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Before Xiao, there was Alatus. 

 

Alatus who was cruel in all the places Xiao was merely cold, Alatus who wore teeth around his throat and whose clothes were stained red from centuries worth of bloodshed. Alatus who once served a god who used him as he was meant to be used — Alatus who was a weapon, who had no name until it was bestowed upon him in the name of a gods’ war.

 

Despite what he tells the yellow-eyed yaksha later, Venti meets Alatus first, drenched and delighted in blood.

 

Venti watches quietly as the yaksha before him rips through his enemies, the glint of his jade spear cutting arcs of light as he wields it. He’s fast , Venti thinks, even for somebody with an Anemo vision. He moves so quickly that the normally intransigent winds around him become weak-willed and obedient as he cuts between them.

 

Venti doesn’t know how long he watches the yaksha fight, but by the time the battlefield stands empty with its sole survivor, the moon hangs above them. Silver light stains the blood against the yaksha’s pale skin an inky black.

 

A pair of swirling jade eyes shift in Venti’s direction, and that’s all the warning he gets before suddenly that blade is pressed into the hollow of his throat.

 

Up this close, he’s breathtaking. 

 

The yaksha stares at him for a moment, and then his lips curve upwards into a dangerous smile. Something in his expression is off , and Venti can’t help but suddenly feel like a small mouse being batted between the paws of a hungry tiger.

 

“Ah, you are not a demon,” the yaksha purrs, dragging the end of his blade further down his neck lightly as he tilts his head. “But you are a god. I can smell it on you.”

 

Venti’s lips quirk upwards. “Do you kill gods, too?”

 

“Often.” The yaksha’s gaze flicks over his face, searching. “I am Alatus. You carry the same winds as I do.”

 

This makes Venti breathe out a nervous laugh. He forgot about his mock Vision hanging at his hip; now Alatus has it twisted between the fingers of his spare hand, eyeing it critically. He’d moved so quickly that Venti hadn’t realized he took it in the first place. 

 

“Never met a god with a vision?”

 

“Hmm… no,” Alatus raises his gaze with a piercing grin. “Most gods have no need for a vision. You must be rather weak, to have to rely on something like this.”

 

And that has Venti laughing in earnest, double over and clutching his stomach. He supposes Alatus isn’t wrong that he’s weak in his field, but to meet somebody who isn’t an Archon like himself with the audacity to call him weak..  gods , they really don’t make them like this anymore, do they? Even the skeptics back in Mondstadt wouldn’t dare even imply something like that of an archon. Heavens, even gods usually knew better. 

 

The spear at his throat withdraws slightly, and when Venti manages to recover enough to meet the yaksha’s gaze again, he finds his dark eyebrows furrowed slightly in confusion. It’s as adorable as it is hilarious, Venti decides.

 

“I’m sorry,” Venti manages to get out through his giggles. “I just - you are very bold, Alatus.”

 

Alatus raises a brow at that, and then without warning again that spear is sweeping towards him again, and Venti lets out a gasp of surprise as he bounds backwards. It’s a narrow miss; the tip of the spear catches the end of his clothes and cuts through it effortlessly. 

 

“Why,” Venti remarks wryly, crossing his arms, “I never -”

 

And then the blade is coming at him again, over and over, relentlessly pursuing even as Venti nimbly dodges the blows. He lets out a delighted laugh as he remains just out a reach, but Celestia above, he was right about Alatus being fast

 

Realizing if he keeps on like this he’s going to end up with a spear buried somewhere he doesn’t want it to be on his next misstep, Venti summons his bow and surges a good distance away in a burst of wind. 

 

Nocking an arrow in the time it takes Alatus to recover from the sudden blow - which is barely any time at all , but it’s enough - Venti infuses a rush of Anemo into the tip and aims it at the hand Alatus uses to wield his spear. The arrow cuts through the air, and Alatus notices it a heartbeat too late; he curses and drops his weapon as the shaft slices into his palm.

 

Venti laughs freely in his victory, scampering backwards on the tips of his toes, and watches in delight as Alatus measures his options. Goading, Venti lifts himself off the ground a bit and pulls up another arrow, and the light shifts behind Alatus's eyes in warning.

 

“Come on, god-killer,” Venti purrs, drawing the arrow back. “Surely you don’t need something like that to defeat a god as weak as me, no? Or maybe you’re realizing you underestimated this frail little -”

 

Alatus is on him in an instant, the wind around him as sharp as the blade he wielded. Before Venti can realize his mistake, the air cuts into him and throws him backwards. Distantly, he hears the soft clatter of bells before he hits the ground with a wince. 

 

When he cracks an eye open, Alatus is perched on top of him, red clothes fluttering in the shift of the wind. His jade glints with vicious delight as he digs his fingers harshly into the pale skin of Venti’s throat. The smile that curls at his lips is reminiscent of a cat that got the cream.

 

“You’re right,” Alatus says, his soft voice dripping with murderous intent.

 

The sight of him up close makes Venti breathless. Focus . “A weapon is never as sharp as its wielder, after all.”

 

“Not about that.” Alatus leans closer, the tooth-ringed neck-piece at his throat falling against Venti’s chest. “I underestimated you.”

 

“Oh?” Venti preens. “Is that so?”

 

Alatus doesn’t respond, but his grip on Venti’s throat releases slightly and he instead lowers his hand until it rests right over Venti’s sternum. He presses down experimentally and grins when Venti’s breath hitches in surprise.

 

“I suppose I should be honored?” Alatus's voice is a melodic hum as he lowers his head to murmur into Venti’s ear. “I’ve never fought an archon before.”

 

“I’m not an archon,” Venti laughs, lying through his teeth as usual. “I’m just a humble bard.”

 

Alatus huffs, his breath warm against the skin. He smells like blood and flowers and something else, something violent and wrong . The red on his clothes seems to shift and smoke as he moves, grazing his lips along the corner of Venti’s ear.

