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Pleasure, Panic, Pleasure

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The meadow clearing in the forest behind his cottage on Mount Taicang is a hidden gem. 

Xie Lian had found it quite by accident, following a bamboo rat who had been eyeing the vegetables he was washing. It’s small, but has a nice view of the stars. 

That’s where he finds himself now, lying half on top of Hua Cheng with a hand cupping his cheek as they’re wrapped up in a kiss. 

It’s been some weeks, and Xie Lian is confident enough to say he’s… not bad at kissing. It feels good, and right, but it always does with Hua Cheng. And neither of them have any experience they can use to gauge with, so they’ve silently accepted that this is exactly how it’s supposed to be done. 

He’s secretly eager to discover exactly how other activities are supposed to be done too, but a seed planted so deeply, so long ago, and one that’s been nourished so thoroughly for centuries isn’t easy to uproot. Anxiety often gnaws at him, followed by guilt. The first itches of arousal are always accompanied by panic signals, which make him more jumpy than usual. It’s a slow-going process to unlearn abstinence, it seems. 

But Hua Cheng is attentive to his everything and supportive in the utmost, willing to patiently craft a new state of existence with him. 

It’s lovely. 


Xie Lian whimpers and slides his hand into Hua Cheng’s hair. The response is more eager than usual, and Xie Lian’s breath catches with the intensity of Hua Cheng’s moan. 

“Mm, Your Highness,” he gasps, kissing the corner of his mouth, then his cheek, then back to his lips. 

Xie Lian nods weakly and meets every kiss halfway. His blood is beginning to sing in a way he’s pleased to notice is now recognizable. He’s breathing harder and whimpering into Hua Cheng’s mouth, eyelids fluttering every so often just to keep him grounded in reality. Hands are trailing over his back, over his hips, tightening. They pull Xie Lian into his lap so he’s lying on top of him, but he still wants to be closer. 

His cock stirs, swelling to half-hardness quickly, and Xie Lian‘s chest is tight. It’s the gentle grind of their erections together that pushes him into the space where his body fights back. It’s less noticeable than usual—only his legs go tense, practicing what they know and lifting him away from danger. Or rather, what once was danger. 

Hua Cheng notices immediately, of course. He sits up and curls his arms around him protectively, murmuring, “Gege, that was my fault,” into his hair. “It’s alright, let’s stop. I don’t want to push you.” 

Xie Lian blinks, his body already recovered from the minor bout of shock. 

The care and concern never fail to make Xie Lian’s heart swell, and maybe it is for the best that they stop here. But at the same time, a mournful pang rings out in his chest. Here, under the stars, is truly a serene, romantic setting for… something. 

His arms slowly settle around Hua Cheng’s shoulders. 

“Ah… thank you, San Lang,” he mumbles. 

It might be lost to the breeze. 



Hua Cheng had been quick to plant a rose garden behind Qiandeng Temple. Fresh flowers, never less than flawless, for the altar. 

But it’s more than just a patch of land for cultivating—he’s shaped the space into a courtyard with ponds and fruit trees and a sharp, red pagoda. 

Xie Lian always gravitates towards the pagoda; whether it’s because of the view or the abstract likeness to his beloved, he can’t say. The both of them are leaning on the balustrade this morning, overlooking the pond where the magnolia petals drift when they fall. 

Or… Xie Lian is leaning against the balustrade. Hua Cheng is leaning against Xie Lian. 

Chest-to-back, Hua Cheng drops kiss after searing kiss to his neck. The side, the nape—no spot goes untouched by his lips. 

Xie Lian can hardly keep his eyes open, shivering and wrapped in a confident embrace. 

For a ghost, there’s a stunning heat emanating from Hua Cheng. He mouths up his neck to his ear and nips the lobe between his teeth to suck, quietly groaning. 

A quick, shuddery breath fills Xie Lian’s lungs. One hand comes up to cup the back of Hua Cheng’s head, keeping him where he is and doing what he’s doing. 

“Yeah,” he breathes, squeezing out what little encouragement he can manage. 

What he can manage and what he feels are worlds apart, though. The thick face he’s amassed over the years is nothing when pitted against his body’s yearning, and the words never seem to make themselves available to him. 

He wants to ask for the world, to ask for whatever his San Lang can give. He wants to ask to feel good, better, best. But he can’t quite do that; not yet. 

Perhaps his body doesn’t believe all of these lofty desires are really its own, having gone so long being strictly told the opposite. 

And lofty they are. Slowly, he’s coming to realize how deeply his want for Hua Cheng runs. Fantasies rise unbidden when they’re kissing, or nestled in bed, or even when they eat together. Sometimes startling, these visions are increasingly heated, and more often than not, Xie Lian finds himself flushed and frustrated when they give way to reality again. So his desires stay sleeping beneath the surface. 

Hua Cheng’s hands caress his sides. They drift across his chest then down to his hips and back up. 

