Amidst the chaos, the two of them are thrown around in the coffin like rag dolls, banging elbows and knees and shoulders into all different parts of each other. They press hard together, clothes chafing with how much they rub and pull. Even though he knows Hua Cheng looks like a slender young man, Xie Lian quickly learns that he is extremely solidly built; he’s sure he’ll have bruises later to show for it.
Head spinning from the turmoil, Xie Lian can hardly think straight; but finally, when a moment’s rest graciously appears, he finds Hua Cheng’s body pressing down hard on top of him. It’s a little suffocating, to be honest.
With a soft groan, Xie Lian fumbles an arm through the pitch dark, grabbing on to the arm that he assumes Hua Cheng is using to support himself. “Is it over yet…?”
Oddly, though, Hua Cheng doesn’t respond. But before Xie Lian even finishes speaking, his blood goes to ice in his veins. With a hitched breath, he suddenly notices a… certain body part of his is making itself very known.
At first, his mind goes as blank as fresh paper, only the sounds of their harsh breathing and the waves splashing against the coffin registering. Then, without warning, embarrassment and awkwardness slam into him, feeling wilder and more uncontrollable than the storm outside. Without thinking, Xie Lian squeezes his knees shut, heat flushing across his face. No, no, no, why this, why now!
Unexpectedly, Hua Cheng lets out a sharp noise above him. “Don’t move,” he grunts, his voice deep and commanding.
Without a second thought, Xie Lian flattens his legs again, panicked. He doesn’t want to stir up any trouble, but if the other man realises exactly what the situation is, he would rather plunge himself straight into the demonic waters beneath them and drown. Of course, if he found out, Xie Lian could lie and say it was some unavoidable natural reaction, but… how believable was that?!
In such a dire situation, Xie Lian wants to blurt out, “No! San Lang, don't touch me!" But unluckily, as he opens his mouth, the boat flips once more; his words are stolen from his mouth as an unintelligible shout as he slams harshly into the side of the coffin.
With Hua Cheng’s thigh still wedged between his legs.
Xie Lian feels his heartbeat speed, his traitorous body pumping blood south. But every time he tries to tell Hua Cheng to move, his back smacks into the hard wood, ripping the air from his lungs.
And it's almost worse, how tightly they have to hold each other to stay safe; he's got a hand fisted on the back of Hua Cheng's hair, knuckles probably bruised from the force of colliding into the wood, while Hua Cheng is holding him tightly into his chest with barely an inch to breathe. Their legs are tangled together, muscles tensed and bruised, bodies completely flush.
Xie Lian is burning with embarrassment.
His- his problem between his legs has only been getting worse; with every turn of the coffin, Hua Cheng's thigh presses harder into it. With every knock into the walls, Hua Cheng lets out a low grunt or hiss into his hair. Xie Lian can't move his legs at all, but he's terribly certain Hua Cheng can feel his reaction; it's unmistakable, after all! What kind of shame is this!
But- but- but-
Hua Cheng's back hits the roof particularly hard. "Ngh, fuck," he groans, his chest rumbling with the words.
Xie Lian has never been so turned on in his life.
His di- his problem seems to twitch at every little noise Hua Cheng makes, sending a fresh wave of mortifying lust through Xie Lian's body. By now, being tossed around this much, Xie Lian feels like his entire body is on fire, his- his dick harder than it's ever been in his whole life. And Hua Cheng keeps accidentally rubbing his thigh against it.
What if he does it enough for me to—? The thought makes Xie Lian choke on air, his brain turning to mush. The shame would eat him alive. What would Hua Cheng think, seeing him squirming and wet with release, from such an inappropriate situation?
The coffin flips again, and Xie Lian finds their positions reversed, his body now sprawled on top of Hua Cheng. A jutting hip bone presses right into him.
The pressure is divine. Xie Lian whimpers, his hips stuttering, and thinks very seriously about climbing out of the coffin and throwing himself into the jaws of the bony dragons they had encountered earlier.
