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can't let it fester

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Xue Yang’s been their prisoner for weeks now and he’s not getting any better. The fever had built slowly, crawling up his skin like resentful energy, making him slow, making the world spin. He’d thought he was healing, even though the wound on his thigh throbbed whenever he moved, even though he had to blink spots out of his eyes whenever he sat up.

He’d caught Xiao Xingchen—pretty, elegant Xiao Xingchen, with his warm smile always aimed at Song Lan, whose hands were always gentle when they tightened the bindings around Xue Yang’s wrists—staring at him once or twice, when he stumbled or took a second too long to stand. It brought heat to his face to remember, too similar to the heat in his gut to be differentiated.

Then he’d fainted, which brought about a different kind of heat.

“What are you planning?” Song Lan asks, polite and disinterested, crouched in front of Xue Yang when he blinks the blinding light from his vision.

Xue Yang sneers, because there isn’t enough saliva in his mouth to spit. He’s planning to get free of these bonds and drag their guts back through these beautiful mountain passes they’ve been herding him through, for starters. As soon as he catches his breath.

There are hands on his shoulders. One of them, gentle, comes to press against his forehead.

“He’s sweating,” Xiao Xingchen says. The frown is evident in his voice.


“Xiao Xingchen is just so hot,” Xue Yang says. His voice sounds far away to his own ears. Even more faraway is the startled sound—not quite a laugh-- from Song Lan.

Two fingers press against his neck. Xue Yang closes his eyes. His head is starting to hurt, his annoyance growing with it.

“How long have you been injured?” Xiao Xingchen asks him, very quietly. There’s an edge to it, like there was when he was chasing Xue Yang down. Something about it makes Xue Yang shiver. It’s strange, how sensitive his skin is, and at the same time, how distant his mind feels from everything that’s happening. He can almost see the scene as if he’s outside it, Song Lan crouching before him on the forest path, Xiao Xingchen holding him from behind. He’s boxed in, caught between the two of them.

Despite himself, Xue Yang’s dick twitches beneath his robes.

“It will heal,” Xue Yang says. “It always has before.”

Xiao Xingchen makes a sound Xue Yang can’t quite understand. Song Lan looks at him, and Xue Yang makes himself glance up, to watch them look at each other. He can’t imagine knowing someone so well, so deeply, as to have a full, silent conversation in only a few seconds.

“If you’re truly worried, you could always let me go,” he says, tilting his head back as far as he can, to bat his eyelashes up at Xiao Xingchen. 

In another life, he’d be able to slink off into a dark corner somewhere until the healing was over, would be able run anyone who dared look at him through with Jiangzai, cut their tongues from their mouths, and bind their souls to do his bidding.

“We have to remove your outer robes,” Song Lan says, as if Xue Yang hadn’t spoken.

Xue Yang smiles at him.

“If you touch me, I’ll bite your throat out,” he says.

“Xue Yang, your wound is infected,” Xiao Xingchen says, like Xue Yang doesn’t know.

“Yeah, and?”

Song Lan makes another sound, this one of disbelief.

“Do you want to die?” he asks. “Of this ?” He’s always been the easier of the two to rile up, to excite.

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like,” Xue Yang says and he—doesn’t mean to be so honest. Must be the fever. He smiles to offset it, lets them think he’s joking.

Song Lan’s frown deepens.

“You’ll die,” he says, speaking slowly. “When we choose it. When it is just. Not a second before.” He sounds like he’s choosing his words carefully.

“Sounds romantic,” Xue Yang says.

Song Lan looks at him without kindness. Xue Yang wonders how the two of them came to be a pair, how such a cold creature started orbiting around someone like Xiao Xingchen.

“Healing will only take a moment,” Xiao Xingchen says. Xue Yang can’t tell who it’s meant to soothe.

“Xingchen—” Song Lan starts, a note in his voice Xue Yang doesn’t understand.

“Zichen,” Xiao Xingchen returns. They look at each other again, a look that is more than just looking. Xingchen sounds a little amused, more at—ease? Or not at ease, exactly, just, no longer about to stab him. A shame. Xue Yang’s always been into a little penetration, and Xiao Xingchen is pretty . He’d look even prettier with a bit of blood spattered over his face; his own, Xue Yang’s, Song Lan’s—

Song Lan makes an annoyed sound.

