Background: In episode 33, Zhao Yunlan went to Dixing Realm to ‘rescue’ his Professor. After they returned to SID, Shen Wei wanted to return home alone. Of course, our Chief would not allow Shen to be out of his sight. This scene took after Chief Zhao, and Professor Shen watched the sunset together. The next morning Zhao left with Old Chu and Da Qing without his Professor.
Breathe. Just breathe.
Like meditation, one could even forget their pain. Steady breaths sustained a stable mind. His subconscious kept reminding him to remain in control, as they reached his apartment. A few more minutes and he would be upon the threshold of his home. Behind closed doors! Away from the Chief’s anxious eyes, who had yet to allow him even a reprieve from his undivided attention.
Like a sixth sense, it had never escaped Professor Shen, the countless times he had caught the Chief stealing a glance or more. Beyond a curiosity, the man continued to study him like an unsolvable puzzle. Zhao Yunlan was the type who could never let go of any enigma that came his way. Hence, the Chief had remained by his side.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Shen said quickly, as he entered his home. The door was halfway open, when a hand shot out to stop it from closing.
“Are you alright?” The Chief’s eyes narrowed, his brows lined with worry.
There was nothing that could pass this man. Luckily, Shen had always been accustomed to pain, but Zhao Yunlan was not someone who could be easily deceived. His playful personality had always been a facade. Zhao Yunlan could read people like a book. Ironically, the man himself lacked the concentration to read anything longer than common reports and the newspaper; always leaving the research to others, as he focused his guts and deductive skills on solving cases.
Shen gave his most relaxed smile, despite the chill that began to grow. “I haven’t slept for days,” he explained, “I just need a good night sleep." Mentally, he used his last ounce of powers to heat his body.
Stepping closer, the Chief leaned in, his lashes lowered. “I can help you sleep,” he suggested casually, but his smile conveyed more than a simple nap.
Speechless, the Professor had almost forgotten why he wanted to make the Chief scarce. If not for the sudden stabbing pain in his chest that quickly returned him to reality, Shen may have taken the offer without hesitation.
“Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll sleep better alone.” The flustered Professor closed the door on the Chief. However, once the door was closed, Shen could only hold on to the frame to keep himself from falling. A mustered cough broke. He could taste the blood in his mouth. With his reserved energy, he pushed himself away from the door, fearing that Zhao might hear him. Shen was barely halfway to his bedroom, when a sudden knock broke his concentration. Turning back too quickly, Shen lost his balance, and collapsed on his knees and hands.
“Shen Wei?” Zhao’s voice could be heard, capturing Shen’s full attention. His worst fear! Why was he back?
“Shen Wei?” the knock came again. But before Shen Wei could rise, the door burst open.
“I knew it! Why didn't you tell me?”, the Chief growled once he reached his side. Zhao pulled Shen’s body into his arms. He felt Shen’s forehead. “Your body is freezing!”
“It’ll pass soon,” Shen tried to reassure him, though he couldn’t control his painful expression.
“We’ve talked about this,” the Chief tightened his grip, his body hardened. “You have to stop hiding things from me.”
“I’m sorry! I...” Shen coughed again. His head was feeling light. His vision began to blur.
“Save your apologies,” the Chief said brusquely, though his tone remained on edge. “I'll take you to the hospital.”
Zhao began to rise, but Shen shook his head. “It won’t do much good. I’m a Dixing. This is not something they could treat.”
“Then,” the Chief began, Shen could feel Zhao’s arms squeezing tightly around him, "what can I do to help you?”
Shen’s head shook. “There’s nothing you could do. I need some time to...” Zhao suddenly rose to his feet, with Shen in his arms. “Yunlan?”
“For once, Professor Shen," the Chief growled under his breath, "let me take care of you.”
If Shen had any strength left, he would have protested, but he couldn't even lift a finger. With a slight nod, Shen’s consciousness began to slip, as his head rested on Zhao's shoulder. The Professor felt he was being lifted, heading into the unknown. His mind began to retreat. Yet, every fiber and every cell,… his body, knew that he was safe. Protected. Cherished.
All because Yunlan was here.
Professor Shen awoke to the feeling of warmth. A strange soothing sensation relaxed his muscles. The pain had dissipated, while only the lingering numb sensation remained. His eyes fluttered, then scanned his surroundings. The room was unnaturally bright, although a dense white mist was present. Shen Wei soon realized that he was in his sizeable antique bathtub soaking in warm steaming water. However, even between the haze of his clouded mind, something didn't seem right. The tub was much smaller than he remembered. Only then did the muddled Professor realize that there was someone else in the bath with him.
