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Betwixt you and me

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He’s in a cave somewhere.

Given that Zhao Yunlan does not remember falling asleep in a cave, adjacent to a cave, or otherwise somewhere remotely related to a cave, this is a very alarming thing to wake up to indeed.

In fact, the last thing he does remember is passing out after his birthday party, vague disappointed but not too surprised that Shen Wei hasn’t come after all. Parties just aren’t Shen Wei’s thing, he knows, but he had hoped…

Well, it doesn’t matter. What matters right now is figuring out how to –

Zhao Yunlan’s thoughts stutter to a stop.

How did he not realise earlier that he’s covered in blood? Why is he covered in blood? Is the blood his own, or…

A frantic pat-down tells him several more important things: one, he doesn’t seem to be injured anywhere; two, he’s not wearing his own clothes; three, his scars seem to have disappeared – in fact…

Zhao Yunlan fumbles through the bottomless storage pouch until he can locate a hand-mirror, and then he just… stares.

Shen Wei’s face stares back at him.

Zhao Yunlan pinches his cheek for good measure, and in the mirror Shen Wei’s hand comes up to pinch his own cheek.

“What…” he says aloud, and isn’t very surprised to hear Shen Wei’s voice come out of his mouth.

So if he’s in Shen Wei’s body, does that mean Shen Wei’s now in his body? Zhao Yunlan is sure he would have noticed if he had imbibed any dubious illegal substances at the party last night – unless Zhu Hong has decided he needs another lesson in humility and spiked his drink – so judging from all the evidence, it seems to be something Shen Wei encountered on his end.

At least Shen Wei’s cultivation is high enough to have healed his body, if he was injured in the first place. Zhao Yunlan dug through the pouch again, looking for a new set of clothes. If he’s going to be inhabiting Shen Wei’s body for who-knows-how-long, he’s sure Shen Wei will appreciate it if he at least cleans up.

Step one, get clean, check.

Step two, get dressed, check.

Step three, get… going?

Zhao Yunlan turns in a slow, slow circle. That might be a bit of a problem, he acknowledges, given that he has no clue where he is.

“Zhao Yunlan!”

It’s exceedingly odd to hear his own name in his own voice, coming from a person who looks exactly like him, and is even riding his sword.

“Shen Wei!” he exclaims, opening his arms wide.

Shen Wei – or rather, Zhao Yunlan’s body – gives a slow blink. He probably finds all this as bizarre as Zhao Yunlan is, but he gamely reaches over for a hug nonetheless.

“Are you all right, Zhao Yunlan?” he demands, patting Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder like he wants to peel Zhao Yunlan’s clothes off to check him over, but propriety stops him at the last moment.

“Am I all right?” Zhao Yunlan parrots. “Are you all right? I’m not the one who seems to have gotten into a fight last night!”

Shen Wei looks almost bashful. It’s not an expression Zhao Yunlan has ever expected to see on his own face. “Ah, my apologies.” He ducks his head, and then squints awkwardly when Zhao Yunlan’s hair flops into his face. “I was on my way to your party, but a nearby village was beset by a Yin-Yang Serpent and I had to make a detour.”

Zhao Yunlan clicks his teeth, turning his head so that Shen Wei can’t read his thoughts off his face. And to think he spent so much time last night being righteously (and drunkenly) angry that Shen Wei didn’t show up, when he should’ve known Shen Wei’s not that kind of friend?

A Yin-Yang Serpent, though. And its venom swapped Shen Wei with Zhao Yunlan.

“So…” Zhao Yunlan says. He drags the sound out, watching Shen Wei go still. “The most important person in your life?”

Shen Wei doesn’t blush, but Zhao Yunlan suspects it’s only because his body isn’t capable of blushing so easily. “I –” he stutters uncharacteristically, “yes. You are.” He swallows, eyes darting away briefly, before he meets Zhao Yunlan’s gaze again.

Well, let it never be said that Zhao Yunlan can’t take a hint.

“You are, to me, too.”

Shen Wei’s eyes grow wide, his mouth dropping slightly open. He looks so floored that Zhao Yunlan would tease him, if it’s not for the fact that he’s just too weirded out by that fact that this expression is on Zhao Yunlan’s face.

Has he ever gazed so besottedly at Shen Wei before?

Somehow, Zhao Yunlan doesn’t think he really wants the answer to that question. He casts about for a change in topic. “So, how much venom did you get hit with, then?”

“Just a few stray drops; I was careless and thought it was dead,” Shen Wei assures him. “The effect should wear off within the day.”

Careless, because he was rushing to make it in time for Zhao Yunlan’s birthday. Zhao Yunlan swallows, turning away. It’s just too weird to kiss Shen Wei when Shen Wei looks like that, okay?!

“Let’s go home,” he says instead. For Shen Wei to have arrived so fast, they must be near Zhao Yunlan’s little cottage, on the edge of Yiling.

Shen Wei nods, sheathing his sword. It won’t be safe to fly on their swords, not when they don’t know when they’ll switch back.

When Zhao Yunlan casually slips his hand into Shen Wei’s, he doesn’t let go.