 

“The wind has never disobeyed me before.” Alatus's hand shifts lower on Venti’s chest. “And there’s something in here, I can feel it. Why are you in Morax’s domain, Barbatos?”

 

Well, if he didn’t feel like a trapped mouse before, he definitely does now. Which is a weird feeling, given he’s the archon, but there’s something behind Alatus's piercing eyes that sends a shiver down his spine regardless of status. It’s not just an intent to kill; it’s an excitement to. In a land of gods and illuminated beasts, Venti is little more than a passing wind. The archon war raged harder here in Liyue than it did anywhere else, after all.

 

And Venti knows when another archon has put their mark on somebody. Alatus here does not just remember the war - he fought in it, as well. And, Venti notes wryly as he remembers the scene he stumbled upon earlier, he probably still is fighting it now.

 

“If you must know,” Venti drawls, still rather affronted by the whole being attacked thing, “I was visiting Morax himself. Perhaps you don’t know about our custom yet, but we archons do make an effort to catch up often, now that the war is over.”

 

Alatus just huffs again at that, disinterested. And isn’t that an interesting response; last he checked, Morax was revered much more strongly here than any other archon, anywhere.

 

“How touching,” Alatus's voice is acidic. “I am relieved to hear that the Lord has found himself the leisure of -”

 

Suddenly he breaks off with a snarl, his shoulders drawing tight and back arching in a display of pain. Venti blinks in surprise as the fingers in the front of his clothes tighten and the air around them starts to grow sharper, responding to the change in Alatus's demeanor. 

 

“Alatus?” He tries to shift and catch the yaksha’s expression, but his face is still obscured beside his shoulder. “Are you injured?”

 

“Pain does not -” Alatus interrupts his words with a hiss, “- does not affect me.”

 

Venti nearly rolls his eyes at that, but truth be told he’s not sure he wants to provoke a clearly aggravated god-killer whose bared teeth are dangerously close to his throat. Instead he does something stupider; he raises one of his hands and curls it gently against the nape of Alatus's neck, pulling him closer.

 

At first, Alatus's entire body seizes and he tries to wrench himself away, but then another ripple of pain rolls through him and he collapses on one arm. His entire frame is pressed into Venti now, and Venti can feel the pain against him now, how it shifts beneath his skin and sours the air around him.

 

Finally, it clicks.

 

“Ah,” Venti murmurs, letting out a soft exhale of sympathy. “It seems fate is not kind to the yakshas who twist its hand, after all.”

 

Venti has heard of karmic debt, but more than anything it was a rumor; understandably so, given how rare and in between the yakshas were in the first place and how secretive they were to go with it. Honestly, just encountering one was something of an anomaly - but, of course, taking so much life and inviting the wrath of so many powerful beings did not come without its consequences. 

 

Alatus makes a noise like a wounded animal, clearly trying to suppress what was likely another crippling wave of agony tearing through him like his own blade had to the demons earlier.

 

“You poor thing.” Venti runs his fingers gently through the red-and-black curtain of Alatus's hair and presses as much soothing energy into his touch as he can muster. 

 

Alatus lets out a soft groan at the sensation, directly into Venti’s ear, and he feels his heart stutter in response. Try as he might, having a god-killing yaksha respond so hungrily to his touch is… something else, put lightly, and it’s enough to make his head spin.

 

“Does it help?” Venti cards his fingers through his hair again, and Alatus lets out a quiet sigh, relaxing into it. “Ahaha, you’re practically purring, Alatus…. Who would have thought that such a fierce yaksha would enjoy being touched so much. It’s cute.”

 

“What… what are you,” Alatus exhales unevenly, “doing?”

 

“I am an Archon, silly yaksha,” Venti laughs, tracing down the back of his neck with gentle fingers and relishing in the way Alatus shivers. “You are under my protection, are you not?”

 

As he says it, he runs his other hand over the curve of Alatus's shoulder, pressing his fingers into the teal tattoo against his skin. He traces a path across the ink and feels the thrum of Anemo energy beneath the skin, pushing and pulling in response to his own. Alatus sinks down onto one elbow and buries his face into Venti’s neck, his breaths coming faster, and oh , Venti could get drunk just off of this alone.

 

The thought makes the rapid flutter of his heartbeat pick up, and with it comes a need for more . He trails his right hand down the back of Alatus's neck and lightly scratches his nails against the skin, earning a shiver from the yaksha above him. Deciding to press his luck, he brushes his hand over the sparse cloth over Alatus's collarbone before dropping his hand lower, over the soft skin of his bare stomach.

 

Alatus breathes in sharply and then he has Venti’s wandering wrist pinned beside his head. Venti yelps in surprise, curling his fingers into a fist, as Alatus breathes hotly into his ear, “Now what are you doing, little Barbatos?”

 

Celestia above, the thrill that runs through Venti’s bloodstream at the nickname is so sinful he fears he’s going to lose his godhood just from the sensation alone. 

 

“I was only trying to help.”

 

“Is that so.”

 

“Why?” Venti’s lips curl. “Did you not like it? Do you want me to stop?”

 

The fingers around his wrist tighten minimally, but Alatus neither confirms nor denies his suspicions. Venti lets out a disappointed whine, and then there are lips against his throat, teasing, and the sound morphs into something a bit more breathless. He feels Alatus nuzzle into the corner of his jaw and has to fight to keep still.

 

“Aren’t you afraid of me?” Alatus whispers against his skin, his voice sharp and dangerous and just a little bit breathy. “I have killed the likes of you before, you know. Not archons, but they could have been.”

 

“Oh, please,” Venti scoffs. “And become an archon yourself? Doesn’t seem realistic to me.”

 

“I think it would be fun,” Alatus disagrees. “I’ve fought so many to the death who wanted their own seat in Celestia. Imagine the havoc that I could cause if I ascended myself, tore apart those bloodied thrones with my own --”

 

Suddenly, Alatus cuts himself off with a growl as another roll of pain tears through him. The fingers wrapped around Venti’s wrist dig hard enough to make bruises, but Venti ignores it and instead presses more soothing energy into Alatus's arm until  his labored breathing calms a bit.

