing into a plastic bag and tied it up securely. Da Qing bounded ahead of him, still in his cat form, as Zhao Yunlan left the apartment, locking up behind himself. 

With a last longing look at Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s door, Zhao Yunlan headed out. When he reached his jeep, he placed the bag of clothes into the trunk to be disposed of later as hazardous material, what with all the blood on them. 

Despite having to deal with the bloody mess early in the morning, Zhao Yunlan’s good mood remained. 

He tapped his fingers against the steering wheel, humming loudly as he drove to the S.I.D. office. In the passenger seat beside him, Da Qing was still in his cat form and his twitching tail gave away his irritation. 

“Can you tone it down?” Da Qing demanded. 

“Tone what down?” 

Da Qing snapped, “That obnoxious cheerfulness. It’s annoying.”

“Ah, Da Qing, why are you so grumpy on this fine morning?” Zhao Yunlan asked, leaning an arm on the car door, tilting his head towards the open window. “We’ve got the cool breeze blowing by, the warm sunlight shining down on us, the blue skies stretching beyond. It’s a very good day!”

“You mean you got laid,” Da Qing said flatly. 

“I got laid so hard,” Zhao Yunlan agreed with smug satisfaction. 

Da Qing moaned, “That’s more than I wanted to know.”

Zhao Yunlan asked curiously, “Can’t you smell it?”

“That too!” Da Qing hissed. “All over you! A lot!”

Feeling a tad embarrassed, Zhao Yunlan nonetheless tried to brazen it out. “Then you should—”

A hand reached out from behind the driver side car seat. 

Zhao Yunlan jerked the steering wheel in surprise, the car swerving momentarily. In his rear view mirror, there were suddenly three figures, dressed in black. They definitely hadn’t been there a second ago. An arm was already pressed against his throat, a man leaning forward to choke him from behind. Zhao Yunlan slammed on the brakes and lifted his hands to scrabble at his throat. 

With a yowl, Da Qing flung himself onto the man choking Zhao Yunlan, a hurricane of claws and fangs as he scratched and bit ferociously. The man screamed as his arm was shredded and bitten, but he managed to fling Da Qing away. Da Qing landed beside the gearbox, looking almost twice his size with his fur bristling and standing on end. Zhao Yunlan had already squirmed around once the guy’s hold on him had loosened, pulling out his gun on reflex. He shot twice into the backseat, and one of the attackers shouted in pain. As he thought, they were Dixingren and must have used some kind of power to teleport into his car. At least one of them was definitely injured by the gunshots. 

Before Zhao Yunlan could shoot again, the second man who hadn’t been clawed by Da Qing punched him in the side of his head and he reeled back, barely holding on to his gun by sheer force of will. Pain jolted through his head from that blow. Fuck, the three attackers had the upper hand in such close quarters. That punch was clearly not of normal strength and he was left dizzy with pain. Da Qing crouched low, hissing, clearly about to launch himself at the attackers again. 

But Zhao Yunlan quickly scooped him up and flung him out the open window onto the sidewalk, shouting, “Get help! Go to S.I.D.!”

He heard a loud offended yowl as Da Qing sailed through the air, and he could only hope the damned cat was obeying orders. They were outnumbered and outmaneuvered, so this was the only remaining option. Lifting his gun, he tried to at least threaten the attackers, too wary to pull the trigger when he couldn’t see clearly from the pain in his head. He was afraid he might end up shooting someone outside the car that he shouldn’t, was afraid of causing more disasters with this weapon, like his dad had, once upon a time…

But there was no more time to think, to hurt, to worry, because a hand clamped on his shoulder and all of a sudden, his body was engulfed in freezing cold. He lost his breath as he was sucked through space and time, into chilling dark before he was spat back out again. Zhao Yunlan gasped, suddenly falling to the ground now that he wasn’t sitting in a car. He was...in a park?

He didn’t get a chance to look around or say anything when arms hoisted him from the ground. Suddenly, a black portal snapped into existence in the air. Damnit, Zhao Yunlan knew what this was. He tried to struggle when he was shoved through the portal, and this was worse than before. His insides felt like they were moving faster than the rest of his body, and he was completely disoriented as he suddenly burst through endless suffocating darkness into breathable air. Falling out the other side felt like being shoved through a waterfall of unnaturally cold water that seeped into his very bones, his injured head spinning with the displacement in time and space. 

Zhao Yunlan staggered, dizzy beyond belief. His eyes wildly took in the arched gateway, the neat rows of low buildings, the bright glowing white light that shone down from a high cavern roof, and he knew immediately that he was in Dixing. He had never been here, but he had certainly read enough about it to recognize it. Then one of the attackers grabbed him again and to his shock, the chilly wave of teleportation enveloped him once more. 

When the world stopped spinning, Zhao Yunlan fell to his knees. Two teleportations with a portal crossing in-between was just too much. This time, Zhao Yunlan’s poor stomach couldn’t handle the combined abuse. He bent over and retched, emptying the contents of his stomach. 

Oh, Zhao Yunlan was definitely going to make them pay. They’d made him vomit Shen Wei’s beautiful breakfast. This was not a crime that could be forgiven. 

One of the attackers grabbed his gun from his hand, not a difficult feat when Zhao Yunlan was barely aware of what was going on with how sick he was feeling.  

Forcing the nausea and dizziness down, Zhao Yunlan wiped his mouth against his long sleeve and staggered away from the three attackers. Through a swimming gaze, he blearily took stock of his surroundings. 

One of the three attackers was very tall, almost half a head taller than the others, and he had a bland expression on his face. The second person was of average height and had a scar across his cheek, while the third person was clutching his arm, clearly injured from Zhao Yunlan’s gunshot. They were in a small, dimly-lit room of some kind. The walls were made of stone and the room was entirely bare. Suddenly, his attackers backed out of the room and a stone door ground shut behind them. 

Great. 

Just great. 

He had just been kidnapped to Dixing. 

Da Qing was never going to let him live this down. 

~ * ~

They hadn’t searched Zhao Yunlan and taken away anything else but his gun so he could still use his watch to keep an eye on the time. It took him less than ten minutes to establish that there was absolutely nothing in the room he could use to get him out of this place. Gingerly touching the side of his head, he could only grit his teeth as even the gentle prodding induced shooting pain. There was going to be an amazing bruise under his hair and he was pretty sure he had a mild concussion.  

Following that, Zhao Yunlan had nothing left to do but to sit and wait. It was excruciatingly boring. He took the time to go over possible reasons why he had been taken and potential plans of escape or counterattack. While he had an inkling of what was going on, he needed the person behind all this to come out to confirm his suspicions. At this rate, he would rather confront this head on instead of dragging it out any longer. 

By the time the door ground open again almost an hour later, Zhao Yunlan would have taken a beating if it meant alleviating his boredom. 

Two of his attackers walked through, the uninjured ones from earlier. And behind them was a man in long blue robes and a head full of long ugly curls that seemed ill-matched against his conniving, bearded face. 

“Lord Guardian,” the man in blue greeted. 

“Ah, so you do know you’ve kidnapped the Lord Guardian,” Zhao Yunlan drawled from where he was sitting cross-legged with his back to the wall. “Then you know the full extent of your crimes, Regent.”

It was a shot in the dark, but it struck true as the Regent’s eyes widened. Then he simpered through gritted teeth, “I see the Lord Guardian is much more well-informed than I expected.”

“I was warned about your lousy tactics,” Zhao Yunlan said flippantly. 

The Regent responded with clearly insincere diffidence, “One has to survive somehow. If I don’t do something, then Ye Zun and Shen Wei will soon push me out of my position.” He put on an expression like he had been grievously wronged. 

Zhao Yunlan snorted. “The only reason why they’re encouraging your departure is because of your corruption and resistance to any change that would better Dixing.”

“Change doesn’t necessarily guarantee betterment.”

“You’re just afraid you’ll lose your job.”

“Well, that too,” the Regent admitted with a shrug. He looked to the guards with him. “Take him to the Hallows.”

Zhao Yunlan rose to his feet, subtly stretching his limbs. Now they were getting somewhere. 

His docile appearance seemed to disturb the Regent who kept glancing back at him warily. Zhao Yunlan only gave him his widest grin in return. He rather liked being able to induce a feeling of panic without doing anything but smile. 

As if noticing his lack of protest, and maybe even his eagerness, the Regent suddenly said, “Wait, where’s that weapon of his, the one which can hurt Dixingren?”

The tall guard lifted his long jacket to reveal Zhao Yunlan’s gun looped onto his belt. “Here, sir.”

That seemed to calm whatever concerns the Regent had, and soon, they were pushing Zhao Yunlan out of the small room. The tall guard had Zhao Yunlan by the shoulder, walking directly behind him. They walked through narrow corridors with high ceilings, all dimly lit and gloomy. The path they took wound around in a confusing fashion, perhaps on purpose so that Zhao Yunlan wouldn’t be able to make his way out even if he found a way to escape. Not that Zhao Yunlan was planning an escape…

They soon entered a large chamber, the stone door rumbling open under the Regent’s touch. It was a room that was ornately decorated, the walls and pillars carved with intricate patterns that were meaningless to Zhao Yunlan. There were two entrances to the chamber on opposite sides of each other. Other than the beautifully painted gold lanterns and carved pillars, the room was sparsely furnished, empty except for a raised platform set in the middle of the room. It was long but narrow, with a shimmering, iridescent bubble that seemed to enclose the platform and was only visible when the light hit its surface at certain angles. Within this bubble were four artifacts. 

Zhao Yunlan had only ever seen these in the S.I.D. records. They were the Hallows, the artifacts created ten thousand years ago by the Alliance to provide Dixing with resources and light, and the source of contention between the Regent and the twins. 

While the Regent wanted nothing to ever change regarding the use of the Hallows, Shen Wei and Ye Zun were of the view that Dixing should be weaned off the Hallows and learning to be self-sufficient. There was no longer a need for strict segregation between Haixing and Dixing, not when the world was no longer lacking in resources. Both sides should be discussing opening up official pathways between Haixing and Dixing, working to formalize travel to both places so that Dixingren who were interested in Haixing didn’t have to hide their existence in Haixing. But the Regent was using his influence to resist heading in that direction, despite complaints from the populace.

Examining the Hallows, Zhao Yunlan marvelled at how these dusty, old artifacts could be powering Dixing. There was no doubt that they were doing something, that was for sure, since all four of the artifacts were lit up in pure white light. But other than the ethereal glow, they looked kind of like cheap props from a high school drama club.  And why had the Alliance made them in such odd shapes as well? There was an overly long brush, a small sundial, a peculiar lantern and something the records had called an awl, not that Zhao Yunlan even knew what that was. Dixing should definitely be worried that their lives were dependent on these strange doodads. 

“The surprise tour of Dixing has been nice so far, but what are your plans, really?” Zhao Yunlan asked, keeping the Regent in his line of sight. Unfortunately, one guard was standing right next to Zhao Yunlan while the tall one was standing close enough to his back to take him down immediately if he did anything. Zhao Yunlan pretended to ignore them. “What do you expect me to be able to do with the Hallows?”

The Regent spoke in a gratingly supercilious tone, “Oh, sorry for the bother, Lord Guardian, but we don’t really need you to do anything. You can’t do anything, really. What we want is Heipaoshi.”

Zhao Yunlan frowned, glaring at the Regent. “What do you want Shen Wei to do?”

