Feng Xiao wanted to take Cui Buqu somewhere nice. They’d already been to all the better spots of Daxing City. He’d even rented an entire manor once for Cui Buqu, which he’d greatly enjoyed proving wasn’t haunted; it just had poor soundproofing combined with the owner’s irritated ex-wife.
The hardest part of treating Cui Buqu was getting him to agree to leave off work.
“So, this cousin of the Emperor’s, Yang Xun,” Feng Xiao said, snapping open his fan. “He’s a cut-sleeve?”
“Yes,” Pei Jingzhe replied. “He’s well-known for spending outrageously on his favorites. One of the most recent assassination attempts was when he was on his way to a brothel. It was only through pure luck that he escaped.”
Feng Xiao tapped his chin with the fan. “Do you think QuQu would like being taken to a hot spring?”
“My Lord?” Pei Jingzhe’s face was blank.
“They’re medicinal, you know. The steam could clear his rhonchi.” Give him a little extra energy for Feng Xiao.
Feng Xiao got to his feet. “Exactly. We’re going to a hot spring with Commander Cui. We’ll lure out the assassin on the trip.”
“Are you sure you want to share the merits for this case with the Zuoyue Bureau?”
“The mission won’t succeed without QuQu in a hot spring.”
Leaving Pei Jingzhe to come to acceptance, Feng Xiao headed to the Zuoyue Bureau. Guan Shanhai tried to keep him out of Cui Buqu’s office, insisting that Cui Buqu was busy, but Feng Xiao pretended he didn’t hear Guan Shanhai and let himself in. Cui Buqu was sitting at his desk, composing a letter. He didn’t look up when Feng Xiao came in. For once, there was only a little tension about him; his shoulders were relaxed as his hand lightly gripped the brush.
Feng Xiao stretched out on the floor in front of the desk and rested his chin on his hand. He watched Cui Buqu, not particularly expecting to be acknowledged beyond the brief glance Cui Buqu gave him. There was always something about Cui Buqu’s fingers that drew Feng Xiao’s attention. Even heavily wounded in Western Göktürk, Feng Xiao had been distracted by the way that Cui Buqu had eaten melon.
When Cui Buqu went to dip his brush into the ink pot, Feng Xiao pushed it just out of his way. Meeting Feng Xiao’s gaze, Cui Buqu wrote something on Feng Xiao’s hand. Feng Xiao wrapped his fingers around Cui Buqu’s slender wrist.
“I need you.”
Feng Xiao released Cui Buqu and looked at his hand. Cui Buqu had written “pest” on the back of it. “Someone’s trying to kill Yang Xun.”
“I’ve heard of him. Sounds like work for the Jiejian Bureau.”
“Yang Xun’s a sickly man. I’m clearly too healthy to pretend to be him. You should do it—I’ll be your lover.”
“Why should I help?”
“Credit for the Zuoyue Bureau, all gained while visiting a hot spring.”
Cui Buqu tapped the end of his brush, thinking about it.
They were two days out of Daxing City, with not a single attack to show for it. Feng Xiao drew back the curtain to look out. There were hills on both sides of them, setting them up perfectly for an ambush. Cui Buqu knew it as well as Feng Xiao did. Yang Xun had a habit of carrying a folding fan, so Cui Buqu was playing with one, spreading it open and closing it again. Cui Buqu was dressed like a complete dandy in brightly-colored silks, his hair up in a tall crown made from mutton-fat jade. One corner of his lip turned up as he considered Feng Xiao.
“A-Xiao,” Cui Buqu said, his voice dripping with so much sweetness that he seemed to be trying to gag Feng Xiao with it. “Come here and sit in my lap.”
How was Cui Buqu trying to pit him this time? “But my Lord is so frail; A-Xiao is too heavy.”
“Then I’ll die with you on top of me.” Cui Buqu gestured towards his crotch with the fan.
Feng Xiao sat across Cui Buqu’s lap and flashed a smile as he toyed with the collars of Cui Buqu’s robes. “Don’t die—A-Xiao would be back on the streets.”
“Are you still sore from last night, my treasure?” Cui Buqu asked. “Did I make your little backside hurt?” Cui Buqu patted Feng Xiao’s ass as he spoke.
Feng Xiao’s smile froze. Hadn’t he done more of the work? Cui Buqu had mostly just lain there. If Feng Xiao was feeling it the next day, it was all to his own credit.
“I’m sorry,” Cui Buqu said, caressing Feng Xiao’s jaw. “But you’re too tempting. Every night, I want to ravish you.”