Xie Lian sighs, gaze catching on one of the passing blossoms, before sinking into his hold. The distinct curve of Hua Cheng’s erection nudges the small of his back and Xie Lian’s grip tightens in his hair. His throat works around a short, delicate moan, and Hua Cheng immediately dips again to nose at his pulse. 

“Gege,” he pants, “the sounds you make are so hot; shit, the things that mouth does to me.” 

The things this mouth wants to do to you!  

His head lolls back on Hua Cheng’s shoulder, forceful heat building between his legs. “Mm—mhm,” he whimpers. 

The hands are spread over his hips like they’re trying to encircle him, but they slowly smooth down his thighs in harmony with the kisses and nips that litter his throat. 

Yes! Yes!  

Xie Lian is quivering, already half-hard. 

Long, agile fingers follow the curve of his legs to squeeze his inner thighs, slowly, like an elongated request for permission. 

Eventually accepting his well-earned blessing, Xie Lian feels the solid drag of one palm up his length. 

His hands suddenly drop, catching the railing and taking his weight when he leans forward a bit. His heart gives an extra pound, sending a fresh shock through his system. Before he has the chance to grind into Hua Cheng’s hand, though, it pulls away. 

Xie Lian hums blearily and turns back. 

“Sorry, I was taking it too fast,” Hua Cheng murmurs, drawing on the same sweet techniques he always uses when Xie Lian is overwhelmed: stroking his back, petting his hair… “Gege, why don’t we go have something to eat?” 

“…Hm?” Xie Lian clears his throat and blinks, a little dizzy from the topic change. “A-ah. …Alright, San Lang.” 

He briefly looks out across the pond and his fingers twitch inside his sleeves, tongue a little too heavy in his mouth. 



A small pile of lychee skins is beginning to accumulate on the table at their feet. 

The fruit is fresh and succulent, although that seems to be the minimum standard for anything Hua Cheng feeds him. The divan is draped with a pelt and several pillows, feeling more like a bed than a couch in the low light. They split the lychee with their thumbs and dig out the pits, all the while grinning and chatting about this, that, themselves, each other. The peels spiral cleanly off when Hua Cheng brings a nail to them. 

They’re deep into the night and Xie Lian is considering the merits of going to sleep now versus later. He’s working up the nerve to raise a proposition when Hua Cheng separates a piece of sweet fruit and holds it up to Xie Lian’s lips, earning him a curious look. A cocked eyebrow pulls him forward. He opens his mouth and takes it between his teeth, holding Hua Cheng’s gaze. 


“…Mm.” Xie Lian chews slowly and swallows hard. 

Very casually, another piece is torn from the lychee and offered up. 

Xie Lian hesitates a moment. Then he turns and tucks his legs up beneath himself, parting his lips but making no move towards the fruit. 

It pinches something, judging by Hua Cheng’s sharp, roaming eye. From his lips down his throat, stopping mid-chest to find his face again. 

He leans forward and slips the lychee segment into Xie Lian’s mouth. His thumb lingers on his lip, then swipes past the corner of his mouth and up his cheekbone. 

Xie Lian watches him as he chews, both studying each other’s faces not entirely discreetly. His gaze briefly dips to the hand in Hua Cheng’s lap, cupping the last of the lychee. As a silent, preemptive request, Xie Lian opens his mouth and lets his tongue loll. Just a bit, just enough to show his intention. 

Hua Cheng’s gaze snags there and his cool exterior creaks under the pressure. Each move is deliberate, from the way he tilts Xie Lian’s chin up with his knuckles to the slow placement of the fruit on his tongue, pinched between his first two fingers. 

Xie Lian lets out a shivering sigh and, before he can shrink back, closes his lips around those fingers. 

“Gege…” Hua Cheng breathes. 

Holding the lychee in his cheek, Xie Lian cautiously sucks. His eyes are wide and starry, skipping around Hua Cheng’s face and drinking up every quiver. The tip of his tongue nudges his fingers, feeling around them in a way he’s never thought to. They’re sweet like lychee juice, and cool. 

Xie Lian’s cheeks are anything but cool, quickly pinking as the heat rises along the back of his neck. His hands curl around the edges of the divan in an attempt to ground himself before he takes his fingers further into his mouth and swallows. 

A noticeable stiffness settles over Hua Cheng, angling his shoulders. “Keep doing that,” he mutters, leaning in to kiss the swell of Xie Lian’s cheek. 

His lips, too, are cool. The kiss drags down to his jaw and there’s no way to keep his breath from stuttering, loud and harsh as it leaves his nose. 

Actively avoiding sex and all its intricacies means Xie Lian’s natural sexual intuition is exceptionally weak, leaving him a scant amount of knowledge to fall back on. Luckily, Hua Cheng’s very presence is something of a fire starter, alighting his creativity and encouraging him to chase his pleasure. His tongue presses up to part his fingers and a wet snick slips from his lips. 

