The Radiant Thunder

Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan have a sort-of honeymoon trip, which involves conversations they should probably have had sooner. Porn with Fluff and Characterization, I-4

Character(s): Shen Wei, Zhao Yunlan

Shen Wei

It took most of a day to get up into the mountains near Dragon City, and to the currently empty retreat facility the University kept. Shen Wei had been there before, shepherding various classes to and from the biosciences observation center a little further north. It was a fairly familiar area, by now, which meant the wave of nostalgia that hit him as they unpacked the car took him by surprise.

Yunlan looked up as he paused. “You okay?” When Shen Wei hesitated, he set down the bag he’d just hauled out and came up behind Shen Wei, arms sliding around his waist. “Air too thin?”

Shen Wei snorted, though he also leaned back into Yunlan. Of course it felt nostalgic; Yunlan was with him this time. “I’m perfectly fine. It just… it reminds me, being up here with you.”

Yunlan’s arms tightened. “Yeah. I can feel some of that, too,” he said, softly. “The feel of this air, and having you near.”

Shen Wei had to close his eyes, feeling his breath shake as he drew it in. He’d never thought he could ever have that again, his lover’s knowledge of what had been. If he could have this memory of sweetness between them, he didn’t care how many of the details Yunlan didn’t know.

Except the ones relating to how to defend himself. Those were clearly necessary.

He lifted a hand to reach back and thread through Yunlan’s hair. “We should finish unpacking.”

“And get settled in?” The curve of his mouth against Shen Wei’s neck suggested what Yunlan would consider ‘settled’.

“Certainly,” he returned, perfectly mild. “I would suggest we begin with meditation.”

Yunlan huffed against his ear. “The one thing I’m not having any trouble at all remembering is that you have an evil sense of humor.” He did let Shen Wei go and grab the duffle again, so Shen Wei didn’t think Yunlan objected too strenuously to getting some work done, first.

Once they’d unpacked everything, though, he could see Yunlan hesitating. There was true uncertainty in the way he started to speak and then stopped, pressing his lips together again. Shen Wei immediately gave in and came to close his hands around Yunlan’s face, leaning in to kiss him, tongue stroking softly over his lower lip. The catch of Yunlan’s breath was sweet to hear, but more reassuring was the way his shoulders loosened as he slid his hands around Shen Wei’s waist. Yunlan obviously noticed it in himself, too, because he murmured against Shen Wei’s mouth, in between quick, soft kisses, “I don’t know why. This is just more of what we’ve done before, right?”

“I think so.” Shen Wei let his hands slide slowly down Yunlan’s throat and over his shoulders, savoring the way his lips parted at the touch. “You haven’t had trouble remembering anything once you’ve reached for it.”

Yunlan paused again, eyes dark and distant for a breath. “Maybe that’s what I’m worried about.”

Shen Wei ruthlessly throttled a surge of sharp disappointment. Yes, he would be far more comfortable if Yunlan were better able to draw on his own power to defend himself, but Shen Wei was perfectly capable of keeping on as he had been. “Do you wish not to, then?” he asked, evenly.

Yunlan studied him for a long moment and finally snorted, one corner of his mouth curling up, though the smile was more wry than amused. “That would just land us back where we started, wouldn’t it?”

Shen Wei dropped his eyes, silent. He hated giving Yunlan answers he didn’t wish to hear. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, softly. “I just… can’t. I can’t watch you die because of what I am, not again.”

“Xiao-Wei.” The aching softness of Yunlan’s voice made him have to swallow hard, and he looked up slowly as the warmth of Yunlan’s hand curved around his cheek. Yunlan’s eyes were dark again, but steady. “Never again,” Yunlan said, certain as he might have said the sun would rise. The tightness in Shen Wei’s chest eased a little at that, and he turned his head to press a kiss into Yunlan’s palm, and whispered against his skin, “Thank you.”

“Come to bed?” Yunlan coaxed, and Shen Wei smiled.

“Yes.”

Yunlan didn’t always have the patience to let Shen Wei undress him, but this time when Shen Wei ran his hands gently up under Yunlan’s t-shirt, Yunlan smiled and lifted his arms to let Shen Wei tug it off. Shen Wei folded it over the back of one of the room’s two arm-chairs and stepped closer to spread his hands against Yunlan’s chest, slow and caressing, and kiss him. Feeling the reality of Yunlan here with him, under his hands, eased the lingering twinge of long hurt and hunger in him, filled empty places with warmth again.