Even though Cui Buqu was teasing, hearing him say ‘tempting’ and ‘ravish’ was exciting. Feng Xiao replied, “If my Lord wishes… we could do it in here.”
Cui Buqu pressed his lips to Feng Xiao’s just as the carriage went over a bump, nearly knocking their teeth together. Feng Xiao kept them from falling to the floor by bracing one hand against the side. Cui Buqu paid the near-accident no attention as he gripped Feng Xiao’s chin and shoved his tongue past his lips. Was Cui Buqu turned on by their false identities? Feng Xiao moaned, shifting suggestively in Cui Buqu’s lap.
The sound of light footsteps jerked Feng Xiao out of the moment and he slid off Cui Buqu to pull back the curtain. A man clad entirely in black leapt towards the carriage; Feng Xiao flung out a zither string, intending to wrap it around the man’s waist and capture him alive. But holding back made the string too slow. The assassin knocked it aside with his sword and landed on the roof. As the driver panicked and halted the carriage, Feng Xiao flipped onto the roof after the assassin.
Feng Xiao needed the assassin alive—he was just skilled enough to make knocking him out difficult. It was a little like Feng Xiao was trying to slap a gnat without crushing it. The assassin kept jostling the carriage, making Feng Xiao constantly shift his weight so Cui Buqu wouldn’t get thrown around below. Ming Yue and Pei Jingzhe finally caught up from where they’d been riding towards the back. The assassin, realizing he was outnumbered, fled into the forest. Feng Xiao prepared to pursue him until he remembered that if they caught the assassin here, they’d never make it to the hot spring. He let himself back into the carriage.
“Not going to chase after him?” Cui Buqu asked.
“The ground’s too muddy; I don’t want to dirty my boots.”
Cui Buqu gave him a long look, but said nothing.
The Jiejian Bureau’s contact in the resort town was a merchant named He Zheng. He was waiting nervously just inside the city gates, as if just being near Feng Xiao would bring trouble upon his head.
“Did you have a safe journey, Lord Feng?” He Zheng asked Ming Yue.
“Lord Feng is next to me,” Ming Yue said.
“My apologies, my apologies,” He Zheng replied, bowing to Cui Buqu. “Of course a man with a dignified face like yours is Lord Feng.”
“Our journey was safe thanks to my martial arts, yes,” Feng Xiao said, loudly enough to cover Cui Buqu’s snort.
“I’m so deeply sorry for the confusion.” He Zheng almost apologized to Pei Jingzhe, his head swiveling towards Feng Xiao just in time.
“Make sure you have us straight before you introduce us,” Cui Buqu said. He went over all their false identities with He Zheng, speaking very slowly. He Zheng nodded along.
When Cui Buqu was satisfied that He Zheng actually knew who they were, they proceeded to their accommodations. Feng Xiao had arranged for only the best, built right on top of the natural hot springs that had made the town so attractive to the elite of Daxing City. Even the presence of Ming Yue and Pei Jingzhe couldn’t distract from the incoming reward of seeing Cui Buqu’s skinny bare arms wreathed in steam. The assassin should have the sense to wait until after Feng Xiao and Cui Buqu were finished tumbling into bed together, but Feng Xiao wasn’t above fighting naked in a hot spring. It would be a gift to the other guests.
The proprietor himself came out to greet them. “My Lord,” he said, looking directly at Cui Buqu, who was imperiously fanning himself. “This humble person is so flattered that you’ve chosen to stay here. He-xiong! How good to see you in such excellent company.”
He Zheng took in a deep breath, then started to introduce them. Except he got the order brutally wrong. He Zheng introduced Ming Yue as Yang Xun’s “companion,” Pei Jingzhe as the bodyguard, and Feng Xiao was relegated to the role of the servant. Feng Xiao gritted his teeth. With a peerlessly beautiful face and bearing like Feng Xiao’s, how could anyone think for a moment that he was a servant? But the proprietor nodded and gestured for them to follow him in. Cui Buqu put his hand on Ming Yue’s waist with a calculating little smile on his lips.
“Get the luggage,” Cui Buqu said.
Feng Xiao turned on his heel. Pei Jingzhe trotted to catch up to him on the way back to the carriage.
“My Lord, I’ll help.”
“Your salary for the month is doubled.”
Pei Jingzhe looked about to cry.
The servant didn’t want to let Feng Xiao into the hot spring. Feng Xiao stared past the servant at where Cui Buqu was sitting in the water with his shoulders hunched, skin slightly flushed from the heat and his hair fully pulled into a high bun. Ming Yue was next to him with a somber expression. Shouldn’t he at least be trying to look coquettish? Could Ming Yue even make his face do that? How could someone like Ming Yue compete with Feng Xiao for the interest of a lecherous royal cousin?