“Just let us take your robes off,” he says.

“I am your prisoner.” Xue Yang tilts his head, lets his hair slide off his shoulder to reveal a sliver of his neck. “You could rip them off, if you wanted to.”

Song Lan just looks at him. It’s intoxicating, although maybe the heat that rises in Xue Yang’s cheeks could be blamed on the infection.

Xue Yang lets his knees fall open, lifts his bound hands to make his belt easier to access. Song Lan’s fingers are warm through the fabric as he pulls Xue Yang’s clothes open.

“Zichen is a good healer, the best I know,” Xingchen assures him, helping Song Lan move the fabric out of the way.

“What else is Zichen good at?” Xue Yang says, to cover the way his breath has started to come in shallow.

Song Lan gives him a cold glare. Like ice. Xue Yang can’t keep his smile off his face. It’s strange, to have so much attention paid to him after being caught. The hunt never ends, it seems.

“Zichen is very good with his hands,” Xiao Xingchen says. Xue Yang coughs, and in that split second of surprise, Song Lan has his leg pinned to the ground. He tears the cloth at the seam, pulling it back to expose Xue Yang’s thigh. Xue Yang swallows to stop himself from groaning.

The wound doesn’t look good. A rough triangle shape, with shallower scraping above, up to his hip. It’s black where the wound is the deepest, and red at the edges, swollen, oozing with a clear substance that smells like sickness. 

Xiao Xingchen makes a sound in his throat. A careful finger trails next to it, at the redness radiating out, into Xue Yang’s skin.

Song Lan frowns at it, gaze flicking from the wound to Xue Yang’s face.

“I have a high tolerance for pain,” Xue Yang says, letting his canines show.

“What is this?” Song Lan asks, tracing an old jagged scar at Xue Yang’s calf. His touch is light, but insistent, his skin cool against Xue Yang’s own.

“Dog bite,” Xue Yang says. “From childhood.”

“And this?”


“And this?”

“I don’t remember.”

It’s only a little bit of a lie; he’d fallen, as a child, running from something or someone, but he can’t remember what, now. He was always running from something or someone, until he taught himself how to fight back, until Jiangzai had become less a tool he had, and more an extension of himself. It made his game of cat-and-mouse with them more interesting, that way; who can say which of them is the hunter, which the hunted?

Song Lan’s grip on his leg doesn’t slacken, doesn’t gentle. He doesn’t look at Xue Yang when he starts to heal him. 

His energy on—and under—Xue Yang’s skin is—not as bad as he expected, but still unpleasant. It feels like Song Lan is touching him, everywhere, where nerves shouldn’t be touched.

Xue Yang squirms, then gasps when something, not Song Lan, spikes bright pain through his thigh.

Song Lan jerks his hand away.

“There’s-- something. I think it’s a splinter.”

That would explain the ache, why it didn’t get better. Xue Yang’s body is usually better pushing through injury than it has been. Maybe it’s part of aging, one of the things he never thought would apply to him, and didn’t pay attention to.

“How did this even happen?” Song Lan snaps. His grip on Xue Yang’s leg is adjusted, his long fingers twisting, forcing his hips open.

“Dunno.” It’s almost true. Xue Yang doesn’t remember the exact moment.

 The whole of the chase is a vibrant blur in his memory, certain points standing out: the flash of Xiao Xingchen’s sword, the sting of it on his cheek, Song Lan’s frustrated snarl when he’d managed to slip free, again. He’s escaped from them almost a dozen times now, and been caught just as many. 

It must have been sometime during the last one, with the wooden fence and the storm. He’d been caught on something next to the fence, or scraped, or stabbed. Mostly he remembers the dull pain of wrenching himself free, his leg wobbling when he got it under himself, and then wobbling again when Song Lan tripped him up, a few hours later. The rain had soaked his hair and his robes, leaving them plastered against his skin. 

Whatever. The injury wasn’t interesting enough to remember. 

This, though.

“You should be more careful, Xue Yang,” Xingchen says.