He nudged Yunlan down to sit on the side of the bed, creasing the smooth white spread. He knelt to loosen Yunlan’s boots and pull them off, and then his socks, fingers stroking over the hollow of Yunlan’s ankle, the arch of his foot. It was, he thought, this slow, careful touching that made Yunlan flushed and uncertain, sometimes, when Shen Wei undressed him, but he always leaned into Shen Wei’s hands. Tonight he was doing it even more than usual, leaning forward to meet Shen Wei as he knelt up to kiss Yunlan again, hands sliding up Shen Wei’s arms. Shen Wei pressed closer, letting his arms tighten around Yunlan, stroking his tongue against Yunlan’s, coaxing.

“You are everything that is precious to me, Zhao Yunlan” he murmured against Yunlan’s mouth, and savored the feel of Yunlan relaxing against him. This was one of the most different things, now, how much Yunlan liked being reassured of how he was loved. Shen Wei had to swallow sharp anger over the cause every time he thought about it, and only the knowledge that Yunlan wouldn’t like it if he took direct action was saving Zhao Xinci’s skin, but he didn’t object in the least to how often he could say these things and feel Yunlan ease against him in response.

He slid Yunlan’s jeans down his legs slowly, and smiled at how Yunlan leaned back on his hands, relaxed enough to show off for him. He loved the bright flickers of whimsy his lover had gained in this life, loved how Yunlan laughed as Shen Wei prowled up onto the bed in answer, pressing him back among the scattering pillows.

“You’re overdressed now,” Yunlan told him, laughter still brightening his eyes as he slid his hands down the lapels of the suit jacket Shen Wei had worn out of town, in deference to the Chancellor’s fond notion that this was a working trip and Shen Wei would be writing the start of his next article up here.

“Am I?” Shen Wei murmured, genuinely thoughtful, because sometimes Yunlan liked it if he kept his work clothes mostly on.

Yunlan’s eyes went wide and dark, and he made an inarticulate sound. Shen Wei smiled; yes, this was one of those times. “Maybe just a little,” Yunlan managed, suddenly breathless, fingers stroking down the length of Shen Wei’s tie.

“Why don’t you take care of that, then?” Shen Wei suggested, leaning down to catch Yunlan’s mouth again. He kissed Yunlan slow and easy, taking the opportunity to taste him thoroughly while Yunlan’s fingers tugged loose his tie and left it hanging, unbuttoned his jacket, followed the line of his shirt buttons down to undo his belt and pants. That seemed to be all Yunlan wanted undone, because his fingers stroked over the line of Shen Wei’s cock through his boxers, sending a heavy curl of heat up his spine, before dipping through the fly to draw him out.

Shen Wei growled softly at the teasing, and pressed one thigh up between Yunlan’s legs, rubbing fine wool very gently against his bare cock. Yunlan groaned and grabbed for his shoulders again, rocking up against his thigh, and Shen Wei nipped softly at his lower lip, satisfied. When Yunlan tipped his head back, offering, Shen Wei promptly gathered Yunlan up against him and bent his head to bite gently up and down Yunlan’s throat, enjoying the way Yunlan gasped with each bite, arching up under him. He loved that Yunlan enjoyed this, that he could give free rein to his possessive urge to mark Yunlan’s skin and know that it brought Yunlan pleasure.

Yunlan moaned, hands clenched in the fabric of Shen Wei’s jacket. “Xiao-Wei, fuck me. Fuck me now.”

Shen Wei stilled, staring down at Yunlan, heat washing over him in a tingling sweep. “Just like this?”

“Fuck yes.” Yunlan flailed an arm out for his jeans, still draped over the side of the bed, and rummaged out a foil packet to slap into Shen Wei’s hand.

Shen Wei laughed and leaned down for another kiss, fierce and deep and delighted with his lover. “All right.” He knelt back long enough to tear the packet open and squeeze out a palmful of slick to stroke over himself. Yunlan watched him, eyes dark and hot, sprawled out against the bed like an invitation.

Which was undoubtedly the case, since Yunlan knew quite well what it did to Shen Wei to see him so relaxed in Shen Wei’s hands.

Yunlan made an approving sound as Shen Wei slid his hands down Yunlan’s thighs to catch his knees and spread him wider. He reached up to drape his arms over Shen Wei’s shoulders as Shen Wei leaned over him, smiling up at Shen Wei, warm end encouraging. Shen Wei needed a breath for self-control in face of that warmth before he pushed into Yunlan, slow and steady pressure against the tightness of his entrance until the muscles finally eased and Yunlan groaned, relaxing under him. Shen Wei’s breath cut into quick, hard gasps at the slow slide into fierce heat, grip turning bruisingly tight around Yunlan’s thighs as he forced himself to keep it slow.