But they couldn’t drop their disguises, not when any of the servants could be in contact with the assassin.
“This isn’t your vacation,” said the servant.
Not anymore, it wasn’t. “My Lord wants me to personally attend him.”
“Let him pass,” Cui Buqu said imperiously. “He’s easy enough on the eyes.”
Feng Xiao went to the clothing rack and started to strip, taking his time. Yang Xun’s appetites were well-known; it’d be out of character for Cui Buqu not to watch. Feng Xiao glanced at him as he slid off his inner garments, relishing Cui Buqu’s possessive stare. He gathered his hair and put it up completely to prevent it from getting wet. After throwing his clothes over Cui Buqu’s, he stepped into the hot spring.
It felt amazing. The hot water seemed to be flowing straight through his meridians to soothe the recent offenses against Feng Xiao’s dignity. Feng Xiao leaned back against the stone and closed his eyes. Maybe he would fall asleep. Was Cui Buqu admiring him? Feng Xiao’s skin was probably glowing in the steam.
“Yue-er,” Cui Buqu said, using the same sweet tone as in the carriage. Feng Xiao’s eyes shot open. “Rub my shoulders.”
Ming Yue shot a worried look at Feng Xiao while Feng Xiao’s heart rate spiked.
“This humble person’s fingers are too clumsy,” Ming Yue replied, eyes still on Feng Xiao.
“They weren’t this morning.”
This morning being when Cui Buqu woke up, stretched, and poked Feng Xiao with his erection until Feng Xiao jerked him off.
“I won’t ask again,” Cui Buqu added.
Ming Yue swallowed and raised his hands out of the spring. Water dripped from Ming Yue’s hands as he slowly reached towards Cui Buqu, maintaining as much distance between them as possible, like Cui Buqu was a poisonous toad. Time seemed to slow—or maybe Ming Yue really was just letting his hands hover there.
“Actually,” Cui Buqu said, smirking, “let A-Xiao do it.”
Feng Xiao breathed out. The water splashed at the speed Ming Yue retracted his hands and backed off. When he got behind Cui Buqu, Feng Xiao was distracted by the unfamiliar sight of Cui Buqu’s nape. While he was no stranger to Cui Buqu’s back, his hair was always down. There was a beauty mark just beneath his hairline that Feng Xiao badly wanted to kiss. Feng Xiao risked brushing his thumb over it as he began massaging Cui Buqu’s neck.
Since Cui Buqu was in a teasing mood, Feng Xiao would get even. He infused his fingers with qi as he rubbed his way towards Cui Buqu’s shoulders. Cui Buqu inhaled sharply, his lips parting slightly. Feng Xiao paid special attention to the many places Cui Buqu carried tension in his shoulders. He was, earnestly, doing the best job he could. Cui Buqu’s mouth was a firm line from trying to keep quiet.
“My Lord, is this humble person satisfying you?”
Cui Buqu nodded curtly. As Feng Xiao carefully rolled his thumb against a sore muscle, he sent warming qi through it. Cui Buqu bit his lip. Feng Xiao smiled while working his way along Cui Buqu’s shoulders. He knew everywhere to touch Cui Buqu that would give pleasure, especially with so much qi flowing through his meridians. Cui Buqu kept trying to stiffen rather than relax. Feng Xiao didn’t let him, deftly manipulating the muscles of his shoulders until Cui Buqu went boneless, chest rising and falling with his rapid breathing. Finally, Cui Buqu let out a nearly silent “ah.”
“That’s enough,” Cui Buqu said.
“But my Lord,” Feng Xiao replied, leaning forward so Cui Buqu could feel his breath against his ear, “didn’t it feel good?”
“Go back to your corner.”
Feng Xiao huffed and returned to his spot at the edge of the hot spring. Ming Yue looked like he’d clearly never seen a more interesting patch of wall in his life.
At dinner, Cui Buqu fed Ming Yue a slice of pork from his chopsticks, Feng Xiao snapped his own, and Ming Yue choked.
“Oh no,” Cui Buqu cooed, “is something wrong with the food, my Yue-er? Spit it out.” Cui Buqu slapped Ming Yue’s back a few times. The expression on Ming Yue’s face was wronged.
When Ming Yue was recovered, Cui Buqu held up another slice of pork. Cui Buqu had a devilish look in his eyes. “Let’s try again, Yue-er.”
