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my long-lost blossom of shalimar

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Yue Qingyuan had found himself in the sort of situation that, not long ago, he had not even allowed himself to dream about; even within his own head, he had feared it would be unfair of him to impose his feelings upon Xiao Jiu. Yet somehow, the fear of losing Xiao Jiu had shocked him into action. When the other man woke from his sleep-addled fever, he'd mustered the courage to confess the truth to him; everything from his qi deviation to his return to the Qiu mansion, and the taxing toll that Xuan Su took on him with every use.

Shen Jiu had responded with shock, denial, and anger - Yue Qingyuan had been slapped harshly, which he expected, and then grabbed firmly by the collar and kissed, which he did not. After that Shen Jiu had retreated to his own lodgings on his peak, and stayed there for weeks, in which Ming Fan was required to lead the other students in reading and cultivation practises. Yue Qingyuan might have winced a little when he heard this — Xiao Jiu's head disciple was not known for his decorum — but he couldn't bring himself to say anything regarding the decision. Xiao Jiu was well within his rights to isolate himself and take time to recover from this. Plus it would likely be good experience for Ming Fan, if he were to inherit the role of Peak Lord from Xiao Jiu after all.

Shen Jiu had wanted the truth, but it had come late, after years of festering resentment and fraying ties. What he'd thought to be true had just been another of Yue Qingyuan's lies. Yue Qingyuan just hoped that Shen Jiu would still speak to him once he deigned to leave.

And to his surprise, he did.

It started with Xiao Jiu agreeing to one of his frequent invitations to drink tea with him in the flower gardens of Qiong Ding Peak's palatial mansion. They sat side-by-side in the shade of a blooming magnolia tree in a more companionable silence than they'd shared in years. Yue Qingyuan kept glancing to his side, mouth opening to speak, and then closing again. Being here together in nature made him think of their childhood, the way most things did - remembering the way Xiao Jiu would point and screech "Look, Qi-ge!" when he saw a butterfly or a stray cat. Shen Qingqiu was the first to break the silence - he stared at their hands, side by side, calloused and tan next to thin and white.

"You have done well for yourself, Qi-ge," he said simply, without making eye contact. The use of the familiar long-unused name in Xiao Jiu's mouth shocked Yue Qingyuan into silence, having to check that he was still breathing after all.

Mending their fractured relationship had been quick by comparison to the years that came before — but by then, they'd waited long enough. Xiao Jiu - Shen Qingqiu, in public - had a face to keep and Yue Qingyuan didn't mind if he pretended to be reluctant when the Sect Leader coddled or walked with him. Yue Qingyuan didn't mind it even when he would gaze at Shen Qingqiu with the fondness of a loyal dog whose owner had returned. Soon, their fellow Peak Lords began to notice more and more strange behaviours from them. Yue Qingyuan would tuck a haitang blossom into Shen Qingqiu's hair, and the other man would let him; sometimes, Shen Qingqiu actually smiled (albeit sardonically) at a remark the Sect Leader made to him during a meeting. At first, they were concerned that Shen Qingqiu may have suffered another qi deviation after overcoming his fever. Then, after months of watching their infallible Sect Leader court his shidi like a lovestruck boy, they announced their intent to marry on the next auspicious day, when the sun rose high in the sky above Qing Jing.

Neither of them had any family to speak of, being two former starving orphans. The wedding ceremony was performed in view of their martial family instead. Yue Qingyuan had carefully brewed Shen Jiu's favourite floral tea and prepared a platter of his favourite mooncakes to assuage his sweet tooth. In return, he got to take tea prepared by Shen Jiu again, a privilege he once assumed was lost to him forever. Even when he'd managed to bustle his way into the other man's company with unscheduled 'visits' to his bamboo house, Shen Jiu would have a disciple make it and lean back in his chair languidly fanning himself as though he was overcome with ennui at the sight of the Sect Leader. Answering his constant litany of concerned, well-meaning questions with monosyllabic, barely-disguised irritation Yue Qingyuan had come to accept.

