Lan Xichen is beautiful like this. Asleep.
His soft lips are parted, his chest rising and falling slowly, hypnotically. He could be a painting, were it not for his breath, or the warmth of his skin against Jin Gunagyao's.
It's before dawn, before pre-dawn, when the night is still pressing against the windows of Lan Xichen's rooms. There are hours yet before they are expected to wake. Since Jin Guangyao’s son— since the attack on Koi Tower— they have not seen each other often. He has been in mourning; it wouldn’t be seemly to spend time away from his wife. Lan Xichen has been with him as much as he’s been able, but people talk, and so Jin Guangyao had asked him (through his teeth, through a smile that felt like glass in his skin) to stay away. Until now, tonight, when diplomatic needs fortuitously brought Jin Guangyao to Cloud Recesses.
Jin Guangyao allows himself to touch, lightly, the warm skin of Xichen's chest, tracing spirals down his sternum, over his ribs.
If he pushed a little harder, he could wrap his fingers around Xichen's heart. It would be a hot, wet, struggling thing against his palm, fluttering almost like a wild bird. He wonders how it would feel against his lips.
Lan Xichen sighs in his sleep. Jin Guangyao feels himself smile in response, his softer smile, the one he allows himself to save for these times. For Lan Xichen.
"A-Huan," he whispers, because there is no one to tell him not to, no one to hear.
He was hard when he woke, and is still hard, his condition worsened by the way Lan Xichen curves toward him. Even unconscious, he bends to Jin Guangyao, reaches for him, his large, sword-rough hands resting against Jin Gunayao's hip, arm arm curled under him to rest against Jin Guangyao’s back.
Jin Guangyao stretches, careful not to dislodge Lan Xichen's arm. He presses himself against Xichen's thigh, his cock still somewhat sore from the previous hours' activities.
They haven't had many nights together, even before the— attack. There is always a conference, or crisis, or else some minor bureaucratic emergency that requires his attention until dawn light and birdsong render sleep impossible, let alone anything else. It is a price that Jin Guangyao must make himself grateful to pay; a price that requires he cherish the few nights they do scrape together, that he memorize the curve of Lan Xichen's neck, the way his hair falls over the sheets, how his rooms smell of candle wax and, faintly, of lilac.
(A price that requires he avoid thinking about the necessity of paying any price at all. Or he’ll break something. Someone.)
It's easy, natural, like breathing, to allow his hand to roam further, to stroke down Lan Xichen's stomach, over his thighs, to where he, in his sleep, is already half hard.
They have played at this game before, although never reversed. Jin Guangyao is a restless, light sleeper, and for good reason. In contrast— and aren’t they always in contrast?— Lan Xichen sleeps deeply. It is a miracle to witness, and therefore, all the more sweet to disturb.
He fits so perfectly against Jin Guangyao's palm, hot and smooth. He twitches when Jin Guangyao begins to stroke him, letting the head of Xichen’s cock grind against his wrist. The flush that spreads over Xichen’s chest is hot to the touch, otherworldly in its beauty.
In the darkness, unseen, Jin Guangyao allows himself to discard the last of his masks. He allows himself to hunger, to let the intensity of his desire color his face, his eyes. He isn't smiling now.
Xichen’s breath hitches in his sleep, mouth opening infinitesimally wider. He is fully hard, precome smearing against his slit, against Jin Guangyao's skin.
Jin Guangyao could make him come like this, without ever waking. He could curl through Lan Xichen's dreams leaving pleasure in his wake and never allow Lan Xichen to know how or why, to think it anything other than his own subconscious. Xichen would never ask, never even question it.
Jin Guangyao rolls his hips against Xichen's thigh and groans, jostling Lan Xichen just so.
He can tell the exact moment Xichen wakes, the imperceptible shifting of tension in the body beside him. His eyelashes flutter open and the weight of his gaze is intoxicating.
"A-Yao?" he says, voice sleep-rough.
He looks at Jin Guangyao, all of him, naked and exposed beside him. Jin Guangyao can read the answering heat there, the want. Xichen's fingers tighten on his skin.
When he was Meng Yao, Nie Mingjue would sometimes look at him this way, but he was looking at the face Meng Yao had wanted him to see.
Lan Xichen is looking at him .