Slowly, cautiously, his head turned and lifted, staring directly at the eyes of Zhao Yunlan. Though fantasy and reality could be vastly different, Shen Wei couldn’t possibly dismiss that it was a just dream. Especially now, when his mind had reached clarity. The Chief was covered in waves of water droplets, his damp wavy hair in perfect disarray. While his inviting plump lips were the color of midnight rose, his hypnotic iris seemed to have a life of their own. Sultry with titillating awareness, the subtle brown lining vibrant with desire! Could this man get any sexier?
Embarrassed would be an understatement. “Yun-Yunlan?” the Professor whispered hoarsely.
“Shhhh…Don’t use your strength,” the Chief murmured warmly. His wet palm touched Shen’s cheek, while Zhao’s arm remained around his waist. “You’re as weak as a newborn babe.”
Dazed and confused, Shen instinctively pulled away, but the arm around him was firm. “Why are we...?”
“If your core temperature was going to drop any further, I was afraid...,” he paused. Shen Wei felt a slight tremor in Zhao’s body before he continued. “This was the only option. Though it took some time to warm you up.”
“But why are you...” Shen stopped short before he could finish his sentence. Head lowered, cheeks flaming! Memories of their first shower flooded his mind. Shen tried to suppress them, but he couldn't. Especially now that Shen was unclothed, being held intimately by Yunlan who was also bare as the day he was born. How could he possibly think of anything else?
He heard a chuckle from Zhao, who then tilted his head to the side. “Why am I also in the tub with you?” the Chief asked with a hint of amusement in his voice.
Professor Shen slowly nodded.
“To keep you from sinking under the water, of course! I can’t allow you to drown under my watch,” Zhao answered logically. But after a short silence, there was still no response from Shen. The quick-witted Chief reached his conclusion. “Ah hah! By any chance, you were thinking that I am the type who would take advantage of someone who was unconscious?”
Consumed by sudden guilt, Shen anxiously turned to face Zhao. “I-I...”
“Shen Wei,” the Chief said softly, as he leaned forward, their noses barely touching. The smile had left his face, Zhao whispered, “you thought so low of me?”
“No...I didn’t mean...”
Suddenly, Zhao’s hand grasped the side of his neck. Shocked by the sudden action, Professor Shen tried to turn, but his lips were seized. Words of protest smothered. Smoothly and deliberately, Zhao dove his tongue between the parting lips, and swiftly drew Shen’s tongue against his. Like a mating dance lost through time, they were consumed, devoured within the cloud of primal ecstasy. A low moan escaped his lips, followed by an impatient groan from the Chief. Breaths synchronized, their long overdue kiss was nothing like their first. Yet, Shen couldn’t place why it was so different.
Once the everlasting kiss broke, astonishingly withdrawn by Zhao, himself, Shen could only stare back at the Chief in awe.
Zhao, surrounded by the haze of white suspended water droplets, his piercing eyes grew vibrant with passion. Almost mystic, the Wolf, the Guardian of Dragon City would be etched forever into his very soul. “I never said, I was not tempted,” the Wolf whispered in velvety sweetness, even more so than mango nectar. Zhao’s grip loosened. His hand began to explore Shen's body.
Blushing from head to toe, the Professor caught his roaming hand. Although in Shen's weakened state, the Chief could have continued, but he stopped. “Yunlan...," Professor Shen breathed unsteadily, "You said you wouldn’t take advantage,” he reminded him before his sanity slipped.
“While you were unconscious, of course, I wouldn’t,” the Chief said in a dignified manner, before his deceptive clever words come into play, “but are you unconscious now?”
Blinking once, twice, and thrice, Professor Shen couldn’t form even a sound. This man… Could he ever win against him? But Zhao was not yet finished with his ploy. Setting the lure, the Chief's smoky eyes bore, drawing the Professor's full attention before the bait was strung.
“Professor Shen, you’re an avid reader, are you not?” the Chief asked, as his other hand traced Shen's jawline with his thumb. Every nerve tingled from his touch. “Do you know other ways to heat up the body temperature besides a warm bath?”
“Yunlan…” Shen pleaded though he wasn't sure what he wanted. Still gasping for the breath of life, Professor Shen felt Zhao draw him closer, his flushed body pressed against Zhao's heated flesh. With deliberate and gentle skills, the Chief began to entice, tease, wield Shen’s body to his command.
Sending waves of pleasure that resonated through every cell, the Chief coaxed against Shen's ear, “Do you want me to stop? I won’t go further if you don’t want me to.” Zhao's deep voice wrapped around Shen like a cloak, seducing him with its warmth, ensnaring his senses. The Chief pulled back slightly. His dark eyes flickered to Shen's moistened lips. "Xiao Wei, should I stop?", Zhao asked again.