 

“I still can’t imagine it,” Venti says with a soft laugh. “Besides, as you are now, I could easily win in a fight.”

 

“Oh?” Alatus's voice is rough. “So you would like to fight, after all?”

 

“What? No!” Venti stifles a laugh. “You were the one making threats. Besides, the last thing I want to do is hurt you.”

 

Alatus doesn’t say anything to that, but his iron grip on Venti’s wrist loosens almost imperceptibly, if it weren’t for how hyper-aware Venti is to his touch. He tilts his head to try and get a better look at Alatus's face, when another wave of pain seizes the yaksha again.

 

This time must be worse than the others, or maybe Alatus is just making good on his threats, because he responds by sinking his teeth into the curve of Venti’s neck. Not hard enough to draw blood - barely more than a nip against the skin - but hard enough to feel .

 

And, by the archons and everything in between, does Venti feel

 

It sends heat tearing straight through his stomach, and he responds with an involuntary and high-pitched whimper, hips pushing upwards desperately in search of any kind of friction.

 

Above him, Alatus goes deadly still, and Venti suddenly wishes that the yaksha had made good on his threats to kill him for the humiliation that burns through him afterwards.

 

You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Barbatos, Venti curses himself, shame churning in his stomach. If he wasn’t going to kill you before, he’s definitely going to now , you pathetic -

 

Suddenly, he feels Alatus's knee shift between his legs and brush against him, just barely - and both his mind and vision go blank. There is absolutely nothing left of him except the feeling of friction. Against his better judgement, a needy gasp strangles itself out of his throat, and then Alatus laughs .

 

It’s a breathy laugh, whispered into the junction of his neck and shoulder, and it makes everything inside of Venti burn . The lips against his throat move with more intent, and everything is so, so hot. 

 

Dimly, Venti remembers they’re out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by corpses, but the realization slips his mind as quickly as it comes when Alatus moves against him again, pressing between his legs and making Venti’s head fall back against the ground heavily as he exhales sharply.

 

“Who would have thought,” Alatus growls into his throat. “This little archon is a whore .”

 

“Please,” Venti gasps, not even sure what he’s begging for. “Please, Alatus….”

 

“Please, Alatus,” the yaksha echoes in a purr, kissing along his jaw and beneath his ear. “Listen to you begging, little archon. You don’t even know what you want, do you?”

 

“I,” Venti stammers, stammers , “I want - I want you, please -”

 

The fingers on his wrist tighten again as Venti rolls his hips against the thigh between his legs, his breaths coming in feverish pants. He yelps when teeth bury themselves into the flesh under his jawbone, hard , and then Alatus's tongue is on his neck, lapping hungrily at the injury.

 

“Mm, you taste good for a god,” Alatus purrs, rubbing his thumb over the pulse of his wrist. “I wonder what your dreams taste like. Do archons dream?”

 

And maybe Venti is feeling a little mean , because he’s desperate and wanting and Alatus is playing with him, so he responds with, “Wouldn’t you like to know, huh?”

 

The snarl that Alatus makes in response makes his insides twist with want, but then the friction is gone and Alatus is leaning back, out of reach. In desperation, Venti reaches out with his free hand and grabs him by the fanged necklace around his throat, pulling it fast, and Alatus freezes, glaring down at him.

 

It’s the first time Venti’s been able to see his face since he pinned him down, and gods is he a sight, jade eyes dark and flashing and face stained a dusty pink, his hair falling over his cheekbones unevenly. At the corner of his mouth is a barely visible red stain, and Venti realizes with a jolt that it’s his blood. 

 

Alatus's eyes narrow dangerously. “Let me go.”

 

“No.” Venti pulls at the toothed collar until Alatus falls forward, so close that he can taste his breath. “You still need my help, don’t you, Alatus?”

 

As if in response, another surge of pain washes over the yaksha, and he grits his teeth against it. Venti raises a brow, as if to say, I told you so .

 

“I have dealt with this pain thousands of times before on my own,” Alatus spits, and Venti believes him. “I do not need you.”

 

“Maybe not,” Venti concedes, flexing his fingers under Alatus's iron grip. “But you want me.”

 

The wind around them goes still, and Venti finds himself holding his breath as a wave of complicated emotions pass over Alatus's face in silence. Between them lies an invisible line to be crossed; to acknowledge it, or to ignore it and walk away. To put words to action, or to remain unscatched in the aftermath.

 

As Venti watches, the yaksha narrows his eyes and comes to a decision, A vicious smile cuts into his lips and Venti feels fear dig itself into his stomach like a hot knife.

 

“I think it would be fun to play with you, little archon,” Alatus says, and then he crosses the line and kisses him breathless.

 

Alatus kisses like he fights; fast, hungry, and relentless. He tastes like blood - his blood, Venti notes - and something sweeter, sugary. Venti groans into his mouth as Alatus presses into him again, flattening him against the ground and pushing a hand into his chest against his clothes.

 

He’s so lost in the feeling of a leg being pressed between his legs again that he doesn’t realize what Alatus is about to do before it’s too late; with an impatient snarl from the yaksha and a gust of icy wind, his upper garments are sliced to shreds.

 

Affronted, Venti gasps and pulls away, but Alatus allows no room for complaint. Instead he scratches his fingers down Venti’s chest and swallows down his complaints with his mouth, dragging his thigh against Venti’s clothed cock and swallowing down the moan he makes, too. When hands brush against his nipples and drag a whimpering gasp from his throat, Venti finds he doesn’t really care as much about his shredded clothes as before.

 

Like this, Venti can feel when the next wave of pain makes its way through the yaksha’s body. When teeth dig into his bottom lip, Venti soothes him by weaving the same energy from before through his fingertips and dragging them down Alatus's bowed spine, leaving little bursts of it as he goes. It’s worth it not only for the way the yaksha relaxes beneath his touch but also for the way his kisses grow slower and gentler, almost lazy as he licks into Venti’s mouth. 