“The Hallows were always under close guard but after the twins awoke, Shen Wei placed an extra layer of protection on the Hallows. All we want is for him to lift it,” the Regent said, spreading his hands like it was just a simple task he needed done, he wasn’t sure why anyone would find the request unreasonable. 

Knowing the way the twins operated, it wasn’t likely that it was just Shen Wei who had cast the protection. Whatever it was, Zhao Yunlan suspected that both Shen Wei and Ye Zun would be needed to lift the protection.  

Keeping those thoughts off his face, Zhao Yunlan only asked with feigned surprise, raising his eyebrows at the same time, “You want to take the Hallows?”

“I just want to keep them safe. Who knows what will happen to them if they’re just left on their own like this here.”

“You want to control Dixing by controlling the Hallows,” Zhao Yunlan concluded, looking disgusted. “And you think Heipaoshi is going to lift his protection on the Hallows just because you ask him to?”

“That’s what you’re here for,” the Regent said with a benign smile. 

“You think Shen Wei is going to lift the protection on the Hallows in exchange for what? Me?” Zhao Yunlan asked incredulously. 

The Regent waved his hand. “Come now, you don’t have to downplay your importance to both Shen Wei and Ye Zun. We have been keeping an eye on the situation.”

Damn, Dixingren were apparently far more open-minded about this kind of thing to have picked up on their change in relationship. Even the S.I.D. hadn’t been able to imagine that Shen Wei, Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan could actually be together in a personal capacity. 

Still, Zhao Yunlan shook his head. “I think you might have let your imagination run away with you on this one.”

“Oh, so when you spend the night over at their place even though you live just across the hall, you were just having a platonic sleepover? How wholesome,” the Regent said with a smile that clearly indicated that he wasn’t buying it at all. 

Gritting his teeth, Zhao Yunlan said bluntly, “Oh, we’re definitely fucking, I’m not denying that.” He took some glee at the way the Regent winced at his bold admittance. “But I meant that we just started fucking. We only met each other a few weeks ago.”

The Regent interjected quickly, “And yet you’ve already moved your relationship along to this level.” But there was a hint of worry in his eyes now.

“Yeah, to the physical level. It’s just sex,” Zhao Yunlan said with an eyeroll. “Doesn’t Dixing have fuck buddies around here? You’re really jumping to conclusions if you think Shen Wei and Ye Zun are going to give you Dixing on a platter in exchange for me.”

Oh, Zhao Yunlan wasn’t that blind. He was perfectly aware that he was downplaying what he had with Shen Wei and Ye Zun significantly. Yes, he had initially thought that Ye Zun and Shen Wei were just spicing up their relationship by adding in Zhao Yunlan for the occasional threesome. Even though he hadn’t managed to talk things out with them, that initial insecurity had faded soon enough in the face of Ye Zun and Shen Wei’s obvious passion and affection in bed and outside of it. No one could want to spend that much time with him, even when they weren’t fucking, if there wasn’t something more than sex going on. And frankly, Zhao Yunlan had plenty of experience with fuckbuddies in the past. None of them had been as clingy as either twin. And Zhao Yunlan was hardly any better, frankly, with his inability to stay away from them for more than a few hours at a time.

But still. These were the Hallows they were talking about here. No matter how fond Shen Wei and Ye Zun were of Zhao Yunlan, they still hadn’t known each other for very long. There was no way either of them would agree to hand the Hallows over to the Regent just for Zhao Yunlan. Now, if the Regent had kidnapped Ye Zun to pressure Shen Wei, or kidnapped Shen Wei to negotiate with Ye Zun, then he would have much more of a bargaining chip. 

Shen Wei and Ye Zun would give up the world for each other, Zhao Yunlan was sure of that. In some deep, lonely part of Zhao Yunlan’s soul, it did hurt to know that what they had between them was so much more profound than what the twins shared with him, no matter how much they liked him. Yes, if he was to be brutally honest with himself, he ached knowing that he could be with them, but could never be with them the way they were with each other. The depth of their love and bond was beyond what he could ever hope to be a part of. 

No matter how deeply and stupidly in love he was when it came to Shen Wei and Ye Zun, he knew it could never be reciprocated in the same way. 

But that wasn’t important right now. What was important was that the Regent had fucked up, and it was kind of understandable why the Regent hadn’t tried for either twin. Shen Wei and Ye Zun were much more powerful and harder to capture than one measly powerless Haixingren. The Regent must be fucking desperate to try to kidnap Zhao Yunlan to exchange for the Hallows.

“Lord Guardian, don’t try to pretend you aren’t important to them,” the Regent said, but sweat beaded his brow. Clearly, he was starting to have doubts. Even the guard next to Zhao Yunlan was looking uncertainly between the Regent and Zhao Yunlan, seeming to wonder if they had backed the wrong player in this game. 

Zhao Yunlan grinned, teeth bared. “Not in comparison to Dixing. Shen Wei and Ye Zun fought for the Alliance ten thousand years ago. They woke up again and continued to keep Dixing safe instead of taking a long deserved break. And you think that they’re just going to let you walk away with the Hallows because of little ole me?”

At that point in time, the stone door on the opposite side of the room rolled open with a grinding echo. Da Qing, Lin Jing, Zhu Hong, ah, fuck it, the entire S.I.D. team minus Wang Zheng and Lao Li walked in. Even Guo Changcheng was here, shaking in his boots. Then to Zhao Yunlan’s surprise, Shen Wei and Ye Zun walked in too, not dressed as Heipaoshi but in their civilian clothing. Looking across the platform holding the Hallows, his team and the twins stared at him, assessing him quickly for any injury.  

From behind him, the tall guard ducked a little so that he was using Zhao Yunlan as a human shield and pressed a longsword to Zhao Yunlan’s throat. It seemed like overkill to him really. A small knife would probably do equally as good a job of cutting him right open anyway. 

Zhao Yunlan clenched his jaw and said to Da Qing, “I said get S.I.D., why are the professors here?” That wasn’t part of his slapdash plan. He didn’t want Shen Wei and Ye Zun here in case things went wrong.

“I didn’t call them, they called me,” Da Qing protested, sounding annoyed at being falsely accused. 

“I summoned them,” the Regent announced, stepping forward. He cleverly kept the Hallows directly between him and the others. “And I told them if they told anyone in the Palace about this, I would kill you. Look at how obediently they’ve come here on their own.”

His team were slowly inching apart, gradually spreading themselves out on the other side of the room. 

“Your plans will amount to nothing, Regent,” Shen Wei said. “The Palace already knows what you did.”

The Regent stiffened. He said in shock, “You told them? You aren’t afraid I’ll take this out on the Lord Guardian?”

“You’re an idiot. You sent us a summons, but you didn’t say anything to the S.I.D. team,” Ye Zun snapped, speaking quickly. “You kidnapped their Chief and didn’t tell them anything. They already took action before we even arrived in Dixing.”

“What?” the Regent demanded. 

Da Qing pointed at Zhao Yunlan, tossing all the blame over. “It was his idea.”

The Regent looked like he was having a stroke. “He’s been here all this time.”

“Yeah, but before he got dragged here, he threw me out of the car, which I’m not forgiving ever, and shouted for me to get S.I.D.. As if I needed to be told to get S.I.D.. It was clearly code,” Da Qing pointed out. 

“I threw you out of the car to save you, you ungrateful cat,” Zhao Yunlan called out, ignoring how the sword pressed closer to his skin.

“I almost got run over by a cyclist on the sidewalk and turned into cat pancake,” Da Qing complained with a hiss. 

“It’s over,” Ye Zun said, probably interjecting so it didn’t turn into the Zhao Yunlan and Da Qing Variety Show. “The S.I.D. team immediately went through the portal with their equipment and came to Dixing. They went straight to the King.”

Even from his position off to the side, Zhao Yunlan could see the Regent visibly pale at that.

Lin Jing of course immediately started boasting, “We figured that Lao Zhao must have wanted us to use something in S.I.D.. And when we came to Dixing, my suspicions were confirmed. My communication devices can work anywhere as long as they’re within a two mile radius. And since you conveniently brought him to the palace, we’ve been listening to your side of the conversation all this time.”

Zhu Hong grinned, crimson lips spread into an unfriendly smile. “We gave one of the communication devices to the King. He’s heard everything you said here for the past hour.”

“You…” The Regent turned to Zhao Yunlan in shock. 

Holding up the little flesh-colored earbud that he had just removed from his pocket, Zhao Yunlan grinned. “I was taking all the equipment back to S.I.D. when you ambushed me. Consider this payback for the concussion.”

“Regent, the King has heard everything now so you can’t spin this into a story that will benefit you anymore. If you let Zhao Yunlan go, I’ll plead leniency for you,” Shen Wei spoke up, voice sounding cold but firm.

“Objection,” Zhao Yunlan protested. “I don’t agree with a leniency plea.”

“Zhao Yunlan,” Shen Wei said, once again managing to convey all his frustrations and affection into one name.

“Don’t listen to the idiot over there,” Ye Zun interjected. “The King is listening to every word of this. He will honor our request for a leniency plea if you let the moron go without harming him.”

Zhao Yunlan was impressed by how Ye Zun managed to make him feel all warm and fuzzy but also rather insulted at the same time. 

Turning his head, the Regent looked at Zhao Yunlan with a triumphant, almost mad gleam in his eyes. And Zhao Yunlan immediately knew that Shen Wei and Ye Zun had overplayed their hand. 

The Regent said in woebegotten tone, “Oh, your excellencies, but what will I get out of this? Leniency? So I’ll still be imprisoned, but maybe with a shorter sentence depending on the King’s mercy. You’ve driven me into a corner here. If I have to go, I might as well take someone down with me.”

“Regent, what do you think you will gain out of this?” Shen Wei’s voice was like a sharp whipcrack in the confined space, echoing with his fury. 

“If I cannot get what I want, then revenge at least,” the Regent said with a shrug, like this was something that couldn’t be helped. 

They were playing right into his hands. Zhao Yunlan shifted, trying to catch Chu Shuzhi’s eyes even as he spoke to the Regent, “You know you’ll die if you kill me, right? Sorry, but I’m not interested in this kind of ‘dying together’ plot development. We don’t have that kind of romantic relationship.”

“I know Heipaoshi. Ruthless, savage, an overpowered idiotic beast that can’t restrain himself,” the Regent said, spewing a whole lot of garbage. “Even if I release you, my safety is not guaranteed. I might as well take you with me then.”

Something in his tone and his look must have been convincing to Shen Wei and Ye Zun. Zhao Yunlan could tell from their wide eyes. No, this was ridiculous. They wouldn’t give up the Hallows, he knew that. Their sense of duty was very strong, and Zhao Yunlan was just...just someone they liked very much; he wasn’t enough to give up Dixing for. 

All this would do was make them more guilty once they were backed into a corner and were forced into doing the right thing. And maybe that was what the Regent wanted. If he couldn’t have the Hallows and rule Dixing, because that was essentially what having the Hallows meant, then he would make Shen Wei and Ye Zun suffer. That was why Zhao Yunlan hadn’t wanted Shen Wei and Ye Zun here with the S.I.D. team. 

Zhao Yunlan finally caught Chu Shuzhi’s attention, and he flicked his gaze to the side meaningfully.

“What do you want?” Ye Zun asked, his voice cold, colder than a winter night’s frost. 

“Give me the Hallows. Lift your shield on it and stand back as I leave with the Hallows. I’ll return the Lord Guardian to you when I’m somewhere safe,” the Regent said, spreading his hands like he was asking for something very simple.