Now Yue Qingyuan pulled back the red veil shielding the other man's face, and felt his heart almost ignite. He kissed the curve of Xiao Jiu's eyelid, his cheek, his lips. Shen Jiu didn't pull away; rather he grabbed him by the wrist and grasped it tightly, even as he murmured that they didn't need this crowd of onlookers, that Yue Qingyuan was embarrassing himself with this overt display of affection in front of his Sect. I'd do more, Yue Qingyuan thought recklessly, affection welling up inside him like a great wave.

Later, when they were alone in the bamboo house, Shen Jiu beckoned him with a careless 'come hither' gesture of the finger that Yue Qingyuan immediately obliged. Shen Jiu bared a pale, curved shoulder, dropping his robe to his waist, and threw Yue Qingyuan a look that said "Well? Are you just going to stand there and stare?" He let the robe fall to the floor and stepped neatly out of the pile of crimson silk.

He followed obediently to the bed, where Shen Jiu had burned incense for the occasion. Yue Qingyuan rid himself of the deep red robe that, unlike his usual sleek black, accentuated his broad shoulders and settled back on the bed to wait for Xiao Jiu to finish disrobing. He drank in his slender waist and hips, the long, thin legs that Yue Qingyuan longed to kiss, and the curve of his neck, where he'd like to leave his gentle mark. Shen Jiu approached the bed with fire in his eyes, removed his hairpin, and climbed on top as his loose hair canopied them in a silky black curtain.

                                                                                                              ✦✦✦

Yue Qingyuan was flat on his back, with Shen Jiu straddling his waist as he took every opportunity to tease and torment his new husband in order to amuse himself. With every roll of his hips, Shen Jiu engulfed Yue Qingyuan's cock in more slick heat, smothered between his folds to coax Qingyuan to feel how wet he was.

Yue Qingyuan petted his thigh gently and made no motions to speed up what Shen Jiu was doing or try to slip inside; he was as infuriatingly patient as ever, looking at him with that damn adoring smile on his face as if Shen Jiu had hung the moon and stars. Shen Jiu entertained the thought with the sort of fond irritation he reserved solely for his Qi-ge; but it suddenly halted when Yue Qingyuan seized his hand and brought Shen Jiu's knuckles to his lips, making him flush all the way up his pale high cheekbones that were usually devoid of colour unless he was particularly enraged.

However, he didn't snatch his hand away as Yue Qingyuan expected. They gazed at each other for a few moments, Shen Jiu seemingly taken aback. Sex was not something he often chose to seek out, despite the popular rumours, but it was not new to him. He'd been subjected to unwanted 'affections' at the Qiu household, and so he knew from a young age what it entailed. This was nothing like that - it was something he wanted, but had never allowed himself to acknowledge out of shame and regret - and it was happening with the one man he loved and trusted. For Shen Jiu, whose life was spent exchanging blows both verbal and physical, the contrast was enough to make him dizzy.

"Xiao Jiu? Are you alright?" Yue Qingyuan began when Shen Jiu didn't react further than blushing, so Shen Jiu kissed him to shut him up. The kiss was warm and soft, sliding against one another with exploratory caution. Yue Qingyuan's large and dependable hand lifted to cradle Shen Jiu's cheek, rubbing soothing circles under his earlobe with his thumb. Shen Jiu leaned in, cat-like, nipping at Qingyuan's bottom lip.

There was still something bothering him: Shen Jiu knew that Yue Qingyuan was controlling himself with perfect discipline, as he did so well, for Shen Jiu. He could see it in the hard, thin line of his mouth when he pulled back and the harsh breaths that made his broad chest rise and fall, and feel it in the way the Sect Leader's cock was hard and twitching between Shen Jiu's thighs. It had to be painful, just like his own arousal was getting - like the way his cunt made Yue Qingyuan's balls slick and wet, the way it tried to clench around it despite the fact that it wasn't even inside of him.