Yunlan was panting for breath, too. “Oh… oh yes, xiao-Wei…” He moaned as Shen Wei slid all the way in, hands stroking over his shoulders, trailing down the line of his jacket where it fell open over Yunlan’s spread thighs. “Mm, yes.”

Shen Wei caught most of his breath, smiling at the way Yunlan was nearly purring. “Good?”

Yunlan smiled up at him, lazy and pleased. “Really good. Fuck me now? Please?”

“Anything you want, my own. You know that.” Shen Wei shifted enough to run a hand gently through Yunlan’s hair, and Yunlan turned his face to nuzzle into Shen Wei’s hand.

“I know,” he agreed, softly.

Shen Wei slid his hands under Yunlan’s hips and lifted him up, drawing back only to drive in again, hard. Pleasure surged up, and his groan echoed Yunlan’s.

“Feels so… good,” Yunlan gasped, voice breaking over each thrust. “So good… when you’re with me like this.”

Shen Wei’s own voice was rough and husky when he answered. “I will always be with you.” The way Yunlan relaxed into his hands made it very difficult to keep control, and he drove into the heat of Yunlan’s body a little harder. Yunlan smiled up at him, bright and lazy.

“You’re so beautiful, xiao-Wei,” he said, low and breathless. “Just seeing you like this makes me so hard.” He stroked a hand down the dangling line of Shen Wei’s tie and wrapped his fingers around his own cock, stroking himself slow and hard, displaying himself as Shen Wei ground his hips into the curve of Yunlan’s ass. Heat coiled tighter up Shen Wei’s spine in answer, and he leaned down to catch Yunlan’s parted lips and kiss him, deep and fierce.

“Yunlan,” he murmured against Yunlan’s mouth, soft and coaxing, and gasped as Yunlan’s body tightened sharply around him.

Yes,” Yunlan answered on a low groan as he bucked up into Shen Wei’s thrust, coming undone in long shudders. Shen Wei tightened his hands on Yunlan’s hips and fucked the tightness of his body, hard and fast, until the pleasure of it burst through him and he drove in deep, arching over Yunlan, breath broken into hard gasps.

They both settled slowly from the sharp edge of sensation, and Shen Wei eased back to shrug out of his jacket before stretching out with Yunlan. Yunlan pressed close, and Shen Wei gathered him in with a contented sound, running a hand slowly up and down Yunlan’s bare back, tracing his fingers down the lines of long muscle. Yunlan ran his fingers down the buttons of Shen Wei’s shirt, undoing them to spread his hand wide against Shen Wei’s chest, and Shen Wei smiled, cuddling him closer.

He still wondered, at the back of his mind, what had alarmed Yunlan, because this had started as a need for comfort. He’d gotten to recognize that particular need fairly well, he felt. But the other thing he’d gotten to know well was how tight Yunlan would close up if he pressed the question before Yunlan wanted to talk about it. So he let the question rest and just held Yunlan, freely enjoying the feel of his lover lying quiet and relaxed against him.

Zhao Yunlan

Yunlan had never been very enthusiastic about breakfast, as a meal, and had pretty much done away with it as soon as he’d moved out on his own. Shen Wei’s disapproval of this had started to reverse the trend, though, and Yunlan was coming to admit that breakfast had some uses. Xiao-Wei almost never sprang heavy discussions on him until after they’d eaten, for one thing. This morning, xiao-Wei even let both of them get through their respective tea and coffee before he set his cup down with a sigh.

“I wish I knew the reason for this difficulty. Turning aside my power seemed to come to you so easily, I hadn’t thought we’d need to work on it.” Xiao-Wei looked up at him, mouth pulled into a tight line. “I’m sorry.”

Yunlan immediately set down the cup he’d admittedly been using as a delaying tactic. “None of that was your fault.” He paused, judiciously. “Except for the property damage, but even then…” Xiao-Wei looked a bit like he wished he was wearing his glasses so he could adjust them, and Yunlan smiled; distraction successful. Xiao-Wei had a bad habit of taking on all the responsibility, in Yunlan’s opinion. Thinking about that pulled a sigh out of him, too, though. “I think it was easy because it was you. I never have…” he waved a hand as if to catch words for what was still a bizarre feeling when it happened, “arguments with myself, when it’s about you.”

