Background: This scene took place the day before they caught up with Ye Zun. Story continuation of Episode 35 Part 1.
There comes a time when such violence is a necessity for peace. Only the most powerful could decide the fate of others. The ever-changing tides balanced on an uncertain fate; when humanity’s future laid in wait.
As for the Black Cloak Envoy, most would believe he was used to bloodshed. But each slice, each kill, had yet to harden his soul. Sentiments would doom any leader. Death was death. That’s why love and affection are unfamiliar feelings among his kind. Even with their powers, their low numbers still put them at a disadvantage. To have emotions or attachments could only bring distractions - a disastrous proportion with the battle looming on the horizon
His army had gathered quickly for the past few days to collect intel and discuss tactical plans for the impending battle. Their leader, the Black Cloak Envoy, was the answer to their prayers. As their savior and source of powers, Shen Wei couldn’t afford to be distracted. However, in the past few days, he had been distrait, confused, and absent-minded.
No one should be blamed but himself.
Despite what happened that night, Kunlun had astonishingly reverted to his former self, come the next morning. Neither has slept since. Both sat back after Kunlun released his arm, their gazes averted. Without a word to break the silence, the only sound was the flickering of the burning charcoal nearby and the soothing hush of the wind passing through the canyons. Under the diminishing stars, they waited for the arrival of dawn, with only the whispering breezes of the grassland to settle the tension in the air. By the following morning, the scattered Dixing army had arrived, leaving no opportunity for further discussion of what had transpired the night before.
Since the Warriors' arrival, Kunlun had given Shen space to perform his duties. While Shen Wei was occupied with his people, his Savior would continuously chatter among the soldiers from all levels alike. His attentiveness drew even the most suspicious warrior out of their shell. Unlike Shen Wei, who had his strengths to keep others in line, Kunlun seemed to have the ability to attract loyalty without powers or threats.
What was it about this man who could defuse any situation without resorting to bloodshed?
What’s even more astounding was that Kunlun understood the plight of the Dixing people and the suffering they had endured since the meteorite fell on Haixing. He recognized how the lack of resources would make even the most honorable do the unthinkable. Never once did he blame the rogue Dixings for their choices, which had led to this war.
How was it possible? Shen Wei had asked himself this many times since he met his Savior. This man has no prejudice, nor anger. He understood, and he fought beside them.
Not surprisingly, with such a liberal and open attitude, it didn’t even take more than a day for Dixing warriors to surround Kunlun like bees to a honeypot. Much to Shen’s vexation. He tried not to pay attention, but every casual touch, smile, and tease Kunlun gave to other warriors, made his chest clench. His fury kindled, dark colors washed over his face, as he was weighed down by the unbearable attention Kunlun gave to others. Does this man never cease to flirt?
What was wrong with him? Black Cloak had decided duties was more important than personal relationships from day one. But this man was unlike others. Still, despite Kunlun maintaining his distance for days, he was never far. Heedful and alert, Kunlun was a forever supportive anchor and positive energy towards their people’s future. The slight irritation quickly diminished whenever it rose, because Kunlun would always break away from others, and make his way back to Shen’s side.
What’s puzzling, was that Kunlun still refuses to tell him his truest desire so that Shen could be released from his debt. A part of him wanted to ask again, but another part resisted, making him ponder, does he really want to be free from his obligation?
Why did the words sound so familiar, yet distanced?
“Xiao Wei….Xiao Wei, are you listening?”
The moony Shen finally heard Kunlun’s low repeated whisper, snapping out of his daydream. Still holding on to the latest intel he had received not long ago, they had settled at their new camp. While the soldiers were preparing dinner for their most recent hunt, Shen and Kunlun had been going over tactical plans.
Turning to face Kunlun, the embarrassed Shen asked, “I’m sorry, what did you ask?”
“What did your people gather? As you know, I can’t read our language,” Kunlun murmured under this breath, not wanting others to know. Shen felt a warmth in his chest. The secret no others know. Once again, Shen Wei has found out something about Kunlun.
“According to the report,” Shen said after he managed to tear his gaze away from Kunlun’s, “their full army will be heading towards the West Canyon.”
“Their full army?” Kunlun asked with disbelief in his voice.
“Yes,” Shen frowned in response.
“I can tell you’re unsure. Can you tell me why?” Kunlun smiled, taking the edge off the harrowing atmosphere.
Once again, this cheerful man continued to make his stomach flutter. Even behind his dark mask, Shen Wei had never thought there would be a day where he would have to use his powers to suppress his growing blush whenever Kunlun was near. With each of Kunlun’s accidental touches, alluring smiles, and tender gazes, his savior continued to distract Shen Wei from his mission to come. Shen spoke even more slowly and carefully than before, or on a few occasions, he remained mute. If he stammered, how would these warriors view him as their leader? Somehow, Shen’s careful actions only amused the man who caused it!
“The path they’re taking is too obvious. Especially with an army of these proportions. Their previous tactics had always been spreading their army out and attacking our weakest border. But now….”
Kunlun caught on quickly with the same conclusion. “It’s a diversion. If you were to take the less conspicuous route, which would you chose?”