In that moment, the one person Feng Xiao pitied more than himself was Ming Yue.
After Feng Xiao endured a shichen of watching Cui Buqu listen to a (terrible) zither player and sip wine under the moonlight with Ming Yue, “Yang Xun” finally retired to bed. Cui Buqu made a show of being unsteady on his feet and leaning on his latest boytoy, Ming Yue. Feng Xiao’s eyes followed Cui Buqu to his no doubt luxuriously appointed bedroom as Pei Jingzhe tugged him towards the wing for servants.
Their room had a single bed in it. Feng Xiao looked at Pei Jingzhe.
“I’ll sleep on the floor,” Pei Jingzhe said.
Feng Xiao strode over to the window and slid it open. “Sleep wherever you like,” Feng Xiao replied, then jumped out.
He landed on the soft grass outside the building. No one saw him as he used qinggong to swiftly travel to what had to be the window to Cui Buqu’s room. Feng Xiao leapt onto the roof, dangling down so he could open the window and climb in.
Ming Yue was stretched out on the floor while Cui Buqu was comfortably curled up in the lavish bed, snoring.
“Lao-san,” Feng Xiao whispered from the window. Ming Yue rose up on his elbows and blinked at Feng Xiao as he hopped down. “We’re switching rooms. Jingzhe is nine windows away to the south.”
“Are we switching again in the morning?”
“If we have to. The assassin’s likely to strike tonight.”
Ming Yue got to his feet and left without another word. Feng Xiao took off his boots and outer robes, letting down his hair before he slipped under the covers with Cui Buqu, who was facing away from him. He gathered Cui Buqu into his arms and tucked his head against Cui Buqu’s nape, finally getting to kiss the hidden beauty mark he’d seen earlier. Feng Xiao spent a few moments just enjoying the medicinal smell which always followed Cui Buqu around.
The snoring stopped. “Feng-er?” Cui Buqu mumbled.
“A-Xiao,” Feng Xiao said petulantly.
“A servant like you dares to come to my bed?” Cui Buqu asked, a sharp edge in his voice that went straight to Feng Xiao’s cock.
“This humble person is just a servant,” Feng Xiao said, starting to rock his hips against Cui Buqu, “too lowly to even touch you with my hands, let alone my indecently large pillar.”
Feng Xiao moved his hand down to Cui Buqu’s hip and held him firmly. Cui Buqu’s breathing quickened. “I could have you whipped for your arrogance.”
“Is that all?” Feng Xiao whispered in his ear. “Is that all you want to whip me for?”
“You think you can speak to me? I should put your mouth to better use.”
“My Lord can use this humble person’s throat if he wishes, if he thinks I deserve it—”
Cui Buqu wriggled out of Feng Xiao’s grasp and lay on his back, his hands clumsy as he shoved down his pants. The bed was too short; Feng Xiao’s feet dangled off the end when he went between Cui Buqu’s legs. He kissed Cui Buqu’s thighs before he did anything else, enjoying how Cui Buqu grumbled that his mouth had bad aim.
“What if I’ve forgotten how to do it?’ Feng Xiao asked. “Today was very upsetting—I feel like my memories are all tangled up.”
Cui Buqu threw the pillow at him. Feng Xiao laughed as it bounced harmlessly off his head and nuzzled at Cui Buqu’s thigh. Cui Buqu dug his heels into Feng Xiao’s ribs until Feng Xiao finally took Cui Buqu’s cock into his mouth. Feng Xiao teasingly swirled his tongue around the head, enjoying the feeling of Cui Buqu getting harder. He soon had to open his mouth wider as he began to suck, moaning when Cui Buqu’s cock touched the back of his throat. Cui Buqu gasped, legs tensing around Feng Xiao, and covered his mouth.
Feng Xiao withdrew, giving Cui Buqu a few final licks before he looked up with a spoiled expression. “QuQu, give me your hands.”
“What? Go back to what you were doing.”
Feng Xiao brushed just his lips against Cui Buqu’s cock, then blew on the head. “Your hands.”
Cui Buqu rolled his eyes and let Feng Xiao hold his hands by the wrist. Feng Xiao pressed them down against Cui Buqu’s stomach. “Now you have to let me hear you,” Feng Xiao said with a grin.
Feng Xiao wrapped his mouth around Cui Buqu’s cock and relaxed his throat as he slowly took him all the way to the base. Cui Buqu was obstinately silent. Feng Xiao glanced up and saw Cui Buqu clenching his jaw. When Feng Xiao started to suck again, Cui Buqu’s wrists tensed and he let out a labored breath. Cui Buqu was making Feng Xiao work harder to get any noise out of him—that was fine. Feng Xiao wouldn’t let him get away with coming quietly.
