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Zhao Yunlan pushed through the door of the bar, nodding at the bouncer, and wove through people until he caught sight of some familiar faces round a table. There was an instant where he wavered, thought about turning round, heading back home for the early night he was supposed to be having.

One hour ago, Shen Wei had turned Zhao Yunlan down on an offer to stay and do his teaching preparation on the sofa, an offer that Zhao Yunlan hadn’t even been trying to make sound suggestive. Or not very suggestive, at least. Shen Wei had smiled regretfully, thanked Zhao Yunlan for a pleasant evening – even though he’d been the one to do all the cooking and ninety per cent of the clearing up - and let Zhao Yunlan escort him out the door.

And then, as he entered his apartment, he’d glanced back with an intensity that would have pulled Zhao Yunlan across the hall like a magnet, if Shen Wei hadn’t shut his door firmly behind him two seconds later. Even so, he’d still thought about it, about knocking on the door, about seeing if Shen Wei would open up to him, finally. There was no way that he’d imagined the heat in Shen Wei’s eyes. And there was also no way he’d imagined Shen Wei very clearly indicating that he intended to spend the rest of the evening alone, working.

So instead, he’d shut his own door and leaned against it, frustrated. And he’d remembered the text in his phone from Feng Liu, in town for a night on a work trip and asking if Zhao Yunlan was interested in joining him and a few other old university acquaintances for an evening out. Drinking, maybe dancing, reminiscing about the days when they’d used to do a lot more of both.

A quiet evening in Shen Wei’s presence, sneaking glances at him as he frowned over his work, had seemed more appealing, so he’d replied to say he had a lot on and might not make it. Except now, he needed a drink, maybe several. He’d run a hand over his face, and gone to fetch his phone.

Someone shouted his name, over the music, and he saw Feng Liu waving at him. He took a deep breath, put a smile on his face, and headed towards him.

“You look good!” Feng Liu said, loudly to be heard over the music. He gave Zhao Yunlan an obvious once-over, grinning.

“Thanks,” Zhao Yunlan half-shouted back. “You too.” It was true: Feng Liu still looked remarkably like the student he’d once been, only with some not unattractive lines round his eyes and mouth. He still dressed the same too, probably since he worked for some kind of poorly-paid law consultancy for people who couldn’t afford lawyers.

“I’m glad you came,” said Feng Liu. “Can I buy you a drink, Mr Hot Police Chief Zhao? Oh, did you bring your handcuffs?” He nudged Zhao Yunlan with his elbow.

Zhao Yunlan rolled his eyes at him, but he was smiling more genuinely. Feng Liu had always been charming and easy to flirt with, and the rhythm was so familiar, that it hit him with pang of nostalgia. He exchanged greetings and nods round the group. It was mostly people he saw maybe once or twice a year for a catchup, and seldom thought about in between. Someone passed him a beer and he raised it in a toast. Feng Liu pulled him into the circle, beside him. Out of nowhere Zhao Yunlan remembered him walking across his tiny dorm room naked, unselfconscious, saying something about how he wasn’t going to fuck to Zhao Yunlan’s terrible taste in music and rifling through his CDs, letting them spill over the floor.

Or maybe not quite out of nowhere. It had been a while. Since he’d met Shen Wei, in fact, though Zhao Yunlan tried not to think too hard about what that might imply.

Back in the day, he’d found it easy to fall in and out of bed with people in his fairly large and shifting circle of friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. Looking round at who was there, Feng Liu wasn’t the only one in the group out tonight he’d fucked. And though it was the kind of thing he hoped Shen Wei never found out about him, there was at least one other guy at the table, someone whose name he couldn’t immediately remember, who he thought he might also have ended up in bed with, one lost night out of many.

Feng Liu and he had lasted longer than most of Zhao Yunlan’s – well, most of Zhao Yunlan’s strings of one-night stands, in that they’d had sex off and on for a good few months. And then Zhao Yunlan had developed a crush on a hot girl in his history class, and Feng Liu had started hanging out with and eventually fucking a hot guy in one of his law classes, and they’d gone back to being friends who got drunk and didn’t end up in bed.