Da Qing cried out, “How do we know you’ll return Lao Zhao to us?”

The Regent shrugged and pointed out, “You don’t have a better choice, do you? Can you kill all of us faster than my man can slit his throat?”

Baring his teeth and hissing, Da Qing looked like he was ready to leap over the Hallows and claw out the Regent’s eyes. 

Lin Jing said in bafflement, “But the King isn’t going to let you stay as Regent anyway. He knows the truth now.”

“Giving him the Hallows will give him Dixing. Even the King will have to listen to him,” Chu Shuzhi said in a low voice, more aware of the situation than the rest of the S.I.D. team. With Dixing relying entirely on the Hallows for light and energy, whoever controlled the Hallows, controlled Dixing. Zhao Yunlan had read the texts. Past attempts at rebellions had often centered around attempting to seize control of the Hallows. No one since the Allied Wars had succeeded. 

Yet. 

The Regent nodded benevolently at Chu Shuzhi. “Why would I need the King once I have the Hallows?” 

Looking at Shen Wei and Ye Zun, Zhao Yunlan called out, “Hey, babes, don’t worry about me. Don’t give this madman a speck of anything.”

Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s twin dark gazes finally shifted to him instead, and Zhao Yunlan’s mouth fell open at the howling agony in Shen Wei’s eyes, at the petrifying fear in Ye Zun’s. His heart twisted at the sight even as he felt, in some dark corner of his soul, shamefully glad that they were so pained by the decision to save Dixing over him. Now he knew that they really cared so fucking much for him. Damn, he felt really bad for making them worry like this, for leaving them to think they were giving him up to death. Those poor darlings, he would have to make it up—

Shen Wei snapped his hand out sharply and the iridescence on the bubble seemed to vanish, disappearing completely to leave a clear, wavering energy still surrounding the pedestal where the Hallows were brightly glowing. 

“Are you trying to trick me? I can see the shield is still there,” the Regent said with a touch of impatience. 

Ye Zun was the one who reached out a hand this time. The almost completely translucent bubble suddenly elongated, dragged itself towards Ye Zun as he absorbed the energy in one long breath. And just like that, there was no longer a barrier there. As Zhao Yunlan thought, it would take two to remove the shield, a double safeguard against anyone who wanted to steal the Hallows by going after Heipaoshi. 

For a moment, Zhao Yunlan waited, expecting something else to happen, another safeguard to activate, some kind of trick Shen Wei and Ye Zun had up their sleeves to fool the Regent. 

But other than glaring with cold anger at the Regent, they didn’t make any other move. The Hallows sat there on their stand, no shield around them, completely open for anyone to take. 

The Regent was surprised. “You have your power. When?” he asked Ye Zun in shock. 

Zhao Yunlan was stunned as well, but for a completely different reason. 

They really...they really lifted the shield. What the hell? What the hell? Maybe they had another clever plan that they hadn’t revealed yet? But he saw the anger and touch of redness in Shen Wei’s eyes, saw the mad fury in Ye Zun’s. 

Fuck him sideways, they really just lifted the barrier, and they were going to hand over the Hallows to the Regent on a platter. 

For Zhao Yunlan.

It was completely blowing Zhao Yunlan’s mind. He couldn’t get a handle on this. He couldn’t understand any of this. Why did they do that? What was happening here? 

But Zhao Yunlan had no more time for this spiralling shock and mental rambling. While the Regent was distracted by the reveal of Ye Zun’s powers, Zhao Yunlan shifted his gaze to Chu Shuzhi again. Chu Shuzhi had been shifting himself slowly to the side of the room so that he was no longer behind the Hallows’ platform and now had a clear line of sight to Zhao Yunlan. 

When Zhao Yunlan widened his eyes so he looked more like a maniac than usual, Chu Shuzhi shot out his blue lines of energy, wrapping them around the sword at Zhao Yunlan’s throat. He yanked forward, pulling the sword away from Zhao Yunlan and on cue, Zhao Yunlan immediately threw an elbow back, connecting squarely with all his strength against the guard’s ribs. The guard doubled over and Zhao Yunlan was turning, hand already moving, slipping under the guard’s coat. 

Then he turned and ran forward at the Regent. The second guard drew a sword, intercepting Zhao Yunlan, but Zhao Yunlan grinned ferally and lifted his gun which he had snatched back from the tall guard’s belt. He sighted down the gun quickly, forced himself not to hesitate as he pulled the trigger. The bullet went through the guard’s stomach and the guard looked down in horror. And Zhao Yunlan knew, he had checked, none of his team, Shen Wei and Ye Zun were in the trajectory of the bullet even if it passed through the guard. 

But those were the living people. 

He hadn’t accounted for the inanimate objects. 

The bullet passed through the guard, scraped the Regent’s side as he turned, and smashed directly into the Guardian lantern. 

There were shouts of surprise, someone screaming his name, but it was too late. Zhao Yunlan’s eyes widened as the glowing light that joined all the Hallows together suddenly flared, almost blindingly bright.

And maybe it was because he was the one who had pulled the trigger, sent the bullet that smashed into the lantern. 

Maybe it was just random luck. 

Maybe it was fate. 

The white light hit its zenith and shot out towards him, swallowed him whole and spat him out again into darkness, stars, infinite space. His eyes were wide even as his mind failed to comprehend what he was seeing, the universe expanding and contracting around him as he flew without moving, plunged without falling. 

Then he gasped as the endless cold sloughed off him and the endless stars spun away to leave him under light, normal bright sunlight, with grass and stone beneath him as he collapsed to the ground. The Hallows’ pure white light was gone. The people around him were gone. No Shen Wei, Ye Zun and his team. 

Damnit, Zhao Yunlan was really done with this teleportation business. He was walking everywhere from now on.

Chapter Text

Zhao Yunlan rolled over on the ground, groaning. What the fuck was going on? Where had he been flung to now? This couldn’t be Dixing, he was under brilliant blue skies and sunlight once more. The sounds of blades clashing and men shouting drew his attention. He looked around until he realised that down below the outcropping where he had landed were a group of men fighting along the edge of a cliff. He was still trying to figure out who these men were, in their robes and with their long hair, when one of the warriors turned, a black mask on his face cracking in two from a blow and falling apart. 

Dark eyes with heavy brows furrowed, pink lips pressed tight and pale face framed with long dark hair…

Shen Wei.  

After that, things moved very quickly. Zhao Yunlan shot at Shen Wei’s attackers only to be abandoned by Shen Wei, what the fuck. He felt kind of hurt, a little confused by what the hell was going on. Shen Wei and Ye Zun had just given up the Hallows for him, and now Shen Wei had just casually left him on his own after treating him like a stranger. Did he pass out? Wake up from a coma in the future where Shen Wei had forgotten who he was?

Then he met Da Qing, which was double what the fuck. Da Qing with long hair. It was weird. Didn’t suit the damn cat at all. 

It didn’t take long after that for Zhao Yunlan to figure out that the Hallows had somehow sent him back in time. The clothing, the hair, Da Qing and Shen Wei… It couldn’t be anything else, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. Soon after, he found himself meeting the leaders of the Alliance, which only confirmed that he had been thrown back into the distant past, right in the middle of a historical war of legend.

In short order Zhao Yunlan found himself dressed up in pretty cool robes, complete with furs draped over his shoulders, and they had a Dixingren use her powers to grow out his hair. What the hell kind of sad power was that? But it was certainly useful to Zhao Yunlan at the moment. Looking in a mirror after they did some fancy thing with his hair that included beads and braids and took much too long, Zhao Yunlan thought he looked pretty hot. 

Eleven out of ten, would fuck himself. 

Then, Zhao Yunlan met Shen Wei again, who was so young, with his wide eyes brimming with curiosity and fascination, who was shy and ducked his head so easily. He also met Ye Zun who was also so very young, but with narrowed eyes and far more suspicion than Ye Zun had ever directed at him before. 

Even as Zhao Yunlan spoke to them, tried to be his usual self, his mind was working away. Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s strange behavior towards him in the future made a lot more sense now. It explained why Shen Wei looked so shocked and vulnerable the first time they had met, why he couldn’t stop staring at Zhao Yunlan. Alright, it was a small blow to Zhao Yunlan’s pride that it wasn’t because Zhao Yunlan’s good looks were so incredibly dashing that Shen Wei was completely dazed by the sight of his face, but that hit to his pride was assuaged by how this young Shen Wei couldn’t stop staring at Zhao Yunlan now. It made Zhao Yunlan feel like preening a little, maybe fluff up the fur around his shoulders.

It also explained why Ye Zun had immediately acted so familiarly with Zhao Yunlan, how friendly he was, how Shen Wei had interrupted Ye Zun the first time they had met in the future to stop Ye Zun from speaking to Zhao Yunlan immediately. 

Probably to stop Ye Zun from saying, ‘Kunlun.’

In the past, in this moment, Zhao Yunlan spoke to Shen Wei on his own, flirted with him lightly, fed him a lollipop. And oh boy, Shen Wei sucking and licking on a lollipop in delight, smiling and staring at him from beneath long lashes… It was hell on Zhao Yunlan’s libido. Fuck, if it wasn’t for how innocent Shen Wei was, Zhao Yunlan would have licked the sweet flavour right out of his mouth then and there.

Shameless flirting aside, Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei hit it off immediately. It was so easy talking to Shen Wei, which wasn’t a surprise. It was always easy talking to Shen Wei, even in the future. But this young Shen Wei hadn’t yet built up all his defenses, would say whatever he had on his mind, would eagerly listen to anything Zhao Yunlan said. It was intoxicating. 

Which was a shame when Shen Wei started avoiding him after that first night. But Zhao Yunlan was pretty sure he knew where the issue was stemming from. 

After all, Ye Zun was still wary of him and probably a lot jealous, based on Zhao Yunlan’s clear understanding of Ye Zun’s massive brother complex. But that was alright, because Zhao Yunlan was fascinated by this younger Ye Zun, who was all prickly and a little manic some days, who didn’t know how to hide his edges quite so well yet and in fact, flashed claws and fangs regularly to see how Zhao Yunlan would respond. 

When Zhao Yunlan didn’t run away screaming, Ye Zun slowly but surely thawed out. 

Older Ye Zun — that was how he started thinking about them because time travel was messing with his brain and this was just easier — had once told Zhao Yunlan that he would tell him about his past one day soon. He must have been referring to this conversation, this sudden outpouring of words. Younger Ye Zun grabbed Zhao Yunlan one day, dragged him off to the bench under the tree where they usually chatted, and suddenly told him everything that happened to him. 

Ye Zun was distant when he spoke, talking calmly like he was reciting a shopping list. His voice was emotionless as he described how he was kidnapped, how he was brainwashed into believing that Shen Wei had sold him out, how much he had hated Shen Wei as he was tortured and whipped by the Rebels. He didn’t try to hide anything that had happened, was frank about how he came up with underhanded plots for the Rebels, to be useful so that he wouldn’t function merely as their punching bag. He speculated on how many lives were lost due to his plans, talked about how his schemes were still used now until his voice turned venomous, self-loathing leaking out. 

For a brief mad moment, Zhao Yunlan tried to think of how he could solve this, like how he would solve a case. He tried to figure out how he could use the Hallows to go back in time even further, to prevent Ye Zun from ever falling into the hands of the Rebels, stopping all this heartbreak and pain from ever happening. 

But that...was an impossibility. He wouldn’t even know where to start on how to use the Hallows to travel to a specific time. He wasn’t even sure how he was going to go back to his own time.

