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The boy had been a gift from his brother, but Shen Wei hadn’t known at first. All he felt while in the burning confines of hell was the sudden suffocating weight of the contract, taking root in his being. The smell of his own roasting flesh as the seal appeared on his right   hand, and then he’d screamed in agony as he was torn out of his prison of five thousand years.

Shen Wei had been in too much pain to be properly grateful that his brother’s followers had ripped him free from hell. Moreso when that blindingly familiar soul looked out of him from that young man’s face, and gave him the first panicked command Shen Wei was compelled to obey.

The cultists who summoned him were dead in seconds. The only thing that had stopped Shen Wei from killing him too was the tug of the contract, tying him to the boy’s soul, and tying him to the surface of the Earth

 “I’m sorry, ge.” Ye Zun had grinned at him after he’d finally been able to track him down, remorseless  and with a sharp sly grin dancing around his lips, a counterpoint to the cold fury on Shen Wei’s. Their false human skins mirror images of one another, even now. “You were stuck so deep that the ritual I used was the only way I could drag you out.” Shen Wei bares his teeth, so angry that he can feel his human form rippling at the edges. Agony flares through the scars on his back, as if the wounds were five days’ fresh instead of five millennia.

“You bound me to Kun Lun.” It comes out as a growl. Ye Zun’s flesh gives in, just a little, under Shen Wei’s fingers, but his younger brother’s grin doesn’t waver.

“He doesn’t remember, does he?” Ye Zun’s voice comes out as a silky whisper across Shen Wei’s mind. “I admit, Ge, I’m a little hurt. I thought you’d appreciate my little gift-“  

“The terms of our contract state that I need to help him find the person who slaughtered his parents and tried to sacrifice him.” Shen Wei grits his teeth. “Imagine how that’ll end for us both when he does.” Ye Zun lifts a hand, strokes the back of Shen Wei’s right hand. Shen Wei almost jerks away, unused to physical contact that isn’t hostile after five millennia in hell.

“Don’t worry about me, Ge. I did learn a thing or two during the years you spent down under. I won’t be that easy to find. Anyways.” He pries off Shen Wei’s grip. Bruises bloom starkly on his white throat, in the shape of Shen Wei’s hands. “Just because you’re bound to help him doesn’t mean you can’t lie.”

He leans forwards. His breath is hellfire-hot against Shen Wei’s ear as he whispers.

“He’s a kid, Ge. Have fun with him, and when it’s time, it’ll be our turn to throw him into hell.” And then he’s gone, and Shen Wei is alone.

--

This is the first time Shen Wei sees Kun Lun – in the ravages of the battlefield, a kingdom already overrun by the seething mass of demons and ghosts. At the head of this army was Shen Wei, holding his scythe, unable to keep his heavy wings from dragging through the gore from over a thousand human corpses crushed underfoot and devoured.

The demon army were ripping at each other for the spoils when they suddenly turned tail and ran. Shen Wei had looked up from conferring with Ye Zun, only to be near-blinded by the purest, brightest light he’d ever seen. Shen Wei’s demons screaming in pain as they crumbled to ask all around him. And then. Him. The mountain god, sword in hand, the edges of his simple green robes licked with black soot as the holy fire raged around him, reflected in his eyes.

Shen Wei’s army lost that day. They lose the next battle as well. With Kun Lun’s aid, the tide turned firmly against the demons. The final battle ended with Shen Wei’s defeat, his scythe fallen from his grasp as Kun Lun forced him to kneel.

Shen Wei finds himself thinking of that fire when he stands in front of Zhao Yunlan. Kun Lun’s incarnation is altogether too human. No longer the boy who had stared at Shen Wei in horror after he’d clawed his way out of Hell, but a man full-grown. Lean and hungry as he strips Shen Wei naked. Shen Wei holds himself still according to his command, but it’s the warmth suffusing his gaze that makes Shen Wei not quite able to meet it.

(In Yunlan’s right eye, the seal glows.)

Let me have you given so sweetly, a command disguised as a request, and Shen Wei breathes through the weight of the contract, the invisible lines binding him to Yunlan, forcing him to obey his every command. But for Shen Wei, it’s not the contract alone that makes him obey.

(That makes him want to obey.)

Yunlan tugs his undershirt off – his last item of clothing – and drapes it over the back of the dresser chair along with everything else he’d been wearing. Shen Wei stands naked in front of Yunlan, eyes flickering up as Yunlan cradles his face in both hands.