He wanted Qingyuan to go further than that, to hold him down and ravage him, take his pleasure and make sure Shen Jiu knew and felt that he was his. As long as he put his hands all over him, Shen Jiu would allow him to grasp his wrists as he thrust inside him and maybe even to grab him by the hair.

"Yue Qingyuan," Shen Jiu hissed, his knees digging in hard against the other's sides. "Will you please act as though you're interested?"

The other man looked stricken, but it was quickly replaced with a gentle smile. Shen Jiu let out a soft abortive gasp as he was scooped up by his thighs, legs locking around Yue Qingyuan's waist as the other man laid him out on the bed - delicately, as though he was made from precious glass. Beckoning Yue Qingyuan closer, Shen Jiu spread his legs enticingly as though the wanton look on his face wasn't enough to convey his desires.

Yue Qingyuan leaned in to kiss him, capturing his lips in an arrangement that was both passionate and attentive. The gentle, doting touches were almost too much to bear. Shen Jiu found it hard to see with something blurry obscuring his vision, and he only gave thought to what it was when the other pulled away in shock.

"Xiao Jiu! Are you crying?"

Shen Jiu had not cried since he was a child and very quickly realised that no amount of tears or self-pity would save him from his predicament. Shen Qingqiu had never cried in his life. He couldn't bear for Yue Qingyuan to see him that way now, pathetic and dishevelled, thoroughly knocked from his pedestal. The thought crossed his mind — and brought a bitter laugh to cross his lips — that now he surely looked every inch as dissolute as he was supposed to be, if the idle gossip thrown around the peaks was to be believed. His jet-black hair was splayed across the sheets like an ink spill as he flushed, eyes bright and glassy with tears.

Yue Qingyuan took his hand in his, looking at him with a pained expression of concern, brows furrowed. "We don't have to do anything that Xiao Jiu doesn't want."

"I want it. I can handle it, Qi-ge. You're well-endowed, certainly, but you're truly not so large I'll be ruined," Shen Jiu crooned, tracing Yue Qingyuan's lips with his thumb. "Although perhaps you would appreciate that, ruining what's yours for anyone else." He gestured to the space between his spread thighs, where Yue Qingyuan's cockhead pressed gently against his entrance.

"Yes," Yue Qingyuan said, his voice rough and strangled in his throat. The tension held in his shoulders caused him to shake slightly.

Shen Jiu smiled sweetly. "Make me yours, then. Take me. Won't Qi-ge make his Xiao Jiu feel good?"

The proud venerable leader of Cang Qiong Mountain, wielder of the Xuan Su sword and scourge of demons, was powerless in the face of that request from his shidi, whose finger he was wound tightly around. His jaw tightened as his shoulders went slack, the tension dissipating completely. The fire in those usually gentle, placid eyes thrilled Shen Jiu to the core.

"Ah - Xiao Jiu -" The elder man groaned beseechingly, fingers gripping Shen Jiu's thighs. The two clung to each other as Yue Qingyuan pushed inside, eager arms wrapping around his neck. Shen Jiu's body was wet and open for him, letting him in so easily. He didn't even need to finger him open - not that Shen Jiu would be patient enough to let him.

His cock being buried inside Xiao Jiu's wet heat was indescribable, almost too much to bear. For a second, he was afraid of losing his control and coming as soon as he was seated inside and before he'd even brought his loved one to the edge with him. He continued resolutely, back and shoulders straight, thick brows knitted in concentration with every particularly hard thrust; his hands cupped Shen Jiu's pert ass to keep him in position as Yue Qingyuan's cock shoved to the hilt again and again.

Underneath him, Shen Jiu writhed like a beautiful serpent, sharp eyes glittering like twin jades. He clutched at Yue Qingyuan's shoulders, wrapping shapely legs around his waist as if he couldn't bear a single cun of separation between them, as if he couldn't get enough of Yue Qingyuan, of having the man all to himself, bearing the full brunt of his attention. I wish I could stay inside him like this forever, Yue Qingyuan thought, surprising even himself.