Feng Liu slung an arm round him and gestured towards the tiny dance floor, and Zhao Yunlan downed the rest of his beer and followed. This wasn’t the kind of bar where he’d bump into respectable citizens who might recognize him from a case, and it wasn’t the kind of bar where he’d bump into the less respectable citizens either. The worst that could happen was probably a clutch of Shen Wei’s students spotting and recognizing him, but given that Shen Wei was their teacher, they were hopefully all at home on a week night studying furiously.

The music was old enough that he could have sung along if he’d wanted, which was presumably why Feng Liu had selected this particular place. He rolled his shoulders, stretched a bit, and let himself start moving to the beat. A few more drinks, and he’d be lost in it properly. This was what he needed, he told himself; these were the people who knew him. And the interest in Feng Liu’s eyes, he had to admit, was warming.


Several hours and more than a few drinks later, he and Feng Liu stumbled up the stairs to his apartment, in the middle of an animated conversation about – what was it about, again? When Zhao Yunlan stopped moving, everything started spinning very slightly. His best efforts to walk in a straight line weren’t being terrifically effective; he nearly tripped over his own feet on the top step. Possibly he should have stopped before they moved on to the shots of whiskey.

Sure this is OK, Yunlan?” Feng Liu said, a little slurred, bumping him with his shoulder. “What about your roommate?”

They were coming down the corridor to his apartment. He automatically glanced at Shen Wei’s door, which unsurprisingly was shut, no light showing under it.

“I already told you, Xiao Liu, this makes far more sense than you staying with Jia, when she’s got two kids under five in a two-bedroom place. And Da Qing’s out on the tiles tonight too, he probably, ah, he probably won’t even be back.” He gestured grandly at this and his keys flew out of his hand, landing with a clatter on the floor.

“Whoops,” he said, too loudly, stooping to pick them up, fumbling them into his grasp. When he stood back up, he swayed, light-headed, and Feng Liu caught him. They staggered together for a step, Feng Liu’s back thumping into Zhao Yunlan’s door, his bag falling somewhere, Zhao Yunlan very close to him.

“Hey,” said Feng Liu, who somehow, from this distance, smelled exactly the same as he had back in whenever, how was that possible? Zhao Yunlan’s head was still swirling, and when Feng Liu leaned up and his mouth met his he kissed back without thinking, easy and familiar. He was drunk, and Feng Liu tasted of the very expensive whiskey, and it was hot, and wet, a little messy; kissing was – it was good. Feng Liu was attractive, he was warm to press up against, arms clutching at Zhao Yunlan, which was also helpful because the floor was tilting and he might otherwise have slid down onto it. They’d always been pretty decent in bed together: neither of them were sober enough for anything much but it had been a while since Zhao Yunlan had sucked someone off, that was something he wanted, right? He wanted –

There were sounds behind him that he couldn’t quite parse. Maybe someone was coming? They shouldn’t be doing this in the corridor, they weren’t being quiet, anyone could – someone could see them, hear them. He broke off and managed to get the keys, still clutched in one hand, into the door and shove it open, Feng Liu practically falling in.

Zhao Yunlan picked up Feng Liu’s overnight bag, caught himself on the wall at a rush of sparks in front of his eyes, and in a moment of horrible clarity registered that there was no-one anywhere in the corridor, and that the last sound he’d just heard could have been a door closing.

He blinked at Shen Wei’s apartment, feeling as though someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over him, his heart speeding up. Should he knock on Shen Wei’s door and – and say….? Yes, he should - no, wait, god, he definitely couldn’t do that, he was so – he was so fucking drunk, what the fuck was he doing?

“Zhao Yunlan? You OK?” said Feng Liu, loudly, and Zhao Yunlan winced. He got himself and the bag through the door, pushed it closed with a bang that he was sure echoed down the hall, and switched the light on in his apartment, flinching slightly from it.

Feng Liu stepped into his space and reached up to kiss him again, and Zhao Yunlan let him for a moment, half-wanting to sink back into it. But it was wrong, this was all wrong: his head was starting to hurt, and he felt slightly nauseous, heart racing, and Shen Wei was right across the hall and he – he couldn’t do this.

He broke away and took a couple of steps back. “I – ” he said. “Fuck.” He ran a hand over his face. “I can’t do this, I’m sorry.”