Hua Cheng hums, although his throat is undeniably tight. 

It’s when he retracts his fingers, just marginally, then slides them back in that Xie Lian feels himself beginning to grow hard. The cautious thrusting motion has him squeezing his thighs together and slipping his eyes shut. 


His hair is brushed over his shoulder so the kisses can continue around the side of his neck. Slowly, like a predator confident its prey is immobilized, Hua Cheng braces a palm on his thigh and leans over him, lowering Xie Lian to the raised slope of the divan. 

Entirely by accident, Xie Lian’s teeth scrape his knuckles and it prompts a little reciprocal bite beneath his ear. 

“Sh—San Lang, ng,” he slurs around his fingers. 

“Highness?” His reply is less of a question, more of a resonating purr. His thigh falls between Xie Lian’s legs, bumping his arousal, and he bites a little harder. 

“Ah! C-can we…?” he murmurs. 

Hua Cheng slides his fingers back until just the tips are lingering, spit-slicked, on his lower lip. 

Xie Lian roughly swallows the lychee then sucks in a breath. “San Lang… Can we?” He can’t shape any more of the sentence than that. 

There’s a brief spell of stillness. 

“…If it’s what you want, then of course we can,” Hua Cheng whispers. He leans back to look him in the eye. “Are you sure?” 

Xie Lian nods furiously, careful not to knock heads. It’s been months now; several months. Several long months! The fire in his stomach is beginning to scorch his insides being restrained like this. 

Hua Cheng has only the best of intentions, but the slightest twitch from Xie Lian and he’s pulling back and packing up and saving his passion for another day. It lands like a blow to the chest every time. If he keeps it up, Xie Lian knows— he knows —it’ll take him another year to lose his virginity. 

He’s ready, although his body may not know it yet. He wants Hua Cheng’s everything, and wants to give him everything in return. 

Even better, he wants to let him take it.  

Hua Cheng glances between his eyes, hopefully compelling enough in their conviction. 

They must be, because the next moment he’s caught up in a whirlwind kiss. Their hands find each other blindly at the exact same time and begin roaming all the places they’ve traced numerous times before: arms, necks, chests, hips. 

Xie Lian is gasping into an open mouth and clutching at robes. Needy, his mind is needy, and what it needs is so close. 

Hua Cheng tilts his head so their noses press together and Xie Lian is looking up at him through crossed eyes. Hesitantly, he drops his weight and grinds his thigh into Xie Lian’s cock. 

His eyes fly open and a sharp cry catches them both off guard. He wraps his arms around Hua Cheng’s shoulders and squeezes, lifting his hips to get another taste of that feeling. 

Hua Cheng groans when his own erection finds pressure against Xie Lian’s hip and he asks, “…Good?” 

“Ah! San Lang, yes,” Xie Lian whines. 

“We can keep doing this,” Hua Cheng breathes. “I can get you off doing this.” 

Something deep and insistent shakes Xie Lian’s head for him. “Mm, I… want you, though.” 

Hua Cheng tugs gently on his lower lip then lets him go. “You’re delicious when you’re greedy,” he breathes, then, “Gege can have all of me, always.” 

Grinding like this is still a novelty, and neither of them can help but indulge for an extra minute. Xie Lian squeezes Hua Cheng’s thigh between his, the beat of his heart growing steadily louder. 

Suddenly Hua Cheng’s hand is somewhere it’s never been before—inside his robes. 

Xie Lian whimpers, wanting, wanting…  

His thumb brushes his hip, above the waist of his pants and a shiver tears through his body from bottom to top. 


He boosts his hips in encouragement. 

Then his hand, cool and careful, snakes into his pants and Xie Lian jerks with a start, knees trying to pull into his body. He draws a quick breath, relaxing in seconds, but it’s still not quick enough. 

Hua Cheng’s hand is gone, pressed over his heart above his robes now. 

His stomach drops as sweet words of reassurance distantly find him. 

“Gege, it’s alright to wait,” he murmurs. “Take all the time you—” 

“Just fuck me,” Xie Lian whines, then chokes and slaps a hand over his mouth. 

Hua Cheng freezes. He’s braced on his forearm over Xie Lian, eye flitting in a mix of shock and confusion over his face. 

With his gaze sitting heavy on him, Xie Lian soon slaps his other hand over his eyes. 

“S-San Lang, that’s not… I really didn’t mean to say…” 

Hua Cheng leans back, just slightly. His mouth hangs dumb for another moment before asking, “What… did you mean to say, gege?” 

He doesn’t sound angry or frustrated or anything else bad, but Xie Lian still shrinks back. 

“I… I may have meant to say something like that but… nicer,” he squeaks. 

“Nicer?” Hua Cheng asks, laughing breathlessly. 

Tentatively, Xie Lian’s hand slips down his face, revealing his eyes. Then his mouth. “Like a… a please, maybe,” he whispers. 