“What, don’t want to lose your favorite little mouse?”

Song Lan coughs, or chokes, or something. Xue Yang isn’t looking at him,

Xingchen slides a hand over Xue Yang’s chest. It’s not—not an embrace, or anything. It’s a restraint, another rope to tie him down, like the one keeping his wrists together.

“I would be very disappointed, after all the trouble we’ve gone through, to lose you now,” he says. His other hand trails a circle around the jagged wound, pressing down at the edges just hard enough to be felt. Like pressing a bruise. For a moment, Xue Yang can’t breathe. 

He says, “You’re so fucking stupid.” 

No one should be allowed to look the way Xiao Xingchen does. Such soft eyes. Like he doesn’t know who, and what, Xue Yang is. Like he hasn’t spent the better part of the year trying to bring him to justice for killing an entire clan. Bodies hung from the rafters, blood soaking into the ground, the resentful energy curling around Xue Yang’s ankles like a friendly cat.

Maybe that’s what they like, though. Such a dangerous creature, under their—protection? Under their hands, anyway. He is their responsibility, as long as it’s their rope tying his wrists together.

“The splinter needs to come out,” Song Lan says. Xingchen nods.

“Do what you must,” he says, adjusting his grip on Xue Yang.

“Do what?” Xue Yang says, even though he knows. His pulse has started to flutter with something like anticipation. Their eyes on him, their hands on him--

“It’s easier this way,” Xiao Xingchen says. “Quicker.” He hasn’t stopped fucking stroking Xue Yang, like he’s trying to soothe a frightened animal.

“I have to put my finger inside,” Song Lan says. He swallows right after.

Xue Yang is so, so hard.

“Yeah,” he says, nonsensically. Xiao Xingchen’s hands on his shoulders are the only things keeping him grounded. The wound throbs, open and red, the edges swollen from being cleaned. He could disappear into the pain of it, if he wanted.

“It will hurt,” Song Lan says, like Xue Yang doesn’t know.

“It will hurt worse if it festers,” Xiao Xingchen says, more to Song Lan than to Xue Yang.

“Yes,” Song Lan says.

Xue Yang can only breathe, shallow and fast, as Song Lan reaches a finger into him. Just the tip at first, parting his torn flesh, and then deeper.

It’s—invasive, it hurts, it feels like too much. Tears form at the corners of his eyes, pure shock response. His nerves scream.

“Hold still,” Song Lan says. 

Xue Yang holds still. Song Lan’s finger feels thicker than anything Xue Yang’s ever taken inside, including the time someone got him in the back with a dagger. It’s more—personal than that. His finger, his body, inside Xue Yang.

No one has ever done this to him. Of all his scrapes and scars, no one has ever reached into one before. 

“You’re doing so good,” Xiao Xingchen says, voice low. Just for Xue Yang. Xue Yang reaches up and grabs Xiao Xingchen’s wrist with his bound hands as Song Lan twists his finger, searching for the irritant. Xue Yang digs his nails into the bare flesh of Xiao Xingchen’s arms, but it’s the only movement he allows himself. Xiao Xingchen doesn’t even react, his grip on Xue Yang remaining steady.

When Song Lan pulls his finger out, it’s wet with Xue Yang’s blood, and slick against the hot skin of his thigh. Xue Yang groans at the sight.

He’s leaking now, he can feel it, knows how obvious it is, his robes tented, a tiny spot of wetness showing through. He closes his eyes and tries to focus on his breathing, on Xiao Xingchen’s hands on him.

“That something so small could cause so much trouble,” Song Lan muses. Xue Yang cracks open an eye and sees Song Lan looking at his own blood-stained finger. There’s something in the mess of blood, presumably whatever splinter that had caused his infection. Song Lan bites his lip, as if in thought. He rubs the blood and the splinter between his index finger and thumb.

Xue Yang groans again, almost a whine.

“Xue Yang?” Xiao Xingchen says, but there’s something warm in his voice. Something knowing.

“Please,” Xue Yang says. His voice sounds ruined, he knows, the word cracking as he chokes on it.

Song Lan has gone even more rigid.