Feng Liu looked bewildered for a couple of moments, and then his expression settled into understanding.

“You’re not, like, taking advantage of me or anything,” he said. “I know you didn’t invite me back for this. I’m drunk but I’m not completely out of it. I’m up for it. Old time’s sake and all that, ah?” He smiled at Zhao Yunlan, invitingly.

“No, I mean.” Zhao Yunlan found the back of the couch, and propped himself against it. He made a valiant effort to gather himself together and make sense. “There’s…someone else.”

“Oh, shit, you have a boyfriend?” said Feng Liu. “You should have said!” He looked around, frowning at the apartment, which pretty obviously belonged to someone who was tragically single.

“Not - really,” said Zhao Yunlan. His mind was too sluggish to compose sentences properly. “Ah, it’s – complicated. It’s really, really very fucking complicated. But. I’m fucking everything up. I don’t – want to do that.”

“OK, OK,” said Feng Liu, raising his hands. “I shouldn’t have – I should have asked. Also we shouldn’t have had that whiskey, I think it might have been too much. Believe it or not, I’m not usually like this anymore.”

“Yeah, me neither,” said Zhao Yunlan. “Look, umm, how about I pass out on the couch, you can have the bed, I’ll get us both some water? You can use the bathroom first, it’s over there.” He waved in its direction, and nearly fell over again.

Feng Lui looked at him for a long moment, maybe regretfully, and then nodded, lifted his stuff and headed to the bathroom, only wavering a little.

Zhao Yunlan managed to get himself to the fridge without injury or collapse, which seemed miraculous, and even more miraculously there were several bottles of water there. He opened one and drank half of it straight off, then pressed it to his cheek. He was going to feel like shit in the morning, he could already tell, and in more ways than one.

He couldn’t even be bothered washing and undressing properly, it seemed wiser to throw another water bottle onto the bed, kick off his boots, curl up on the sofa under a blanket and try hard to pass out without thinking about the last twenty minutes or so, which with any luck he would have forgotten in the morning.


Unfortunately, though many details of the end of the night were hazy, he woke to a crystal clear memory of how he’d made enough noise to wake the dead in the hallway and then kissed another man right outside the door of the person he was trying to seduce. Brilliant move, Zhao Yunlan, what a way to show Shen Wei that he was a thoughtful and responsible adult who would make a great boyfriend, as opposed to a horny fuck-up who came back wasted and stuck his tongue in someone else’s mouth in a public place, not even waiting to get into his apartment.

If Shen Wei knew, if he’d heard them. A chill ran through Zhao Yunlan, unrelated to the pain in his head, his stomach, and pretty much everywhere else. Shen Wei would think Zhao Yunlan had lied to him, that he’d said he was staying in and then gone out drinking. He’d think Zhao Yunlan cared so little about what was building between them that he’d go out and pick someone up for the night. Or he’d think Zhao Yunlan had lied to him in worse ways, and was involved with someone else. He might think Zhao Yunlan had been in the hallway on purpose, not by accident. It would be, as Shen Wei might have put it, a reasonable assumption.

If Zhao Yunlan had seen Shen Wei kissing another man in the hallway, what would he have thought?

Fuck, his stomach was twisting so badly that he might be going to throw up. He shoved himself off the couch, made it to the bathroom, and splashed water on his face, clutching the sink and taking deep breaths. He stood there for a long time, trying to calm down. He didn’t know what he’d heard last night. Shen Wei might easily have slept through it. And he hadn’t done anything with Feng Liu, even though he dimly recalled half-wanting to.

Grimly, he showered, brushed his teeth, and took some painkillers. On top of everything else, he had work today, and a guest to entertain to breakfast: Feng Liu, still passed out in his bed, didn’t deserve to have Zhao Yunlan’s crisis dumped all over him, since he’d done absolutely nothing wrong.

