Chapter 1: Lesson 1: Know Your Place
Lan Yibo couldn't even bring himself to care that he was in a cage. Five hours ago, he'd been one of the Two Jades of the GusuLan wolf pack, on his way to becoming an alpha and ruling the pack alongside his brother Xichen.
But the vampires had come again. Not out in the open, as they had the night his parents had died, but sneakily, ambushing all three of the Lan leaders in different locations. His Uncle Qiren had been out on a hunt, Xichen returning from a meeting, and he had been on his way back from school. The alarm had gone up, but before he could respond strong hands had forced a sweet-smelling sack over his head, and he'd fallen into darkness.
Only to wake up caged, naked, thirsty, and certain of the fact that the rest of his family was dead. His pack-link no longer existed. If either of them had survived, he would have felt them. Now the pack was leaderless, and he was alone. In a cage. On a loading dock.
It was no place he recognized, but he could guess where he was - an underworld auction house. Wolves weren't trafficked like fairies or even vampires, but lone wolves, especially omegas could fetch a high price. Alpha wolves were too hard to control; sometimes the vampires captured them and hunted them for sport. As he had not yet presented his subgender, he assumed he'd be kept locked up - and then shot when he turned out to be an alpha.
But instead of being taken inside, men came, threw a tarp over his cage, and loaded it onto a vehicle. Perhaps they weren't going to wait to shoot him.
The ride went on forever, with the road eventually turning bumpy and steep. He didn't think they'd need to go to such lengths to hide one wolf carcass.
Was it possible... he'd been sold?
The first thing he noticed when the doors opened was that it was much colder than it had been in Gusu. He couldn't see anything for the tarp, but the air felt thinner in his lungs. Which made sense. They seemed to have been going uphill for hours.
What was uphill from Gusu? He wasn't sure. He sniffed, but couldn't pick up anything other than the human handlers who were once again moving his cage.
They put it on the ground and left, seemingly in quite a rush. As they scurried back to their truck, he heard one of them say "vampires."
The blood in his veins ran even colder than the early morning air. Delivered to vampires? He was as good as dead. Fury rose alongside his fear, and he vowed to take one with him into hell.
Wen Qing nodded to her brother to remove the tarp, and Wen Ning stood on the other side of the cage and did as instructed.
Inside, a dirty, frightened, angry young wolf glared out at her, but the knowledge of all he had been through and all he had yet to face made her look back at him with pity.
His expression went from anger to bewilderment after he sniffed the air. "You're not vampire," he said.
"No." She beckoned to her brother. "I'm Wen Qing. This is my brother, Wen Ning."
"Where am I?"
She took a deep breath. "You are safe."
Wen Ning opened the cage door and draped a coat over the young man's lean frame.
"What's your name?" she asked as Lan Yibo stood and stretched. She knew his name, of course. But he wasn't to know that.
"Yibo." He pulled the coat tight enough to be decent. "Where are we?"
"You've been purchased by the Yiling Patriarch."
She saw him gape and then shiver. That was good, she thought. He needed to be afraid.
Lan Yibo spent the entire day with the two Wen wolves. They were from a distant branch of the Wen clan and had been orphaned and abandoned, for reasons he wasn't clear on. Probably because the brother seemed so weak, he thought. He was the meekest beta he'd ever met.
The sister was quite strong. And a healer. She'd treated his wounds and given him a strange concoction to drink, and he now felt much better. Strong enough to entertain thoughts of escape.
He'd even asked them about it. Wen Qing had frowned, and her brother had actually spoken. "Why would we want to leave?" he'd said. Like that made any sense.
The Yiling Patriarch was the oldest, most feared vampire on the entire continent. Why would they want to stay?
He must be compelling them. Yibo thought some vampires could do that.
So, while it was in his nature to trust the two beta wolves, he knew he could not.
"Maybe it's different for you," he said, "because you're betas. But I'm going to be eighteen next month. And when I present as an alpha, no vampire is going to let me stay alive."
"What makes you think you'll present as an alpha?" Wen Qing asked.
Lan Yibo shrugged. "I'm the last in my family," he said. "It has to be me."
Wen Qing bit her lip. "You are no longer in your Lan family."
"I know that," he bit out. "They're all dead. Vampires, probably sent by your Yiling Patriarch, killed them."