(Yunlan always touches Shen Wei carefully. Soothing the trembling wariness out of him the first few times, murmuring quiet reassurance when instinct has Shen Wei grit his teeth and snarl to contain his flinch as Yunlan kissed up his wrist. Like he can erase the ravages of hell that way, and sometimes. Sometimes Shen Wei can almost believe he can.)

“Kiss me.” Yunlan says. Shen Wei does not answer with words. Just leans in, closes the distance between them.  

His glasses have been left behind in the dining room. Shen Wei feels vulnerable without them, which is ridiculous considering the fact of his nudity. Yunlan’s body is warm against his, even through his clothes, and as Yunlan licks Shen Wei’s mouth open, his tongue is damn-near searing. Shen Wei’s nails snag on the fine fabric of Yunlan’s undershirt as he clutches at him, and he lets out a soft growl.

They only break the kiss when Shen Wei knows Yunlan has to breathe. Yunlan keeps holding Shen Wei, stroking his cheeks with his thumbs. His expression is so soft that Shen Wei always wishes he could look away.

(He never can. Not even when the scars on his back throb in remembrance, the pain as fresh as if it were five days instead of five millennia.)

He reaches up, starts to unbutton Yunlan’s shirt. But Yunlan shakes his head, grinning. There’s that familiar bright glint in his eyes that promised nothing good, and Shen Wei stiffens warily.

“I want to try something different.” Yunlan says. Shen Wei raises his eyebrows, and Yunlan brushes a kiss against his forehead in a transparent attempt to mollify him.

“You’ll like it.” Yunlan promises. “Do you really have that little faith in me, Xiao Wei? You’ve liked everything we’ve done so far.” His grin is wicked and lascivious, and  Shen Wei flushes. More at the intimacy of the nickname than anything else.

“Just as so long as you don’t injure yourself, my Lord.” He says wryly. Yunlan grins, drops another kiss against his forehead. Shen Wei’s eyes drift shut, remembering the kiss from earlier, but Yunlan pulls away too soon, his expression knowing.

“Get on the bed.” He says. “Hands and knees.” Shen Wei’s eyes snap open. Lesser demons had fallen to their knees and killed themselves over the look on his face. Kun Lun’s reincarnation just smiles at him with laughing, soft eyes.

“Kneel for me, Xiao Wei.” He says. He rubs a trail over Shen Wei’s cheekbone. “Please. Trust me.”

Trust me. It’s not the first time Yunlan’s asked that of him. The seal flares –

I won’t hurt you.

-  and Shen Wei lets out a breath. Obeys.

He pulls away from Yunlan’s touch, heads for the bed. Luxurious and soft and a mess at the best of times. Shen Wei had gotten Yunlan to keep his things in order by refusing to fuck him in his room if he didn’t, and he feels a ripple of absurd laughter wash over him at the memory, as he gets on the bed, bracing himself with his elbows and knees.

He can feel the weight of Yunlan’s gaze on him. Shen Wei knows what he’s looking at, and the memory of old pain flares through his back. He grits his teeth, ignores it.

The sound of rustling cloth. Yunlan undressing himself, taking his sweet time. Shen Wei stares straight ahead of him. A normal human’s limbs would have started to ache by now. He feels no pain, but the sound of falling cloth and the clink of a glass bottle, the knowledge that Yunlan’s as nude as he is making him inhale quietly. Low heat in his belly spreading to his groin, filling him up.

A chuckle. Shen Wei stiffens when he feels the bed dip. All instinct warning him about the enemy behind him, but a gentle nudge at his hip and a command has his pulse calming.

“Breathe, Xiao Wei. It’s just me.” Shen Wei exhales, but the tension doesn’t flood out of him. This position reminds him too much of another time -

A blade biting into the curve where his wings joined his back. Shen Wei screaming, pride foregone as he felt himself being ripped apart. A mangled wing dropping to the blood-drenched ground, before his tormentor started in on the next-

He forces his mind away from the memory. Forces himself to concentrate on Yunlan, dropping kisses on his shoulders and neck, the warmth of him curved along his back. Careful to avoid the raised edges of scar tissue scything through his back.

(The first time Yunlan had touched the scars on Shen Wei’s back, instinct had Shen Wei slamming him against the wall, his hand almost crushing his neck. Yunlan’s soft words along with searing agony of the contract were what made him return to himself.  

It’s the closest he’d ever come to hurting Yunlan. Yunlan had been careful not to do it again, just as much as Shen Wei had made sure never to accidentally injure him again.)