The makeshift boat rocks again, and he feels his brain start to shut down, pleasure and guilt seeping into his blood. Oh, gods. If it keeps going like this, it might actually be enough to make me… Xie Lian despairs at the image his mind conjures and wants to throw himself into the ocean even more.
At least, that's what he thinks, until he feels an adam's apple bob under his cheek. "Your highness? Are you alright?"
Xie Lian feels shame seep into every vein like poison, turning him to stone in seconds. "Mm."
Hua Cheng's hands loosen slightly, and Xie Lian, to his horror, finds himself feeling acutely disappointed. "I think that turbulence is finally over," Hua Cheng continues, his voice warm and deep by Xie Lian's ear. Xie Lian squeezes his eyes shut, tenses his muscles, and frantically tries to convince himself that he's totally under control, this is normal, this is fine.
Because even Hua Cheng's voice is sending Xie Lian down a spiral of filthy thoughts.
"Gege," Hua Cheng whispers with alarm, "are you alright? Did you get hurt?"
If only it were something that easy, Xie Lian thinks, slightly hysterical.
"Hold on, show me where it hurts." The hand that was clutching his hair moves to his shoulder, while the one on his back slides down slowly, slipping to the front to lie against his hip bone. The coffin jostles, and his thumb digs into tender flesh.
Xie Lian can't hold back his mewl in time.
They both freeze, breathing going silent, only the sound of water lapping against the sides of the coffin accompanying them. Maybe, Xie Lian thinks, he's the corpse in here. He feels like he's just died. He wishes he were dead. Smacking his head into the wood enough times to kill himself sounds excellent right now.
But he feels that thumb start rubbing circles into him, with just enough pressure to make him startle and gasp. "S-San Lang," he whimpers, hiding his face in the crook of his neck. His breaths start getting shallower.
Beneath him, Hua Cheng seems to have stopped breathing altogether. "Your highness," he chokes out. The hand on his shoulder runs down his back like water, drawing a long shiver down Xie Lian's spine. "Is this okay...?"
He can hear the ragged breathlessness of his voice, can feel the shake in his hands. Hua Cheng meanly presses his thumb into the soft flesh of his hip again, and Xie Lian moans.
"Please," he finds himself saying, "please, San Lang..."
He wants to throw himself in the water for being so shameless.
He immediately takes back the thought when he feels Hua Cheng's hips jerk beneath him.
"D-Dianxia," Hua Cheng stammers. His hand fists in the back of his clothes. "I- oh shit- I'm sorry—"
I should be the one apologising, Xie Lian thinks, before he registers something hard pressing into his thigh. Oh. That's. That's his...
A hot flush burns across his face as he considers his options. He could break the coffin. They could swim back to shore; Hua Cheng will float regardless. They could just tough it out and pretend nothing was happening until they made it out of the Black Water Demon's realm. Xie Lian could also try to find a way to knock them both unconscious, he guesses.
Clumsily, he presses his hips down, and drags it along that hard length.
Hua Cheng makes a punched-out sound, growing noticeably harder against him. "Dianxia, I- I'm- don't look—"
Xie Lian grinds down again, his own body shivering with pleasure. "San Lang," he whispers into his skin, "is it okay if you touch me, too?"
If he didn't know that Hua Cheng were already a ghost, he would have worried he'd died just then from how utterly silent he goes.
Shaking hands come to rest on both hips finally, and Hua Cheng nervously presses his hips up.
It makes Xie Lian see stars; words fall from his lips, sounding suspiciously like praises and encouragements for more. They must be, because Hua Cheng rolls his hips, and Xie Lian feels his mind go blank.
"San Lang," he chokes out at the third time Hua Cheng hesitantly grinds into him, "–don't stop touching me." His own hips clumsily press down to meet him, and they both let out twin embarrassing noises.
"Gege," Hua Cheng chokes, one hand starting to wander while the other grips tighter. "Gege."