"Not the Master," Wen Ning said.
God, was he a simpleton?
Wen Qing continued her explanation. "Wolves are gendered to keep the pack in balance. You will not present as alpha here. This pack already has a leader."
Yibo heard a roaring sound and knew it was blood rushing to his red ears and his pounding heart. Not be an alpha? He wanted to call her a liar. He was supposed to be an alpha. Everyone knew that. It was destined.
Except her words reminded him of things he'd long forgotten. Rules that hadn't been relevant to him. He had a pack and a place in that pack. He'd known who he was supposed to be.
And he'd forgotten the other reason young, ungendered wolves were sometimes bought by vampires or powerful alphas: when faced with a dominant leader, an ungendered wolf could be made to present as a beta or even an omega.
And he was about to meet the most powerful vampire alive.
Lan Yibo had to swallow his spit as he entered the library. Night had fallen. He knew it without needing a clock or a window. Just as he assumed his new owner knew it.
The voice was smooth and deep, but he couldn't see the speaker. A large leather chair sat behind an even larger desk, but it faced away from him.
He bit the inside of his cheek as he approached. What would a vampire as old as the Yiling Patriarch even look like? He grimaced, imagining thin skin over blue veins, white hair, and wild, beady eyes.
Don't make a face, he told himself. That's a stupid reason to get killed.
The chair spun around, and Yibo found himself staring into an angel's face. Almond eyes, a heart-shaped mouth... But when the man stood, a wave of power washed across the room and forced Yibo to his knees. The very cells in his body seemed to vibrate with it.
He grunted, and the man smiled a cold smile.
"I'm not the patriarch for nothing," he said, holding Yibo's gaze as he rounded the big desk.
The closer he got, the harder Yibo fought to keep his eyes up. Murderer, beast, killer, evil. Chanting these to himself made little difference. By the time the vampire stood before him, Yibo was trembling and looking at his shoes.
He'd never felt so humiliated.
A cool hand touched the back of his neck. "Little Lan Yibo."
Yibo bit his lip. He knew what the vampire wanted. He would not give it. Not even if he had to die right here.
The hand tightened at his silence.
Yibo bit deeper into his lip. He would not say it.
The hand hauled him up by his neck, leaving only his toes touching the carpet. "I can smell your bloody lip, you know. If you resist me, there will be a lot more of your blood in this room. I will destroy you, paint the walls with your drippings, then heal you and do it all over again. Do you want to play that game with me Little Lan Yibo?"
Yibo shook his head, more to cover the fact that he was shaking than that he wanted to answer.
"You have two choices, Lan Yibo. Acknowledge the Yiling Patriarch as your master or be our blood sport. Choose the first, you may suffer for a moment. Choose the latter, you will suffer unimaginably."
The trembling in his limbs had gone beyond his control. When the Yiling Patriarch met his gaze and ordered him, in what Yibo could only describe as his alpha-voice, to "choose," his wolf made the choice for him - letting loose a stream of urine down his leg.
He felt it, smelled it, and knew the other did, too.
The vampire dropped him to the floor, and Yibo put his head on it, squeezing his eyes against hot tears.
"Say you're sorry," the vampire commanded.
"I'm sorry... Master." The words rushed shamelessly past his lips, and his tears turned to sobs.
The hand returned, this time to caress his hair. "Good boy."
Chapter 2: Lesson 2: No Slut-shaming
The Yiling Patriarch examined the boy at his feet. He was cowering, but Zhan could feel the anger underneath his fear. He supposed it could be explained by his circumstances.
Still, all that anger wouldn't do.
A knock sounded, and the library door swung open. "Stay put," Zhan said to the kneeling boy.
"Xue Yang," he called to his visitor. "Come in."
"You wanted me?" Xue Yang asked, wearing his usual coy expression.
"I wouldn't have summoned you otherwise."
Xue Yang snickered. "You say the nicest things, Zhan."
Wei Zhan returned to his chair and saw Xue Yang glance at Yibo.
"New pet?" he asked.
"Something like that."
Xue Yan extended his perusal. "Will the rest of us get a taste?"
Zhan glared at him. "He's mine."
"Ooh. Is that so?"
Picking up a piece of paper from his desk, he handed it to the other vampire. Xue Yang took pleasure in annoying him. He knew that. Then again, Xue Yang took pleasure in almost everything. But he was invaluable as a schemer and fighter.