Xiao-Wei smiled, small and private and warm in a way that still made Yunlan’s breath catch to see directed at him. When xiao-Wei held out his hands to Yunlan, blue curling around his fingers, it really was the most natural thing in the world to take them and let that extra depth inside Yunlan reach out in turn. It felt good—close and intimate and easy, and his voice was a little husky when he asked, “What, you don’t believe me?”

“I always believe you,” xiao-Wei answered softly and, just when Yunlan was about to melt, added, “except about antique books.” Yunlan sputtered, but the bright amusement in xiao-Wei’s grin really did kind of melt him and in the end he just pouted at his lover. “If that’s the difference, though,” xiao-Wei continued, ignoring the pout, “you just need to spend more time sparring with Chu Shuzhi and Zhu Hong. That’s manageable.”

Yunlan knew he hadn’t completely concealed his twitch when xiao-Wei’s hands tightened gently around his, and the lingering amusement in xiao-Wei’s eyes turned back to concern. Yunlan sighed and gave in. “It makes me a little nervous, I guess, using my power against other people. I never quite know what’s going to happen, and feeling at ease doesn’t mean I should be at ease, here and now.”

Xiao-Wei’s thumbs stroked over his knuckles, which made him realize how tight his hands were on xiao-Wei’s. When he tried to loosen his grip, though, xiao-Wei wouldn’t let him go. “I thought it would be better if I didn’t push,” xiao-Wei said, quietly, “but if this is the case… let me show you?” Yunlan raised his brows and xiao-Wei smiled. “Let me show you more of what you are?”

Yunlan hesitated for a long moment, but xiao-Wei had a point, and Yunlan had promised. “All right,” he said, finally.

He followed Shen Wei outside, and then off the retreat property entirely, up the mountain until they were scrambling up rock and ducking the branches of scrub trees. When they finally broke out into a clear field, Yunlan glanced down at the roofs of the retreat center a significant distance below and felt completely justified in asking, “Just how dangerous is this going to be?”

Xiao-Wei swiped his hands through his hair, taking it back off his face. He looked quite unfairly beautiful, flushed from the climb and gilded by the early sunlight, and even the hint of mischief in his smile couldn’t entirely stop Yunlan’s thoughts from wandering away from demonstrations of power and toward kissing the red curve of his lips.

“Not very, unless someone gets in between us.”

That pulled Yunlan’s attention back quickly. When xiao-Wei held out his hand and shadowy blue curled and snapped into a familiar glaive, a reflex chill shot down Yunlan’s spine. It was the chill of altitude, of high, thinning air where the blue of the sky darkened, now, rather than the chill of death, but it still sent his own hand reaching out to curl around…

…around what?

Yunlan jerked to a halt, blinking at the wisps of green around his fingers. What was he doing?

“Don’t stop. You know this,” xiao-Wei said, soft and coaxing, even as he spun his glaive behind his shoulders. Yunlan bit back a yelp of protest, because he did know that move, and for all it looked pointlessly showy it was designed to bring a staff weapon swinging around with all the momentum of its length brought to bear, and he’d seen that blade cut through steel. And it wasn’t that he thought xiao-Wei would ever hurt him, but a sparkle of mischief was still in his lover’s eyes, and it sparked an answer from the power whispering through Yunlan’s bones, spun that taste of stone and water out into…

…a staff, wood hard and solid against Yunlan’s palms as he caught the end under the sweep of xiao-Wei’s glaive, shifted a step in and spun the incoming blade up and over and down to slice into the stony ground at their feet. Past and current reflex both sent him back a step to free the engaged end so he could swing the other over and down. Xiao-Wei’s glaive misted away only to snap back into being between his raised hands and catch the crushing shoulder strike before Yunlan had to pull it.

“Okay, now that’s just cheating.” Yunlan was a little breathless with the rush of the exchange, and a little shaky with his uncertainty about his own certainty—worse this time, maybe, because some of his present self was just as certain as his old self.

Xiao-Wei stood perfectly steady under the weight of both their weapons, smiling at Yunlan past them. “Not if we’re both doing it.” He probably felt Yunlan’s faint shift back through the staff, because his smile softened. “Yunlan. You won’t hurt me; I promise. And this is something you know now, as well as you did then.”

Yunlan blinked. “Wait, how did you know that?” It had actually been a while since he’d trained much with staff, certainly longer than xiao-Wei had been living with him.