“The South, the Valley is covered with greeneries. With a smaller group, they could pass through unnoticed. The Hollows would be safer in their hands, but this would be a risk. What worries me even more, is this is not the normal tactic Rival King would use. He wouldn’t take such a risk with the Hollows, which makes our prediction less reliable.”
“So either way, it may be a gamble,” Kunlun chuckled. After a short pause, his jaw hardened. “Shen Wei, you should tell the all the warriors to follow the West Canyon.”
“All of them? Why?”
“My intuition tells me that the Hollows are not with the Dixing army. But a crowd as large as ours would draw attention as well if we headed South. We need our army in the West, so they’ll believe we fell into their trap.”
“You’re right. I’ll have you lead the army to the West, while I...
“I wouldn’t advise such a plan,” Kunlun countered decisively.
“But I could handle them.”
“You’ve never changed...” Kunlun murmured absently, followed by a heavy sigh. “I won’t let you face the enemy on your own.”
Shen’s mind alerted. Those same words, Kunlun had repeated them on a few occasion now. Each time, his mind flickered, his cells vibrated. There was more to those words than meet the eyes. From the first day they met, Shen Wei felt a sense of kinship that could not be described, nor explained. Have they done this before? Shen Wei had wanted to gather his defenses, but Kunlun was still one step ahead of him.
“Besides, do you think you could stay away, knowing I might be in danger?” Kunlun asked. His all-knowing gazes, without effort, those eyes of his looked at Shen like he was his.
How could this man read his thoughts so easily? Without fail, his intention was known.
Unable to refute, Shen Wei remained silent. A soft chuckle escaped Kunlun’s lips, his head arched to the side. “I thought so.”
Even thousands of years apart….one’s core character remained unchanged.
Stubborn to a fault, Shen Wei still refuses to receive help from others. The honorable self-sacrificing Black Cloak Envoy would do anything to keep those under his care from harm, even more so when his emotions are involved. His attempt to protect “Kunlun” was evident. Especially now, when his feelings started to grow. But not love. No, Shen was not ready for such binding fate just yet, nor would he understand when their time was still fresh.
Slowly, deliberately, selfish as Zhao Yunlan was, he couldn’t let him go. Even knowing their fate, the Chief wouldn’t hold back his knowing actions. To trap his prey, Zhao had to resort to underhanded seduction. For Shen Wei to feel compelled to find him again, he had to be depraved. With every lingering touch and enticing glances, from spoken words and calculative actions, he wanted to engrave those moments. Imprint those thoughts and memories. Their unquenched desires, forever etched in his future beloved’s mind.
His tactics were no longer about keeping the timeline on its proper path because Zhao wouldn’t fool himself into believing his action were pure. Delusion was for those who are ashamed of their faults. But his weaknesses, his flaws, were because Zhao couldn’t live without the one who grasped his hand longer than he should’ve. The tingling sensation that drew Zhao’s interest had grown to an obsession.
Shen Wei should’ve let go when he had the chance.
Who seduced who? Zhao now has to wonder. Like this moment, without effort, Shen Wei was still able to allure him with his shyness and innocence. Under the canopy of the thick forest of the South Canyon, Shen Wei had kept a short distance from him since they arrived. His mask was off when others were not around, his trust unyielding.
They’re finally alone.
Shen’s hands often squeezed unknowing whenever he was unsure of himself. Shen Wei had become even quieter than he was before. How this man could remain pure in this cruel world was a miracle in itself. Zhao had thought he should give him more time. But the impatient side of him couldn’t wait for Shen to make up his mind. They could become separated at any moment, their future still uncertain.
No...It was none of that. Zhao Yunlan, ah Zhao Yunlan! Stop making excuses for yourself! Do many have an opportunity such as Zhao’s? Finding the one who he would cherish before their time. The chance to make him solely his?
With a purposeful stride, the Predator moved towards his Prey. “Do you want another one?” the Chief asked casually, waving the lollipop in his hand as he made his approach.
“Wh-What?” Shen stammered, puzzled by the sudden change to their proximity, the vulnerable Prey delayed in his reaction. Zhao held back his smile when Shen couldn’t retreat. Shen Wei was pressed against the rock wall behind him.
“You’ve been eyeing the candy for quite some time,” Zhao stated the deceptive lie. Shen was watching him, intently since their arrival, even though he tried to be subtle. “It’s quite addictive. I probably had over a thousand by now,” the Chief explained as he stopped in front of an unsettled Shen. Unwrapping the lollipop, he held the candy near Shen’s mouth. “Here. Take it,” the Wolf enticed. With an encouraging smile, while enjoying his Prey’s bewildered expression.
Shen Wei, who could only stare back like a deer caught in a headlight, barely registered when Zhao popped the lollipop into his mouth. Despite his initial surprise, Shen immediately tasted sweetness, with a slight smile that started to grow. Unbeknownst to the innocent doe, his demure would shatter even the most restraint, Wolf.
When temptation is within reach, how could the devilish side of Zhao resist? Leaning closer and locking their gazes, the Chief remarked with a deceptive pout, “How unfortunate, that was my last one.”