"I have an assignment for you."
Xue Yang took the paper, then looked back at Zhan. "No killing?"
"Eyes and ears only," Zhan said, shaking his head. "Find out what's going on and don't let them see you."
Xue Yang approached and slid into Zhan's lap, nuzzling his neck. "Will I get a reward?"
Zhan chuckled. Xue Yang wasn't a born vampire. Zhan had turned him last century, and he had a particular addiction to his sire's blood.
Zhan cradled his jaw and kissed him. Xue Yang was a diabolically good kisser, and after a few moments, he let his fangs drop just enough to make small cuts in both their tongues. The blood stoked both hunger and desire, but Zhan broke away.
"Rewards come after, you naughty wretch," he scolded.
Xue Yang smirked at him and wriggled his ass over Zhan's erection. "We could fuck now, and you could still reward me after."
Tempting. "Go," he said, pushing Xue Yang to his feet. "And take Jiang Cheng with you."
Xue Yang grimaced. "Why him? He can't stand me."
"I'm certain that's not true. Even if it were, you seem to enjoy trying to change his mind."
Xue Yang rolled his eyes. "Fine. We'll be back before dawn."
He was almost out the door when he turned back and took his parting shot. "Watch yourself, little wolf. If you bite the Master, he might make you his favorite."
Yibo looked back over his shoulder at the closing door with an unmistakable expression of disgust. Then he turned back to Zhan. "You... you're both men."
Wei Zhan couldn't help laughing. "You are very young," he said. "And vampires tend to be a bit more... open-minded than wolves."
Yibo lowered his head, muttering something about 'slut vampires.'
"On your feet," Zhan commanded, moving back to lean against the front edge of his desk in front of Yibo.
The boy got up and met Zhan's gaze, jaw clenched.
So much anger, Zhan thought. So he had to not only give the kid a home but also make him want to stay.
"Take off your clothes," he ordered.
Dark eyes widened in alarm. "Me...? No. Why?" He dropped his gaze but didn't move to undress.
"Since when are wolves so particular about nudity?" Zhan asked, arching a dark brow.
Yibo gaped at him, then gestured toward his chair. "Since... that," he said, voice faltering just a bit. "Since you kiss guys."
Zhan smiled and moved closer to the young man, cradling his jaw just as he'd done with Xue Yang. "Are you worried I'll kiss you, Lan Yibo?"
He nuzzled his nose behind the other's ear, knowing how much wolves liked the gesture, then trailed his lips down Yibo's jaw and let them hover over his mouth. "Do you want me to kiss you, Lan Yibo?"
"Yes!" Yibo gasped and shook his head. "I mean NO!" He tried to back away, but Zhan's grip was iron.
"I'll honor that request," Zhan said, relaxing his hold and taking a step back. "But you will also do something for me. First, though, I want to see your wolf. Now undress and shift."
Surprise crossed Yibo's face. "I... I can't yet. Not outside the full moon."
"I can make you shift," Zhan said. He tilted his head. "I can also undress you."
Yibo actually hurried to do it himself, and Zhan took the opportunity to study him. Fine features, wide shoulders, sculpted abs, lean hips, and lips that made Zhan consider abandoning his rule against pouting. His hair was light brown and had bleached-in highlights that Zhan found quite attractive.
He realized he found almost everything about Lan Yibo quite attractive.
"Ready?" he asked. He wanted to see what Yibo's wolf looked like.
When he nodded, Wei Zhan moved closer, grabbed Yibo's chin, and stared into his eyes. "Shift," he said, using the full force of the power under his command. Which was substantial.
In an instant, he was looking at a pure-white wolf with blue eyes. And, in that instant, he felt a wave of power come back at him. Not Yibo's, but the power of his own attraction.
He gritted his teeth, and for a moment, he wished he'd met this wolf under different circumstances. It was impossible, of course. No pack let vampires near their young. And even though Xichen had been his friend, that friendship he'd kept secret, even from his brother - who didn't share Xichen's desire to make peace with the vampires.
Hence the reason he would have to do this the hard way.
Reaching out, he stroked the wolf behind both ears, and then down his flanks. Over and over, getting his wolf accustomed to his touch.