“Please what?” Xiao Xingchen asks and it’s, he’s teasing, he’s teasing Xue Yang and if Xue Yang’s hands weren’t tied, if he didn’t need Xiao Xingchen hold him down, he would twist in Xiao Xingchen’s grip and rip his eyes out. He needs to be touched, or he needs to hide, he just needs—

“Xue Yang?” Song Lan places his hand, the one with Xue Yang’s blood on it, at Xue Yang’s jaw. He leans forward.

“Oh—” Xue Yang groans into his mouth. Song Lan is achingly hard against him, he can feel that hardness pressing against his thigh through Song Lan’s robes. It hurts, the fabric rough where he’s still bleeding, still too-sensitive.

“Be gentle, Zichen,” Xiao Xingchen says.

Xue Yang bites Song Lan’s lip until Song Lan groans in pain.

“Don’t,” he says, when Song Lan pulls back. There’s blood on his teeth, on his lip. Xue Yang can taste it on his tongue. He grinds up, pressing his thigh against Song Lan.

“Do you want him to put it in?” Xiao Xingchen asks, and he traces a circle around the swollen wound.

Xue Yang chokes, twisting to look at him. Song Lan breathes, harsh and shallow, against his throat. Xue Yang can feel his teeth.

“In my—” he doesn’t know how to say it. He can’t close his mouth.

“Yes,” Xiao Xingchen says. He smiles. His lips look so soft.

Song Lan makes a sound like someone’s stabbed him.

Yes, fuck, yes,” Xue Yang says, and he’d keep saying it, if Xiao Xingchen hadn’t taken that moment to kiss him. It’s different from Song Lan—it’s clear they’ve kissed each other, probably learned how together, and fuck, if that thought doesn’t twist in his stomach. Rage or arousal, how different are they, really? It’s all heat, all sensation, and it curls in Xue Yang’s stomach and makes him groan when Xiao Xingchen drags his teeth against Xue Yang’s lip.

“Clothes,” Xue Yang says, pulling back. He rocks his hips against Song Lan’s.

Song Lan sits back, strips himself layer by layer. He hesitates when he gets to the last one.

“It’s not small,” Xiao Xingchen warns. Xue Yang swallows. 

Song Lan undoes his last layer. His cock is hard against his thigh, flushed. Pretty, almost. Not small. 

Xue Yang arches up, pulling against Xiao Xingchen’s grip. He can still taste the blood in Song Lan’s mouth. Xingchen’s at his back, a solid, bracing presence. 

“Pretty, “ Xue Yang says, into Song Lan’s mouth. “So pretty, Song Lan.”

“So pretty,” Xingchen repeats, and Song Lan shifts, pulling, not away, but--

“Oh,” says Xue Yang, as Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan kiss over his shoulder. They have to crush him between them to do it, molding their bodies against his. Song Lan’s cock is silky and hot against his skin, and Xingchen is hard, behind him, Xue Yang can feel it, can feel them breathing, can swear he feels their blood pulsing through their veins.

A hand sneaks under his robes, to touch his chest. 

“Another scar?” Xingchen asks, pulling back. His voice is low and rough.

In answer, Xue Yang tugs at his top layer, lets his robes fall, exposing a shoulder. There’s a burn mark there; that one had gotten infected too, while it was healing. 

“Do you like them?” he asks, as Xingchen’s fingers traces around the edges of the scar.

“You have survived a few things,” Xiao Xingchen says in that same voice. Which doesn’t answer Xue Yang’s question, but then Song Lan’s mouth is at his neck, sucking a bruise into the juncture of his neck and shoulder, and he forgets to press the issue. If they like him beaten, debased, well--

“No one’s ever done this to me.” Xue Yang squirms between them, trying to grind against Song Lan.

Song Lan makes another hurt sound. His hips jerk involuntarily.

“Are you scared?” Xiao Xingchen asks.

“No,” Xue Yang lies. It’s too much, just resting against him. Song Lan throbs hot and thick against him, and it hurts already, enough that Xue Yang’s shaking. His nerves remember how it felt with just Song Lan’s finger, how full he felt.

“Tell me no,” Song Long says. He’s shaking, too. His cock is hard enough that it must hurt, but he waits, looking at Xue Yang. Shivering. 