He squeezes the hand on Xichen's cock to make him gasp, to feel his body jolt against Jin Guangyao's.
"Good morning," Jin Guangyao whispers, although night has not yet passed.
"It is," Lan Xichen says, kneading at the soft flesh of Jin Guangyao's side, heat radiating from every place he touches.
Jin Guangyao presses a kiss to his shoulder, his clavicle.
The first time, when Jin Guangyao had been Wen Yao, hiding Xichen in a hut in the deepest part of the woods, Xichen had just seen him kill a chicken. There was still blood on his hands. More blood than a chicken should have had.
Some of the blood, it follows, had not been the chicken’s. He wonders, as he wondered then, if Lan Xichen had known.
Had he known when he’d taken Wen Yao’s hands? When he kissed his bloody knuckles? If he had not known, what had been thinking, why had he looked at Wen Yao like that?
After, Wen Yao— Meng Yao, who would become Jin Guangyao, and then become Lianfang-Zun— had shown Lan Xichen how to do laundry and how to use a needle and thread to mend clothes.
One of the most powerful cultivators in the great sects looking to him for guidance; the gaze, that weight, sits under Jin Guangyao's skin. An anchor. A reminder of all he has accomplished, all he is capable of, all he has survived.
"Er-ge," Jin Guangyao says, as he sits up. He slides his leg over Xichen's hips, tilting so that Xichen's cock grinds against his inner thigh, trapping him.
He's still wet from hours before, when he'd had Xichen fuck him from behind, a hand tight in his hair.
"A-Yao—" Xichen squirms, trying to keep himself from thrusting upwards, chasing the friction Jin Guangyao knows he wants. He's so good, so good for Jin Guangyao.
"Do you want to come inside, or in my mouth?" he asks. He doesn't usually let Xichen choose, but he's so beautiful like this, when he needs it so much.
"Inside," Xichen gets out, his cheeks faintly pink.
"Good." Jin Guangyao braces himself against Xichen's chest, fingernails digging into flesh and leaving behind faint red crescent-moons. He teases, because Xichen's face has such a lovely expression when teased, dragging his skin against Xichen's cock over and over, allowing him closer to the heat between Jin Guangyao's legs, but never close enough, until Xichen is shaking with the effort it takes for him to be still, his breath coming in great gasps.
Only then does Jin Guangyao reach behind himself and guide Xichen inside.
The stretch burns, despite their earlier activities, the ache sitting at the back of Jin Guangyao's throat. He groans, tilts his face up, as he sinks down to take all of it.
"A-Yao—" Xichen says again, not a request, but a plea.
He was already so close, even before Jin Guangyao woke him.
"Patience, Er-ge," he soothes, stroking over his chest. If a finger or several graze Xichen's nipple, if Xichen whines in response, his cock jerking inside Jin Guangyao, only Jin Guangyao knows if it was on purpose.
“How does it feel?” he asks, to hear Lan Xichen’s voice. He knows it’s good, can feel how he’s affecting Xichen with his whole body, amplifying his own pleasure. He can do this, for Lan Xichen, can have him, can want-
“It’s so tight, A-Yao, so—,” Xichen groans. “You are always— you hold me so well—” He gasps, rather than finish his thought, as if the idea is too much for him.
It’s almost too much for Jin Guangyao. His hips stutter, but he keeps his rhythm, allowing the sweet drag of Xichen’s cock inside him to distract them both.
Xichen's skin under his own is a luxury he will never get used to. The way he gives; the startling sweetness when, occasionally, he pushes back; the push-pull between them. Jin Guangyao gives as much as he takes, and has found that, with Xichen, he likes both. He likes whatever his Er-ge will give him.
Lan Xichen's hands are braced against Jin Guangyao's thighs, encouraging him to rock faster, take his cock deeper.
"Slower," Jin Guangyao says. He wants to savor this. He wants to see where Xichen will let him push.
Shaking with the effort of it, Xichen slows.
Golden pre-dawn light is filtering in now, illuminating Xichen's rose-pink face, the flush that covers his cheeks and chest. Jin Guangyao feels the light catch on his own face, warming him. He must look beautiful, if the way Xichen's grip has gone white knuckled is any indication.