His embarrassment is nearing mortification. His gaze is locked solidly on Hua Cheng’s chin, unable to meet his eye. 

Hua Cheng’s lips twitch. “So you meant to say ‘just fuck me please’ ?” 

A distressed moan just about conveys all of Xie Lian’s anguish. 

“…Look at me, gege.” He takes his chin in his hand but waits for Xie Lian to look up on his own. 

There’s a thick film of guilt on his features, he’s sure. 

“You know I’m willing and happy to wait for you,” he starts. “For as long as you need.” 

Xie Lian nods. 

“And that your comfort is the most important thing to me.” 

None of these are questions; he knows Xie Lian knows. But this is exactly where the problem lies. 

Hua Cheng kisses his forehead. “You don’t need to force yourself.” 

Something inside Xie Lian is flipped. “I do, though!” he blurts. “I do need to force myself, San Lang, or I’ll never… we’ll never get to… to that point.”  

Hua Cheng’s brow furrows, bemused, but Xie Lian continues. 

“It’s like… attuning yourself to a new weapon. The grip, the weight, the reach. You can use it for a moment or two and decide it’s not to your taste, or you can go through forms, you can spar, you can learn its everything through your perseverance until it feels like it was meant to be.” He cups Hua Cheng’s cheek with an earnest look, sincerely hoping his message is coming across. “I… I need you to let me persevere.” 

Clear reservations lay beneath the surface of Hua Cheng’s expression. “To push through the unease, you mean?” 

“San Lang, there is no unease in my heart. I know that I want you, but…” He sighs. “Do you know how many times guoshi made me chant sutras? Everyday for three years, then on and off for another eight hundred?” 

Every morning before training and every evening after. In bed, during meditation—occasionally he even missed meals to train need out of his body permanently. 

Xie Lian swallows. “I want you so, so badly. My body just needs some help convincing itself.” It ends like a question. 

A trace of hesitation is left, but Hua Cheng’s eye is undoubtedly gaining back the fire it held before they stopped. “…What do you want, Your Highness?” 

Xie Lian hadn’t thought far enough ahead to plan his next words so he chews on his lip. “I think I want… you not to let me say no.” He progressively fades to a whisper. 

Shock reestablishes itself on Hua Cheng’s face. 

“Or, actually…” He clears his throat and lets his gaze dip. “Let me say it but… don’t listen.” 

A brief, buzzing sort of silence reigns. 

“…Gege, how do you expect me to ignore your discomfort?” 

Xie Lian shakes his head. “That’s the thing! I want the discomfort. I need it to, ah… break me in.” 

It’s a lewd, euphemistic way of phrasing it, but it does the trick. And not only that—Hua Cheng’s eye seems to flash. 

Xie Lian’s heartbeat jumps and sticks in his throat, very much liking the look of that gaze. 

“Do you… want to help break me in, San Lang?” he murmurs, hands settling on the small of his lover’s back. 

Instead of an answer, he gets a sudden, breathtaking kiss. 

“Mm!” Xie Lian gasps and weakly bucks his hips, more out of bodily instinct than conscious choice. 

They’re both still half-hard beneath their robes and it only takes a split-second to reignite the fire. His belts are untied and robes parted. Hua Cheng’s hand draws up his chest, tracing his ribs. 

He murmurs, “Then you’ll need another way of telling me if you want to stop—” 

Xie Lian kisses the corner of his mouth and makes a little sound of negation. “There’s nothing you could do that I wouldn’t want, San Lang. Nothing.” 

He tilts to kiss and nose his jaw, unable to look him in the eye when he continues. 

“I want you to t-take me however you want, however you can think to. As…” A tenacious blush colours his face. “As h-hard as you can. Ah, or are… are willing to, I mean.” 

His cheeks are suddenly squeezed in a warning grip and they’re brought face to face. Hua Cheng’s gaze smoulders and leaves no room for misinterpretation—Xie Lian is stripped bare by it and all of his desires are placed on his chest to be perused. 

He knows what Xie Lian wants. 

He pecks his lips, leaving Xie Lian wide-eyed and at the whims of his pounding heart. 

“And if I hurt you?” 

Xie Lian swallows, suddenly unable to look away. “You won’t hurt me. You couldn’t.” 

Another gentle kiss halts his breath. 

“…I want it like you want me in your dreams.” 

Hua Cheng groans and curses, his touch turning possessive as it wraps around his hip. “Shit, gege, that’s—” 

“Don’t tell me how, San Lang, just do it,” he whimpers. “Just do— ah!”  

Rough hands pull him down the divan by his hips so he’s flat on his back with his legs spread. 

“Here or bed?” Hua Cheng huffs. 

Xie Lian looks to the side, to the tasselled cushions and silks draped before and across the divan. The low table, still piled with fruits and lit by candles—the atmosphere is good. It’s Paradise Manor’s entrance hall, but no one would dare interrupt them regardless of where they were. 