With an aching heart, Zhao Yunlan squeezed Ye Zun’s hand and tried his best to talk to him, tried to be there for him. It was enraging, heartbreaking, to know what Ye Zun had had to go through and know he couldn’t do anything to fix it. 

That day, Ye Zun accepted Zhao Yunlan’s gentle, comforting but frank words. He allowed Zhao Yunlan to see his soft, vulnerable insides. 

He opened up. 

And things changed from there. 

Suddenly, the twins were around all the time. Zhao Yunlan was getting to know Shen Wei and Ye Zun again, without their years of experience and defenses held high, without all the unspoken truths they had to keep hidden. It was exhilarating. 

Zhao Yunlan had fallen in love once, with Ye Zun who was brazen and melodramatic and sharp-edged, with Shen Wei who was quietly overbearing and fierce and thoughtful. He found himself falling in love again, with Ye Zun who was brazen but also uncertain, vulnerable and always on the edge of madness, with Shen Wei who was fierce but also naive, sweet and still learning how to handle his mending twin. 

He wanted to hold them close, protect them from all the difficulties still to come. But he knew his place wasn’t to be with them forever, not with the way they had acted around him when they met again. 

In a way, Zhao Yunlan was time travelling with a cheat code. He already knew what was going to happen. He knew from the way older Shen Wei and Ye Zun behaved with him that something more must have bloomed between him and their younger selves. And it must have been something good for them to have pursued him so tenaciously, to want to be with him again, to be willing to give up the fucking Hallows for him. So in turn, Zhao Yunlan flirted and charmed the younger Shen Wei and Ye Zun without reservation. 

It was a love that went in an endless cycle. The twins who loved him before he knew them, he who loved the twins before they knew him. The twins who pursued him until he fell in love with them so that he would eventually pursue the twins until they fell in love with him. 

There was a poetry to this cyclical beginning of their love. Zhao Yunlan thought about fate, about how the universe’s laws were bent and broken to bring them together.  

But giddy on emotion, on the sweetness of getting to know Shen Wei and Ye Zun again, Zhao Yunlan got careless. He let Ye Zun take the lead even though he was doubtful about Ye Zun’s plans to avoid talking as much as possible. 

Zhao Yunlan had never wanted to hurt Shen Wei, but as he saw Shen Wei in that room alone, eyes red and tear tracks on his face, trying to be strong, trying to hide his tears, Zhao Yunlan felt his heart shatter. He should have remembered. For all that Ye Zun’s insecurities were enough to swallow the world, Shen Wei had his own insecurities and fears too when it came to losing Ye Zun, losing the ones he loved. 

But they mended after that. Despite Zhao Yunlan’s mistakes and stupidity, they figured out where they had gone wrong and they came together.

It was delicious and sweet and mindblowing, regardless of the experience Zhao Yunlan had with the older Ye Zun and Shen Wei. 

They had only one beautiful night together before Zhao Yunlan was snatched back to the future. He ached at the thought of the loss they must have felt, but he knew it was time. 

He had to go back to where he belonged. 

He had to go back to Shen Wei and Ye Zun, had to leave them waiting on one side to return to the ones who were waiting on the other end.

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan opened his eyes to the galaxy of stars slowly spinning around him. But he didn’t pay any attention to that, his eyes only drinking up the person in front of him. 

Shen Wei, with his short hair and glasses, in his neat navy blue shirt and gray jacket. Shen Wei looking at him with wide eyes, gleaming with unshed tears. 

“We waited ten thousand years for you,” Shen Wei whispered. “We’ve finally found you again.”

Zhao Yunlan felt his chest squeeze at those words, his initial look of surprise melting into a smile. “Baby, you’ve found me.” He stepped up to Shen Wei and pressed a gentle kiss to those trembling lips. Shen Wei breathed in sharply, but kissed him back, desperate but tender, hands coming up to clutch at Zhao Yunlan’s elbows. 

They parted to look at each other, breaking into matching fond smiles. 

Zhao Yunlan realized he was still holding his gun, which was careless of him. Didn’t want to accidentally shoot Shen Wei’s toes in the middle of making out. He inched back and tucked his gun away into its holster. 

“How long was I gone for?” he asked curiously.

Shen Wei understood his real question right away and explained, “It doesn’t matter how long you were in the past or how long we stay in this space between time. As long as we go back to where we came from in our present, not much time should have passed.”

Zhao Yunlan thought that sounded like handwavey, ‘the Hallows defy science and I don’t know the exact answer, just go with it’ logic and nodded. He asked the question he had been mulling over since he knew time travel was possible, “Can we go back through the wormhole again and choose when in the past to exit?” He had to know if it was possible to change the past and prevent Ye Zun’s kidnapping. 

“No, I’m afraid not. This time, the wormhole opened due to the accidental loss of control of the Hallows’ energy. The probability of this occurring is one in a billion,” Shen Wei said, frowning slightly.  

It was as Zhao Yunlan suspected, but he felt disappointed in any case. If it was in any way possible, Shen Wei would have likely gone back to the past and changed things for Ye Zun a long time ago. In the end, the past was immutable, not something mere mortals could change at whim. 

Putting aside his regret at unchangeable pasts, he smiled at Shen Wei teasingly. “So, how do you like my long hair and fancy— Hey, where did they all go?” Zhao Yunlan looked down at the familiar olive green jacket and gray jeans he was wearing. Gone were his lustrous long locks and cool robes with the furs. 

“When you enter the wormhole, you are restored back to the original state you left the wormhole in, which includes anything you take with you or wear. You have to return to your time in the exact same state.”

Zhao Yunlan squinted at him. “You’re making this shit up, aren’t you, baby?”

Pushing his glasses up, Shen Wei said in a very serious tone, “It’s a fair conclusion to draw from existing evidence.” 

“Totally making this shit up,” Zhao Yunlan repeated with a grin. 

Shen Wei cleared his throat, his ears a little red. “Let’s leave now. The longer you stay, the more dangerous it will be.”

“But I want to see what happens next,” Zhao Yunlan said, widening his eyes pleadingly. With a sigh, Shen Wei reluctantly agreed to it. 

A little wavering image was still visible at their feet, like a literal window in time, which was probably how Shen Wei had been keeping watch on him all this while. Zhao Yunlan watched as Shen Wei wrapped his arms around Ye Zun, how light from the Hallows enveloped them and sent them crashing into the ground, disappearing from sight. He watched as the Alliance signed a treaty to keep Dixing and Haixing separate, with the Hallows given over to the Dixingren so they could keep Dixing lit. Da Qing was there as well, but he had already lost most of his memories, that ungrateful cat, and forgotten who had put the bells around his neck. 

“The ocean yesterday suddenly becomes dry land,” Shen Wei murmured, musing quietly on how time flies. 

Zhao Yunlan asked with a frown, “Were the both of you injured when you were buried underground by the Hallows?”

“Yes, but only slightly. We were mostly unharmed.”

As if stirred by his words, the image at their feet shifted to show Shen Wei and Ye Zun clawing their way out of the earth, awakening after ten thousand years. The image shifted again, showing them in the Dixing palace, the Regent bowing and scraping to the both of them as they tried to figure out what to do with their lives. 

“You should have kicked him out of his position,” Zhao Yunlan said, faintly chiding. The Regent’s false respect was clear even through this wavering image. 

“I was trying not to push my way in after being gone so long,” Shen Wei murmured in response. 

“Bet Ye Zun didn’t agree with that.” Since Shen Wei didn’t respond, Zhao Yunlan knew he was correct. Zhao Yunlan continued, “And you moved to Haixing so as to be less of a threat to the existing governing body in Dixing.”

Shen Wei looked up, meeting his gaze directly. “That, and also so that we could find you again.”

“But you didn’t know where I would be,” Zhao Yunlan said, surprised. 

“We had to try anyway. We knew you were Haixingren, so we knew we had to look in Haixing.”

It was rare for Zhao Yunlan to be at a complete loss for words. He had no choice but to kiss Shen Wei again, pressing their lips together softly. 

Pulling back a little, he leaned his head against Shen Wei’s forehead and said with a rueful smile, “Shen Wei, the first time I saw both of you was ten thousand years in the future. But the first time you saw me was ten thousand years ago. Now we can continue our story after ten thousand years between us.”

Shen Wei smiled in return, eyes crinkling at the corners in pure fondness. “Let’s go, Yunlan. Didi is waiting for us.”

Stepping back, Zhao Yunlan nodded in agreement. “I’m surprised he let you follow me into this place. I thought he wouldn’t risk losing you to some unknown space like this.” 

Shen Wei gave him an odd look, frowning. He reached out and took Zhao Yunlan’s hand, saying, “If I’m not here to hold the wormhole back to our time open, you might not be able to return. Didi isn’t willing to risk losing you either. He only stayed outside the wormhole in case something went wrong, and he might be needed to try to bring us back from the outside.”

Zhao Yunlan was stunned by this piece of information. Noting his expression, Shen Wei continued with a shake of his head, lips pressing tightly together. “We need to talk when we get back, all of us. For now, let’s go.”

That sounded a little ominous, but he was right. This wasn’t the time and place for extended conversations. 

After all, Ye Zun was waiting for them.

And then it was another trip through space and time, through the icy chill of impossibility as they were shoved through eternity within the space of a heartbeat. Zhao Yunlan was getting to be a reluctant expert on the head-spinning, stomach-churning experience. 

They were dropped back into their own reality and time, falling almost to their knees from the suddenness of returning to a place where gravity and physics worked again. 

All of a sudden, Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei were hauled off the floor. Zhao Yunlan barely had a moment to realize that he was being grabbed by Ye Zun before he had a close-up view of Ye Zun kissing Shen Wei hard, one hand clawing visibly into the back of Shen Wei’s neck. Then Ye Zun turned and kissed Zhao Yunlan too, a bruising, punishing kiss that involved a painful bite to Zhao Yunlan’s lower lip. By the time Ye Zun pulled back, Zhao Yunlan could taste the metallic tang of blood. Ye Zun’s eyes were wide and more than a little wild. 

“You’re back,” he said to both of them, looking between them like he couldn’t settle on just one face right now. “Are you okay?” 

“We’re fine, didi. We’re back. We’re not going anywhere,” Shen Wei said in a low soothing voice. 

“Not for a long time,” Zhao Yunlan agreed. 

Ye Zun looked at him and then back at Shen Wei again as if for further reassurance that they had truly returned. Although still tense, he finally nodded and said, “Good. That’s...good.”

Surreptitiously, Zhao Yunlan licked away the little bit of blood on his lower lip as he looked around. They were back in the chamber with the Hallows, and the shield for the Hallows was in place again, its multicolored shimmer gleaming in the low light. There was no one else in the chamber, which was fortunate. Oh, Zhao Yunlan didn’t care if he gave his team a show like that, he figured they deserved it for how they had made him doubt his own sanity when it came to Shen Wei and Ye Zun pursuing him. But he wasn’t sure if any Dixing officials were meant to know about the relationship between Shen Wei and Ye Zun, let alone their relationship with the Lord Guardian thrown into the mix. 

“What happened?” Zhao Yunlan asked. “How much time has passed?”

Ye Zun’s arm was still curled tight around Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder, with no apparent intention of releasing him any time soon. “It’s been two days, and I know you were in the past much longer than that, so don’t ask me how this time travel nonsense works. I thought it might take months before you came back.” His voice trembled a little on those last words. 

Months without knowing if Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei would safely return to him... It must have been hell on Ye Zun to expect such a long, uncertain wait. 