Cui Buqu’s wrists strained whenever Feng Xiao bobbed his head. The pulse under Feng Xiao’s fingers was fast, revealing everything Cui Buqu was trying to hide. Feng Xiao’s throat was beginning to feel raw by the time Cui Buqu finally couldn’t hold back a moan.
That was all Feng Xiao needed to get painfully hard. Cui Buqu shifted underneath him, thrusting up as he panted and moaned again. He sounded so different from when Feng Xiao was inside him, breathier and with the narrowest vein of restraint that made Feng Xiao want to undo him completely. Cui Buqu was close. Feng Xiao let go of his wrists so Cui Buqu could bury his hands in Feng Xiao’s hair, tugging hard. He called for Feng Xiao one last time before he shivered and came.
Feng Xiao spat it out over the side of the bed. “It doesn’t taste that bad,” Cui Buqu grumbled.
“My palate is more refined than yours.” Feng Xiao wiped off his mouth.
“How unfortunate for you that I keep testing it. Lie back.”
Feng Xiao scrambled to get his pants off before Cui Buqu settled between his legs. Cui Buqu didn’t waste a moment—he licked a line along the underside of Feng Xiao’s cock and lapped at the head. Unlike Cui Buqu, Feng Xiao didn’t hold back from making a pleased noise. He stroked Cui Buqu’s hair as he watched him and enjoyed the feel of his tongue as he eagerly attended to every part of Feng Xiao’s length. By the time Cui Buqu took Feng Xiao into his mouth, Feng Xiao was breathing like he was in a fight.
Cui Buqu had to strain to get his mouth around him. He got halfway down the shaft before he started to gag and Feng Xiao tightened his fingers in his hair.
“You’re taking too much again,” Feng Xiao said.
“You’re too much,” Cui Buqu replied, without any venom.
“Try just the tip.”
That earned a glare. Cui Buqu put his mouth back around Feng Xiao and sucked hard enough that Feng Xiao groaned at the feel of his teeth. Feng Xiao slipped his hand from Cui Buqu’s hair to gently caress his cheek. Cui Buqu was slower when he took more this time, his eyes on Feng Xiao. He always looked endearingly angry like this, though Feng Xiao knew he was just concentrating. Wrapping his fingers around what he couldn’t fit, Cui Buqu’s eyes fluttered closed.
Feng Xiao carefully thrust into the warm softness of Cui Buqu’s mouth. Cui Buqu pinched Feng Xiao’s thigh. Feng Xiao behaved after that. His climax was building in him, and he let Cui Buqu hear it, how his breathing was changing as he let out a low gasp. Cui Buqu dug his nails into Feng Xiao’s thigh, the sharpness bringing Feng Xiao even closer.
“QuQu, let me come down your throat, please—”
At Cui Buqu’s slight nod, Feng Xiao spilled inside him. Cui Buqu swallowed, even licking off what had trickled down from the head. “That’s how you should do it,” Cui Buqu said, sending one last jolt of arousal through Feng Xiao.
“When it’s your birthday,” Feng Xiao lied.
Cui Buqu snorted as Feng Xiao pulled him up into an embrace. Feng Xiao kissed Cui Buqu’s face, trailing more down his neck. Cui Buqu squirmed, but didn’t fight it—probably because he’d orgasmed so recently. He was so much more docile this way that it made him easy to bully. Feng Xiao licked Cui Buqu’s cheek, and Cui Buqu finally shoved at his chest.
Someone screamed over the sound of shattering wood down the hallway.
“Did the assassin go to the wrong room?” Feng Xiao said, already pulling on his pants and sprinting towards the door.
Swinging the door open, he was just in time to see Ming Yue send the assassin flying into the wall. The woman who’d screamed was a maidservant who’d dropped an armful of bedsheets. Bolting the wrong way, the assassin nearly bumped straight into Feng Xiao. With just a palm, Feng Xiao knocked him out.
Cui Buqu wandered into the hallway and yawned. “A-Xiao, I had no idea you knew martial arts. I wouldn’t have been so gentle with the spanking.”
Ming Yue coughed, then seemed to collect himself. “My Lord,” he said. Both Feng Xiao and Cui Buqu turned their heads. “I hope you two are very happy together. Yue-er will return to the brothel.”
Cui Buqu’s mouth twitched as Feng Xiao burst out laughing.