They start grinding against each other in an unskilled but rapidly-improving rhythm, moans sounding all too loud in the cramped space. Hua Cheng is touching him everywhere he can reach, like he isn't quite sure where to rest his hands; they are slender and callused, sliding over his back, his arms, his cheek, his hair. Xie Lian pulls back slightly (and Hua Cheng whines a little when their chests aren't pressed together, which has no business being so cute) and fumbles his hands, touching along Hua Cheng's shoulders and neck until he finally finds his face. It's somehow easier to do this, in the pitch dark- he doesn't have the shame of his face showing. It makes him braver, makes everything a little surreal and dreamlike. But as he runs his fingers along skin, feeling the tug as his thumb brushes over a lip, and the shuddery sigh that ghosts over his hand, he desperately wishes he could see Hua Cheng's face.
He presses their foreheads together, finding Hua Cheng’s skin much cooler than his own. "San Lang," he breathes, their noses bumping together.
Hua Cheng shudders under him. "Gege," he mewls. His head tips up, and their lips brush, tingling with electricity. "Dianxia," he feels mouthed against him.
Xie Lian tilts his head and presses their lips together before he can stop himself.
Hua Cheng is instantly responsive, humming desperately into his mouth as his hand cups his cheek. His lips are soft, yet relentless; he's soon darting his tongue out, brushing the seam of his lips, and Xie Lian parts them with an eagerness he hadn't realised he kept inside him. That talented, clever tongue presses against his own as the owner sighs hungrily through his nose. He's good at kissing- he's so good at kissing. Xie Lian feels his breath being stolen away as Hua Cheng kisses him slow and deep, lips moving sensuously and easily, making his heart pound without end. Oh, this is such a good idea. Why don't they do this more often? Why don't they kiss all the time from now on?
Hua Cheng makes a sound halfway between a laugh and a squeak. Xie Lian belatedly realises he's been babbling his thoughts aloud.
"I'm glad Gege likes it," Hua Cheng replies breathlessly, "but if we k-kiss all the time, how will we get anything done?"
Xie Lian's response is a particularly punctuated grind of his hips. He drowns in the sound of Hua Cheng's keen. "This counts as doing something, right?" He replies brazenly.
His voice comes to a stutter when Hua Cheng's hands move down to squeeze his ass and pull him hard against him. "Careful, gege," he murmurs, nibbling on his lips, "I might hold you to that."
And oh, Xie Lian really wouldn't mind if he did.
The coffin rocks slightly, and that's all the warning they get before it flips. Xie Lian feels his back smack hard into the wood, while Hua Cheng wheezes on top of him. They take a few seconds to groan in pain before Xie Lian feels something warm throb against him, more clearly than before.
Before, they were grinding desperately against each other, the feeling mostly muted by the many layers of clothes between them. But it looks like when they had spun, their outer robes finally weren't trapped between them, leaving them to grind against each other's pants.
Hm. That seemed a bit too convenient. Xie Lian pats down Hua Cheng's arm, and finds him suspiciously opening his palm and moving it away.
"...San Lang, did you do that on purpose?" Xie Lian asks, his eyebrows raised.
Hua Cheng settles his leg between Xie Lian's thighs again. "Maybe," is his mischievous reply.
Xie Lian puffs his cheeks - such a bold man! - and counters by darting his hand down to cup Hua Cheng between his legs.
...Oh, gods. Too bold! Too bold!!
He doesn't even know how to do this to himself!!
Hua Cheng's hips jerk in his hand, and he feels a hot, thick length under the fabric of his pants. Xie Lian feels steam come out of his ears. He barely knows what he's doing, his hand tracing the outline like he’s not even sure what he’s touching. This is horrifically awkward, he wails in his own mind. (There’s another part of his mind that turns to static at how big he is, which he steadfastly ignores.)
But, as usual, Hua Cheng saves him.
"Next time, gege," Hua Cheng hums by his ear, pulling his hand away. "Although, I like the enthusiasm," he adds with a chuckle.
Xie Lian thought he couldn't get harder. It turns out, Hua Cheng is quite a talented person.
"Um," he starts, clutching Hua Cheng's robes on his back, his shame slowly melting with that beautiful voice, "could you- keep talking?"