Zhao Yunlan touched Ye Zun’s cheek, tucking a loose lock of silver hair behind a delicate ear. “Sweetheart, you were just going to wait here for months until we came back?”

Shooting him a defiant look, Ye Zun said, “Yeah, so what? Da Qing has been bringing me food and keeping me company sometimes, to make up for his unfair favoritism towards you I suppose.”

Ah, that. Ye Zun’s odd bond with Da Qing which had led him to be incredibly jealous of Da Qing’s subsequent bond with Zhao Yunlan had left Zhao Yunlan a little helpless, unwilling to push Da Qing away and unable to do much to assuage Ye Zun’s jealousy. He also couldn’t explain to Ye Zun that Da Qing saw Zhao Yunlan as his human, but he probably saw Ye Zun as a kitten who needed looking after. They were in two different categories for feline affection, but it wasn’t something that Ye Zun would have taken well. 

Thinking about Ye Zun steeling himself to wait in this bare room for months on end made his chest ache. Shen Wei must have felt the same, because he said with a slight frown, eyes lowered in unhappiness, “Didi, I’m sorry. I didn’t have the time to tell you that time likely worked differently within the wormhole compared to outside of it.”

Ye Zun rolled his eyes. “You raised the shield around the Hallows again even as you were jumping into the wormhole before it could close. Where would you have found the time to stop and explain time-travel as well? Don’t be such an overachiever, gege.”

“But still, I’m sorry,” Shen Wei said softly, pressing a kiss to Ye Zun’s cheek. 

Leaning shamelessly into it, Ye Zun promptly did a reversal on what he had just said and demanded, “Okay, good, make sure you don’t do it again. As in, no jumping into wormholes anymore. Either of you.”

Under Ye Zun’s dark, vehement gaze, Zhao Yunlan felt the need to protest. “In my defense, I didn’t jump into the wormhole. It sucked me in.”

“Well, maybe you should stop shooting the Hallows,” Ye Zun snapped.

“I was trying to stop the Regent,” Zhao Yunlan pointed out, before something else occurred to him. “Which by the way, I can’t believe you were going to hand the Hallows over to the Regent!”

“Of course we were going to hand over the Hallows,” Ye Zun said with clear incredulity in his sharp voice. “He had a sword to your throat.”

Zhao Yunlan looked to Shen Wei for support, but Shen Wei had a similar look to the one on Ye Zun’s face; a mix of baffled disbelief. 

“Did you really think we wouldn't give the Hallows up for you?” Shen Wei asked, his eyes wide behind his glasses. 

Under their intense stares, Zhao Yunlan opened and closed his mouth without being able to figure out what to say. 

“Ahem,” came a voice from the open entrance. Saved by the cat. Da Qing called out, “Uhh, I came here with food for Ye Zun, but you’re all back. So. Yay!”

Zhao Yunlan said weakly to Ye Zun and Shen Wei, “Let’s talk...after.”

“After,” Ye Zun agreed, although it sounded vaguely threatening for some reason. 

Zhao Yunlan pulled out of Ye Zun and Shen Wei’s hold, turning to Da Qing who came up to rub shoulders with Zhao Yunlan shamelessly. 

“You all might want to consider leaving before you get caught up with the bureaucratic mess in Dixing, what with the guard being badly wounded by your gun and the Regent being unfortunately only slightly injured and under arrest,” Da Qing suggested. 

Zhao Yunlan raised his eyebrows. “Surely they don’t want to charge me with assault?”

Da Qing snorted. “As if they would dare.”

Waving a hand, Ye Zun said, “If they charged you for assault, they would have to charge me too. I ate them a little after all.”

“Ate them...a little?” Zhao Yunlan asked, remembering what Ye Zun had done in the Ministry laboratory.

“Just a little,” Ye Zun confirmed with a feral grin, holding his thumb and his index finger very slightly apart. “They’re too drained to talk right now.”

“Doesn’t sound like it was that little. Just make sure you don’t get indigestion,” Zhao Yunlan commented with raised eyebrows. 

Da Qing sighed and interjected, “Dixing law enforcement has been talking about taking your witness statements once you’re back. We all had to give ours too, and it took hours.”

Ye Zun added, “And the King will probably want to have some kind of meeting to discuss what went down to ensure that Dixing and Haixing relations aren’t damaged due to the Lord Guardian being kidnapped and threatened by the Regent. The cat is right, it’s messy and it’ll take days to sort out. Let’s go home for now and come back later after we’ve had some rest.”

Zhao Yunlan looked over at Shen Wei to gauge his reaction, but Shen Wei was only nodding in calm agreement. People who always expected Shen Wei to be the responsible one compared to Ye Zun were...well, they were right in some respects. But Shen Wei had also been Heipaoshi for a very long time and was used to doing things his way, under his own authority. Zhao Yunlan had seen how little he adhered to bureaucracy during the Allied War, and how no one had tried to change that seeing as he was so damned effective as a one-man army. 

“Alright, then let’s get out of here. We can come and deal with this mess after we’ve had a good night’s sleep or two,” Zhao Yunlan agreed. 

“I’ll cover for you at the office,” Da Qing offered, which was a sign of how much this whole thing had freaked Da Qing out. 

Zhao Yunlan grinned and ruffled Da Qing’s hair. “You were really worried about me, huh?”

Ducking away from his hand, Da Qing rolled his eyes and said, “I got my memories back when I came in close contact with the Hallows again, and I wasn’t worried at all. I remember what you were up to ten thousand years ago.” He looked significantly at the twins. “You weren’t in danger, you were having fun.”

Then he shifted into his cat form in a huff and climbed up Ye Zun’s legs. Grumbling, Ye Zun obligingly bent down and allowed Da Qing to climb into his arms. For a moment, Zhao Yunlan was a little jealous that Da Qing had picked Ye Zun instead, but looking at Ye Zun’s still slightly pale face, Zhao Yunlan thought that Ye Zun probably needed the warm furry fat cat in his arms more than Zhao Yunlan did. 

“We’ll go to the portal and head up to Haixing,” Shen Wei said, taking the lead. They nodded and followed behind him without protest, all of them more than ready to go home.

Chapter Text

Once they were back in Haixing, Da Qing left them with nothing but black cat fur all over Ye Zun’s white shirt and a cheek rub against Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder. It took nothing more than a wave of Shen Wei’s hand for them to be teleported back to the twins’ apartment. 

This time, there was no puking, only momentary dizziness. Zhao Yunlan counted that as a win. 

Zhao Yunlan was kind of tired, but rather than lie down and sleep for a million years with Shen Wei and Ye Zun, they were sitting in the living room, having the long postponed talk. 

Sitting on the edge of the coffee table in front of the couch, Zhao Yunlan fidgeted a little as he looked from Shen Wei to Ye Zun. Shen Wei was sitting in the middle of the couch while Ye Zun was perched on the couch’s arm. The three of them formed the points of a triangle and faced inwards, as if subconsciously sitting that way so that there would be no unequal sides. 

He supposed he couldn’t put off talking to his...boyfriends? Lovers? Confusing-time-travelling partners? 

Shen Wei didn’t waste any more time, saying immediately, “I believe the fault is with us and how quickly we progressed. We‘ve left you with an incorrect impression of our intentions.” He held Zhao Yunlan’s gaze as he spoke, his expression regretful. 

But before Zhao Yunlan could respond, Ye Zun spoke up, cutting to the chase with a question, “Did you really believe what you said to the Regent?”

“I said a lot of things to the Regent,” Zhao Yunlan hedged even though he knew exactly what Ye Zun was talking about.

“About the part where we’re fuck buddies and nothing more,” Ye Zun said bluntly. 

Zhao Yunlan winced. So they’d heard that. He hadn’t known when Ye Zun and Shen Wei would have been told by Lin Jing that Zhao Yunlan was transmitting through the communication device. He had been hoping never, or much later, but unfortunately, it seemed that hadn’t been the case.  

“Look… I did think that was what you were angling for, a little something to spice up your sex life, just at the start,” Zhao Yunlan added hurriedly at the upset expressions on both Shen Wei and Ye Zun’s pretty faces. He continued, “I don’t believe that now, not anymore, not even when I said it to the Regent. I said it just to make him doubt himself and think that I wasn’t actually a good bargaining chip.”

“Then did you really believe we would rather let the Regent kill you instead of giving him the Hallows?” Shen Wei asked, his dark eyes intense as he stared at Zhao Yunlan. 

Caught, Zhao Yunlan fumbled for an answer. “They’re the Hallows… Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to die at the hands of that hack job, and I also didn’t think I would die either. I had Plan One to Eight ready and none of them featured me dying.”

“We’re going to review Plan One to Eight later,” Ye Zun promised darkly. 

They definitely were not reviewing Plan One to Eight later, even if Zhao Yunlan had to pull some really kinky shit to distract them both, because a couple of those plans were pretty high risk and one of them definitely involved potentially losing a limb. 

“But I didn’t plan to hand over the Hallows to anyone,” Zhao Yunlan continued, rolling his shoulders as he looked from Ye Zun to Shen Wei. “And I didn’t think you were going to hand over the Hallows to anyone either. The Hallows provide light and power to Dixing. If the Regent got his hands on them, he would own Dixing.”

“He would own Dixing for as long as it took us to get the Hallows back,” Shen Wei said, voice low and determined, the tone pure Heipaoshi in his complete certainty. “And we would have most certainly gotten them back, after we got you back. It wouldn’t have taken more than a couple days at worst.”

Zhao Yunlan stared at him before asking faintly, “You were going to risk Dixing falling into darkness and having the Regent hold Dixing hostage?”

“The other option was to risk you, which is unacceptable,” Shen Wei replied, gaze steady. 

Zhao Yunlan looked at Ye Zun who glared at him, as if furious for some reason. Ye Zun said with a bite to his tone, “We can get the Hallows back or we can get rid of the Hallows altogether. But we can’t lose you. Do you understand?”

Reaching out with one hand, Shen Wei stroked Ye Zun’s arm and said to Zhao Yunlan, “There’s a lot we’re willing to sacrifice. But you’re not a sacrifice we are willing to make. No matter the cause.”

Zhao Yunlan’s eyes were wide as he stared at them, his lashes feeling a little damp for some reason. He had never expected this level of devotion from Shen Wei and Ye Zun. He knew they cared, but he had never expected them to care about him above and beyond the Hallows and their duty to Dixing, had never expected to hear that they held him so dear to their hearts. 

And he knew beyond a doubt that he felt the same for them too. 

“I feel the same for you, for both of you,” Zhao Yunlan said, his voice a bare croak. He reached out and touched their knees. “If anyone were to threaten either of you, I would let the world burn to get you back.  

He watched as a beautiful smile grew on Shen Wei’s face, his eyes crinkling at the corners and reddening with emotion. Ye Zun on the other hand turned his face away, his free hand coming up and swiping quickly across his eyes. 

Ye Zun turned back to Zhao Yunlan and scolded him fiercely, as if his eyes weren’t wet, “Next time, don’t be so reckless. Who cares if the Hallows were taken? I told everyone we shouldn’t rely on them. Maybe if they were taken, they would realize that we were right all along, and our plan to wean off reliance on the Hallows could then be fast tracked.”

That...made Zhao Yunlan a little suspicious. He frowned at Ye Zun as his mind went over the way Ye Zun thought, now that he had greater insight into how those gears turned. “You were expecting the Regent to pull this kind of stunt. You knew he was going to do this,” he said with growing certainty.