No-one knocked on Zhao Yunlan’s door as he fed an equally pale and miserable-looking Feng Liu some eggs and some extremely strong coffee, not that he would have expected them to. Da Qing, luckily, was still off on his own mysterious cat business. Zhao Yunlan was pretty sure Shen Wei had an early class, and on those days he liked to be on campus at least half an hour before to set up and organize himself. He wasn’t planning on avoiding him, necessarily. In fact, part of him was desperate to see Shen Wei, to reassure himself that the worst-case scenarios his mind kept coming up with – Shen Wei angry, Shen Wei disappointed, Shen Wei blanking him completely – were wrong. But he would have rather encountered Shen Wei without Feng Liu in tow, and once he felt slightly better able to cope with everything.

The universe was laughing at him, however, since for whatever reason Shen Wei was later than usual, meaning that as Zhao Yunlan ushered Feng Liu out, reassuring him he’d make his train, Shen Wei was right there, locking his door.

“Ah,” said Zhao Yunlan, overly loud. “Shen Wei! On your way to class?”

Shen Wei straightened and turned. He was in his full-on professorial get-up, immaculate. He was beautiful and guarded, as usual. And, in some indefinable way, he looked as terrible as Zhao Yunlan felt: like he hadn’t slept all night, like he was drawn tight with worry. He also wasn’t meeting Zhao Yunlan’s eyes, and his polite smile had zero warmth in it.

Feng Liu shifted beside him and Zhao Yunlan remembered he was there, with a start.

“This is my, uh, old friend, Feng Liu, he’s here on a short visit. Feng Liu, this is my – ”

“Colleague,” said Shen Wei, smoothly. “Happy to meet you. I hope you enjoy your visit. Now, if you’ll excuse me – ” his eyes slid over Zhao Yunlan, without pausing “ – I’m afraid I am running late for work.”

He nodded, in a way that for him, was almost brusque, and strode off down the corridor before Zhao Yunlan could gather his wits to say something else. Though what he would have said, he wasn’t sure.

“Damn,” said Feng Liu, appreciatively. “Is that the other guy, Yunlan? He is seriously hot.” He turned to look at Zhao Yunlan. “Though I wouldn’t have pegged him as your type.”

“He’s not – we’re not,” said Zhao Yunlan, and then groaned. “Yes, that’s him.”

“Mmm,” said Feng Liu. “Jealous type? Did he look unhappy to see me, or was that my imagination?”

Zhao Yunlan sighed. “Maybe. I don’t know.”

Feng Liu clapped him on the shoulder. “Jealousy’s a good sign,” he said. “Cheer up. I have faith in you.”

Zhao Yunlan made a non-committal noise. He wished he could share Feng Liu’s optimism.


After successfully getting Feng Liu to the station, with many promises to keep in touch which he most likely wouldn’t keep, he walked into headquarters, made it as far as the sofa, and then collapsed on it, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. Despite the painkillers, his head was pounding.

“You OK, chief?” said Da Qing, far too loudly and too close. “You look like shit.”

Zhao Yunlan rubbed his eyes. “Keep it down,” he said.

“Hungover,” said Lin Jing, with a professional air. “Want me to send Xiao Guo out for some supplies? I’ve got a homemade remedy, he could run by the chemist’s – ”

“No chemistry,” said Zhao Yunlan. “No offence.”

“That was almost polite,” said Lin Jing. “Now I’m really worried about you. Are you sure you’re not sick?”

Da Qing slid onto the sofa beside him, frowning.

“You smell of someone else,” he said. “Were you – wait, were you with someone last night?”

“No!” said Zhao Yunlan. “That is, I met up with Feng Liu, remember him? We were – out. At a bar. He, ah, he stayed over.”

Wang Zheng drifted over and set some tea in front of him, and he drank it gratefully. Da Qing’s eyes had narrowed.

“What about the Professor?” he said, accusingly.

“What about him?”

Da Qing made a sound that might have been a hiss.

Zhao Yunlan groaned. “Not like you’re thinking. I don’t – do that kind of thing any more.”

“Since you met Professor Shen,” Lin Jing put in, helpfully. “We noticed.”

“How is this any of your business, eh?” Zhao Yunlan looked around properly. “Where’s Zhu Hong? And Lao Chu?”

“Out getting witness statements on the run of burglaries, like you asked them to do, yesterday.”