 

That’s a good yaksha, Venti thinks, rather self-confident at the way he can tame the wild Alatus. He dances his touch along the skin just above Alatus's hip and tugs at the fabric of his pants, grinning into Alatus's mouth when he feels him break away to gasp for air.

 

“What’s the matter, Alatus?” Venti’s voice is way more fucked-out than he expects it to be, but the way Alatus's gaze darkens makes him shiver. “Can’t keep up?”

 

“Shut up,” Alatus replies, shifting his weight so that he’s pressed fully against him. “You’re so desperate for this it’s embarrassing.”

 

Venti flutters his lashes and arches his back into the contact, letting out a soft moan. He basks in the way it makes Alatus's breath hitch, catching his lower lip between his teeth as he gives the yaksha the most wanton look he can muster.

 

“You’re right,” Venti says breathlessly. “I want you to fuck me, Alatus. And you’re taking an awfully long time to do that, so if you would please -- mmph!

 

When Alatus kisses him this time, it’s more teeth and less gentle. And maybe Venti preens a little bit in the way the yaksha’s fingers are a bit clumsy as he wraps an arm around Venti’s waist and pulls them flush together. When he feels the outline of the yaksha’s cock through his clothes against his own, Venti keens with want, scraping his fingers desperately against the small of Alatus's back harshly. 

 

Tired of all this foreplay and desperate for the high he’s chasing, Venti breaks the kiss to bite the lobe of Alatus's ear in a not altogether friendly way, his breaths coming fast and uneven. “Roll over.”

 

“What?” Alatus's voice is sharp with confusion, his chest heaving.

 

“Roll. Over,” Venti punctuates this with a roll of his hips, which earns a hiss from the man above him. He grins slyly. “Don’t make me say it a third time, Alatus.”

 

True to his nature, Alatus absolutely does not do as he says. Instead he digs his fingers into Venti’s bound wrist and says, fiercely, “No.”

 

Venti laughs, completely smitten, and then the wind turns and in the next moment he has their positions reversed, pinning Alatus fast to the ground and using his elbow to lock the hand wrapped around his wrist to the ground above his head. Alatus gasps, stunned by the impact, and Venti purrs in delight, dragging his fingers down the yaksha’s heaving chest leisurely.

 

“Look at that face,” Venti murmurs, tilting his head. “You’re beautiful, Alatus. I can’t wait to wreck you.”

 

Alatus scowls at that, his brows furrowed in confusion and rising anger. Venti sits up a bit from his perch on the yaksha’s lap, releasing his arm and sitting back comfortably on his haunches, and watches mirthfully as the muscles in his body flex and shudder. The more he struggles to move to no avail, the more Alatus grows frustrated.

 

“What did you do?” Alatus demands, raising his gaze to meet Venti’s. It’s funny; even when he’s pinned like this, the vigilant yaksha still manages to look dangerous.

 

“You are not the only one who can control the wind, Alatus,” Venti hums, tracing a finger down his navel and relishing the way his skin shivers under his touch. “I will not hurt you. If I wanted to, I would have a dozen times already. Is this… okay?”

 

After he asks it, Venti lifts his gaze to meet Alatus's again, because he’s not corrupt and he’s not cruel - he’s not going to make the yaksha do something he isn’t going to consent to, after all. Alatus's brows furrow, but he hesitates, clearly at war with what he wants versus what he needs.

 

“Alatus,” Venti leans forward, smoothing his hand over his chest and kissing his jaw as he releases the wind’s constraints. “I am asking you to trust me in this. I promise that it will feel good, and if it doesn’t, tell me and I’ll stop immediately. It is your choice.”

 

Alatus goes a bit stiff at his last sentence, his breath catching in his throat. For a moment, Venti thinks he’s crossed a line and starts to pull back, but then Alatus raises his hand to wind it around the back of his neck, nails scratching against the skin lightly, and tugs him closer.

 

“It is dangerous to give a yaksha a choice,” Alatus murmurs into his ear.

 

“I am the archon that represents the city of freedom,” Venti responds breezily, his skin tingling where Alatus's breath meets it. “Wouldn’t it be disingenuous if I didn’t give you that?”

 

“Very well.” Alatus pulls back and smiles at him, a sharp cut of his teeth. “Then wreck me, Lord Barbatos.”

 

Heat lashes up Venti's spine, and in the next instant he has Alatus's wrists pinned next to his head again, delighting in the way the yaksha’s breath comes out in a surprised gasp. Venti lets the wind dance along Alatus's skin, teasing against his cheek and his throat and his arms, and watches hungrily as Alatus's breath picks up and his eyes widen in realization.

 

“See what the wind can do for you if you’re gentler with it?” Venti smiles lazily, curling a finger into the waistband of the yaksha’s pants and pulling at them teasingly. “Does it feel good?”

 

Dark jade eyes meet his and narrow, as inquisitive as they are daring, but Alatus doesn’t respond. 

 

“Hmm, so now you’re quiet,” Venti muses, tipping his head. “No matter. I’ll get you talking, Alatus.”

 

Leaning forward, he brushes his lips lightly against the yaksha’s, who exhales into his mouth eagerly. When Venti pulls away he swears that Alatus whines, which makes his lips curve into a smirk as he kisses a trail down his jaw and neck. Every so often he kitten-nips the skin just to draw a soft noise from the yaksha’s mouth, and by the time he’s making his way down Alatus's chest, his breathing has accelerated considerably. 

 

“You really are beautiful,” Venti murmurs, kissing down each of his ribs. “So good and obedient for me, Alatus. You must want this more than you’re telling me.”

 

Alatus's sharp intake of breath answers for him, and suddenly Venti finds he’s quite tired of this foreplay. Hungrily, his trails his mouth over the planes of Alatus's stomach, down to the waistband of his bands, hooking his fingers into the fabric and grinning when he feels Alatus's hips strain upwards. 