It was difficult for Shen Jiu to think properly, surrounded as he was by the Sect Leader — being gripped in those strong hands, the Sect Leader's cock pumping into him and the man it belonged to murmuring sweet affirmations to him in a low voice. Once, Shen Jiu would have scoffed, thinking those affirmations meaningless. He'd have ordered Yue Qingyuan not to say those pathetic things, as if he could be lied to so easily and bought with words. Even now it was strange - while not unwelcome - to reconcile that the man he was with now, the one he had married, was the same as the boy who'd loved and protected him in the past.

The indomitable and fearsome Peak Lord, long black hair now a messy array, cried out when Yue Qingyuan gripped him even tighter and drove into him again, with a merciless thrust that had him shuddering and his toes curling with what felt like boundless pleasure. Shen Jiu almost keened as he tugged at the other man's hand, moving it to play with his swollen clit, circle it with a warm calloused thumb. The older man had surprise writ large across his face when Shen Jiu's voice broke free unrestrained, no longer able to be stifled.

Then, his shidi gripped him harder, heels pressing into the small of his back, and demanded "Do - do that again."

Spurred on, Yue Qingyuan fucked into him ceaselessly as his thumb rubbed at that small nub - until Shen Jiu came with a scream, biting down on his fist as it trailed off. Yue Qingyuan held him through the series of short aftershocks that made his spine tingle and his nails rake sharp scratches down Yue Qingyuan's back. He murmured to him, soft and gentle, until Shen Jiu stopped shuddering in his arms. With a hopeful smile, he muttered, "Xiao Jiu? Will you - say it again?"

Shen Jiu primly turned his head to the side, as though he were embarrassed by the request. "You'd rather be called that even on our wedding night, when there are so many things we could call each other?" he crooned, fingers curling around the back of his husband's neck, sharp nails leaving crescent shaped indents on Yue Qingyuan's strong shoulders.

"Baobei," whispered Yue Qingyuan, eyes blown wide with lust, dark tendrils of hair sticking to his sweat-stricken forehead. "- Husband."

"Husband," Shen Jiu murmured back, reaching out to touch his face. "Ah - Qi-ge - Come inside me. Now."

The last wall of resistance he had came crashing down. Yue Qingyuan came with a groan, his balls drawing up toward his cock, clutching at Shen Jiu like a lifeline as he buried his face in the crook of his slender neck, filling up Xiao Jiu just as he'd asked. Shen Jiu patted at him a little awkwardly, and they met one another's faces with tender smiles.

                                                                                                                 ✦✦✦

Yue Qingyuan got up from the bed and returned with a washcloth and basin, which he used to clean the two of them gently before they settled down for bed. “You’ll come and stay with me?” he whispered into Shen Jiu’s lightly fragranced hair, holding him close against his chest. “I mean live at Qiong Ding when you’re not teaching. Stay with me at night. This shixiong will do his best to provide anything his - husband needs.”

“You’re still a fool, Qi-ge,” Shen Jiu responded, sharp and fond in equal measure as he turned in his arms. “Aren’t we married? You don’t have to beg for my attention - anyway, it’s unfitting for your status.”

A wry smile split the stoic expression on the Sect Leader’s features. “Xiao Jiu is right. But this master is happy to wait on his husband’s attention.”

Shen Jiu placed a hand on the other man’s chest, close to where his head lay, and welcomed slumber as he listened for the steady beat of Qi-ge’s heart, thrumming in his chest. For the first night since he’d been picked off the streets, he could sleep peacefully - Yue Qingyuan’s proximity giving him a reassurance that not even the title of Peak Lord, and the lodgings and privileges that came with it, could ensure. Tomorrow he would wake up here, in the arms of the one he loved like no-one else.