“Oh, right.” Yesterday seemed approximately a thousand years ago. Zhao Yunlan stared at the ceiling and tried to get his thoughts in order. Today was going to be a write-off. Since this morning’s encounter, every day was going to be a write-off, until he managed to have a conversation with Shen Wei and knew the worst. He didn’t think he could stand the idea of waiting till that evening, and trying to corner Shen Wei in his apartment. Besides, he knew that Shen Wei was very good at avoiding people if he wanted to, and Zhao Yunlan couldn’t physically force him to answer the door.

“Weren’t we going to ask Shen Wei about those burglaries?” he said.

“Were we?” said Guo Changcheng. “I don’t think – ” He picked up his notebook and leafed through it, frowning.

“Definitely,” said Zhao Yunlan. “We need his insight. Call his office and ask if he can, umm, drop by after morning classes. Tell him it’s – it’s too sensitive to discuss over the phone.” He pushed himself to his feet, ignoring Xiao Guo’s bemusement. “I’ll be, ah, reviewing paperwork in my office.”

“We won’t disturb you unless it’s urgent,” said Lin Jing, altogether too sympathetically. Da Qing snorted.

Zhao Yunlan waved a hand at them vaguely, and went to collapse in his desk chair. Shen Wei wouldn’t be free for at least three hours, maybe he’d genuinely do that paperwork, so that he didn’t have to think about whether he’d show up, and what Zhao Yunlan would say to him if he did.


“You wanted to talk to me about a case,” said Shen Wei, as Zhao Yunlan shut the office door behind him and sat down at his desk. Shen Wei seated himself carefully in the chair opposite, painfully upright, clasping his hands in front of him on the table. His expression was entirely neutral, as unreadable as it had used to be under his actual, literal mask.

“Yeah, that was an excuse,” said Zhao Yunlan. “I made Xiao Guo call you because I wanted – to talk to you.”

He thought for a moment that Shen Wei might get up and walk out, but he stayed where he was, his gaze two inches off to the right from Zhao Yunlan’s face.

Zhao Yunlan took a deep breath. He’d already acted unprofessionally in getting Shen Wei here at all, there was no point putting this off.

“Were you in the, ah, in the hallway, last night, when I came back?”

He could see Shen Wei thinking about lying to him, it was in the minute twitch of his mouth, the tension round his eyes. After a fraught moment, Shen Wei nodded.

“I heard – sounds,” he said. “I was concerned.”

“Can I – ” Zhao Yunlan swallowed. His mouth was dry. “Shen Wei. Can I explain?”

Shen Wei looked away. His hands were clasped so tightly that it must have been painful.

“You don’t owe me an explanation,” he said. “It is none of my business.”

Zhao Yunlan closed his eyes for a second. That had hurt, like a fist clenching his heart. He tried to breathe through it.

“The thing is, Shen Wei,” he said, hearing the roughness in his own voice. “I would like it to be.”

Shen Wei turned sharply to look at him, for the first time, and Zhao Yunlan bit his lip, because for one very brief moment something fierce and burning was in Shen Wei’s eyes, and then he visibly shut it down, looking away again.

“Nothing happened,” said Zhao Yunlan.

“I was there,” said Shen Wei, in the kind of clipped tone Zhao Yunlan usually heard from the Envoy.

“Almost nothing. Feng Liu is – look, he’s an old friend, from university. I decided last minute to go and meet him and a few others, we got drunk, we were a bit – carried away, you know….” He gestured.

“No,” said Shen Wei. “I’m afraid I don’t know.”

Zhao Yunlan swallowed. He was in such a pathetic state today, that if Shen Wei were genuinely, furiously angry with him, he might find himself weeping, or falling to his knees and begging for mercy – in fact, either option was starting to seem better than flailing through this conversation, with Shen Wei radiating tension across from him. No wonder the Black Cloaked Envoy was so good at getting confessions. He tried to summon up his usual bravado.

“You saw us kissing, right? That was all there was. We went into the apartment, and I told him – I told him I couldn’t do it. I slept on the couch. Alone. Nothing else happened.”

Shen Wei was silent, clearly considering this.

“That wasn’t the first time you and he – ” he said, after what seemed like an eternity.

“Ah, no. We were – we used to, ah, when we were younger. It wasn’t serious, we were friends, having fun.”