 

Venti quickly realizes he was the one who underestimated Alatus open meeting him, rather than the other way around, when he slips off his pants and finds himself eye-to-eye with a fucking sculpture of a cock. He can’t help but wonder just what in the name of the gods they’ve been feeding people in Liyue, between Alatus's build and the not-so-subtle implications in the carving of Morax he’s seen floating around on the statues they’ve been erecting.

 

Biding his time, Venti mouths along the inside of Alatus's thigh, reveling in the way the yaksha’s breathing grows more and more irregular and the more impatient he grows with each passing second. By the time he’s pressing featherlight kisses into the juncture of his thigh, Alatus is writhing and whimpering.

 

Venti makes the mistake of lifting his gaze to catch a glimpse of the yaksha, and the sight makes his stomach seize with want. Alatus is strained against the invisible restraints, his chest heaving with each breath, face painted red and - worst of all - his eyes, which swirl with a dark hunger, are glued to Venti. His fingers tremble from where they’re pressed into Alatus's hips.

 

“That’s a good yaksha,” Venti purrs, brushing his lips against the side of Alatus's cock and smiling slyly when he bucks into it. “Don’t you dare take those eyes off of me, yeah?”

 

Alatus growls, and then Venti takes him into his mouth and the sound becomes a high whine. Archons, the noises he makes - Venti has to fight not to palm himself as he sweeps his tongue along the yaksha’s length and around the tip. 

 

He quickly learns exactly how to draw out the noises from Alatus he wants to hear: if he flattens his tongue at the base and digs his fingers into the junction of his hips, Alatus groans and his hips stutter; if he kisses the tip, Alatus whimpers and tenses; and if he takes him down to the base -

 

Fuck ,” Alatus swears, fucking up into his throat against his control.

 

Venti coughs and splutters as he chokes against the intrusion, digging his fingers into Alatus's hips to hold him down as he pulls off to catch his breath. He raises his gaze to glare at Alatus as he pants heavily, but Alatus doesn’t even look remotely sorry. If anything, he looks mighty satisfied with himself, his lips curving into a wretched smirk.

 

“What’s wrong, Barbatos?” he purrs. “Can’t keep up? And here I thought -- ahhh, ah -”

 

The breathy moan that Alatus makes is worth the strain on Venti’s throat as he lowers his head and takes him down to the base again, eyes fluttering shut as he struggles to regulate his gag reflex. Because he refuses to get stood up by this mouthy yaksha in something he initiated, and because archons, the noises Alatus is making. 

 

Alatus lets out something of a groan and a laugh at the same time, throwing his head back against the ground with a soft thud and twisting his hips up - and then swearing violently when Venti pulls off abruptly. He lifts his head to glare down at him and Venti matches the look.

 

“I told- ugh ,” Venti clears his throat against the rawness of it from taking down his cock, “I told you, don’t you dare take your fucking eyes off of me, Alatus.”

 

Alatus stares at him for a moment, eyes blown wide - good, Venti thinks, he caught him by surprise. He doesn’t let the yaksha recover; instead, he lowers his head again, locking eyes with Alatus, and takes him down again, breathing through his nose as he sinks all the way down. The way Alatus's chest heaves with each breath and his gaze sits hungry on him is probably the hottest thing, ever, and Venti can’t help but moan around him, eyes fluttering shut for a second.

 

The action makes Alatus let out a wrecked sound, back arching against his restraints. “ Fuck , Barbatos, you’re so….”

 

The praise (implied as it was) makes Venti shiver, and he runs his fingers down Alatus's hips, holding his mouth in place until Alatus finally gets the memo. With a shuddering exhale, Alatus rolls his hips upwards, and the pressure puts tears in Venti’s eyes. He swallows a whimper as the yaksha starts to fuck into his mouth, fingers twitching against his restraints. When Venti looks up, Alatus is staring at him, lips parted as he pants heavily and jade eyes blackened with lust.

 

As he watches, he sees Alatus tense up suddenly, teeth gritting as the lust in his gaze shifts into pain. The karmic debt, Venti realizes, and then he has an idea. 

 

Tapping his fingers against Alatus's hips lightly to draw his attention, Venti shifts all of his energy into his tongue, and presses it against the yaksha’s base, before dragging all the way back up to the tip with a lewd sound when he releases him, gasping quietly for air. 

 

Above him, Alatus stares, frozen in place, and then Venti takes his cock down again and punches a loud whimper from the yaksha as his hips stutter against the sensation. And then he starts talking .

 

“Archons, w - what is wrong with you,” Alatus hisses, not unkindly given the way it’s followed by another aching moan. “It feels so - mmm , you feel so good, shit, I wish you could see yourself right now. All... fucked out like a whore just from sucking me off, hah hahh ….”

 

By this point, Alatus is fucking into his mouth again, and Venti basks in it, fingers digging bruises into the yaksha’s hips. The sounds are - they’re terrible , and he loves it, and there’s a tight coil in his stomach that means it’s entirely possible he’s going to come from this alone, untouched. Which is both humiliating and dizzyingly exciting. 

 

“B - ahh , Barbatos,” Alatus whines, his breath hitching as he pulls off again to breathe. “Come here.”

 

Venti raises his eyebrow at that, nuzzling into his thigh with a curious smile just to see Alatus's brows furrow impatiently, before obediently sliding up his body and kissing the corner of his mouth, teasing. Alatus shivers as he mouths at the junction of his jaw.

 

“Let me go,” Alatus says. “So I can fuck you like you want.”

 

A wave of heat rolls through Venti from the tips of his ears down to his toes at the growl in his voice, but he can’t help but push him a little bit. He smiles languidly as he nips at the side of his throat and then sweeps his tongue over it, taking his time.

 

“Hmm,” Venti hums, nuzzling into his neck. “No. I quite like you like this, Alatus.”

 

Alatus scoffs, and when Venti pulls back the glint in his eye is deadly. “No?”