“You aren’t a man to keep weapons around for show,” xiao-Wei said, simply. “And there’s still a short and a long staff in your workout room.” While Yunlan was busy being warmed by that easy faith in him, xiao-Wei shifted his weight and slid Yunlan’s staff along his glaive and off to one side, spinning full circle to bring the blade sweeping back around.

Yunlan was laughing as he swept his staff to the side to deflect it upward and snap the iron-shod end toward xiao-Wei’s ribs.

He’d never asked to spar with xiao-Wei before. A few of his teachers, over the years, had been from traditional lineages, however much his father had disapproved of such ‘outdated attitudes’. In every movement the Envoy made, Yunlan had recognized the original shape of what those styles still held a hint of. Xiao-Wei had not trained for health or strength or self-defense. Xiao-Wei fought to disable and kill, every move brutally focused and nothing held back. He was beautiful to watch, and never careless with his strength, but Yunlan hadn’t been entirely sure xiao-Wei even knew how to pull his blows, when he had that sword in his hand.

The answer was obvious now, as they spun around each other, weapons sweeping through the air fast and sure, but carefully leashed. Even beyond than that familiar, caught-back tension… xiao-Wei was laughing. When Yunlan spun his staff over his wrist in a blatant intimidation move, xiao-Wei downright smirked at him. Yunlan wasn’t actually surprised when xiao-Wei answered with a burst of shifting blue force that Yunlan had to step wide around, straight into the next cut from xiao-Wei’s glaive.

He was a bit surprised when his own response was to throw up a green-wreathed hand to stop the blade and give him time to swing his staff out and around. But only because of how smooth it felt—not an echo, this time, but like the flex of his muscles, hot and now and real. It was so easy, to lean into that smooth stretch and meet xiao-Wei on his own level, to meet that twist of force and intent with his own, like another pair of weapons spinning and weaving through each other.

The clearing was quite a bit wider, and the ground even more rough, by the next time they paused. Yunlan could feel sweat trickling down his spine, about the only place his t-shirt wasn’t sticking to him, and he was definitely going to have a huge bruise across his thigh, where xiao-Wei had gotten through with the flat of his blade. Probably a few more he wasn’t feeling yet, too. Across from him, xiao-Wei was in similar shape, panting for breath, hair ruffled wildly, left arm held just a little stiffly. When their eyes met, they both started laughing.

Xiao-Wei opened his hand and released his glaive back into a brief swirl of blue. Yunlan straightened slowly, planting his staff upright to lean on it a little as he stretched. “That looked easy, but somehow I don’t think it is.” He ran his thumb down the hard, seasoned wood of the staff. “So how do I put this away again?”

Xiao-Wei came and laid his hand over Yunlan’s. “Here. Can you feel…?”

Already extended a ways beyond his skin, it was easy this time to feel the tug back and in and away. Yunlan opened his hand and let the staff be potential instead of realization, again. Xiao-Wei’s smile softened, and his hand lingered on Yunlan’s.

“That looked almost exactly like it used to.” And then his smile slid away and Yunlan swore internally, because he obviously hadn’t been able to conceal his flinch. “Yunlan?”

Yunlan looked down, running his free hand through his hair, and held a rapid debate with himself. Could he put this off again? Probably. Would Shen Wei still be increasingly worried if he did? Yes.

Fuck.

“It’s just… every now and then I wonder if you want Kunlun back,” he said as casually as he could, not looking up.

“I do have you back.” Shen Wei sounded like what he was worried about now was whether he’d hit Yunlan on the head and not noticed.

Yunlan took a slow breath to keep his voice even. “Except I’m not. I’m not Kunlun, even if I remember some things. I’m Zhao Yunlan.” And that had never really been good enough.

Cool hands closed around his face and lifted it, and Yunlan’s breath caught at the look on Shen Wei’s face. His lover looked perfectly at peace, eyes warm, smile small and serene.

“You are yourself, just as you always have been,” Shen Wei said, so softly it froze Yunlan in place. “For over ten thousand years, you have lived and fought and grieved and loved, and every life you have lived has made your soul what it is today. From that soul grew Zhao Yunlan, the man who leads his people with wisdom and cunning.” Shen Wei leaned in and kissed him, very gently. “Who burns boiling water and doesn’t know what a dresser is for.” He kissed the faint sputter of protest off Yunlan’s lips, smiling. “Who has compassion in his heart, even for those he was taught to hate.” He stroked his thumbs along Yunlan’s cheeks, eyes holding his, dark and serious. “That man, that soul, is the one I love, just as I always have.”

Yunlan had to swallow before he could find his voice, struck breathless all over again by the enormity of that love. “Xiao-Wei.”