“Fun,” said Shen Wei, quietly. He unclenched his hands and laid them flat, on the desk, looking down at them. Zhao Yunlan was alarmed to see a shimmer in the air, wisps of darkness coiling round his fingers.

“Shen Wei,” he said.

He saw Shen Wei’s mouth lift, in what definitely wasn’t a good smile.

“We should stop talking about this,” he said. “I should go back to campus. I have meetings.”

Zhao Yunlan reached out, across what seemed like an impassable distance, and laid a hand over one of Shen Wei’s.

“Shen Wei,” he said, and it sounded like begging. “Aren’t you going to ask me why I wouldn’t sleep with him?”

Shen Wei’s hand twitched in his, and he raised his eyes. Zhao Yunlan caught his breath. Shen Wei didn’t look angry any more, if he ever had. He looked devastated.

“Because of you,” said Zhao Yunlan, over the lurch of horror he was feeling; what had he done, to make Shen Wei look like that? He gripped Shen Wei’s hand. “Because I was drunk, and I was stupid, and I still knew that I didn’t want anyone but you. And I know you might not – I don’t expect anything. But I still hate myself, for doing that. And it doesn’t matter that you saw us – no, I don’t mean that, of course it matters – what I mean is that I would have hated myself this morning anyway.”

Shen Wei took a deep, shuddering breath, looking away, though his hand, finally, curled round Zhao Yunlan’s.

“I don’t want you to feel like that, Zhao Yunlan,” he said. “You have done nothing wrong.”

Zhao Yunlan half-laughed. “Yes, I have. I fucked up. I always do.”

“No,” said Shen Wei. He turned Zhao Yunlan’s hand in his, traced a finger across his palm, and Zhao Yunlan felt a rush of energy through him, cool light soothing the nagging physical pain of his hangover, tingling along his nerves. He gasped.

Shen Wei traced the lines on Zhao Yunlan’s hand again, almost absently. Zhao Yunlan’s skin prickled. This was more intimate than Shen Wei had ever let himself be, before. He held himself very still.

“I thought I had – lost you,” said Shen Wei. His movements stilled. “By hesitating. By worrying too much about – ” He broke off.

‘No,” said Zhao Yunlan, echoing Shen Wei. He bit back several other things he immediately wanted to add and which seemed too much, like reassuring Shen Wei that Zhao Yunlan was his, and that he would never lose him. “You shouldn’t worry, Shen Wei” he said, instead. “Whatever it is, it’ll be OK.”

Shen Wei huffed out a breath, though whether he was agreeing or not, it was hard to say.

“Could we – pretend last night never happened?” said Zhao Yunlan.

Shen Wei was quiet for a moment. Then he resumed tracing a finger over Zhao Yunlan’s palm, this time in small, maddening circles.

“I don’t know that I want to do that,” he said. He met Zhao Yunlan’s eyes, and Zhao Yunlan felt his mouth come open. The combination of Shen Wei touching him, and finally looking at him with clear, if wary, intent, was making it difficult to focus. He could feel himself flushing.

“I could, ah, make it up to you?” He heard the pleading in his tone, though he wasn’t sure what he was pleading for.

Something flared in Shen Wei’s eyes. He let go of Zhao Yunlan and stood up – Zhao Yunlan pushed back his chair and stood up himself, ready to try to stop him leaving, though he wasn’t sure how he’d do this. But Shen Wei flicked a hand towards the door and a wash of dark energy rippled over it, and then before Zhao Yunlan could process what was going on, Shen Wei had rounded the desk and pulled Zhao Yunlan into an embrace.

Zhao Yunlan had about two seconds to feel like a flustered heroine in a romance movie, and then his mind and his body caught up, he slid an arm round Shen Wei’s neck, and kissed him back. For a moment, all he felt was sheer relief – Shen Wei wasn’t leaving, Shen Wei might have forgiven his stupidity, they were finally doing this – and then in the next moment, he’d forgotten everything except the taste of Shen Wei’s mouth, the promise in his tongue, the heat of his body.