 

Venti just meets his gaze evenly, a smirk tugging at his lips. He drags a finger down Alatus's sternum, which is flushed a pretty pink, tilting his head. After a moment, Alatus's eyes narrow and he calls his bluff; the wind shifts, Venti blinks, and then once again he’s being held down to the ground while Alatus stares down at him hungrily. Venti grins viciously, wrapping his arms leisurely around the yaksha’s neck.

 

“When did you take them off?” Alatus asks, sliding between his legs and grabbing him by the chin. 

 

“Mm,” Venti flutters his lashes. “An archon never tells. So, Alatus, you caught me. Now what?”

 

“Now,” Alatus purrs, sliding his hand down his chest, “I’m not going to play nice with you anymore.”

 

And then he pulls Venti into a bruising kiss, hand sliding down further until it slips into his pants. Venti gasps into his mouth when he finally, finally gets the friction he’s been craving, fingers curling around his length. He grinds helplessly into the hand that fucks him, tangling his fingers into Alatus's hair and pulling hard. 

 

There is absolutely no kindness in the way Alatus jerks him off, and his pace is as unforgiving as the bite of his teeth against Venti’s mouth, and it’s incredible . Venti writhes and whimpers as the air between them crackles and, distinctly, he realizes they aren’t really on the ground anymore.

 

“You’re insane,” Alatus growls into his mouth as he notices as well, squeezing his cock harshly. “You can’t even control it, can you?”

 

And Venti can only whimper wantonly in turn, his nails digging into Alatus's scalp in delight as the heat in his stomach simmers and coils in response. Because Alatus is mean , and he loves it; he loves the taste of vitriol on his tongue, the way Alatus is breathing hard against his lips and rutting against his thigh without realizing he’s doing it.

 

“Are you close already?” Alatus spits, leaning back to look him in the eye. “I wish you could see yourself right now. I wish the entirety of Mondstadt could see you now, see how their god wrecks himself for a god-killer so prettily.”

 

“You - haah ,” Venti squeezes his eyes shut, arching his back as nails scrape against his length. “You think I’m p-pretty, Alatus?”

 

“Little archon,” Alatus purrs, lowering his head until he’s murmuring into Venti’s ear, “you’re beautiful .”

 

Venti chokes on a gasp, feels his hips stutter against the yaksha’s fist. Close. I’m so -

 

“There it is,” Alatus says in a low growl, and then he squeezes the base of Venti’s cock, and everything comes to a screeching halt - the winding heat in his stomach simmers helplessly and his hips desperately jerk for any kind of release, but he is granted none. A high, pitiful whine strangles its way out of Venti’s throat, tears pricking the corners of his eyes.

 

“A-Alatus,” he pleads, his voice broken, “ Alatus, please -”

 

“I told you,” Alatus responds smoothly, gripping him tighter. “I’m not going to play nice with you anymore. Are you going to be good for me, Barbatos, or will I have to edge you again to get my point across? I don’t enjoy repeating myself.”

 

“I’ll be good,” Venti whispers, making tiny thrusts of his hips. “I’ll be good, I promise, I….”

 

Alatus purrs, his lips grazing down his jaw and tongue lapping at the hollow of his throat. It takes all of Venti’s willpower to not wail as the hand leaves his cock and slips out of his pants.

 

“Might as well finish the job,” Alatus muses into his neck, sounding slightly irritated, and then -

 

“Gods above, Alatus,” Venti complains breathlessly, even though he can feel a hysterical laugh bubbling in his throat. “You could have just asked me to take the damn things off, instead of destroying my entire wardrobe.”

 

“It’s a horrible color on you anyway,” Alatus responds smoothly, and before Venti can feel offended he follows it with, “I’d rather see you dressed in red, personally.”

 

The scoff that Venti manages is decidedly breathless, and he chokes on it when he feels fingers sailing up his thigh and pressing somewhere different than before. His fingers tighten in Alatus's hair and he feels the yaksha grin into his throat.

 

“You wanted me to fuck you, right, Barbatos?”

 

Venti nods frantically, recovering from his initial surprise as he presses himself into the yaksha’s probing fingers. “And I remember telling you quite some time ago you were taking an awfully long time to - mmm , haah .”

 

Alatus just laughs into his throat as he continues to lazily stroke Venti’s cock, gathering precum onto his fingers and then pressing his finger into his ass again. It’s warm, so warm - Venti bites his lip to keep from making another embarrassing noise as Alatus fingers him open relentlessly. He wastes absolutely no time, keeping to Venti’s demand to hurry up, before slipping in a second finger, and then a third, stretching him open. All the while he mouths lazily at Venti’s neck, sucking and biting at the juncture of his shoulder as he curls his fingers upwards, and - 

 

Ooooh, ” Venti groans, arching his back and pulling at Alatus's hair hard . “ Ohh , Alatus, yes, yes, yes - ahhh -”

 

The fingers in his ass immediately pick up their pace, and with each stroke they drag along the spot that makes Venti’s toes curl and his head spin. It feels sinful and amazing and it has Venti breathless and wanting, rolling his hips into Alatus's hand as he fucks him open.

 

“Alatus,” Venti whimpers, scratching his nails down the yaksha’s neck and earning a low growl in response. “Alatus. Inside. I need you - hah - inside me, now .”

 

Alatus's fingers are out of him before he can finish his sentence, and Venti’s head swims from the speed with which he moves; one instant, he’s draped over Venti and sucking at his neck, and the neck he’s pulling up one of Venti’s legs around him while he lines himself up at his entrance. Throughout it all, Alatus's eyes remain pinned on him, and something flickers in the back of them just before he presses in.

 

“Barbatos,” he says, his voice rough and ragged and hesitant. His brows furrow. “I -”

 

Reaching up, Venti curls his fingers around the fanged necklace at Alatus's throat, dragging him closer and relishing in the way Alatus's eyes widen a bit before he presses their lips together. He kisses Alatus gently at first, slow and languid, before pulling back and catching his bottom lip between his teeth. 

 

When Alatus opens his eyes, Venti grins at him playfully, and the furrow between Alatus's brow smooths out and the jade in his eyes glints dangerously.