“Here,” he whimpers, “Now.”  

Hua Cheng mouths at his pulse and snakes both hands up his chest without further instruction. He bridges the space between his hands and mouth, kissing across his collarbones and stopping at a nipple. 

Already, there’s a lump in Xie Lian’s throat, but it’s one that he’s eager to swallow. 

The eye that flicks up to watch him is roaming with palpable intent, wanting to memorize Xie Lian’s pleasure visually. 

His thumb, first, brushes over his nipple. 

Xie Lian sucks in a breath. 

Then it’s his lips, parted and soft as the kisses that guide him to sleep. 

His cheeks are emanating a dangerous warmth and his body is tight, poised for an escape it won’t be making. 

Then, so sweetly, his tongue. 

A hard jolt shocks through Xie Lian, reacting to an entirely new genre of pleasure. His jaw goes slack and his toes curl and his cock gives a noticeable jump. 

One more time, Hua Cheng’s tongue slips over him and triggers an untapped source of nerves. 

A choked gasp is all his body will generate in response, but it seems to be reaction enough for Hua Cheng to file away with a hungry gaze. 

Xie Lian isn’t quite expecting his lips to close around his nipple and suck, but that’s exactly what happens, too quickly for him to reassure his body. 

“A-ah! ” he yelps, quivering. “Wait, San Lang, that’s…” 

Hua Cheng stops. 

His instinct to keep Xie Lian safe and comfortable runs bone deep, he knows. But what he’s also coming to know is that Xie Lian’s pleasure is not a lesser priority. 

He’s paused for hardly a second before he gives another curious suck. 

Xie Lian bends under him with a gasp, arching towards his body like he can’t be close enough. “Oh, oh! That’s really… ahh.”  

Like the flood they are, his words pull Hua Cheng under and his actions begin to toe the line of rough. His teeth scrape the tender nub of his nipple with just enough pressure to wring a whine from him, and his fingers curl tight around his sides. Hua Cheng hums, pinching him between his teeth. 

“San Lang!” he yelps. It dissolves into a whimper, though, when his teeth give way to the competent, relentless strokes of his tongue. 

This. This is what his heart has been aching for.  

Xie Lian feels like he’s melting under the attention, not least because of the eye that hasn’t left his face. He’s so hard now, and doesn’t know what to do about it other than thoughtlessly grind into Hua Cheng’s hip. 

The smug look that earns him only makes him blush harder. 

“I… don’t know what to…” he whispers. 

The hands on his sides, in no time, are loosening the ties of his pants. Hua Cheng flicks hard over his nipple once more then coos, “I know you don’t. But I do.” 

Xie Lian suddenly feels parallel swells of elation and anxiety; his body is wrought with a foreboding kind of anticipation while his mind soars. 

Nobody has ever seen him like this. 

Naked, sure, but not hard and flushed and aching. The imminent vulnerability is eating at his nerves and scattering his thoughts. 

It’s Hua Cheng, he provides cautiously. It’s not for anybody else, it’s just for him. But still, when Hua Cheng draws his pants down, lower, even lower…  

Xie Lian snaps his knees shut and tries to pull his robe across to hide himself, letting out a pathetic sound of embarrassment. 

So quickly he hardly even registers it happening, his wrists are pinned above his head and his knees are parted and held down. The breath is all but sucked straight from his lungs. 

Hua Cheng is kneeling over his open thighs and holding his wrists in one hand to the divan, caging and cornering him into an even more vulnerable position. 

A belated whine of both shock and arousal jumps in Xie Lian’s throat. 

“Shh.” Hua Cheng’s eye scans his face. “I told you I know what to do, what are you trying to take the lead for? Don’t get pushy, Your Highness.” 

Xie Lian bites his lip but his cock twitches hard. 

Hua Cheng seems to catch it out of the corner of his eye because his gaze flicks down. 

So too, does Xie Lian’s. On very few occasions has he ever seen his own erection, and the soft pink of it captivates him just as much as it seems to captivate Hua Cheng. The head is really… so swollen already, clearly impatient with the foreplay. 

It takes a few moments for the familiar pang of shame to ring out in his chest at being exposed like this. 

“Don’t look,” he whimpers, struggling in Hua Cheng’s grip. 

“Oh, how could I not?” Hua Cheng replies. 

He’s rapt, eye focused between his legs. For the first time.  

“Such a pretty cock,” he murmurs, distracted. “I need to see how hard it can come for me.” 

Xie Lian shivers and curls his hands into fists. “You can’t just—nn, s-say things like that.” 

“I just did,” Hua Cheng hums, then wraps his free hand around the base of Xie Lian’s length and strokes him. 

The reaction is shamefully belated, running up his body like a lit line of gunpowder from his cock to his mouth. When his moan finds its way out, it’s one of inundation and awe. He wiggles from side to side, trying jerkily to free and close his trapped legs. His body is persistent, feeling shame as keenly as a sting. 

