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And when you least expect it, I'll be coming for your rule

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That insufferable, sanctimonious bastard.

For all of Bai Qi's apparent "goodness", Hei Qi had the reverse in spades. Bai Qi felt himself wholly above Hei Qi, seeing him as something unclean and unworthy. Something shameful. People looked at Bai Qi and saw a well to-do businessman. Smart, calculating, brilliant, Hei Qi thought unkindly. But they failed to see the cruelty behind his eyes. They failed to see him.

Well, Hei Qi would show them. It was Hei Qi's turn to take the world by storm. He smiled to himself.

"Hei Qi," a familiar voice drifted across the sidewalk to him. Hei Qi froze, eyes widening at the bush in front of him before he straightened his coat and smoothed out his expression, turning to greet his guest.

That man. Bai Qi's lover. The man he had forsaken Xiao Zhou for. What was so great about him anyway? Hei Qi eyed the man—Jing Ran, his mind supplied—up and down with a sneer. He seemed as boring as they come. A starched button-up with a tie, tucked in neatly and paired with a belt and shiny dress shoes. Hei Qi smirked slowly and licked his lips, pursing them briefly in consideration. The tight pants were decent at least.

"You must be Xiao Ran. Bai Qi has said very little about you. Then again, he didn't have to." Bai Qi's memories were his to sift through like an unwanted dusty tome. Though he had to admit some of the pages were quite titillating.

He titled his head and watched closely as Jing Ran inhaled deeply before he exhaled slowly through his nose and frowned. "Hei Qi," he said again. There was a question in there but there were any number of them that Hei Qi could think he'd want to ask.

"If you're going to beg me for his life, don't waste your breath. He's had his time." Hei Qi lifted his arms and grinned. It was his favorite grin, all teeth and sharp edges. It had the satisfying effect of making people shudder and run. But this Jing Ran seemed to be made of sterner stuff.

"I wanted to... thank you." Jing Ran said quietly.

If Hei Qi were human, his breath would have stopped and his heart would have skipped a beat. As it was, there was a clamoring in his chest that made Hei Qi want to squirm. Whatever new beast this was, it tried to claw its way out to Jing Ran. Hei Qi hadn't felt this way since Xiao Zhou was alive, long before he had even been ripped apart from Bai Qi.

Was Bai Qi trying to escape? Hei Qi narrowed his eyes as he followed his energy down, down into that dark space that had been his home for centuries. All was silent and Bai Qi lay inert in his prison.

Jing Ran stepped up to Hei Qi, moving forward until he had pressed Hei Qi against the wall behind him. Hei Qi swallowed. "For what?" Hei Qi's voice came out slightly high. He cleared his throat and tried to glare, but that feeling inside his chest wriggled faster and threatened to choke him, detracting entirely from his threatening efforts.

"For being a part of him." Jing Ran's voice was steady, his gaze guileless as he looked at Hei Qi. Jing Ran actually looked at him. Not just because he had taken Bai Qi from him, but because Hei Qi was there in front of him. Because Hei Qi was someone to be looked at and seen.

Hei Qi's eyes widened as Jing Ran's hands rose to cup his face, his thumbs caressing his cheeks gently. His smile was soft as he leaned forward to press his lips to Hei Qi's.

Silence rang out through Hei Qi as Jing Ran's dry lips melded with his own. A creeping warmth spread through him, his eyes fighting to stay open as he finally, finally gave in and kissed Jing Ran back and the feeling inside him burst.