If kissing Feng Liu had been like standing under a warm shower, kissing Shen Wei was like a waterfall crashing over him: Zhao Yunlan clung to him for dear life, no space left to wonder how Shen Wei was so good at this, and how he seemed to know exactly what to do to reduce Zhao Yunlan to a wreck, hopelessly turned on and willing to do anything that Shen Wei might want.

Shen Wei took a half-step back, though without entirely letting go, just at the point when Zhao Yunlan had managed to pull his shirt out of his trousers and get one hand on his skin, and was about to slide to his knees and see what happened next. His mouth was red, and Zhao Yunlan was relieved to see that he was at least breathing hard.

“I – ” said Shen Wei. “Zhao Yunlan.” He visibly swallowed. “I do have – ” He glanced around, blinking. “Work. Meetings.”

Zhao Yunlan shifted his hands to Shen Wei’s hips and stepped close again, watching the darkness in Shen Wei’s eyes. He pressed his leg between Shen Wei’s, and when Shen Wei didn’t stop him, pushed forward, his eyes fluttering at the feeling of Shen Wei’s thigh between his legs. He wanted to rock against it, but he stopped himself.

Shen Wei pushed up against Zhao Yunlan for one glorious instant, and then he stepped right back, two paces away, running a hand through his hair, and then starting to tuck his shirt back in.

“We can’t,” he said. He looked at the door.

“They won’t disturb us.” His team were probably out there timing this whole encounter and taking bets on what was going on, though Zhao Yunlan wasn’t going to say this.

Shen Wei seemed to have collected himself. “Not here,” he said, firmly. The firmness was a turn-on in itself, though hardly a new one.

“Somewhere else?”

Shen Wei looked Zhao Yunlan over, and Zhao Yunlan let him see the bulge in his jeans, the rise and fall of his chest.

“Later,” said Shen Wei.

Zhao Yunlan heard himself make a noise that was both frustration and lust.

“Are you trying to punish me?” he said, and then regretted it even as he said it. This whole situation seemed too fragile for his usual not-quite-careless remarks.

Shen Wei looked briefly surprised, and then he tilted his head a little and his eyes narrowed.

“I could be,” he said.

Zhao Yunlan blinked at him. He hadn’t expected that. He’d known Shen Wei was dangerous, smart, and a very fast learner, but he hadn’t entirely realised how that might translate in this context. He thought he might, quite literally, swoon from lust.

“Do you want me to beg?” His voice came out hoarse.

Shen Wei smiled at him, both sharp and, maybe, affectionate.

“Also later,” he said.

“Fuck,” said Zhao Yunlan, with great sincerity.

Shen Wei raised his eyebrows at him. Then he stepped back into Zhao Yunlan’s space, at a calculated distance. Zhao Yunlan swayed towards him.

“I’ve been waiting,” Shen Wei said, low. “I can wait a little longer. And so can you. I will see you tonight. If you want.” There was a very slight question there.

“Yes,” said Zhao Yunlan. Even a slight question was too much: Shen Wei must see, he must know, how desperate Zhao Yunlan was. “There’s nothing I want more.” He met Shen Wei’s eyes. “There’s no-one I want more.”

Shen Wei kissed him at that, once, hard, and then pulled himself away again, resisting Zhao Yunlan trying to deepen the kiss. He gestured at the door, and whatever he’d done to it vanished. Zhao Yunlan could hear loud voices out in the main room, arguing about something.

Shen Wei tugged his suit jacket straight and picked up his briefcase. He was a little flushed, but not nearly as obviously undone as Zhao Yunlan felt. He opened the door, and looked back at Zhao Yunlan.

“Tonight, then.”

Zhao Yunlan nodded, he thought, and watched Shen Wei walk out, a break in the argument, his voice saying something, and then a brief respectful silence before Lin Jing called something out at top volume and Da Qing screeched back.

Zhao Yunlan sat down in his desk chair again, his legs shaky. He could hardly believe that the last however many minutes had happened. How was he going to make it through the rest of the day? He picked up his phone, with some idea of calling Shen Wei and maybe pleading more convincingly, this time.

There was an unread message, from Feng Liu. He opened it.

“Made it home, hangover dire, hope you’re OK. Sorry again. Good to see you!” and a smiley face.

Zhao Yunlan contemplated this for a long time.

“Thank you,” he wrote eventually, and hit send.