But Hua Cheng is just as persistent. His fist, slicked with precome, pulls at his cock with a clear goal. 

And already, something is beginning. 

It starts beneath his ribs, too unfamiliar to even put words to. Xie Lian’s brows furrow and his lips part, drawing in a shaky breath that’s edged with a mewl. 

Still fully-dressed, Hua Cheng leans close enough for them to share breath if there was breath to share, and nips Xie Lian’s lip between his teeth. 

It smarts and Xie Lian gasps, this time trying to break free to hold Hua Cheng closer and kiss him properly. 

“Mm—San—Lang—I—!” He’s rendered incapable of making a full sentence by the steady press of his lover’s lips to his. 

Meanwhile, the hand between his legs stops to… fiddle with the finer details. His thumb feels around the flared, swollen lip of his head, back and forth like an obscene stroke of reassurance. 

The delicacy and attention of this touch is somehow infinitely more humiliating, striking him deeply. Xie Lian can’t help the shudder that grips him. 

Hua Cheng kisses him with more intensity when he feels it, acting as a solid weight. From the head, his thumb slides up to the tip and eases through his precome, putting a bit of pressure behind it. 


His length jumps in his grip and Xie Lian wails, shoving his face into his shoulder to hide. 

Hua Cheng laughs, not unkindly, and starts kissing down his neck to his chest. His strokes resume at the same time as he sucks on Xie Lian’s other nipple, and that feeling below his ribs expands threefold. 

“N-no!” He pants, screwing his eyes shut. “Ah, no, no, San Lang, I’m going to… to…”  

Every no is counteracted by the crooning, wanting tone he says it in, and Hua Cheng’s hand only works him faster. 

Xie Lian claws at the pillow beneath his nails and starts rolling his hips like he’s in a trance. 

It feels a little bit like panic does, but flowing in the opposite direction. 

Down, down.  

His body reacts as if it’s panic, trying to reign it in and quash it. But he knows as well as the next person that there’s no running from something nourished in your own chest. 

Hua Cheng clearly knows it too—taking acute actions to stoke that feeling. His tongue prods and flicks his nipple, with a harmony of moans and wet snicks thrumming against his chest. 

Xie Lian is breathing hard, too hard. 

“F-feels weird,” he whines. 

His torso is twisting from side to side, trying to eke out an escape route. 

“Uh—nn, it feels weird, San Lang, I don’t—!” 

“You’re coming, Your Highness. I’m making you come.” He presses the words into the dip between his pecs and looks up. 

Xie Lian tries his best to respond, even just an, “Oh,” but nothing can reach past the pleasure, panic, pleasure stretching its arms down into his belly. 

Hua Cheng sits back at the precise moment Xie Lian snaps, and the precise moment he wails. 

Tearing his face away from his shoulder, Xie Lian’s voice almost immediately gives out and his gaze falls on his cock. 

He jerks; one spurt. 

It nearly catches his chin and he flinches. 

He jerks again; another. 

A raw growl, triggering a hazy memory, tears from Hua Cheng’s throat and Xie Lian immediately jerks once again. His body drinks up that sound and his heated gaze and translates it into profound pleasure. 

“My San Lang,” he whispers, unsure when his voice had become so raw. Tears prick his eyes, even as he jerks and comes again; it’s only enough to dribble down Hua Cheng’s knuckles. 

It’s not only pleasure he feels, but a heinous concoction of emotions that really shouldn’t mix as well as they do. 

Loss, he’s unsurprised to find, settles deep in his chest at the breach of a contract he’d made with himself eight hundred years ago, and the blow to his cultivation that he’s sure will soon follow. 

Awe, too, rings his vision. 

But at the forefront of it all is the ridiculous, blinding love he feels for the man between his legs, giving him everything he’d asked for and trusting in him completely. 

“Perfect,” Hua Cheng murmurs. “Everything about you is absolutely perfect.” 

Xie Lian’s struggling has ceased, falling weak under his binds, and the very last of his orgasm has taken what little strength he did have. He blinks up at Hua Cheng, who almost looks as though he’s flushed in the dim lantern light of the hall. 

“Only in your arms, I think,” Xie Lian breathes. 

He wants nothing more than to spend an hour, or an entire night, silently basking in the lingering tickle that’s curling through his veins for the very first time. 

But Hua Cheng has other ideas. He releases his grip and eases off Xie Lian’s thighs—he’s too tired to care about closing them anyway. 

That is until Hua Cheng’s fingers trace through the come on his chest, from his neck to the crease of his thigh and lower. 

Xie Lian croaks and pushes onto his elbows when the curve of his ass is cupped. His breath hitches. 

One finger almost lazily strokes up the cleft of his ass, like it’s waiting for— 

Xie Lian tenses and instinct takes over. But before he can plant his feet and push himself away, his hip is wrapped in a hold just as tight as his wrists were. 