"Open your mouth," he said, then he punctured his own thumb with one of his fangs and squeezed just a few drops onto the wolf's tongue. "Know me better, little wolf," he whispered.
Then he stood and ordered the wolf to shift once more.
When Yibo again stood naked in front of him, he was erect and breathing through his mouth.
"Come here, Yibo," Zhan said. "I won't kiss you, as you requested, but you are going to suck my cock and swallow my cum down that lovely, white throat. Do you understand?"
Yibo nodded, his eyes a little glassy from the blood. He walked toward Zhan on unsteady legs, dropped to his knees, and released Zhan's cock from his black jeans.
Chapter 3: Lesson 3: Trust No One
Lan Yibo woke up weeping and aroused. He didn't remember returning to his room, but other things - the feel of the Yiling Patriarch's cock between his lips, the delicious taste of his cum as he moaned and shot off down Yibo's throat...
Yibo squeezed his eyes shut. No way this was real. This could not be happening. None of it. He was in Gusu in his own bed. His uncle and brother were alive. This was a vicious nightmare; he just had to wake up.
The pillow underneath his face was wet with tears, and his cock strained painfully against the elastic of his boxers. He rolled over onto his stomach and ground himself into the mattress, clamping the pillow to his mouth to muffle his groaning release.
He'd just finished a cold shower when the door to the bathroom opened.
"Who are you?" a voice demanded.
Yibo pulled the shower curtain back part way and looked down at a short boy with a pinched expression. He'd obviously come from the other room. Wen Ning had mentioned the rooms on this hallway were singles, but shared a bathroom. "I guess I'm your new neighbor," Yibo said. He sniffed the air, but all he could smell was soap. "What are you?"
"Rude much?" the boy asked.
"Me?" Yibo said in surprise. "You're the one who barged in on me in the shower. What is it with you vampires anyway? None of you can keep your hands off each other?"
It was his neighbor's turn to look surprised. "I'm not a vampire," he said. "I'm a hybrid."
"Hybrid of what? Troll and goblin?"
"Hey! You take that back!"
Yibo laughed. "What's your name, goblin?"
"I am not a GOBLIN!"
"Whatever you say. How about handing me a towel?"
The boy left and slammed the door shut behind him. "Get it yourself!" he shouted through the door.
Yibo rolled his eyes. "What a weirdo."
"I heard that!"
Yibo toweled off and dressed in some more of the clothes he'd found in his room. All in his size, but he hated not having his own things. Not that it mattered. He wasn't going to be here long enough to need a wardrobe.
A knock on his door gave him a start, and he opened it gingerly. Not that the Yiling Patriarch would have knocked. And he was most definitely not disappointed when it wasn't him on the other side.
"I was told to introduce you around," the goblin said, pouting. "So that's what I'm going to do."
Yibo stuck out his hand and gave the boy his name.
"Right," he said. "I'm Jin Ling, and I'm a vampire-wolf hybrid."
"A what?" Yibo couldn't hide his surprise. "I didn't know that was even possible."
The boy rolled his eyes. "Of course, it's possible, idiot. My father was a vampire, and my mother was an omega wolf."
"But I didn't think those children could survive."
"Many don't; some do. I'm not the only one. Come on," he pulled Yibo by the wrist. "I'll show you around."
"Are there more wolves here?"
Jin Ling shook his head. "You've met them all, I'm afraid. There's just the vampires and a few humans they keep as a food supply."
"Ew, that's gross," Yibo said.
Jin Ling shrugged. "All the humans who live here are here by choice. They serve the Yiling Patriarch and are suitably rewarded for it."
"How about everyone else?" he asked. "How did they all wind up here? And where is this place, exactly?"
"This place is the Yiling Patriarch's fortress. It was once a famous walled city, but that was long ago. Wiped out by war and forgotten. People said it was cursed. After Wei Zhan was banished, he took up residence here and over time gave refuge to those who had sided with him against his father and those who also had been cast out of their homes."
"That was also a long time ago. Wei Zhan's father was a cruel man - vampire. He waged war relentlessly against the other vampire clans, in time using Wei Zhan's power to do it. When Wei Zhan broke with him, he couldn't defeat him outright, so he cast him out, and then tried to eliminate him by more underhanded means."
Jin Ling shrugged. "His father is long dead and forgotten. Wei Zhan became the patriarch of all the clans from Chang'an to the western mountains. What do you think happened?"