“You all right, Xiao Wei?” Yunlan’s voice is very soft and very kind. Shen Wei feels a wave of quiet resentment mingled with a deep gratitude, but he nods. Unable to see Yunlan, and it’s probably better this way. He doesn’t want to know what he might accidentally do if he forgot the present.

Silence. Yunlan presses his cheek against Shen Wei’s.

“I am going to stretch you open.” Yunlan says. Shen Wei nods, and Yunlan brushes one last kiss against his shoulder before straightening up. Pausing for a moment, giving Shen Wei enough time to breathe, but Shen Wei still gasps as Yunlan pushes an oil-slick finger inside of him, his hands clenched into trembling fists on the sheets.

“Does it hurt?” Yunlan’s voice is quiet against his ear. Shen Wei trembles, shakes his head as Yunlan slides his finger in and out, crooking his finger just so and making Shen Wei shudder when he hits that spot. The seal throbs on the back of his hand, and Yunlan kisses his temple. 

“I’m adding another finger.” He warns. Again, he gives Shen Wei enough time to prepare before sliding both fingers in. Yunlan’s touch is light and careful as he stretches Shen Wei open. His stubble tickles Shen Wei as he mouths kisses along his jaw. It’s all Shen Wei can do not to lift his head up, like a starving baby bird, and beg.

(No one’s ever touched him this gently. Not even before hell.}

 “You’re so good to me, Xiao Wei. So beautiful.” Yunlan sighs against him, and Shen Wei swallows, holding on to what’s left of his pride as Yunlan nuzzles his ear, plunging in and out.

“I’m going to enter you now.” He says. “Do you want me to?” Desire thrums in Shen Wei’s core, and he somehow manages to nod.  Yunlan kisses his cheek again, free arm wrapping around Shen Wei’s waist. Holding him secure as he pulls out his fingers, replaces them with his cock.

Zhao Yunlan makes love much like Kun Lun fought his war- decisive and overwhelming, seeking out his opponent’s every weakness and using them to devastating effect. He’s gentle, so gentle, and the tremor along Shen Wei’s shoulders intensifies as Yunlan slides all the way inside him. Burying himself to the hilt. The sensation of it no less strange, no less intimate than from when Yunlan had first touched him.

(The shock of his own want had stolen the breath out of Shen Wei’s lungs. The sensation of it had been like fire, eating at him slowly, the most exquisite of tortures, and he hadn’t understood what any of it meant until Yunlan had him crowded against his study wall. One hand cradling his face while the other held him fast by the waist. The look in his eyes so earnest and tender that  something in Shen Wei had broken that would never heal.)

Yunlan’s hands are searing on Shen Wei’s hips. His pace is slow, leisurely. Like he’s the one giving Shen Wei a gift instead of the one who had taken Shen Wei’s choices from him millennia before. Shen Wei’s holding himself so still that his arms ache, biting his lip to keep the sounds in. Yunlan laughs, the sound of it low.

“You can move.” He murmurs against Shen Wei’s ear. “And it feels better if you do this.” He secures Shen Wei against him with one arm to help him keep his balance, then tangles the fingers of his right hand with Shen Wei’s. Stroking across the seal once and lifting it up. Wrapping their entwined fingers around Shen Wei’s cock.

Ah,” Shen Wei barely notices the sound that tears out of his own throat. The weight of his own cock heavy in his palm, more so as Yunlan drags their fingers down the length of it, thumb lightly brushing against Shen Wei’s balls.

“You’ve never touched yourself before?” Yunlan pants against his ear. Shen Wei knows he’s being teased but he feels a flare of indignation all the same.

“I had more pressing concerns in Hell - Ah!” Shen Wei sucks in a breath as Yunlan smears the precome beading his tip. His left arm’s shaking with the effort of holding himself up.

“No, I meant before.” Yunlan’s slightly breathless. “You never pleasured yourself?” Working Shen Wei, and Shen Wei can barely think, let alone speak. Maybe this was the point of all this. This interrogation, questions Yunlan already knows the answers to but wants to hear from Shen Wei’s own lips.

Shen Wei’s throat bobs as he swallows.

“It’s never felt like this.” He says. His voice is hoarse, raw with honesty. It trails off into a moan as Yunlan tightens his grasp on his cock at the same time he snaps his hips forwards, practically impaling him. It’s all he can do not to collapse, and he trembles harder when Yunlan brushes his lips over the curve of his ear, his chest pressed against Shen Wei’s ruined back.

