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Gift of the Qilin

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“Xiaoge? Xiaoge!”

Wu Xie shook a black-clad shoulder as Zhang Qiling lay slumped against a pillar, panting shallowly.

“I’m fine,” spoke the recluse man, though his face was pale, sweat beading on his forehead.

“Fine?” Wu Xie yelled. “Fine?! You’re exhausted from blood loss. You can’t keep helping others at the expense of yourself. Your life matters, Xiaoge!” He looked down at the hand resting limply upon the dusty ground, blood still dripping from the open wound. Sighing, he shrugged his backpack off his shoulders and, unzipping a compartment, grabbed a wad of bandages. Cutting a length with a pocket knife, he gently lifted Xiaoge’s hand and began winding the bandage around it. He stilled when he was done, examining his work, before glancing up to the face shadowed beneath the hood.

Xiaoge’s eyes were closed, head resting against the surface behind him. 

Wu Xie swallowed, before looking around.

Nearly half the team they’d come with were sprawled out in various places across the room, coughing and spluttering as they slowly recovered from what had clearly been a case of mass poisoning. The trap which had triggered the incident was evident: a brick sunk into the floor. Multiple nozzles that had released whatever substance into the room jutted from the walls, now spent and useless.

Sighing, Wu Xie pulled a water bottle from his pack and twisted open the cap.

“Xiaoge,” he said. “Here.” He lifted two fingers beneath a clammy chin and brought the rim to pale lips. One, two swallows, before Xiaoge turned his head away.

Getting up from his kneeled position, Wu Xie walked over to the next person and offered the water to them. 

In an almighty kafuffle, Wang Pangzi ran in through the entrance, stopping as he confronted the scene.

“Oh my, what happened here?” he said, as he surveyed the situation.

“Trap,” came a croaked voice from a corner, as a man heaved himself to his feet.

“You see, Naive, this is why we should never hire idiots. Does nobody in this business know how to rob a tomb without getting themselves killed?”

“Pangzi, that’s enough!” Wu Xie abolished, checking on the last man.

Pangzi 'hmmed' before noticing the black figure on the floor.

“Xiaoge…” He ran over to Zhang Qiling and placed a finger beneath his nose, only to be swatted away by a hand. Pangzi hissed air through his teeth when he noticed the bandage. “Aiyaa, did you use your blood again? Xiaoge, no matter how awesome you may be, you’re not invincible. Naive already worries enough, do you have to...Naive?”

A little ways away, Wu Xie had leant down on his knees. He swayed, before collapsing to the ground.

“Naive!”

“Wu Xie!”

Xiaoge’s shadowed eyes opened wide and Pangzi ran forward, skidding to a stop beside the prone form.

“Naive? Naive!” Pangzi yelled as he pulled Wu Xie into his lap. “He’s barely breathing!”

“The poison,” Zhang Qiling whispered, and he surged to his feet, only to collapse back against the column again, dizzy.

“You’ve already lost too much blood, Xiaoge. Wu Xie would never forgive me if I allowed you to hurt yourself more. Where’s a medkit?”

“There’s no cure.”

Pangzi paused in his movements. “...What?”

“The cure. There isn’t one.”

Pangzi’s hands shook where they gripped Wu Xie’s clothes. “No, there must be something. Oxygen, an injection…anything to slow the effects. Then we can give him your blood when you’ve recovered…”

Zhang Qiling’s eyes were wide, panting, as he pushed himself away from the pillar and landed clumsily next to them.

“Xiaoge, you must know something!”

Xiaoge didn’t reply, instead, he placed a hand behind Wu Xie’s head, swallowed hard, and surged forward.

“What are you...?” Pangzi began, but didn’t have time to finish, as Xiaoge pressed his mouth to Wu Xie’s lips.

It was awkward at first. Zhang Qiling breathed through his nose harshly, before moving his lips, clumsily slotting them against Wu Xie’s. He remained still for several long moments, and when nothing happened, pulled back, before surging forward more vigorously. He opened Wu Xie’s mouth and licked inside, letting their spit mix, and waited. He waited...and waited, before a curious tongue licked back.

“Oh my heavens, it’s working. Naive?!” Pangzi said, as Wu Xie’s breath began to improve, and Xiaoge relaxed with relief, eyelids flickering shut. The mouth beneath him slowly became more alert—curious—before that tongue began to lick against his.  Xiaoge melted even further, as the kisses became softer—caressing. A hand, painfully familiar, came to rest against the back of his head.

Above them, a throat was cleared. “Hey, ah, can you two not make out on my lap?”

The voice broke the trance and Xiaoge instantly pulled back, settling cross-legged on the floor. His face was blank.

Wu Xie coughed several times, before carefully opening his eyes.

“Naive.”

“Pangzi,” Wu Xie said, and slowly began to sit up. “What happened?”

“You didn’t make sure the poison was cleared before you came in. Such a rookie mistake. How could you be so stupid, eh? If it weren’t for Xiaoge you’d be a cold corpse by now.”

Wu Xie looked at Xiaoge and smiled shyly. 

“Xiaoge, once again, I owe you my life.”

Xiaoge inclined his head slightly.

“I’ll tell you, you do. He had to kiss you like a princess. I swear you owe me one hundred hot pots.”

Wu Xie frowned. “Hot pots? What for?”

Pangzi 'tssked'. “For putting that image in my head, of course. I’m gonna have nightmares for weeks.”

“Ugh?”

“You were like a damsel finally meeting her long lost husb—”

“Pangzi!” Wu Xie shoved him away, sitting up by himself. “Enough already”.

“Awwa, if you say so,” he said, stepping away, but out of Wu Xie’s sight, his face held a satisfied grin.

A hand came to rest on Wu Xie’s shoulder.

“Are you alright?”

Wu Xie smiled, and covered the hand with his own, sliding it off. 

“Much better, thanks to you.” He frowned, “Ah...when did you figure out your saliva worked the same as blood?”

Zhang Qiling stared at him for several long seconds.

“I didn’t,” he replied, before shifting his pack on his shoulders and walking off towards where the rest of the group were huddled awkwardly by the entrance.