"He killed his own father?"
"He was also my father."
"What?" Yibo's voice went higher than he'd intended.
"Wei Zhan is older than me. Much older. And we have different mothers. But I saw first hand why that vulture deserved to die."
Yibo didn't know what to say.
"There are several of our kin here," Jin Ling continued. "Jiang Cheng and his sister Yanli were turned by our father. Jin Guangyao is a full vampire son of our father's. He's also younger than Wei Zhan. Wei Zhan turned Xue Yang. Nie Huaisong is here as a tribute of sorts from one of the lesser clans, and so is Jin Zixuan, though you'd think he was the patriarch with the airs he puts on. Also, there's A-chang. I'm not sure where she's from. I think Wei Zhan found her as an orphan. There are a few others, but I'll stop until you can put faces to names."
"How can you stand by when he attacks other wolves?"
Jin Ling stopped and gave him a strange look. "Who's attacking wolves?"
"The... your half-brother. My pack was attacked - has been more than once - by vampires. They must have come from here."
Jin Ling shook his head. "Not on any orders from Wei Zhan, they haven't. And if they did it without his orders, they'd already be dead."
Yibo wanted to ask how he could be so certain, but figured he just didn't know who his patriarch brother really was.
By the time, he'd met everyone and had dinner - breakfast? - with the other three wolves, he had begun to think his new owner had forgotten about him.
Not so, however, as Wen Ning stood and informed him that he would escort him to the Master.
He led him to the same room as yesterday, and shut the door behind Yibo without entering himself. The Yiling Patriarch sat against the edge of his desk, sporting black jeans and a red and black silk shirt.
Yibo couldn't label all the emotions that stirred in him. Or why he felt like he couldn't catch his breath.
The events of his dreams stirred in his memory and brought a flush of heat to his cheeks.
The cocky bastard actually smiled at him. "Miss me?" he asked.
Yibo wanted to punch him in his smiling face. And for the death of his family, he vowed to do much more. He even took note of the sword hanging on the wall behind the Patriarch's desk. How had he missed that last night?
"I want to talk to your wolf," Wei Zhan was saying, "so I'm going to force you to shift."
"Why tell me?" he asked. "You're going to do it anyway."
The Yiling Patriarch shrugged. "I guess, deep down, I'm just a nice guy."
Lan Yibo snorted.
And before he could blink, Wei Zhan was in front of him, grabbing him by the collar. "Shift!" he demanded.
When Yibo was once again aware of his surroundings, he found himself lying naked on the sofa on the other side of the room. A blanket had been thrown over him, and his clothes lay in a partially torn pile over by the door.
"What happened?" he asked, pushing himself up to a sitting position.
The Yiling Patriarch looked up from his desk. "Your wolf and I needed to have a little chat."
Yibo thought for a minute. "Why don't I remember it?" he asked.
"I asked him to keep it from you. For now."
"What?" Yibo demanded, shaking his head. "That's not possible."
"Your wolf recognizes me as alpha. Therefore, it is possible."
"What? Why? No."
Wei Zhan laughed. "We really must teach you some bigger words."
He got up and came to stand in front of Yibo. "I find I'm quite looking forward to all I have to teach you."
Chapter 4: Lesson 4: Don't Play with Knives
The Yiling Patriarch stood in front of him unbuttoning his silk shirt, and Lan Yibo felt his pulse speed up. He didn't know why. And when he used a long nail to make a cut on his chest and beckoned Yibo to drink, he only hesitated for a moment. It wasn't that he wanted to taste him. Again.
It was that he had a plan.
When his lips touched Zhan's cool flesh and his tongue sucked down surprisingly warm blood, he tried to hang onto his plan. Then he found himself hanging onto Wei Zhan, sucking at him like a drowning man as his blood enveloped him in a throbbing haze of need.
He thought Wei Zhan sounded slightly breathless. Did he like this, too?
He wanted to kick himself, but all he did was look up into dark, almond eyes and then whimper when Wei Zhan slammed his lips down on his own.
Oh god. How could a blood-drenched kiss be so... delicious? How could he be enjoying this? How could he allow Zhan's tongue into his mouth? How could he suck on it as if he wanted to worship the man to whom it belonged? How could he want more?
More. He realized when Zhan's eyes widened that he'd said it out loud.