 

“Alatus,” Venti drawls, twirling the necklace between his fingers taut, “Wreck me.”

 

And Alatus doesn’t need to be told twice. He lines himself up and then enters him in one smooth, punishing stroke - and Venti wails, fingers scrabbling at the yaksha’s shoulders at the sensation. He is offered no reprieve or time to catch his breath before Alatus rolls his hips, head dropping onto his shoulder as he lets out a long, punched-out groan.

 

Distantly, Venti is aware of the wind howling around them, creaking and lashing the trees beneath it and between it, but the air around them is drawn so tightly that it’s barely a whisper that curls gently into Alatus's hair and kisses away the tears on Venti’s cheeks.  

 

Alatus, Venti decides, is a selfish top; his fingers dig bruises into Venti’s thigh and the pace he sets is punishing. He fucks Venti like he’s something to be used, and - honestly? It’s fucking fantastic. The way Alatus bites his collarbone and how his breath comes in heavy, desperate gasps is probably the hottest thing Venti has experienced in his life. 

 

But there are two very pressing problems: first of all, Venti hasn’t been touched, and second of all, Alatus is not being mean enough.

 

“Alatus,” Venti growls, giving a harsh tug on his hair. “Touch me.” 

 

The yaksha lifts his head, and archons, his eyes are beautiful, glazed over and dark with lust, But as he realizes what Venti means, his lips curve into a knowing smile, eyes narrowing as the roll of his hips slows, and Venti thinks, oh, fuck.

 

“No,” Alatus decides firmly, eyes glittering, “I don’t think I will.”

 

Venti feels exasperation and desperation go to war in his head - he settles on petulance. “Fine, I’ll just do it mys - hey!

 

Alatus pins his wrists over his head in a hauntingly familiar position to what it was before, but this time Venti finds himself ensnared with a thick golden rope with a flick of Alatus's wrist. He recognizes it as being the one that hung from the front of his clothes earlier, and his stomach twists in spite of himself.

 

“Can you manage that?” Alatus goads, appreciating the sight beneath him far more than Venti thinks is fair. “I know how desperate you are. I bet you can come just like this, without me touching you.”

 

“You’re mighty confident in yourself,” Venti bites back, even though he feels adrenaline rush beneath the surface of his skin, because Alatus is right , he could .

 

“Oh no,” Alatus drawls, leaning down to ghost his lips against Venti’s and laughing when Venti chases the feeling. “I’m confident in you , little Barbatos.”

 

Archons, if he’s going to put it like that….

 

Alatus grins as he sees Venti’s expression shift, and then he drives his hips into him again and Venti keens at the sensation, arching his back and releasing a surge of energy that wraps around them, warm and buzzing. Alatus rumbles in his chest, which is unbelievably hot, and rewards him by setting a pace that’s decidedly less forgiving.

 

It’s only when Alatus's cock brushes against the bundle of nerves inside of him that Venti starts babbling incoherently, straining against the rope at his wrists as Alatus picks up the pace even further. With each thrust, Venti feels himself unraveling, head spinning and vision blackening in his ecstasy.

 

Ahh, ah, ah - Alatus, ” Venti wails with each drive of his hips, letting out a high whimper when the yaksha buries his head in his neck and bites down, back arching to go even deeper. “It feels so good, mm, you feel so - haah, hah - please don’t stop, please, it feels so good -”

 

“What are - are you trying to do, signal down Celestia?” Alatus snarls into his throat, hips stuttering when Venti clenches down on him. “If I knew you were so loud, I would have - haah - stuffed something in your mouth to keep you busy earlier.”

 

“Not my fault.” Venti’s toes curl as Alatus adjusts his leg and fucks into him deeper, the heat in his stomach boiling and lashing at his skin. “ Ahh , there, there, yes - please, please fuck me - hah , harder, please - “

 

“Listen to yourself,” Alatus growls, “such a whore, aren’t you?”

 

“Yes , ” Venti gasps desperately, dropping his head back with a wanton moan. “Yes, I’m haah , I’m a whore, I’m your whore, it - fuck , it feels so good -”

 

Alatus's teeth find his neck again as his rhythm starts to grow more frantic and less even, his hips pressing deeper against Venti’s and his back spasming from the effort of it. And then it happens - another wave of karmic pain lashes through him, making his skin ripple, and he bites down so hard he draws blood, a whine of agony ripping through his throat.

 

Hurts ,” Alatus gasps brokenly, his hips stuttering, and Venti feels frustration swell in his chest.

 

“Don’t you dare stop,” he hisses, clenching down on Alatus's cock and dragging a groan out of him as he fucks himself on it. “Don’t you dare stop, if you want me to take the pain away, fuck me like you mean it. Don’t even - ahhhhh -”

 

The pace Alatus takes this time is desperate, broken, messy, and so good. He drives himself into Venti so hard that he sees stars when he closes his eyes, and he feels the heat in his stomach swirl and surge and tangle itself into a coil. Alatus is straight up growling now, his nails digging so harshly into Venti’s thigh that they break the skin, but he doesn’t care because it’s fast and hard and so, so fucking good.

 

“There, there, yes, ahhh , Alatus, ah, ” Venti bites his lip as he feels himself getting closer, feels Alatus's punishing cock driving itself into him with more intent. “I’m close, I’m so close - please -”

 

“Inside,” Alatus manages to bite out, his voice fucked out and raw, “I’m going to - inside, please - hah .”

 

And really, how is Venti supposed to say no when he sounds so desperate, so broken. He responds by clenching himself down harder on Alatus's cock, purrs in delight when he feels the yaksha’s breath get caught in his throat as he frantically chases his own release.

 

“Please,” Alatus whimpers into his throat as he drives him down, “please, can I -”

 

“Alatus,” Venti commands breathlessly, the wind around them whirling violently as he locks his leg around Alatus's hips and pulls himself up to meet his thrusts. “Come for me, Alatus .”