Astonishingly, even to the Chief himself, Shen Wei quickly shoved the lollipop into Zhao’s mouth. The Chief cracked a grin at the sight. Shen’s averted gaze, his flaming cheeks, his clenched fists. No matter the time or place -- Shen Wei was still Shen Wei.
The sudden realization, Zhao’s chest could not handle what he had started. A blossoming pain began growing, grasping from turmoiled emotions between happiness and heartache. Zhao was unable to control his pleading voice. “Don’t ever change…,” he begged softly.
His careless words didn’t escape his beloved. Shen’s eyes snapped up. Without delay, his hand shot out to grasp Kunlun’s arms. Squeezing more than he should, the hold was unintentionally painful.
His eyes bore into Zhao’s, his lips quivered. “When you said I never changed, or don’t ever change, what are you referring to?” Shen asked.
Realizing Zhao had said more than he should have, he instinctively pulled back, but Shen turned their bodies around and pressed him forcefully against the wall. Zhao cursed himself for forgetting he’s dealing with Black Cloak, instead of an ordinary human.
“Have we met before?” Shen asked with an expression of puzzlement. Leaning closer, Shen’s dark eyes searching. “You know my thoughts before I even know them myself. When I am with you, I feel this strange pull to go along with your flow. I get irritated, even angry when others are close to you. I’m in constant fear of losing you,” Shen choked, his voice trembled ever so slightly, “but I don’t know the reason for it. If you were a Dixing, then I would surmise you placed an enchantment spell on me, but you’re not. Why do I feel this way towards you when we just met? Tell me why?”
Speechless was never a term anyone would use to describe the Guardian of SID. Held against the rock wall, with Shen pressed up against him. The confession was beyond what he could imagine. Even Shen Wei from the future would never dare to utter those words.
In Zhao’s lifetime, there may be others who may take his breath away, but it was Shen who reminded him to breathe. And breathe he must.
Dear God...why is he so cute? Wait...that’s not it! Words couldn’t even describe how adorable Shen Wei was at this moment. Cute would not be comparable to the sweetness of his declaration, the oozing nectar of his soul. His face, begging, pleading...Unaware of his vulnerability and his emotions. How has Shen fallen without realizing his true feelings?
With no response from Zhao who was still in a daze, Shen’s grip loosened. He took a step back, his eyes lost. “Yunlan…?” Shen caressed his name spoken for the first time. Of this time.
The Chief was gone before he knew it.
Dark eyes vibrant, scorched with burning desire, Zhao’s husky voice drew, “On second thought, I don’t think I want the candy anymore.”
Zhao cracked the hard candy in his mouth, and spit out the stick. Grasping Shen’s waist and neck before he could escape, Zhao Yunlan captured Shen’s mouth. Blazingly insistent, his mouth hungrily fed off the warmth and nectar of Shen’s lips. Seizing the sudden gasped opportunity, Zhao’s tongue swept the pieces of candy between the parted lips. Shen, who never failed to surprise him, responded back with the same eagerness and appetite. Danced, mated, their tongues entwined as the candy dissolved. Absorbed completely, but the sweetness remained. Shen's heat and pleasure were so delicious; the Chief was lost in the trance he had created.
Was it possible to fall for the same person twice? The answer would be yes! It was possible. No question who seduced who. Under the stars, 10,000 years in the past, Zhao had fallen for the same rose. His existence. His past and future. Professor Shen had captured his heart, ensnared his soul. Unknowingly so, this flawless beauty remained true. His heart beat so painfully, Zhao thought his chest would burst.
The Chief regrettably broke their kiss. Shakily, his hands reached to cupped Shen’s face. Their foreheads pressed together as Zhao tried to control his trembling body. “I can’t tell you everything. I want to, but it’s not our time,” Zhao rasped, eyes pressed closed wretchedly from the future to come. “Just know, there will come a day when I have to leave you.”
“You’ve been saying that,” Shen’s brows furrowed in distress. “Why would you leave?”
“You’ll find out some day. It will come sooner than we wanted,” Zhao answered breathlessly. He smiled at the bitter realization of what Shen Wei would have to endure once they are separated. His grip tightened. “But you’ll find me, I can guarantee it. And when we meet again, don’t run from me. Can you promise me that?”
Still, Shen’s face was etched with confusion, “Yunlan?”
Zhao pulled him into his arms. The shuddering wordless embrace spoke volumes, but Zhao was still Zhao. He had to make sure. Lips to Shen’s ear, the whispering spell was cast, “Don’t ever forget that name...”
Though cruel was their fate, Zhao realized the silver lining that their destiny had been given. An opportunity no others could experience or even dream of. The chance to fall for the other before they even met.
From the beginning, the tragedy that was theirs was indeed….destined.
Author's Note: The Drama's time travel element of Weilan's story reminded me so much of the love story of Doctor Who and River Song. Their story also transcends time and space. As they were both Time Lords, their timelines were reverse. Even knowing her fate, the Doctor still chose to love her, to marry her, and give her the best memories only a soulmate could.
As we're reaching the end of Weilan's story. I hope to give more glimpses of hope and dreams between these two lovebirds, before their epilogue, so I can continue their adventure in another life.