"Anything you say, Yibo." Zhan claimed Yibo's mouth again and pulled his hips forward, his fingers digging in.
Yibo didn't mind. All he could think of was the feel of Zhan's hard cock against his own.
When Zhan trailed his lips down his neck, alternating between soft kisses and hard bites, he heard himself whimper again and began grinding his hips. The friction of Zhan's jeans was almost too much, but all his senses felt overloaded.
He knew Zhan was going to bite him. Knew it when he licked the base of his neck once, then twice. Almost as if he were asking permission.
"Yes," Yibo said, panting an answer he never expected.
When Zhan's fangs sunk deep, the pain cleared his mind for a moment, but then Zhan began to drink, and Yibo realized why none of the humans he'd met earlier seemed eager to leave. Just the feel of Zhan possessing him this way had him cumming and moaning nonsense things like "so good" and "love this."
Yibo returned to consciousness on Wei Zhan's sofa for the second time that night feeling sated and ashamed. Part of him wanted to curl into a humiliated ball. Part of him wanted to rip the Yiling Patriarch limb from limb.
The sword on the wall taunted him.
But there was no way to get past Wei Zhan to get at it.
Then an image of that slut Xue Yang popped into his head. Sitting on Wei Zhan's lap. The shamelessness of it made him grit his teeth, but it would get him closer to his goal.
He stood, letting the blanket fall to the floor, and walked over to the Yiling Patriarch.
Zhan followed him with his eyes and then obligingly turned his chair when Yibo stood between it and the wall. The wall with the sword.
There was no way he was crawling into his lap. He needed to be out of Zhan's reach, and he needed Zhan distracted. So he looked pointedly at Zhan's crotch and then licked his lips. "Can I?" he asked.
The effect of his words was immediate, and it made him feel powerful to see the Yiling Patriarch swallow and look at him from under half-hooded eyes as his cock engorged just from two little words out of Yibo's mouth.
He licked his lips again. Not consciously this time, but he remembered how good Zhan had tasted yesterday, and he was curious if it would be the same. Not that he wanted it.
But his curiosity was rewarded when the Yiling Patriarch's cock was in his mouth once more, his every lick and suck met by moans of pleasure. Zhan's hand was in his hair, but it wasn't pushy. Yibo felt aroused, but also powerful - as if, in that moment, he had control of the most powerful, feared creature he'd ever known.
It was that feeling that propelled him to his feet after Zhan cried out and came in his mouth. After he swallowed his release and knew the wave of pleasure it brought. God, could the man have addictive cum?
He supposed he'd never know.
Because he was reaching for the sword, and either the Yiling Patriarch would die or the Yiling Patriarch would kill him where he stood.
He wasn't sure he cared which.
Zhan's eyes were closed. The sword was off the wall. He unsheathed it, saw Zhan's eyes open, raised the sword, saw Zhan lean foward, saw the sword fall, and then staggered off balance as something stopped him from completing the downward stroke.
Zhan looked up at him, his neck still bared, waiting for the blade to fall.
Yibo looked at his hand, shaking, but seemingly frozen in place.
Zhan's eyes began to glow a soft red, and Yibo dropped the sword, then dropped to his knees, head down. "Alpha," he whispered. Only it wasn't him. It was his damn wolf doing the talking.
"Thank you, my little wolf," Zhan said, stroking his hair.
His wolf was relieved, happy even, and leaned into Zhan's touch.
"Why are you doing this to me?" Yibo managed to say. His damn wolf didn't want to let him talk.
"Your wolf recognizes me as Alpha," Zhan said, sitting back. "I can see you will take further convincing."
He stood and yanked Yibo up by the hair. "Follow me."
Chapter 5: Lesson 5: Denial
As Yibo was still stark naked, he had feared Wei Zhan was going to parade him through the fortress, but he went through a side door out of his study, through a living area, and then into a bedroom. His bedroom, obviously. Black satin sheets and red and black curtains gave it that unmistakable "master vampire's lair" feel.
Yibo might have laughed if the circumstances had been less grave. He didn't know why Zhan hadn't just killed him in his office.
"Get on the bed," he ordered. "Hands and knees."
Yibo shivered at the tone, and his wolf moved quickly to obey, but his mind was in a whirl. Surely he didn't intend... that?