Hua Cheng noses his ear. "Mm? About what?"
Xie Lian takes a deep, steadying breath. "About 'next time'," he finally manages to stammer out.
Hua Cheng makes a broken sound. His hips slot properly, and he starts up a slow, delicious rhythm. "Are you saying...?” He sounds perfectly in awe. “Is that a promise, gege?”
Xie Lian’s heart hammers in his throat. "I-it could be, if you want."
"Yes," Hua Cheng says immediately. "I want. Gege, you have no idea how much I want that. How much I want you.”
Oh, Xie Lian thinks, squeezing his legs together as heat courses through his body. Oh.
"I want to see you so badly, Gege," Hua Cheng continues, lips brushing his ear. "I want to touch you, I want to find out what you like and where you like it, and I want you to feel so, so good."
A violent shiver runs through Xie Lian's body, his hips jerking up. That voice is smooth and deep, seeping into his body like honey, and Xie Lian is desperate to hear more. "San Lang..."
Hua Cheng's hips move a little faster. "I want to mark your thighs with my mouth, and make another mark high enough on your neck so you can’t hide it. So everyone who dares look will know what we’ve done." He grunts at a long thrust, and Xie Lian buries his head in his shoulder again, moaning in unison. There’s a certain dangerous thrill that runs through his body at the idea of everyone knowing about this scandalous secret, to have a bright and obvious sign of sin placed lovingly on his body. "Gege, you're so beautiful. I want to worship you with everything I have."
It’s as if the temperature had spiked; Xie Lian feels flushed all over, his body aching for the coolness of Hua Cheng’s skin. “San Lang,” he repeats uselessly, his hands grasping for anything, everything he can touch. He’s rewarded with the hard muscle of Hua Cheng’s bicep and back; he holds onto both like a life-line. “More, tell me more,” he pleads, greedily drinking in every word.
Hua Cheng presses his face messily into his neck. “Gege, next time- next time, I want to do all of this properly. I want to show you all the finest things in the world.” He mouths against his jaw, nips the skin under his ear; Xie Lian didn’t even know he could feel so affected by the touch. Pleasure forces him to arch his back. “I want to slowly undress you on my bed,” Hua Cheng breathes, his hand slipping into Xie Lian’s robes, “and make love to you all night.”
His fingers are cool and light; they trace along his skin, completely incongruous to the almost desperate pace of their bodies. They touch along him and push his robes apart, before lightly resting on his nipple. Xie Lian’s breathing hitches, his body shaking as those clever fingers start rubbing against them.
“I’m glad Dianxia is still sensitive here,” Hua Cheng murmurs, brushing his thumb over a soft bud. Xie Lian whines as it hardens; he’s never felt so vulnerable. “Do you like this?”
It takes a few seconds to remember to respond. “Yes,” he whines, “yes, San Lang, don’t stop.”
“Oh, I don’t plan to,” Hua Cheng replies, and then there’s a tongue laving across his nipple.
Xie Lian shouts, hips slamming up, hands scrabbling along Hua Cheng’s back. He’s sensitive here, he always has been, but feeling Hua Cheng’s lips and tongue dance across his skin makes him see stars. He hasn’t felt so much pleasure, so much almost-pain, so much everything before; his head tilts back, knocking hard into the side, and he doesn’t even try to stifle the embarrassing noises that spill past his lips.
“Dianxia, you sound,” Hua Cheng starts, his teeth scraping along his chest, and Xie Lian nearly comes then and there. “Dianxia,” Hua Cheng repeats desperately, his mouth now biting wherever it can reach.
After that, words are secondary; what matters more is the shared, secret noises they make against each other, the way their hands grip desperately for purchase, the perfect sync of their hips grinding together. Xie Lian's breaths are coming faster and harder, his brow beading with sweat. "Nnh- San Lang, San Lang," he pants, grasping him tight, "please, please—"
"Dianxia," Hua Cheng gasps into his skin, hot breaths curling around his neck like a prayer. “Dianxia.” He nips at his collarbones, hips pistoning mercilessly.