“Of course I didn’t know,” Ye Zun snapped. “As if I would let him take you. I thought he was going to target me, because I’m supposed to be the weak twin with no powers that Heipaoshi dotes on. And when they came for me, I was going to eat them.” When Shen Wei looked at him sharply, Ye Zun rolled his eyes. “Just a little!”

“And you were just going along with that plan? You didn’t have a plan of your own, Xiao Wei?” Zhao Yunlan asked Shen Wei, because he had a sneaking suspicion about all this. 

Shen Wei looked at him and Ye Zun, eyes wide as he blinked in mild confusion. Definitely a tell that he was about to lie. Zhao Yunlan raised his eyebrows challengingly at him. At that look, Shen Wei knew he was busted and sighed, eyes dipping down instead. “I was going to threaten the Regent directly on my own and force him to show his hand against me.”

“Threaten him how?” Zhao Yunlan asked with a frown. 

“Lie to him that the Haixing Ministry kept records of their interactions and say we had evidence of his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Dixingren. The one thing he prizes is staying in power so I believed that threat would have been enough for him to attack me immediately with the weapons he’s been trying to accumulate and soldiers he’s been bribing. At that point, I could openly retaliate,” Shen Wei concluded in the same mild-mannered way of his.

Ye Zun protested as he pointed a finger at Shen Wei, “Gege, you never told me this plan! What happened to my plan?”

“Your plan which involved risking your life, which you refused to change your mind on?” Shen Wei asked with a narrowed look. 

“How does this plan not risk your life?” Ye Zun demanded. 

“Alright, alright, no one in this room is allowed to make plans on their own ever again, geez. What a disaster this could have been,” Zhao Yunlan said, waving his hands at both of them. 

Ye Zun shot him a dirty look. “You’re one to talk. Your plan was to let them kill you so we wouldn’t give the Regent the stupid Hallows.”

“Hey, Plan One to Eight didn’t involve killing me,” Zhao Yunlan protested. 

“What about your ninth plan then?” Shen Wei asked in a deceptively calm voice. 

Woah, mayday, mayday, that was definitely a trap. When did Shen Wei get so insightful about Zhao Yunlan’s thought processes? Changing the topic, Zhao Yunlan said insistently, “The point is that we should make plans together in the future. I only needed all these last minute plans because I was completely in the dark about all of this. I could have made much better plans if I knew any of us being kidnapped was a possibility.”

At that, Shen Wei looked a little guilty, but Ye Zun muttered, “Don’t think I didn’t notice you didn’t answer gege’s question.”

“Are we working together in the future or not?” Zhao Yunlan asked again, looking at Ye Zun, and then at Shen Wei. “If this is meant to be an equal partnership, then we can’t keep this kind of thing from each other.”

Pulling his knees up to his chest where he was sitting on the couch’s arm, Ye Zun finally nodded, a silver lock escaping his hair tie to fall across his cheek. Shen Wei sighed and nodded as well, pushing his glasses up. 

Before Zhao Yunlan could pat himself on the back for a negotiation well done, Shen Wei looked up and said, “If this is to be an equal partnership, then you have to realize that means in all ways.”

“Yes?” Zhao Yunlan said with confusion. Even Ye Zun was looking at Shen Wei with his head tilted, not really getting where Shen Wei was coming from. 

Shen Wei drew in a slow, deep breath and said carefully, “In that limbo between time, within the wormhole, you were surprised that Ye Zun let me follow after you, that he would risk losing me to some unknown like this.”

Looking sharply at Zhao Yunlan, Ye Zun asked, “What do you mean by that?”

A little embarrassed, Zhao Yunlan dithered, started and stopped a couple of times as he tried to frame it in words that didn’t make him sound so pathetic.

“He meant that he was surprised you would risk losing me to rescue him,” Shen Wei explained to Ye Zun in Zhao Yunlan’s place.

Zhao Yunlan started to say, “I didn’t exactly need rescuing—”

Ye Zun’s hand clamped down around Zhao Yunlan’s wrist, digging his blunt fingernails in a little and leaving five little points of pain against his skin. He said with an unrelenting gaze fixed on Zhao Yunlan, “I can’t risk losing gege, but I can’t risk losing you either, Lan-ge.”

“We care about you, Yunlan,” Shen Wei said softly, drawing Zhao Yunlan’s gaze to his serious, worried expression. “Not as someone extra to our relationship, not as someone we’re willing to sacrifice at any time. You’re part of our relationship as an equal.”

Ye Zun added in an unusually quiet voice, “You know the past and the present now, how we’ve come together in both times. We’ve been looking for you all this time.”

“Every year that we were awake without you felt like a thousand years each,” Shen Wei continued. “Do you understand your place with us? How you are precious to us too?” 

Zhao Yunlan’s voice was a little hoarse as he said, “Yeah… Yeah, I think I’m getting it now.”

Finally, Shen Wei smiled, soft and relieved. Ye Zun yanked Zhao Yunlan forward so he tumbled onto the couch with Ye Zun throwing himself on top of him, pulling Shen Wei down too. 

“You’re a slow learner, Yunlan,” Ye Zun teased. And then they held him close, putting actions to words to remind him how much they cared for him.

That night, they didn’t do more than sleep together, all of them exhausted from the day’s events — months’ events, from Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei’s viewpoint. They held each other, curled together, and slept soundly. 

The next day, they stayed in bed but didn’t engage in some sexy funtimes, which was a bit of a shame, but Zhao Yunlan figured they could get to that soon enough. Instead, they sat cross-legged on the large bed, looking at each other under the warm light of the rising sun. 

Zhao Yunlan pulled off the hair-tie that Ye Zun always slipped over his wrist when he let his hair down, the same hair-tie that held his hair up during the day. Turning the hair-tie over in his hand, Zhao Yunlan touched the silver bead that he had noticed so long ago in Ye Zun’s hair, that he had recognized again in his own hair ten thousand years ago. 

“You’ve kept it from back then?” Zhao Yunlan asked, feeling touched beyond words. 

Ye Zun shrugged, looking away. His fine jaw was clenched tight with annoyance as he tried to hide his reaction. “I picked it up when gege was playing with your hair that last day. It’s nothing much, just felt like something shiny to decorate my own hair with.”

Zhao Yunlan smiled and didn’t call out Ye Zun’s faux casual response. He turned to Shen Wei and asked curiously, “And what’s in your jade pendant?” 

Seeing that Ye Zun had been wearing this keepsake in his hair, he knew that Shen Wei’s jade pendant that he kept so close to him at all times had to be something similar. He didn’t know if Shen Wei would tell him, but he was curious enough to try asking. 

He didn’t expect Shen Wei to remove the leather cord from around his neck and to carefully place the almost glowing yellow jade onto Zhao Yunlan’s open palm, next to Ye Zun’s hair-tie with its silver bead. 

“You can open it and see for yourself,” Shen Wei told Zhao Yunlan, ducking his head and looking up from beneath his lashes with a smile, looking inexplicably shy for some reason. 

Curious now, Zhao Yunlan examined the piece of jade, found that it had once been whole but had been split into two at some point. Just to store something? It seemed a waste of such a beautiful piece of jade. Zhao Yunlan twisted the jade and the two halves came apart. Set in the center of the spherical jade was a familiar crinkly piece of foil, with a familiar symbol on it. 

“A lollipop wrapper?” Zhao Yunlan asked helplessly, not sure if he should laugh or cry that Shen Wei had held onto this for so long. 

Shen Wei shrugged, looking not at all embarrassed to be found with literal litter stored in his jade. His smile widened, “You asked us to wait and to remember you. I wanted something I could touch and hold in my hands as a reminder that it wasn’t just a dream.”

“A messy confusing dream made more confusing by your crypticness,” Ye Zun accused with an eye-roll. 

Carefully, Zhao Yunlan put the pendant back together and placed both pendant and hair-tie on the bedside table. Then, without warning, Zhao Yunlan launched himself at the two of them and tumbled them onto the bed. 

He kissed them both on the cheek and looked at them with bright eyes. “Thank you for waiting.”

“There was never any other choice for us,” Shen Wei said with a soft, almost tremulous smile. 

“What he said,” Ye Zun echoed, his wet eyes belying his flippant words. 

Zhao Yunlan leaned down and kissed them both again, filled with happiness and warmth. 

~ * ~

Epilogue

Zhao Yunlan whistled a cheery tune as he strolled out of his office.

Da Qing looked up from where he was sprawled out on the couch in human form. He thought Zhao Yunlan looked particularly smug today. “It’s not even five yet, Lao Zhao.”

“I’ve got a date with my honeys,” Zhao Yunlan said with a grin. That would explain the obnoxious levels of satisfaction then. 

“Ugh, it’s disgusting how smug he is,” Lin Jing muttered from where he had been spinning his chair at the long table in the center of the common area. 

Chu Shuzhi snapped from behind his computer, “Don’t get him started or he won’t—”

“You’re just jealous, Lin Jing,” Zhao Yunlan sang out as he unwrapped a lollipop and popped it into his mouth.

“Who would be jealous of you!” Lin Jing denied, flustered. 

“Now you’ve gone and done it,” Da Qing grumbled as he sat up on the couch. Why did Lin Jing always fall for Zhao Yunlan’s baits?  

Stopping behind the couch, Zhao Yunlan pointed at Lin Jing. “After all that time you said Shen Wei and Ye Zun couldn’t possibly be interested in me, how it was all in my imagination, how I was projecting my twin kinks onto them—”

Zhu Hong cut in, “We don’t actually want to hear about all this again. They’re brothers. I don’t— Just stop.”

“And they’re Heipaoshi,” Chu Shuzhi grumbled. Apparently Chu Shuzhi was completely fine with their relationship and wasn’t even particularly concerned about Heipaoshi’s real secret identity behind the mask. But what he could barely stand was having to listen to proof that the most respectable and honorable Heipaoshi had a sex life involving Zhao Yunlan.

“I think it’s sweet,” Guo Changcheng volunteered, raising his head cautiously from where he was bent over his notebook. 

Wang Zheng agreed with a smile, “Yes, and you all seem very happy together, which is what matters.”

“Thank you, Xiao Guo and Wang Zheng, you both get a raise,” Zhao Yunlan said with a cheerful grin.

“I don’t get paid, I’m an energy being,” Wang Zheng pointed out. 

“We’ll buy extra streaming channels for you to watch at night,” Zhao Yunlan amended. 

Feeling underappreciated, Da Qing complained, “If they get a raise, I should get a raise too. I live right opposite the hallway, and the things I have to listen to every night and even in the morning and sometimes afternoons and—”

Clamping his hands over his ears, Lin Jing cried out, “I don’t want to hear about the pervert’s sex life.”

Chu Shuzhi stood up and yanked Guo Changcheng out of his chair, marching him towards the exit. “He’s too young to listen to this. We’re clocking out for the day.”

“I’m— I’m an adult, Chu-ge,” Guo Changcheng stuttered in an unconvincing manner. 

Shaking his head, Zhao Yunlan sucked on his lollipop and told his team, “You’re all just jealous.”

They groaned in chorus.  

“Da Qing, you might want to wear earplugs tonight,” Zhao Yunlan said with a grin, heading out after Chu Shuzhi and Guo Changcheng. 

“I’m going to sleep here tonight,” Da Qing announced. “I’m sure Lao Li will have dried fish for me.”

Lifting his hand to acknowledge Da Qing’s decision, Zhao Yunlan was out the front door in a flash. 

