Xie Lian reached out.
It was funny how only a minute ago he was calm and composed, waiting patiently, ready to wait for centuries if it would be necessary, but now, suddenly, every second felt like an eternity, and he couldn't run fast enough to touch, to feel, to love.
Let this be real, he prayed to no one in particular, but his desperate plea would for sure move the heart of the one who hears it. He was ready to fall to his knees in front of whoever can grant this little wish of his.
In the last second, he almost stepped back. He had this dream so many times already, and he wasn't sure if he would be able to take it if he wakes up just before his fingertips brushed against Hua Cheng's extended arms, and he paused slightly.
But before he could actually decide on the matter, he felt the touch. He felt strong, trembling arms wrapping around his waist, desperate fingers spreading to cover as much of his back as possible, pointy chin pressing into his shoulder firmly, strongly, with no place for any carefulness. Their bodies collided with each other, and they fit together perfectly. With a sigh, he let his arms circle Hua Cheng's torso and pulled him even closer into the embrace. They hugged each other so tightly it hurt, but it was the best pain Xie Lian has ever felt.
His hands rubbed Hua Cheng's back, combed through his hair, felt his arms, his hips. The Ghost King let his hands wander too, gripping Xie Lian's waist, rubbing his sides, pulling closer, pressing tighter.
Xie Lian's throat felt tight with emotions, a big, shaky smile on his face, tears filling his eyes, falling down his cheeks and onto Hua Cheng's robes.
“San Lang...” he breathed and sniffled. “San Lang, San Lang!”
“I'm here,” Hua Cheng said, rubbing Xie Lian's back firmly, soothingly. “Your Highness, I—I'm here.”
Xie Lian pulled away, just a bit, their fronts still pressed flush together, and cupped San Lang's face with both of his hands, stroking his damp cheeks. His heart was unbearably loud in his chest, it's powerful beating almost suffocating him. Hua Cheng pressed his palms to the back of Xie Lian's hands and kept them on his face, his single eye falling shut.
“Gege,” he sighed, content, and so relieved that Xie Lian himself felt his muscles relax. Hua Cheng felt his chin, his jaw, fingertips following his cheekbones and hairline, before going back to grab at Xie Lian's wrist and pull them to his lips to kiss his fingers and knuckles. In response to that, Xie Lian pushed his hands away and got on his tippy toes, connecting their lips.
It wasn't like any other kiss they've had. It was a kiss for the sake of kissing, unhurried, undisturbed. It was the first kiss in which Xie Lian felt those eight centuries of longing Hua Cheng wanted to convey, the happiness and the uncertainty. He felt everything, touches, and emotions and thoughts, which all melted together when Hua Cheng's tongue slowly entered his mouth. Xie Lian wrapped his arms around his beloved's neck, Hua Cheng hugged his waist, and their bodies were close together, as close as possible, two hearts right next to each other. Out of simple worry, Xie Lian directed a shy stream of spiritual energy into the kiss.
They pulled away after a while, linking their foreheads and closing their eyes.
“You came back,” Xie Lian smiled.
“You waited,” Hua Cheng whispered, pressing his lips to Xie Lian's cheekbone.
“Yes,” Xie Lian admitted happily.
“I'm... so happy,” the ghost confessed, nosing at Xie Lian's temple.
“Don't do that. Ever again, don't do that,” Xie Lian squeezed the man's shoulders.
Hua Cheng only chuckled, “This, I can't promise.”
“If you die for me again, I'll follow,” the god stated. “From now on, anywhere, I'll follow San Lang.”
Let this be real, Xie Lian heard in his head. A small, shy prayer, echoing loudly in his head. Please, Your Highness, let this be real.
Even in a moment like this, Hua Cheng wouldn't pray to anyone but him.
“It is,” Xie Lian said, tears following the lines of his smile. “It really is.”
Hua Cheng smiled, too. He could feel his knees tremble. Heavens, he really hoped Xie Lian didn't feel it, too. In fact, he hoped that his god didn't notice a lot of things that happened in the last few minutes. Like how nervous he was, standing at the feet of that house.
The house Xie Lian has built with the sole reason of waiting for him. At the very place he left. He didn't move from that damned mountain for a year.
The mere thought of this made Hua Cheng want to fall to his knees, pray to his god and sob.
At first, he couldn't even move, too nervous that Xie Lian grew tired of waiting and wasn't happy to see him anymore, and now he was there, in Hua Cheng's arms, holding him so close. That little, useless child with dirty bandages on his face, sleeping in the Crown Prince's temples, would've never believed him.
He pressed His Highness to his chest again, burying his face in his hair. Gods, he smelled so incredibly good. His skin was so warm, and so soft, finally free of those unfitting shackles, truly a skin of a prince. But the hands, touching Hua Cheng's face were rough and calloused from work. Maybe he will be blessed enough to kiss the roughness away.
Xie Lian pulled back, only a little bit, so he could look Hua Cheng in the face. He studied his features carefully, the soft smile still there.
“I missed you terribly,” he murmured, brushing Hua Cheng's bangs away from his face.
“I'm sorry I couldn't make it faster,” he replied. Xie Lian shook his head.
“Not at all. You were gone only for a bit,” the god said, averting his eyes. “It's just, ah, it felt like so much longer than it really was.”
“Gege...” Hua Cheng sighed, cupping his cheek, his thumb gathering the tears that managed to escape his eyes. He chuckled when Xie Lian leaned into his hand.
“I have so much to tell you, San Lang,” Xie Lian murmured.
“I have so much to hear,” Hua Cheng smiled.
Xie Lian laughed, letting go of Hua Cheng only to rub at his face and wipe all the wetness away, leaving his cheeks adorably pink, and lips invitingly red.
“I bought an... an ox,” he said, struggling to keep his breathing calm.
“Yes, Gege, I saw,” Hua Cheng's voice was soothingly soft when he spoke.
“A-and the house, I built it,” he laughed, sheepishly, “It's a bit crooked, but—”
“It's perfect,” he cut the god off, dropping a kiss on his forehead. “You did so well.”
Xie Lian sobbed. Only once, very quietly, but he did, and with that he hugged Hua Cheng again, stuffing his head under the ghost's chin.
“I missed you so much,” Xie Lian repeated in a hushed tone. “I was going crazy by myself.”
“I'm here,” Hua Cheng said. “I'm here, and I won't leave again.”
“I know. I won't let you.”
The Ghost King let out a content sigh, nuzzling his nose to Xie Lian's hair.
The sky was painted the darkest shade of blue, making the three thousands of bright little dots, floating lazily towards it, stand out strongly. Their light shined brightly onto the meadow, creating a halo around a funny, crooked house.
There, inside of that house, a God and a Ghost King embraced tightly, talking until the real sun was hung up high in the skies, and talking some more until it was gone again, never to be parted again.
Somewhere closer to the said sun, in Heavens, hundreds of gods were driven crazy by the big, loud bell, swinging furiously to both sides until the Heavens Capital shook with hundreds of voices cursing a certain, freshly reborn, ghost.
Only two of them sighed with relief, knowing that their dear friend has finally found a remedy to his helpless mourning.