Zhao Yunlan jolts awake at the sensation of the bed shaking beneath him. For a second, his sleep-addled brain thinks they’re having an earthquake, but after a groggy glance around, he realizes the shaking is coming from Shen Wei on the other side of the bed.
“Shen Wei?” he mumbles, rubbing his eyes.
Shen Wei is up on his knees hunched forward shifting restlessly in a near rocking motion, his hands clenched into white-knuckled fists on his thighs.
Zhao Yunlan watches him shake his head violently, releasing his breath in a sob.
“Baobei?” he says, heart constricting in his chest.
“Yunlan,” Shen Wei croaks, voice breaking. The sound of his voice like that, aching and full of pain, and giving under it, is devastating. It breaks Zhao Yunlan’s heart. Throat constricting, he twists onto his hip and reaches out hesitantly to put a hand on Shen Wei’s arm.
“Baobei–” he says quietly and then sucks in a breath when Shen Wei turns his face abortively toward Zhao Yunlan and he sees the gleaming line of a tear on his cheek. He grips Shen Wei’s arm a little too tight. “Baby?”
“I lost you,” Shen Wei rasps, voice creaking under the strain of the words.
“What?” Zhao Yunlan says, pressing closer, “No. Xiao Wei–no, I’m here. You haven’t–you haven’t lost me!” He grabs Shen Wei’s hand and presses on the knuckles until it unfurls, presses the palm against his chest. “I’m here,” he says fiercely.
Shen Wei sobs, more tears streaking down his cheeks, but he fans his fingers out over Zhao Yunlan’s heart and leans in until their foreheads are pressed together. He lifts the other hand, curling it around the back of Zhao Yunlan’s neck, and grips it like if he just holds on tight enough he can keep Zhao Yunlan there. Zhao Yunlan cups his waist, willing to sit here as long as Shen Wei needs, anything to wipe away that gut-wrenching despair in his face and voice.
Shen Wei trembles in his arms, breathing in shuddering bursts. It takes a long time, but he finally calms and shifts his head to Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder. Zhao Yunlan can feel the shame and embarrassment creeping in on him and he cups Shen Wei’s jaw, kisses the side of his head. “What happened?” he asks lowly.
Shen Wei shakes his head slightly, voice muffled between their bodies. “It was a dream. I’m–I’m being foolish.”
Zhao Yunlan kisses his head again. “No, you aren’t. Feeling stuff isn’t foolish. Will you tell me what you dreamed about?”
Shen Wei’s hands tighten reflexively around him. He’s quiet for a long moment and Zhao Yunlan thinks he’s not going to answer when he whispers, “Ye–Ye Zun ate you. I stood by and watched while he consumed you and–” His voice breaks. “Ten thousand years and I lost you to my own brother.”
Zhao Yunlan grimaces, eyes closing briefly. He’d nearly lived that and it had torn him to pieces–without ten thousand years of waiting behind it. And Ye Zun wasn’t someone who had been precious to him. “You didn’t though,” he says. “I’m here. You haven’t lost me.”
It’s humbling, with how much Shen Wei has been through that despite it all what shakes him most is the idea of losing Zhao Yunlan. He doesn’t deserve Shen Wei, hell, is hardly worthy of him, but Zhao Yunlan will hold on to him with every last shred of strength in his body until Shen Wei turns his back on him. “You can’t get rid of me that easily,” he murmurs and Shen Wei gives a weak, wet laugh. “I won’t let you lose me.”