Xiao-Wei’s smile turned brighter. “Exactly. Didn’t you tell me that was your name for me?”

“Yeah.” Yunlan reached out to settle his hands on xiao-Wei’s hips. “I guess I did.”

Xiao-Wei took a step closer, right up against him, and kissed him again, slower this time, deliberate and sensual. “I’m yours, Zhao Yunlan,” he murmured against Yunlan’s mouth. “All of me, for all of time. Remember that.”

Warmth curled through Yunlan, breathless and sweet with that promise, sinking down and down and relaxing something he hadn’t been entirely aware he was keeping tensed. And suddenly he could feel xiao-Wei, feel the immense potential of him as clearly as the body in his arms, vast and sharp and chill as the thin blue of a winter sky.

He could feel the weight of the mountain under their feet, rolling up toward the sky, and the leap of water running down, reaching through the plains. He could feel xiao-Wei reaching out with him, power and presence skimming along his like the slide of xiao-Wei’s tongue against his, sweeping down here and there in a wet, coaxing kiss that sent the waters rushing faster. He could feel the sharp, wild tingle of delight and desire, where xiao-Wei wrapped around him, and the vibration through both their bodies as thunder rumbled.

Thunder?

Yunlan drew back with a blink from the rush of sensation and glanced upward just in time to get a raindrop right between the eyes from the suddenly dark sky above. “Hey!”

Xiao-Wei leaned against him, burying a laugh in his shoulder, and Yunlan could still taste xiao-Wei’s dizzy joy along the edges of himself. Yunlan caught him closer, breathless. How had he ever closed that off? “Xiao-Wei…”

“This,” xiao-Wei said, against his ear as the rain started coming down seriously. “When we did this, that’s when I knew you were trying to get me into bed.”

Yunlan recalled what he’d asked, back the first time xiao-Wei had wrapped his power around Yunlan’s, and laughed. In comparison, yes, that had been more like xiao-Wei leaning against his shoulder on the office couch. This was… he let the flow of presence and potential twined between them surge up in his senses again and shuddered with the intensity. “Yeah.” He leaned in to kiss the rain off xiao-Wei’s lips. Xiao-Wei’s fingers slid into his hair, starting to be tangled with the wet, and he made an impatient sound against Yunlan’s mouth. Chill closed around them, and Yunlan laughed again as the sweep of xiao-Wei’s power dropped them directly onto their bed at the retreat center.

Fortunately, their clothes hadn’t gotten wet enough to make them hard to get off.

Yunlan spread a hand against xiao-Wei’s bare chest, pressing him back against the sheets. “Let me?”

Xiao-Wei relaxed under him, easy and smiling, palms sliding down his ribs. “Of course.”

Yunlan straddled xiao-Wei’s hips and reached back with slick fingers to fondle xiao-Wei’s cock, grinning at the way xiao-Wei moaned, feeling long fingers tighten on his thighs. The answer was always ‘of course’. He knew xiao-Wei would give him anything he asked—at least his head had always known it. He’d certainly tested it often enough. Now, with the weight of xiao-Wei’s power still laced through his, the slide of xiao-Wei’s presence across his like skin across skin, he thought the rest of him might know it, too.

He shifted back, one hand guiding xiao-Wei’s cock against him, and let out his breath, deliberately relaxing into the hard stretch as he sank down. It felt hot and good and immediate, the perfect balance for how stretched out his senses still were, and his groan wrapped around xiao-Wei’s. It was so good to plant his hands against xiao-Wei’s chest and move with him, rolling his hips down as xiao-Wei rocked up to meet him. “Fuck, yes,” Yunlan gasped, eyes half closed.

Xiao-Wei’s hands slid up his thighs and over his hips, open and caressing, and his eyes were dark with heat as he looked up at Yunlan. “My own.” It was a statement, as much as an endearment, and Yunlan felt it stroke through him, heavy with xiao-Wei’s intent. It wrung a low moan out of him, and he ground down onto xiao-Wei’s cock, welcoming the way his muscles stretched around that hardness because it grounded him, made the whole weight of sensation into pleasure.

“Always,” he returned xiao-Wei’s promise, shuddering as it resonated through them both and outward. The curve of xiao-Wei’s lips was slow and satisfied, and Yunlan felt the sweetness of it stroke down his nerves. He felt the deepest, oldest parts of him open up to that sweetness as he rode the thrust of xiao-Wei’s cock, letting the movement roll through his whole body.