Caught completely by the sly Wolf, who was the Chief, with no strength to resist, Shen's lashes lowered. "I...I don't know," his trembling voice barely whispered. But when the Chief leaned in, Shen immediately shut his eyes. His body stiffened, then quivered uncontrollably, despite the warmth of the water.
"Xiao Wei, I'm just teasing you. Don't be frightened," the Chief cupped the side of Shen's face with his hand. When Professor Shen lifted his gaze, he never expected to see Zhao’s tormented eyes staring back at him. "Do you think I would..." his voice trailed off, and his expression hardened. “I was upset. You scared me today. In fact, I’ve been living in hell since you went away. But do you know what frightened me the most?” Zhao asked, with a strained husky note in his timbre.
Speechless by the sudden change in his demeanor, Professor Shen couldn't muster a word.
“When you keep things from me. When you don’t trust me enough to shoulder your burden,” Zhao’s body shook, his gaze overcast by clouded shadows, yet perplexed. The Chief asked in a broken tone, “Xiao Wei, do you have such little faith in me?”
Since the beginning, when humanity had risen, fallen, and rebuilt, Shen Wei was one of the few men who had lived through them all. For a Dixing from a world of violence, he had grown accustomed to wounds of the flesh, enduring countless injuries. Never had Shen troubled others. Never had he asked for assistance! Never had he uttered a word of his suffering! That was his habit, custom…,his conditioned existence. As the leader, the pillar, he had to stay strong to keep others from falling.
But nothing could have prepared him for the words that could shatter his destined existence. Words of pain, disappointment, and betrayal, which pierced even his hardened soul. How could he, Black Cloak, the Protector of Law and Order of the world above and below, be so wrong?
“I...I’m sorry,” the Professor choked. He desperately searched for the words to explain himself, but he couldn’t. His unshed tears began to fall. Distressed, Shen Wei tried to pull away, but Zhao was always one step ahead.
Shifting his body around, the Chief gathered him close. He held him gently, but firmly. “No, no...Xiao Wei, please don’t cry,” Zhao begged. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have.”
The man never once allowed him to escape his grasp. Figuratively, or literally! Shen was forever trapped within Zhao’s embrace; soothed by his touch, fluttered by his presence.
Helplessness couldn’t even describe his turmoiled emotions. But the Chief always knew how to ease his worry, and began to brush his lips lightly against Shen’s with restraint, unlike his former self. Tracing the tip of his tongue along the bottom of Shen's mouth, Zhao parted his lips ever so slightly, in tantalizing patience. Drawing him closer, calming his senses. Shen was lost in the all-consuming passion of the man who refused to let him go.
His worries vanished, his mind began to slip. Until Shen was lost entirely in the warm haze of darkness, falling into the abyss once more.
After they had returned from the world below, the Chief felt hopeful, relieved. Most of all, Zhao thought he could finally share Shen's burden. But he should have known there was nothing simple when it came to his Professor. The one who remained silent. The one who would rather suffer alone, than utter a word of distress. When Zhao crashed into his apartment, his heart had stopped. Shen was barely holding on, his breath as icy as the first breeze of snow. With no recourse, he had to warm him up as quickly as he could.
The first bath had done nothing. Even the water had turned cold. It took several baths for traces of color to return to Shen's face. By then, Zhao had decided to climb into the chilly water himself, while he gathered Shen close in his arms. Not because it was necessary, but because he was afraid. Terrified for what might come. Even his nightmares could not compare to the agony of waiting for Shen Wei's consciousness to return.
For days he had waited. Waiting for his Professor to come back to him. But he never did. So the Chief made up his mind to go to Dixing Realm to get him back. He would never have imagined that his Professor was a prisoner tied up, while he sat around doing nothing for days. Zhao had never felt so useless, powerless. Whenever he was in trouble, Shen was always by his side. His shield! His Protector, but most importantly, Shen was his partner.
If Zhao Yunlan could not even protect the one true to his heart, what good was he?
Although, even saying that, Zhao still managed to make his Professor cry. Zhao Yunlan! Ah, Zhao Yunlan...when will you learn? As he watched his Professor in peaceful slumber throughout the night, the Chief, the Guardian, still felt helpless. If only he could make time stand still...
But life never stops its cruel reminders, because the phone immediately rang. Sighing, Zhao answered. “Chief! Where are you? You're not in the apartment.” Da Qing's anxious voice was on the other end.
“I'm next door. What's the problem now?” the Chief climbed off the bed, and walked a few steps away by the bedroom door.
While Da Qing relayed the message, Shen had woken up despite Zhao's effort to remain quiet. The Chief gave Da Qing his instructions before turning his full attention to his Professor.
“Yunlan?” Shen's face was still pale, but it was not as bad as the day before.
“I’m here," Zhao returned to the bed.