After just a matter of months, Hua Cheng can already read him so well. 

His finger, slick with come, nudges at his entrance and Xie Lian chokes out, “W-wait, wait!” 

“Shh, waiting won’t make any difference,” Hua Cheng purrs. 

That’s all he says before breaching somewhere that never ever ever has been shown such attention. 

Xie Lian’s chest inflates with a ragged breath and deflates with a broken “Ohh.”  

It wiggles all the way in, prodding curiously in a way that triggers Xie Lian’s urge to disappear. He hugs his head in a fit of shame and squeaks, “Not, nn… not there.” 

Hua Cheng hums. “No? Then how about here?” 

He slides down to hold him behind the knee and presses kisses into the side of Xie Lian’s thigh. 


Better? Worse?  

His body can’t quite tell the different forms of intimacy apart, conflating them all with the grand title of inappropriate.  

“…Or here?” Hua Cheng’s palm smooths down his calf to hold him by the ankle. He noses up the arch of his foot then nips his pinkie toe with a smirk. 

All ten toes curl sharply. 

“N-not there either!” 

“Oh, was that a yes?” he coos. 

He kisses Xie Lian’s heel, recently softened by the fine oils in his bath, then just beneath his ankle. At the same time, he draws his finger out and presses it back in. 

Xie Lian nearly kicks Hua Cheng in his shock. He’s peeking through the arms wrapped around his head, feeling relatively safe in his hideaway. 

“Would a massage help you take me better?” Hua Cheng asks as his thumb digs into the back of his ankle, just above the heel. 

A wave of pleasant energy thrums down from his tailbone, and he gasps, lifting his hips up into it. The manipulation through his reflexes is precise; he didn’t know Hua Cheng had such a skill. But the finger is moving easier and it's moving quicker. It bends, stroking inside of him and Xie Lian’s hands fly down to grab the divan either side of him instead. 

“Oh my—!” he hisses. 

Whatever Hua Cheng is touching, it feels like the build-up to an orgasm compacted into a punch to the chest. 

“Mm, very fun,” Hua Cheng murmurs, “but I’ll have to save that one for later. We can’t have you coming again so soon.” 

Xie Lian lets his breath out through his teeth. 

Slowly, like the recession of the tide, he feels his tension retreat. 

That’s when Hua Cheng pushes in a second finger. Then later, a third. 

Three is a bit much, and Xie Lian bites his lip. “Ng… hurts,” he whimpers. 

The sting is sweet when it’s around Hua Cheng’s fingers, but his body is undeniably ill-prepared for such a stretch. 

“This is nothing, Highness,” Hua Cheng chuckles. 

Then he palms himself through his robes and Xie Lian’s cock begins to respond again with a sudden twitch. He eyes that spot, starting with an intensity that he hopes will strip Hua Cheng of his clothes. 

“Greedy, heavy gaze, Your Highness.” It’s admonishing in a teasing way. 

Xie Lian whimpers, offering no excuse. When all three fingers withdraw, he finds himself clenching hard around nothing. 

But Hua Cheng retreats even further. Without preamble, he rids himself of his tunic, followed by his inner robe. His pants stay on. 

Xie Lian finds himself being drawn up to sitting, legs dangling off the edge of the divan, and his robes being eased off his shoulders. Fully naked, he shivers and folds his arms over his chest. By no means is the hall cold, but with that final veneer of privacy torn away, he feels the vulnerability all over again. 

Hua Cheng kneels between his legs and looks unashamedly at everything. He catches Xie Lian’s knees before he can snap them shut and continues to stare. 

Then he sits back on his heels. He grabs a stout jar from the table—Xie Lian is certain it wasn’t there earlier—and dips three fingers into it. They come out glossy, oil running down his knuckles. 

Xie Lian’s toes don’t quite touch the floor so he puts his weight into his palms to ground himself and watches Hua Cheng carefully pull his erection out. 

His chest stutters. …That big? 

Hua Cheng laughs and Xie Lian realizes he had been watching for his reaction. 

Helplessly, his gaze flicks between Hua Cheng’s upturned lips and the hand slowly slicking his cock. An unidentifiable levity arises within him at the mutual bareness, glee trying to bubble out from around the anxiety. 

Hua Cheng stands and brings himself closer. The oil smells herbal, a little sweet. A knuckle angles Xie Lian’s chin up for a kiss, almost distracting him from the hand prying his thighs open. 

A little resistant whimper creeps out, pressed into Hua Cheng’s mouth. 

Hua Cheng whispers, “It’s alright.” 

His body is coiled to the point of discomfort. “…I don’t think I can.” Xie Lian’s voice hitches. 

“But you’re the only one that I want to,” Hua Cheng murmurs, stroking his cheek. 

He tilts Xie Lian’s hips and lines himself up and something, in a last ditch effort, clutches Xie Lian’s heart in its talons. It squeezes, squeezes like it’s trying to puncture, and it makes Xie Lian dizzy. 