“For some reason, my interest in him is in the negative numbers now,” Zhu Hong said, making a face. “What a smug bastard.”

Lin Jing groaned. “When will the honeymoon phase be over?”

Closing his eyes, Da Qing thought about his memories from a long time ago, memories that had started resurfacing after their trip to Dixing and his brush with the four Hallows again. He remembered the three of them, how they had circled one another, confused but unable to pull away from orbiting each other. He remembered how they had fallen in love ten thousand years ago, fallen in love again in the present day. 

“Probably not for a long time yet,” Da Qing groused aloud, but his lips turned up in a small smile. 

~ * ~

Zhao Yunlan awoke slowly to the sound of gasping and soft laughter. He already knew he would see Shen Wei and Ye Zun up to something far too energetic when he opened his eyes. Since he had spent most nights at their apartment for the last few weeks, he had first hand experience of how Shen Wei and Ye Zun preferred to spend their mornings, even on weekdays. 

“I think he’s waking up,” Shen Wei murmured. 

“Why are you paying attention to him instead of me?” Ye Zun’s pout was obvious in his voice.

Shen Wei laughed breathlessly. “Is this not enough attention?”

All he received in response was a sharp gasp and the mattress bounced a little with their movement. 

Slowly, Zhao Yunlan opened his eyes, blinking lazily as he swept his gaze over to the feast Shen Wei and Ye Zun had prepared for him this morning. 

They were both completely bare, even though they had definitely worn pajamas when they had gone to bed last night. 

Ye Zun was flat on his back with his silver hair spread in a pale halo on his pillow. His lean body flexed, trying to move without success, thigh muscles tensing visibly every time he tried to rock up into Shen Wei who was sitting astride his hips. Wearing only his jade pendant on a leather cord, Shen Wei’s smooth skin was bathed in morning light as he bent over Ye Zun’s body, the slow roll of his hips almost inhumanly graceful. Shen Wei had Ye Zun’s hands pinned on either side of his head, holding him down in place as he slowly but surely fucked himself on Ye Zun. 

“Gege,” Ye Zun said with desperation in his voice. “Gege, Yunlan is awake now. You can go faster.”

Shen Wei bent closer and ran his nose down Ye Zun’s cheekbones, nudging his face to the side so he could nip at his ear and say, “But didi, aren’t you enjoying yourself?”

Zhao Yunlan watched as Ye Zun tried to move faster, tried to rock his hips up except he was thoroughly pinned down by Shen Wei, totally at Shen Wei’s mercy. And it seemed today, Shen Wei was looking to use Ye Zun’s cock for a slow fuck. 

When Shen Wei pulled back a little, Ye Zun looked towards Zhao Yunlan with wet eyes, his lips bitten red. He said sadly, “Lan-ge, tell gege to stop bullying me.”

Snorting, Zhao Yunlan rubbed a hand across his eyes, wiping away the remaining traces of sleep as he shifted nearer to them. He pressed a kiss to Ye Zun’s soft cheek, avoiding his mouth because Zhao Yunlan hadn’t brushed his teeth yet. Then he told Ye Zun knowingly, “If I tell Xiao Wei to stop bullying you, then you’ll suddenly get mad at me and tell me not to order your gege around.” 

He knew Ye Zun’s capricious ways very well when it came to Shen Wei. 

Ye Zun pouted. “I won’t.”

“Liar,” Zhao Yunlan murmured, before shifting a little and pressing a kiss to Shen Wei’s cheek. Except Shen Wei turned his head and kissed him on the mouth, parting his lips without a care about Zhao Yunlan’s morning breath. In contrast, Shen Wei tasted like a strange mix of minty toothpaste and come. He had clearly brushed his teeth and then gone down on Ye Zun at some point after that.

Pulling away, Zhao Yunlan beamed at the sweet smile on Shen Wei’s face. Running an affectionate hand through Shen Wei’s hair, Zhao Yunlan said, “I’m just going to brush my teeth.”

Ye Zun called from the bed, “Lan-ge, I’ll remember this!” But Zhao Yunlan knew it was all for show. Ye Zun was Dragon City University’s drama club supervisor and it showed some days. 

“Didi, if you don’t like what I’m doing, I can stop.” Zhao Yunlan didn’t have to turn around to know that Shen Wei was wearing that wide-eyed innocent look he had perfected. 

“Nooo, don’t,” Ye Zun wailed at that. 

Smiling to himself, Zhao Yunlan brushed his teeth and splashed water on his face. He pulled off his comfy long-sleeved shirt that he had worn to sleep, tossing it into the laundry basket. While he kind of liked it when Shen Wei frowned and nagged him, Zhao Yunlan also liked when Shen Wei rewarded him for good behavior by fucking him against hard surfaces. It was for that reason that Zhao Yunlan tried harder to be less of a slob. He pulled off his pajama pants and sent it into the basket as well, the legs of the pants only making it halfway in. Ah, good enough. 

He looked in the mirror at his lean body, more wiry than muscular. There were a few red marks around his neck and shoulders, left there by Shen Wei, and scratch marks down his chest, left there by Ye Zun. His cock was hard, arched up against his belly. He had been hard since the moment he had opened his eyes to the gorgeous sight in bed. Smiling, he headed back out for a good morning meal. 

As he crawled onto the bed next to the entwined bodies, he heard Ye Zun whimpering in sexual frustration. Zhao Yunlan asked with a smirk, “What is he being punished for?”

“He disrupted my class yesterday,” Shen Wei said serenely, like he wasn’t fucking himself down onto Ye Zun’s cock, like his own lovely neck and shoulders weren’t beaded with sweat from exertion as he remained bent over, pinning Ye Zun’s hands down to the bed. 

“I just— I just wanted to see you,” Ye Zun protested. 

Shen Wei stopped moving his hips, raising his eyebrows. “You changed into a sleeveless vest just to see me?”

Laughing, Zhao Yunlan reclined beside Ye Zun and slipped his hand between their moving bodies, tweaking Ye Zun’s right nipple. “Oh, sweetheart, were you that bored?”

“Gege missed lunch with me, talking to a student,” Ye Zun muttered, looking mutinous. Then he looked at Zhao Yunlan. “You went to see him last week in his class while sucking on a lollipop.”

Ooh, the evil vixen was trying to push Shen Wei’s ire in a new direction. 

“And I was punished for that,” reminded Zhao Yunlan. Ah, how he was ‘punished’. His body had ached so good after that. 

With the kind of ‘punishments’ that Shen Wei doled out, was it any surprise that Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan never learned their lessons? Zhao Yunlan could only conclude that on some level, Shen Wei enjoyed their shameless behavior around the university.

Zhao Yunlan moved his hand up to pinch Shen Wei’s nipple instead, which made Shen Wei breathe in sharply and jerk his hips. That in turn had the effect of making Ye Zun moan in pleasure. 

“Yunlan,” Shen Wei said softly, reprimanding. But the way his lips curved up, the way his eyes looked at Zhao Yunlan with soft pleasure belied that disapproval. It was a sign that Shen Wei was probably ready for more at this point. How long had he been riding Ye Zun at a tortoise pace for Ye Zun’s lashes to be wet with desperation?

Taking pity on all parties involved, Zhao Yunlan sat up and moved over until he was straddling Ye Zun from behind Shen Wei. He kept his weight on his knees so as not to squash Ye Zun beneath two grown men’s weight.

Bending down, he kissed the sweet knobs of Shen Wei’s spine, murmuring, “Come on, baby, don’t you think it’s time to move?” He curved a hand around Shen Wei’s trim waist and tugged at him. 

Finally, Shen Wei released his hold around Ye Zun’s hands and allowed himself to be pulled back until he was sitting upright. Ye Zun was no longer pinned in place, and his hands immediately flew to Shen Wei’s thighs, grabbing on. 

Zhao Yunlan molded his front to Shen Wei’s back, grinned as he felt Shen Wei lean his weight against him. 

“There, isn’t this more comfortable?” Zhao Yunlan asked, pressing a kiss to the side of Shen Wei’s neck, pausing there as he was distracted by how Shen Wei tipped his head to the side in blatant suggestion. To reward the move, Zhao Yunlan nipped and licked at the bared throat, burying his nose against warm skin and breathing in the warm scent of sex, sweat and the sweet fruity tang of their shared shower gel. 

Shen Wei’s body seemed to loosen under Zhao Yunlan’s ministrations, his waist relaxing within Zhao Yunlan’s hold. At that moment, Ye Zun took the opportunity to finally start rocking his hips up, thrusting with a heartfelt groan as he threw his head back, long lashes dipping down as he squeezed his eyes shut. 

“Mmm, doesn’t he look gorgeous?” Zhao Yunlan murmured. 

“He’s lovely,” Shen Wei sighed, smiling when Ye Zun shivered at their words, as always, easily thrilled at their admiration. 

Feeling a little mischievous, Zhao Yunlan slipped one hand down and touched where Ye Zun was joined with Shen Wei, feeling how Ye Zun was thrusting in and out of Shen Wei. He said, “You’re taking such good care of your didi, Xiao Wei.”

Shen Wei gasped at that, hips jerking. 

Sending Zhao Yunlan a grateful look, Ye Zun hurried to agree, sounding breathless, “Gege, you always take such good care of me.”

Moaning now, Shen Wei started rocking his hips faster. Zhao Yunlan’s hard cock was leaking against Shen Wei’s back as he felt Ye Zun’s erection moving, felt the way Shen Wei’s rim tightened and loosened as Shen Wei squeezed. It felt intensely intimate and erotic to be touching where they were joined, to feel Shen Wei’s body tense and shiver against him. 

“Ah, ah, Yunlan, gege, please,” Ye Zun begged, his eyes wet as he gasped and shivered, the muscles on his forearms corded with tension from how hard he was gripping Shen Wei’s hips. He was going to leave such nice bruises. 

Zhao Yunlan smiled at Ye Zun and dragged his free hand down Shen Wei’s flat stomach, enjoying the feel of his abs trembling against his touch. He dragged his hand further down until he framed Shen Wei’s hard cock between his thumb and his index finger. He could feel Shen Wei’s heavy breathing against him, echoed by his own shallow panting. 

Slowly, achingly slow, Zhao Yunlan lifted his hand and curled his fingers around Shen Wei’s hard, pretty cock. He dragged his hand from root to tip, once, smeared the pre-come with his thumb and dragged his hand down again. 

He whispered in Shen Wei’s ear, “Tighten up for your didi, baby.” Then he pulled his hand up again and Shen Wei was gone. 

His body arched with beautiful tension, his voice broke on a desperate gasp as his cock jerked in Zhao Yunlan’s hold, as his whole body writhed against Zhao Yunlan’s own, as he shot come all over Ye Zun’s heaving body. Shen Wei jerked back, thrusting down, chasing his pleasure between Ye Zun’s cock inside him and Zhao Yunlan’s tight grip around him. 

Ye Zun tossed his head against his pillow, as if delirious with pleasure, silver hair mussed and sticking to his sweat-streaked face. He gasped and moaned, hips moving in short, jerking thrusts as he came inside of Shen Wei, pushing upwards as if he couldn’t get deep enough. Zhao Yunlan pushed his own erection against Shen Wei’s backside, felt almost overwhelmed with arousal at the sight of Ye Zun spread out on the mattress overwhelmed with pleasure, at the feel of Shen Wei shivering in his arms.

“Gege,” Ye Zun whispered, a hint of tears in his eyes as he looked up at Shen Wei. 