“Do you trust me, Xiao Wei?” Yunlan breathes  into his ear. Shen Wei closes his eyes. Thinks of wings, of Kun Lun’s cold, cold eyes, his bloodstained hands gripping Shen Wei’s scythe and bringing it down -

“Trust me,” Gentle hands holding his face. Yunlan, his Yunlan. The boy he’s bound to. The one who’d sold his soul to Shen Wei, and taken something more precious away. “I won’t hurt you.” There’s blood dribbling down the corner of his lip. Shen Wei follows it, something black and hungry and aching opening up inside him as Yunlan swipes a  thumb along his jaw. Kisses him for the first time.  

“What do you want from me?” Shen Wei whispers. Yunlan continues stroking him, their hands still tangled together. He has the power to make him do anything. All he has to do is ask, and Shen Wei will give it to him, contract or not. Yunlan already knows this, but still he pretends Shen Wei has a choice in anything that concerns him.

“Let me touch your scars.” Yunlan says. His voice is very quiet. “Please.” 

Shen Wei does not answer. His heart is pounding, the taste of blood in his mouth. His hand clenches around the sheets, almost tearing the fine fabric. He growls, low and instinctive, the sound if it petering off as Yunlan keeps nuzzling kisses against his cheek.

 “I won’t hurt you.” Yunlan promises. His voice has taken the breathless quality to it that means he’s close, and he kisses the back of Shen Wei’s neck. Shen Wei exhales.

He gives the smallest of nods. And then Yunlan releases his hand. His searing palms move up his hips to the terrible, monstrous scars covering his back.

Shen Wei stiffens. Yunlan’s fingers trace the ridges of raised tissue, following the wicked whorls and jagged hollows where whole portions of flesh had been carved off. And as Shen Wei holds still, he feels Yunlan lean down, brushing his lips against the worst of the scarring. The lightly raised stumps where his wings used to join to his back-     

-the blade shattering the last shard of bone and Shen Wei collapses at Kun Lun’s feet. His thoughts wiped away by agony. He crawls away, dignity forgotten, aware only of that terrible lightness of loss. Somewhere in the distance, Ye Zun is screaming, but Shen Wei can’t hear him anymore, the ground shuddering beneath him and crumbling, and the last thing Shen Wei sees before he falls is Kun Lun, blood blooming at his side as he lets fall Shen Wei’s scythe -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Shen Wei flinches violently, a low growl tearing out his throat as panic begins clawing at his chest. His nails rip at the sheets, tearing the fine silk, and he wants to sink his teeth into flesh, rip into it to protect himself. Yunlan pulls back, hands settling over Shen Wei’s hips again.

“Easy, Xiao Wei.” He says. Shen Wei forces himself to breathe. To restrain himself. Yunlan’s fingers combing through his hair, his other hand gentle against his hip. He’s still inside him, Shen Wei thinks, shivering. Ye Zun had thought Shen Wei could destroy Kun Lun’s soul by trapping him in that contract, but instead Kun Lun had made Shen Wei part of him and he would never let him go.

Yunlan continues playing with Shen Wei’s hair. Soothing him like he would an injured animal. Shen Wei closes his eyes, presses against his touch. Starving for it. Yunlan brushes his mouth against his ear.

 “I’m sorry.” He whispers. His right hand cradles the side of Shen Wei’s head. Shen Wei barely notices him start moving again. So slowly, taking Shen Wei so deeply that his mouth falls open. And it doesn’t hurt at all; feeling so good that Shen Wei feels like he’s floating, in some warm, soft place he’s never known. All the world just him and Yunlan, together, as Yunlan taught Shen Wei what it meant to be safe.

 Shen Wei comes with his voice catching on Yunlan’s name, and the last of the strength leaves his limbs as Yunlan also spills inside him.He slumps  against the bed, a sticky, sated mess, his hands clutching the silk sheets, cheek pressed against pillow and Yunlan’s body heavy against his. As Shen Wei struggles to catch his breath, he can feel Yunlan doing the same. His face buried against Shen Wei’s neck, their legs tangled together, chest to back.

Yunlan rolls away before Shen Wei can panic, gathering him close, so that Shen Wei’s head is pillowed on his chest. Shen Wei shivers when Yunlan kisses his neck, then lifts his right hand, kissing the middle of the seal.   

His skin is so warm. Shen Wei thinks of holy fire, surrounding him, licking his bones hollow. He shivers again, and Yunlan kisses the slope of his shoulder.

“Will you ever tell me what happened to you?” Yunlan asks quietly. He can force Shen Wei to tell him, but he never does. Shen Wei shakes his head.

“No.” Is the only thing he says. Yunlan strokes at the small of his back, just below the scars. Shen Wei shivers, but doesn’t pull away.