But then Hua Cheng is hugging him. He’s hugging him so close, and nudging the head of his cock into him and for just a second, that pain evaporates completely. His face is in Xie Lian’s neck, his hair is brushing his chest. 

By the time his heart is once again hissing and spitting, he’s already taken the plunge—Hua Cheng is moaning into his shoulder and stretching him much wider than three fingers did. 

There’s a fleeting burst of satisfaction before the shock sets in and Xie Lian is groaning and panting and clawing at Hua Cheng’s back. 

“Oh!” he gasps. Big, his body warns, too big. 

“You’re squeezing,” Hua Cheng grunts, a polite reminder. 

Of course he is, he’s trying to fight off a perceived threat.  

A pleasant spike of pain runs through him when Hua Cheng drives the rest of the way in anyway and brings tears to his eyes. This isn’t a position to be fucked in, though—this is a position to be gently splayed and deflowered in. 

So after a few rough half-thrusts and a near scream, Hua Cheng pulls him off the divan and onto the floor. His knees sink into layers of silk-encased pillows and he melts back into the hands on his hips. 

Hua Cheng plunges in smoothly and doesn’t stop when a cry splits the air in half. 

Xie Lian clutches at the near edge of the divan and tries to look back, to find the visual counterpart to the deep, violent fullness. The drag of his cock in and out of him is so easily distinguishable at first, but quickly fades into one all-encompassing wave of sensation. 

He catches sight of Hua Cheng’s face and his cock jumps. He’s torn up with bliss and intent, reshaping his features into something new that Xie Lian wants to see every day for the rest of his life. 

“Oh, fuck.” Hua Cheng hisses, “Do you like it rough like this, Your Highness?” 

Xie Lian’s thoughts are being rapidly fucked out of him, leaving him stupid and unable to answer. All he can say is Hua Cheng’s name, over and over and over. 

Brutally, that just ups his effort. 

The thick fur of the pelt sticks up unevenly from between Xie Lian’s fingers. 

They’re loud ; both of them. From their mouths and their hips noise radiates and Xie Lian doesn’t realize he’s drooling until he feels it trailing down his neck. 

He should’ve slowed by now, right? But still, Hua Cheng continues driving into him without a hint of fatigue. 

Xie Lian sniffs and heaves a breath. “Too much, too much, it’s too much!” he sobs, clawing at the divan. He’s being stimulated so ruthlessly, over and over, he can hardly breathe. 

“His Highness can take it,” Hua Cheng grunts. “His body is strong and, nn, well-trained, he can take my cock easily.” 

His body doesn’t want him to recognize this as pleasure, but he does anyway. Xie Lian arches his back, sniffling and torn by the instinct to escape. He clutches at the latticed back of the divan in an attempt to crawl away, but Hua Cheng just pulls him back harder on his cock, jolting Xie Lian. 

“Ah! Ah, ah, ahh!”  

His head bobs from the force of the impact, as does his erection. Messy slap after slap leaves precome tacky on his abdomen. 

Rough is long gone; Hua Cheng’s actions have become merciless.  

Xie Lian can taste every thrust and feel the buzz in the air between the sting of skin slapping skin. How is he still so present when he feels so out of his mind?  

He aches between his legs, a genuine hurt, and it takes a long minute to realize it’s because his climax is caged in without any outlet for release. His eyes are hot and stinging, too full to hold in the tears any longer. His face is warm and messy and he wants to come, he wants to come, he wants to!  

“Let me come!” he finally begs, breaking with a shuddering breath. 

In a beat, he’s thrown onto his back, legs spread. Hua Cheng grabs him and jerks him off, hugging his hips to keep bouncing him on his cock. 

All of a sudden, Xie Lian feels years—hundreds of years—collapsing in on themselves. They groan and fold within him, seeming no more stable than the gold foil palaces he’d built as a child. 

So mighty yet so easily toppled. It’s like a thousand pounds torn from his back. 

He cries harder when he comes, screaming with a raw throat and nodding wildly. 

Then Hua Cheng moans and comes deep inside him and he feels new again. He’s a clean slate, something he’d never hoped to achieve for the rest of his days. Every past blemish is rendered void by the heat flooding inside of him. 

With crushing strength, he pulls Hua Cheng to his chest. Wet, heated kisses climb from his shoulder up to his lips, shocking his eye open wide. 

Xie Lian intersperses them with croaked thank yous until Hua Cheng’s lips split into a grin and he kisses back just as hard. 

“Good, then? Was it what gege needed?” He wipes Xie Lian’s tears away but more slip out to take their place. 

He feels so strangely at peace. Xie Lian brushes his hair back and nods. He clears his throat and laughs quietly. “Mm… What about San Lang?” 

Hua Cheng just pecks his cheek and teases, “Are you too tired for a third round?”