Zhao Yunlan released his hold on Shen Wei and it was almost like Shen Wei collapsed bonelessly onto Ye Zun, his hand reaching out to frame Ye Zun’s face as Shen Wei kissed him. 

Between the soft press of lips, Shen Wei murmured, “Didi, I love you so much.”

Zhao Yunlan felt like his heart was melting as he watched Ye Zun curl his arms around Shen Wei’s neck and hold him close. From where he was sitting, Zhao Yunlan couldn’t see much of their kisses, but he ran his hand over Shen Wei’s back affectionately, rubbing Ye Zun’s hip at the same time. 

After awhile, Shen Wei finally pushed himself back up again, his body no longer heaving from his orgasm. He sat up straight and leaned back against Zhao Yunlan once more. When he twisted around, Zhao Yunlan knew what he was after and obligingly turned his head to kiss Shen Wei. 

“You were both so lovely to watch,” Zhao Yunlan said with deep appreciation once he parted from Shen Wei’s lips. 

Ye Zun suggested with a note of mischief in his voice, “Maybe it’s your turn to do some work, Lan-ge.”

Shooting him a dirty look, Zhao Yunlan said, “So you don’t think I was doing anything?” All his earlier sympathy for Ye Zun who had been held on edge for who knew how long evaporated. 

Shrugging languidly, Ye Zun ran his hand through the streaks of come Shen Wei had left on his pale stomach, rubbing them idly into his skin. “You have been mostly sleeping and then just sitting around, right? Don’t you think it’s time to pull your weight?” Ye Zun asked with a teasing glint in his eye. It was like that soft sweet kiss from Shen Wei had assuaged whatever feelings of vulnerability Ye Zun had, and he was back to being a little brat. His mercurial mood was enough to drive one crazy, if Zhao Yunlan wasn’t so used to it already. 

“You did interrupt me,” Shen Wei unexpectedly agreed. When Zhao Yunlan shifted his gaze to Shen Wei instead, he saw the little dip at the edge of his mouth deepening with his hidden amusement. “Maybe you should take over for Ye Zun.”

Then Zhao Yunlan drew in a sharp breath as he felt Shen Wei grope behind him and slide questing fingers over his erection.

Smiling, Zhao Yunlan kissed the shell of Shen Wei’s ear and said, “I’m happy to oblige where Ye Zun could not.”

“Hey!” Ye Zun protested. 

But Zhao Yunlan ignored him. He nudged Shen Wei up with his knee and dragged a hand down Shen Wei’s lower back. At some point, probably when he had leaned forward to kiss Ye Zun, Shen Wei had moved enough for Ye Zun’s softening cock to slip out of him. Zhao Yunlan leaned back and his blood heated at the sight of Shen Wei’s entrance, wet with lube and come. Even as he watched, more of Ye Zun’s come leaked out of Shen Wei’s hole. 

“You’re leaking everywhere,” Zhao Yunlan said, slipping two fingers into Shen Wei, feeling almost intolerably aroused at the feel of how wet and soft Shen Wei was on the inside. “God, Ye Zun came so much inside you.”

Shen Wei started moving his hips, arched his back forward so that Zhao Yunlan could have an even better view. It was almost too much, and Zhao Yunlan was afraid he was going to prematurely ejaculate, maybe come all over his own fingers fucking into Shen Wei. 

“Yunlan,” Shen Wei said, voice demanding. “Don’t tease.”

Who was teasing who here, Zhao Yunlan wondered as he felt and saw Shen Wei squeeze around his fingers. Damn. 

“You’re not too sensitive?” Zhao Yunlan asked, even as he provocatively curled his fingers, searching for the sweet spot that had to be overstimulated already. 

Shen Wei jerked and cried out, a sign that Zhao Yunlan was right on target. Before he had any time to gloat, Shen Wei reached back and caught Zhao Yunlan’s cock in one hand, squeezing, while his other hand caught Zhao Yunlan by the wrist to pull his fingers out. 

Not answering his question with words, Shen Wei pressed back, holding Zhao Yunlan’s hard arousal in place until the head breached his wet hole. 

“Oh, you’re so desperate for more,” Zhao Yunlan murmured, hands holding Shen Wei’s hips steady instead. 

Breathing in heavily, Shen Wei pushed back, pushed until Zhao Yunlan sunk into him to the hilt, groaning at the warm wet tightness that engulfed his cock. “Fuck, baby, you feel so good.”

Shen Wei tipped his head to the side, giving Zhao Yunlan a look from the corner of his eye and commanded, “Yunlan, move.”

“I live to serve,” Zhao Yunlan said with a grin. Before Shen Wei’s eyes could do any more than flash in annoyance, Zhao Yunlan drew back and thrust forward hard. 

Shen Wei gasped, body stiffening. As Zhao Yunlan had guessed, Shen Wei was still feeling oversensitive from being fucked by Ye Zun and from his recent orgasm. But he knew Shen Wei liked to ride the edge of overstimulation, so Zhao Yunlan continued to grip his hips and fuck harder into Shen Wei. After watching the way Shen Wei had pinned Ye Zun down and ridden him hard, Zhao Yunlan was pretty worked up, and he had no idea how long he was going to last. While he could still hold on, he pounded into Shen Wei, aiming for his prostate with every stroke. The tight, wet clench around his hard cock was heady, and soon, he was fighting back his own orgasm as he fucked Shen Wei hard.  

Soon enough, there was a steady stream of panting moans spilling from Shen Wei’s parted lips, and he seemed to struggle to stay upright under Zhao Yunlan’s onslaught. Suddenly, Ye Zun was there as well, having sat up while the other two were still astride him. Ye Zun cupped Shen Wei’s cheek and ran his hand through Shen Wei’s hair affectionately. From behind Shen Wei’s shoulder, Zhao Yunlan took in Ye Zun’s silver hair loose around his shoulders, the soft smile he had on his face as he looked between Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan. 

“Gege, you’re on the edge already,” Ye Zun murmured, kissing Shen Wei’s jawline. “What if I just…” Zhao Yunlan looked over Shen Wei’s shoulder in time to see Ye Zun starting to stroke Shen Wei’s dripping cock. 

Shen Wei shook and gasped, his hands coming up to grip Ye Zun’s shoulders as his head tipped back. Caught between Zhao Yunlan and Ye Zun, Shen Wei quickly started to lose his rhythm, jerking and arching like he couldn’t decide if he wanted to press back into Zhao Yunlan’s penetrating cock or push forward into Ye Zun’s tight grip. 

Suddenly, Shen Wei turned his head and gasped out, “Kiss...kiss each other.”

Zhao Yunlan laughed, a low chuckle, and said, “You little voyeur.”

Then he plastered himself against Shen Wei’s back, pressing in as deep as he could go, which earned him a broken moan from Shen Wei. He reached up and pulled Ye Zun forward by the back of his head. Ye Zun obligingly opened his mouth to Zhao Yunlan, and he could feel the way Ye Zun’s lips tipped up in a smile. Making a show of it, Zhao Yunlan plundered Ye Zun’s sweet mouth, tongue fucking in lewdly to the rhythm of his shallow thrusts into Shen Wei, until Ye Zun moaned against his lips and Shen Wei shuddered in his hold. 

Then he felt Shen Wei squeeze around him, body tightening as Shen Wei cried out and came. Ye Zun broke away from the kiss, looking down as he stroked Shen Wei’s cock faster, milking him until Shen Wei’s cock was done spilling again. Zhao Yunlan rolled his hips once more, rocking his hard cock right up against Shen Wei’s prostate until Shen Wei shuddered weakly and shot out a little more come into Ye Zun’s hand, seeming to squeeze even tighter around Zhao Yunlan even as his body slumped. 

“Fuck, that’s so—” Zhao Yunlan swore, cut himself off as he couldn’t hold back anymore, not with the gorgeous sight before him and how good it felt to be buried inside Shen Wei. He thrust desperately a couple more times and spilled inside Shen Wei, groaning at the sweet release as he felt his cock pulse and shoot inside that tight heat. His hips kept jerking forward, chasing the last of his pleasure as the euphoria slowly ebbed. 

Shen Wei mumbled incoherently, a sign of how good the sex was, and Ye Zun touched his cheek gently, tilting his head for a sweet kiss between them. Not wanting to be left out, Zhao Yunlan leaned over Shen Wei’s shoulder and kissed Shen Wei and Ye Zun on their cheeks. Before Zhao Yunlan could move back, Ye Zun turned and lapped at Zhao Yunlan’s lips, which turned into another kiss. Zhao Yunlan’s lashes fluttered when he felt Shen Wei’s mouth grazing against his own jaw, open-mouthed and sloppy. 

Covered in each other’s come, sweaty from their exertions, things devolved into a messy exchange of kisses, no one willing to pull apart from where they were pressed up together. 

But eventually, Shen Wei let out a sad sound as their jostling caused Zhao Yunlan to slip out of him. Naturally, that meant Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan reached down and felt at where their shared come started leaking out of Shen Wei onto his thighs. 

“I have a late morning class,” Shen Wei sighed, soft and reluctant. 

Ye Zun was peeking over the curve of Shen Wei’s shoulder at where his fingers were joined with Zhao Yunlan’s in probing Shen Wei’s loose, wet hole. Zhao Yunlan knew how Ye Zun felt, he could barely stand to blink when he could be looking at this indescribably erotic sight instead. 

“Cancel it,” Ye Zun suggested. 

“I’m not cancelling it,” Shen Wei refused in an adamant tone. 

“But gege,” Ye Zun whined, slipping his finger further into Shen Wei. 

Zhao Yunlan would whine too, but he knew Shen Wei wasn’t budging on this. He sighed with great regret and pulled his fingers out, watching avidly as more come dripped out to trail obscenely down creamy flushed skin. 

Shen Wei kissed Ye Zun’s cheek and shifted upwards so that Ye Zun was forced to move back and remove his finger too. “No, didi. You have class too, and we’re not cancelling,” Shen Wei said, leaving no room for negotiation. 

Seeing that Ye Zun was about to pout, Zhao Yunlan suggested with a smirk, “Do we have time for a shower?”

Shen Wei moved himself off Ye Zun’s lap and slipped off the bed. His long lean body was covered in red marks and come, looking utterly ravished. Putting on a thoughtful look, Shen Wei murmured, “I suppose if we rush…”

Then he turned and headed for the bathroom, revealing the lovely lines of his back, the beautiful curve of his backside and his pale thighs streaked with come. Ye Zun and Zhao Yunlan looked at each other and grinned, scrambling off the bed to run after him. 

The shower was over much too soon, but it always seemed that way in Zhao Yunlan’s opinion. He loved shower sex with Shen Wei and Ye Zun so much. Their inhuman strength and agility meant that there was no fear of someone slipping and falling. Slick, wet bodies, pressing together as they got clean to get dirty again. Ah, what a delight…

As they dried off and started dressing for the day, Zhao Yunlan touched Shen Wei’s jade pendant, always gratified to see it around Shen Wei’s neck. After, he helped tie Ye Zun’s hair back using the dark hair-tie with its gleaming silver bead, this step now part of their morning ritual. Exchanging sweet kisses and light-hearted groping, they got ready to face the world. 

Idly, Zhao Yunlan thought that he very much wanted a keepsake of theirs on him as well, although he hadn’t yet decided on what that would be. And he thought that Ye Zun and Shen Wei would probably love carrying around a keepsake of each other too. He would have to come up with some suitable ideas, something meaningful, before he made the suggestion to them.   

But there was no rush. 

They had all the time in the world to figure it out. 

THE END