He could feel xiao-Wei’s body pulling taut, under him, feel the edge coming in the urgency of xiao-Wei’s hands on him. He wanted that, too, wanted to stay together for the end of this, so he slid a hand down to wrap around his own cock, gasping with the new layer of pleasure.

Yunlan.” Xiao-Wei’s voice was rough, on his name, and the hot weight of his eyes on Yunlan made him grin, breathless.

“Yeah.” And fuck but Shen Wei was gorgeous like this, flushed and alive and abandoned to the pleasure building between them, hair damp with sweat and falling over his forehead, eyes fixed on Yunlan, dark and devouring. Yunlan thought maybe that sight alone would be enough to undo him—that sight and the knowledge that he was the reason for it. Him now, all of him, and not any ghost in xiao-Wei’s memory. One more stroke of his hand down his cock, in time with the rock of xiao-Wei’s hips, and he was gone, groaning out loud as the heavy pleasure winding through him caught fire and burst down every nerve, body wringing even tighter around the thickness of xiao-Wei’s cock. Xiao-Wei’s moan was low and velvety and unrestrained, and the sound of it sent another shudder down Yunlan’s spine, sent him reaching for xiao-Wei with all his senses, hands and heart and all, glorying in how tightly they were twined together. When the rush of pleasure eased, he slid down to sprawl over xiao-Wei, panting for breath and laughing, entirely pleased to feel xiao-Wei’s arms wind around him.

“Thank you,” xiao-Wei murmured against his ear.

Yunlan leaned up on his elbows to blink down at him, combing his fingers through xiao-Wei’s hair. “For what?”

Xiao-Wei smiled up at him, small and sweet. “For reaching back to me.”

Yunlan froze for a moment, really thinking about the overwhelming intimacy and sweetness of touching the way they had been. Of how it might feel to have that and then think it was lost. The very thought made his throat tight and his voice husky. “Xiao-Wei.” Xiao-Wei promptly pulled Yunlan back down against him.

“Stop blaming yourself. You didn’t know. And I didn’t care, as long as you could bear my presence without harm.” His hands slid up and down Yunlan’s back, slow and caressing. After a long moment, Yunlan let himself relax into them, into that unending care that was the reason he put up with xiao-Wei’s occasional high-handedness.

“You’re welcome, then,” he murmured against the line of xiao-Wei’s throat, and couldn’t help laughing at the satisfied sound xiao-Wei made.

Yunlan snuggled closer and let the flow of their power, over and around and through each other, comfort them both.

Shen Wei

When they stepped out of the retreat center that evening, Shen Wei stopped short, startled.

He’d expected some effect from the way their potentiality had laced together and swept out from them like a wave breaking; he’d felt the sliding shift as his own had tipped into actuality, and the answering surge as Yunlan moved with him. The storm that had drenched them before he’d taken them back inside had been of Shen Wei’s own making.

He hadn’t quite expected this, though.

The slope of the mountain glittered with pockets of hail, and more than one patch of scrub was scorched and smoldering, lightning-struck. He could see patches of dark stone and rubble, freshly sheered off the mountain’s weathered faces. He could still hear the rush of water running off, even hours later, and the streams running down to the plain below were white with froth. At the same time, he could hear more birds than he had when they’d gone out in the morning, and the wind off the mountain was gentle for all that it was chill with the approach of evening.

Beside him, Yunlan cleared his throat. “Did, ah. Did we do that?”

“Yes.” Shen Wei glanced over and smiled at Yunlan’s blush. “I’d honestly forgotten just how far our reach goes when we’re together like that. I expect the whole eastern quarter of this range will be… more awake.” He cast a rueful look at the storm front only now spending itself out, well beyond Dragon City. “I hope they got the flash flood warnings out in time.”

Yunlan’s mouth twitched twice before he gave in and folded up on Shen Wei’s shoulder, laughing. “And the Minister wanted to get us out of town so he could release the news calmly!”

“No one in the city will see it as anything but a freak storm,” Shen Wei pointed out, with the benefit of considerable experience in what humans did and didn’t notice.

“For now.” Yunlan straightened up, still snickering. “Do you want to bet no one will remember, once news starts getting around about us?”

“Not particularly,” Shen Wei admitted, sliding a hand around Yunlan’s waist. “Will you mind?” Having finally figured out what had been bothering—and apparently inhibiting—Yunlan, he wanted to be careful of it.

Yunlan’s smile for him was sweet. “No. You’re the one who matters, and I believe you when you say it’s me you want.” He turned to drape his arms over Shen Wei’s shoulders and murmur against his lips, “I believe you all the way down.”