That's not quite what Xie Lian wants to hear. "—my name," he manages to strangle out between moans, "say my name, H-Hua Cheng, my name—"
There's a deep, gutteral groan, Hua Cheng's hips bucking wildly. “X…Xie Lian,” he groans, sounding thoroughly wrecked. “Xie Lian, Xie Lian, Xie Lian.” He is relentless as he stammers Xie Lian's name, voice raw and awed, burying his face into Xie Lian’s shoulder. With a final thrust, he lets out an almost illegally gorgeous noise, one that makes Xie Lian shiver violently, before he collapses, boneless and panting on top of him.
Ah. Xie Lian is busy going scarlet, realising Hua Cheng had- had finished, when he feels a slender hand slip deftly between his legs. "San—"
"Xie Lian," Hua Cheng chokes out again, "my prince, my god, my love, say my name, too."
He has no reason to resist. Within half a minute Xie Lian comes, singing out Hua Cheng's name like a prayer, his hips jerking and stuttering under that elegant hand.
He feels divinity in this tiny coffin; feels the eager yet patient kisses Hua Cheng gifts him on his neck as he slowly comes down from the high, harsh breaths evening out, his swallows less erratic, his body finally laying to rest.
(Divinity feels humid and warm; it smells like sweat and sex; it tastes like Hua Cheng's mouth.)
He wraps shaky arms around Hua Cheng's shoulders, pulling him even closer. He can feel his heartbeat settle contently. "San Lang. My wonderful San Lang," he breathes. He's dazed at how deep and scratchy his voice has gotten. "Hua Cheng."
He's rewarded with even more fervoured kisses. "Xie Lian," Hua Cheng murmurs, as if the name were a secret he would soon have to part with. It’s whispered with a kind of breathless devotion, something so beautiful and special that Xie Lian wants to tuck it close to his heart and pull it out to look at on his worse days.
It is so easy, so natural, to melt in Hua Cheng’s embrace like this. They kiss almost lazily, Xie Lian’s hands drifting down his back like water, Hua Cheng’s thumb brushing against his cheek. Warm breaths are shared between their mouths, the silence more intimate than the sweet words they had shared. But as their makeshift boat rocks slowly, even with Hua Cheng kissing him so sweetly, the warm feeling spreading through Xie Lian’s chest cools. This… this isn’t right, is it. He’s taken this selfishly, he realises. Hua Cheng has been so kind to him; even lying and calling him his love… he’s too nice, too forgiving to Xie Lian. Guilt rises like the tide, drowning his body in inky waters.
Reluctantly, he pulls away, mourning the loss (how could he be so selfish?). “I’m sorry,” Xie Lian whispers, head turned to the side, feeling as though he’s stealing even these moments. “You… you deserve to do this with that special person of yours. I didn’t mean to take this experience away. You’ve been too kind, to even feel enough pity for me to call me your love.”
A pause. “Dianxia…”
And, in the tense silence, Hua Cheng snorts.
If one could see Xie Lian’s face, it would be somewhere between stunned and affronted. “San Lang?”
“Gege,” Hua Cheng starts, then stops, a surprisingly inelegant laugh bubbling from his lips. It sounds mostly exasperated. “Gege, are you serious.”
“San Lang, of course I am!” Xie Lian gasps, almost hurt. “I would never want to cause conflict for you and your special person!”
“Gege,” Hua Cheng wheezes, and there’s a rustle of fabric before Hua Cheng messily kisses the corner of his mouth. A cool hand tilts his head, and their mouths press together properly. His lips are unmistakably curled into a grin. “Eight hundred years and at least fifteen kisses, and you still haven’t figured it out?”
Then Hua Cheng tilts his head to whisper his secret love’s name in his ear, and in a fit of surprise, Xie Lian blasts the coffin to pieces.
(Hua Cheng is laughing heartily all the way to the shore, his arm wrapped around Xie Lian as they swim.
Xie Lian’s face is bright, bright red, and he’s never felt luckier.)