 

And with a broken cry muffled into the nape of Venti’s neck, he finally does, pressing his hips in so deep it aches as he comes in hot bursts, orgasm tearing through him so violently it makes his entire body shake from the force of it.

 

The sensation of Alatus's release burning inside of him is what finally drives Venti over the edge, digging his heel into Alatus's thigh to trap him against him as he fucks himself on his spent cock. Alatus whimpers, the stimulation making his hips stutter as the last of his release is squeezed out of him, and then Venti feels the coil in his stomach snap and he comes so hard his vision goes black, painting both of their stomachs at the same time that he releases a surge of energy so strong that the force of it rips apart every tree within a mile of them into shreds.

 

By the time Venti regains his senses, they’re resting on the ground again and the wind has returned to normal, though the area around them looked like it had been struck by a meteor. Not that Venti can be bothered to care, when every inch of his skin is buzzing and Alatus is nuzzling into his neck like a sleepy cat.

 

“So,” Venti manages when he can find his voice, “did fucking an archon live up to your expec- mmmph!

 

The hand that covers his mouth is sweaty and smells like sex, but Alatus doesn’t even raise his head in spite of his rather bold action. Venti narrows his eyes, but he does stay quiet, if only because he feels a surge of fondness sweep through him at the sight of the vicious yaksha looking so… well, fucked out and tired.

 

“Please,” Alatus says after a moment, his voice ragged, “give me five minutes to recover before I have to deal with you.”

 

Venti sighs, but obediently relaxes beneath him, raising his eyes to the night sky above them. The moon is hanging low in the sky, and he can feel the beginning of dawn creeping through the wind, but he can’t be bothered with decency. He decides to just send out a wind barrier for the next few miles to spare them any interruption, though it can repel little more than mortals and monsters. 

 

As it turns out, five minutes translates to ten , before Alatus finally peels himself off of Venti with a ragged breath. He glances down at the mess between him, and Venti’s heart does a little flip at the way the yaksha’s face stains itself pink and he quickly looks away, biting the inside of his cheek.

 

Celestia above, Venti thinks miserably, he’s adorable.

 

With a whisk of his hand, Venti cleans them both off, which makes Alatus's head whip towards him in surprise and - archons, he looks violated . Venti finds himself laughing near hysterically at the daggers being glared at him that only double in response. The yaksha huffs and turns on his heel, dressing himself in the blink of an eye and retrieving his spear.

 

“Wait!” Venti gasps through his giggles as he quickly scrambles to his feet. “Wait, I need clothes - what, you wouldn’t leave a poor man out here with no clothes after fucking him within an inch of your life, would you?”

 

Alatus raises a brow, a smirk curving his lips. “Who’s to say I wouldn’t?”

 

And, archons, he’s serious! Venti sighs, tsk ing as he summons a burst of energy and morphs into his winged form, figuring it’s at least a bit more decent. A sharp intake of breath next to him catches his attention, and his gaze flits towards Alatus before narrowing in amusement at the way he quickly turns his head.

 

So adorable. Venti opens his mouth to tease the yaksha when he realizes with a start that the ends of Alatus's hair are not red like he remembers, but instead are a soft teal like his eyes, and this time he’s the one who gasps.

 

Alatus glances back at him, and the jade of his eyes is stained half-yellow. “What is it, little god?”

 

“Uhh.” Venti blinks before shaking his head, a slow smile spreading across his face. “Nope. Just enjoying the view.”

 

“Tsk.” It’s such an undignified response - so unlike the Alatus he encountered at the start of this, who would have teased him - that Venti does a double take. “Suit yourself. I’m leaving.”

 

Venti sighs, shaking his head. “Not even a thank you.”

 

“A thank you?” The yaksha looks at him incredulously, before suddenly his gaze narrows and he steps closer, pressing into Venti’s personal space. And ah, there’s the smile. “What kind of thank you?”

 

“Well.” Venti has to catch his breath from the whiplash, but once he does he feels a smirk tugging at his lips. “Well, there’s always….”

 

Alatus's golden green eyes flash and he reaches out to brush the backs of his knuckles against Venti’s cheek teasingly, tilting his head. It makes Venti’s breath catch in his throat when the yaksha grabs him gingerly by the chin and pulls him close, breath warm against his lips.

 

“This?” Alatus purrs.

 

“By all means,” Venti replies, struggling to control the breakneck pace his heart rate has taken on. “If that’s how you say goodbye, who am I to stop you?”

 

Alatus's grin is sharp as he leans forward, his lips brushing against Venti’s so lightly it’s as if they’re barely there. Venti hums and closes his eyes. 

 

“I like you,” Alatus murmurs against his mouth, his voice a low rumble. “Stop by the next time you’re here to visit that dusty Geo archon. I’ll make it worth your time.”

 

When Venti opens his eyes again, the yaksha is nowhere to be seen. He sighs, disappointed but not overly surprised, and reaches up to brush his hair out of his eyes - only for his fingers to brush against something unfamiliar.

 

Humming in surprise, Venti retrieves the foreign item and when he sees it, his lips curve upwards into a somewhat breathless smile.

 

“How interesting,” Venti murmurs as he curls his fingers around the qingxin flower. “It seems there’s more to this yaksha than I originally expected there to be.”

 

Resolving to ask Morax about it later, Venti gathers his wits, and heads for the harbor. As he goes, he plays a familiar, soothing tune on the Holy Lyre der Himmel.

 

I’ll have to play for him sometime, he thinks, smiling to himself. Though I can’t see him as the type to enjoy the sounds of a lyre.

 

(Later, when Venti asks the Geo archon about the red-haired yaksha, he receives a weird look.

 

“Xiao?” Morax asks.

 

“No,” Venti frowns. “Alatus?”

 

Morax gets a strange look then, mouth curving into a harsh frown. It’s the first time Venti remembers ever seeing the other archon look so… cold? Angry?

 

What he says after is the only thing he says on the matter at all, and it haunts him all the way back to Mondstadt.

 

“Alatus is dead.”)