Xichen rocks up slowly, gasping with the effort of it, grinding up against Jin Guangyao just-so, over and over, until Jin Guangyao is almost- almost-
"Er-ge," he groans. "A-Huan, beloved, you're so— it feels—" He can't seem to catch his breath, the pleasure flowing over him in waves, only the ache of the stretch and Xichen's hands on his thighs grounding him.
He comes. Xichen fucks him through it, steadily thrusting against just the right place, stretching him, filling him—
"You can," Jin Guangyao gasps out, after.
Xichen's hands go tight. He fucks into Jin Guangyao once, twice, and then he's coming as well, wet heat pulsing inside Jin Guangyao. He rides it out, dick only half-soft against his thigh. Xichen is so pretty, sweat caught in his eyelashes, dripping down his temples, mouth open in a soundless cry as he finishes.
Jin Guangyao waits for Xichen to be able to breathe again before kissing him.
"So good," he whispers, the sound of it lost between them. "So good, A-Huan, always so good for me."
Xichen makes a sound in the back of his throat, pulling Jin Guangyao flush against him. Jin Gunagyao’s come sticks to his own skin, but he makes himself not mind it. There will be time to bathe, later, for the two of them. They have at least the morning hours before some emergency or another will come scratching at the door, calling Jin Guangyao back to Koi Tower.
“If it were practical,” Lan Xichen says, when they are lying together, Jin Guangyao half-collapsed on his chest. He is smiling in a way that suggests what he is about to say is not practical, and he knows, and Jin Guangyao should not take him seriously. (His interest spikes, a knot of worry half-forming in the pit of his stomach.) “I would always be inside you, or else have you inside me. Not even for a purpose, just— to be close, I suppose.”
Jin Guangyao smiles, a hidden thing, pressed against Lan Xichen’s neck.
“If it were practical,” he says, acknowledging the impossibility even as warmth fills him. It's an— interesting sensation, to have Xichen inside him while soft. It feels almost dangerous.
Xichen traces patterns along Jin Guangyao's spine. His hands are rough, despite the care he takes with them.
Mourning was difficult in ways Jin Guangyao couldn't foresee. So many eyes. So many whispers. Qin Su stopped looking at him, which stung where it should not have. There was so much quiet. Not a simple absence of sound; the type of quiet that was a threat, crawling through the darkened halls like an infestation. A quiet that meant something awful had happened, and something awful was yet to come.
Every moment, he wanted Lan Xichen there, and every moment denied himself. It chafes, to have worked so hard, for so long, to have sacrificed so much, and still deny himself this one small, precious, perfect thing.
"I've missed you," Jin Guangyao says, so quietly the words are almost inaudible. Almost. There are other words hidden beneath them, other meanings. Things he cannot tell even Xichen. Things he cannot even think when he looks in the mirror, lest his eyes give him away.
Xichen is still tracing patterns on his skin, but slower, now.
"I've missed you," he returns, something choked in his voice. "A-Yao—" and there's a hand at his jaw, tilting Jin Guangyao's face. Lips on his, soft and insistent.
This, too, in its own way, feels dangerous.
Jin Guangyao keeps his eyes closed, allows his hands to wander, allows his fingers to thread through Xichen's hair, to stray over his neck. He's so warm. It shouldn't be a surprise, every time, the way he radiates heat.
When Xichen pulls away, Jin Guangyao opens his eyes.
"We should bathe," he says, making no effort to move from his place, sprawled across Lan Xichen.
Xichen smiles. "I can send for breakfast," he says, making no move to do so.
Lan Xichen carries his expressions more openly, here in this quiet space. There is often humor in his eyes. He makes jokes. He listens in silence, sometimes, watching Jin Guangyao speak, every part of him attuned to the words, the cadence, the careful spaces Jin Guangyao leaves blank.
There is something in Jin Guangyao's chest that he doesn't have a name for, something hungry and cold, that wants to rip open his own skin and tuck Lan Xichen inside.
Lan Xichen looks at him as if he is thinking the exact same thing. He tucks a strand of hair beind Jin Guangyao's ear, drawing a thumb along his cheek, as if picturing what blood would look like smeared there.
Jin Guangyao's instincts scream for caution. He quiets them. He kisses Xichen again, hungrier. Harder. Lan Xichen gives beneath his mouth, opening for him. His hands press Jin Guangyao close, holding them together.
There are hours yet before the world comes to their door.