Shen Wei drew him closer and kissed him, slow and gentle. “It’s you,” he agreed quietly, and smiled. “You all the way down.”

The depth of Yunlan’s presence reached for him, and he reached back, letting his power curl around Yunlan’s, and heard Yunlan echo his small sound of contentment. They leaned together in the courtyard of the retreat center, quiet and at ease. Let people talk, when that time came, Shen Wei decided. It would mean the breaking of some very old habits, but Yunlan was right.

This was all that mattered.

Zhao Yunlan

Their first day back at work they were nearly mobbed at the front door.

“Are you both okay?” Da Qing demanded, leaping out of Lin Jing’s arms to pounce on Yunlan and dig his claws into yet another jacket. “We could feel the earthquakes from here!”

“Not to mention the storm.” Lin Jing, at least, seemed more concerned with blotting his new claw-scratches than interrogating his boss.

“Shen da-ge?” Zhu Hong put in, glancing back and forth between them with a frown of genuine concern instead of the mock-glare the team saw more often. “Is everything all right?”

Xiao-Wei glanced over at Yunlan, eyes a little wide, which was about how Yunlan felt. “You, ah. You all noticed?” Yunlan essayed, not admitting exactly what they might have noticed just yet. He was kind of hoping one of them would tell him.

It was lao-Chu who rolled his eyes, just as if he hadn’t been hovering right behind Zhu Hong. “Half the Yashou noticed the storm wasn’t natural, and pretty much all the visitors from Dixing. We got a couple questions coming in from them.”

That pulled xiao-Wei right back into the swing of his responsibilities, which Yunlan couldn’t very well protest but certainly could regret a bit. “Please reassure them that nothing is wrong,” xiao-Wei said firmly. “There was merely some spill-over in the process of re-acclimating to my power being unbound.”

There was a pause while the team looked at them, and then at each other. Yunlan sighed. He liked that he had a team of smart people, good investigators who could put pieces together, but sometimes it was also a pain in the ass.

“Some spill-over, huh?” Da Qing transformed, apparently just so that he could waggle his eyebrows meaningfully. He ducked out of range, laughing, before Yunlan could swat him. Lin Jing was snickering, and xiao-Guo was blushing, and Zhu Hong was very obviously stifling laughter, mouth crimped up at the corners and eyes dancing. He Niu rolled his eyes at all of them and turned for the stairs with the air of the only adult in the whole room, and Zhang Shi was grinning like she was considering taking Yunlan out for a congratulatory drink. About the only good thing was the faint color on xiao-Wei’s cheeks, which never failed to make him look twice as delicious as usual.

Which was, actually, perhaps not the best thing to be thinking right this moment.

Yunlan ignored the heat in his own face and waved his hands at them, shooing them toward the desks. “Don’t you all have work do to?”

They scattered, nearly all of them laughing, now. Yunlan supposed it was good that they thought this was funny and not alarming, but neither he nor xiao-Wei could quite look at each other as they headed back toward his office.

Once the door was closed behind them, it was actually Shen Wei who managed to lay hands on his composure first, looking over at Yunlan with a faint huff of laughter. “Back to work, hm?”

“Back to normal,” Yunlan agreed, rolling his eyes.

Well, it wasn’t like he hadn’t known they were all assholes when he hired them.

Xiao-Wei paused, though, like he’d heard something else. “Yes?” Suddenly he looked hesitant again, chin tucked down as he stretched out a hand, shifting blue curling around his fingers.

Oh.

Yunlan reached back, because there was no way he could not reach back to xiao-Wei, even if the delicate brush of nearly-actuality made him think things that were very inappropriate for work. It felt like xiao-Wei, after all.

And it felt like himself, too.

He stepped closer and brushed a soft kiss over xiao-Wei’s lips. “Yes,” he agreed again, and then had to catch his breath at the brilliance of xiao-Wei’s smile. “See you this evening,” he added, just because it was still a kick to be able to say it so casually.

Yeah, he understood why this made xiao-Wei so happy.

“Until then.” Xiao-Wei closed the office door behind him with a faint chime of glass.

Yunlan dropped into his chair and gave himself a moment to smile at the ceiling before he started on his mail. His past was still going to take some getting used to, but he felt like he was finding his balance, now. Like maybe all that weight wasn’t not-him. It was a bit like he’d felt right after the Lamp, and yet different. Less like he was Kunlun, and more like Kunlun was him.

Yunlan thought he could live with that.

End