“I want it,” Xue Yang says, and he arches his spine, grinding the edges of his wound against Song Lan’s cock, forcing him to push inside. 

Song Lan cries out, a half-hitched gasp, like he’s the one whose wound is getting fucked. Xue Yang echoes him. He can feel everything, every raw nerve alight with pain. He feels like he’s been struck by lightning. He feels skinned alive.

“Please,” he chokes out, his cock spurting precome against his stomach. 

“It’s okay, I’ve got you,” Xiao Xingchen murmurs. He hasn’t stopped stroking Xue Yang’s chest, petting him like—like he’s their pet, or something. Xue Yang turns his face into Xingchen’s robes, gasping, open mouthed, when Song Lan starts to move.

It’s worse than just getting fucked. Song Lan’s dick is grinding against nerve endings that weren’t meant to be touched. It’s a violation, an intimacy that makes Xue Yang feel like he’s drowning, choking on nothing. The pain has almost stopped feeling like pain. Xue Yang can’t remember ever feeling anything else. Song Lan is stretching him. He’s inside , literally under Xue Yang’s skin--

It’s too much, it’s fucking agonizing. Xue Yang’s cock is dripping and hard, grinding against his stomach with every roll of Song Lan’s hips.

“Fuck,” Xue Yang says. His voice sounds distant to his own ears.

“Xue Yang,” Xingchen says, fervent. He’s breathing almost as sharply as Xue Yang is, and his grip has gone too-tight.  

Xue Yang’s vision starts to go white at the edges, creeping inward. His ears are roaring.

He can’t hear himself when he comes, his body shaking as his cock pulses on his stomach. He’s shaking, twitching, the heat rolling through him in waves. It’s a relief when he can’t see anything.

Xue Yang doesn’t quite lose consciousness. He can feel the stutter of Song Lan’s hips, feels when he comes against Xue Yang’s skin, feels the hands on him guide him backward, onto his side, but it’s all distant, muted somehow. He’s adrift inside himself, nerves sparking through his body, keeping him awake but only barely.

When Xue Yang blinks the white from his vision, he finds Xiao Xingchen’s arms still around him.

“Holy fuck,” he says, with a tongue that’s mostly lead.

“Are you--” Song Lan is sitting up beside him. He looks debauched-- his hair is undone, his robes askew, his mouth swollen.

“Zichen, you are fucked up,” Xue Yang says. “Yes. Fuck. I’m fantastic. Did you come in—did you?” He can’t even make himself say it. The heat is back, coiled in his stomach, flushing his face.

“I—on you,” Song Lan says, like he’s choking on the words. Xue Yang groans again.

“I can’t believe I missed it,” he says, letting his head tip back, onto Xiao Xingchen’s shoulder. “Did you see? Was it good, Xiao Xingchen?”

“It was.” Xingchen strokes a hand through his hair, tugging just a little too hard.

Xue Yang relaxes into the touch. His hands are still bound, but it doesn’t chafe the way it had before. His head is pleasantly light. He hasn’t been touched this much in—he can’t remember. Some back-alley fuck, surely, with someone he wouldn’t recognize if he every saw them again.

Song Lan touches his thigh, the now-healed scar pink and soft. He’s looking at him, but distant. The light catches at his hair in an interesting way. Xue Yang wants to put it in his mouth.

“I’m disgusting,” Xue Yang says. Song Lan blinks, refocusing. His gaze is electric. “Your come is all over me, Song Zichen.” Behind him, Xingchen laughs, soft and almost startled.

“We can wash later,” Song Lan says. “Unless you want to get up.”

“Mmn. Later. You’ll have to untie my hands,” Xue Yang says, wriggling his fingers. He can already picture it; the three of them naked, being able to touch back, Song Lan’s fingers tracing his scars, and Xiao Xingchen— maybe he’ll escape again, let Song Lan get rough with him. Maybe Xiao Xingchen can be the one to ‘heal’ him next.

“Maybe,” Xiao Xingchen says, low, into his ear. “If you’re good.”

Xue Yang grins, lets his teeth show.

“I’m always good,” he says.