Zhan's movements were gentle, but practiced, as he buckled leather restraints around Yibo's wrists and then connected them to similar restraints buckled around his lower thighs. It didn't bind, but it did keep him from leaving his all-fours position.
Yibo kept his head down as he heard Zhan opening and closing drawers somewhere behind him.
"I might have foregone this," Zhan said, "or at least done it more gently..." Yibo felt the bed dip behind him. "But you did try to kill me," Zhan said. "Do remember that."
Something cold dripped onto Yibo's ass, running between his cheeks. One of Zhan's fingers massaged it around the entrance to his hole, and Yibo tried to pull away. But bound, he had nowhere to go.
As he was sucking in a deep breath, Zhan's finger slid in, and Yibo grunted out a surprised "aaahhh."
Before his body could get accustomed to it, the finger was gone, only to be replaced by something larger and harder. Zhan worked it in and out of him for a few moments, and Yibo felt more of the liquid squirt onto the plug.
Then Zhan slid it all the way in, it's bulbous end breaching the tight ring of muscle that Zhan's finger hadn't stretched at all. The pain made his eyes water, but Zhan worked the plug a little more, and the liquid went from cool to warm to... really warm. When it began to feel good, Yibo's eyes went wide.
The bed shifted as Zhan got up.
Yibo heard a door and water running. Then Zhan said he had business to attend to and left the room.
Yibo let his head drop in relief. It seemed he wasn't going to be killed. Just used as some sort of vampire sex toy. It was humiliating, but... maybe Zhan would tire of him quickly.
Two hours later, Yibo was fighting to control himself. His breathing was ragged, and he wanted so badly to squirm to get more friction. But he would not be so shameless as to try to get off like this, even if whatever oil Zhan had put on the butt plug had him on fire. In a good way.
He really didn't know what he was thinking. He'd never imagined anything like this. Whatever Zhan had put into him was heating him up and turning him on like mad. His hole was clenching and unclenching around the plug. He had no control over it. His hole wanted more, and so did he. He wished Zhan would come back and work it in and out of him the way he'd done earlier.
That thought almost brought tears to his eyes. He dropped his head and looked at his cock, which was aching and dripping. He closed his eyes and tried to count out his breaths.
Useless. The only thing he could count was the pace at which his ass muscles clenched around the butt plug.
Damn that vampire!
Yibo didn't even know if he was damning him for doing this to him or for not coming back.
He dropped his head again.
"Oh, fuck, Zhan," he whispered. "Please."
When Zhan opened the door to his bedroom, the sight of Yibo on his bed - bound, crying, moaning, ass twitching in the air was almost more than he could stand. He'd intended to make this an extended punishment, but he'd never been one for punishing himself. Discipline wasn't his strong suit. If they ever got things straight between them, this wolf was going to walk all over him.
He joined Yibo on the bed, wiped away his tears, and slid his cock into his mouth, where Yibo seemed only too happy to have him.
When Zhan unzipped his jeans and took his cock out, Yibo moved to suck it greedily. He was past being ashamed to admit he liked doing this. But he felt the blood rush to his cheeks when his mind began to mingle the feel of Zhan's cock in his mouth with the feel of the plug in his ass. He did not want that!
The thought made him groan and suck Zhan farther in. He heard Zhan gasp and closed his eyes when the vampire stroked his hair.
He didn't like that!
His wolf moaned and leaned into Zhan's caress, making a liar out of him.
It also told him that Zhan was close and it wanted to bring him pleasure, so Yibo lathed Zhan's cock with his tongue, lapped teasingly at the slit, then sucked him back down, groaning in satisfaction as he once more got to taste the vampire's cum.
He did not think it tasted good!
But it so did. How was that even possible?
He whimpered as Zhan pulled away, swearing he felt the loss in his dripping ass as well.
"Is there something you want, little wolf?"
Fuck me. Fuck me so hard.
Aah. What a traitor! Since when had his wolf become such a slut? He would not say that!
"Make me come," he choked out. "Please. Take that thing out of me."
"Mmm." Zhan didn't move for a long moment.
Then he switched positions so that he was kneeling behind Yibo. He didn't take the plug out. Instead, he leaned against it as he reached around and began to stroke Yibo's aching cock.
Yibo was lost. He'd almost asked Zhan to fuck him. And now Zhan was... almost... fucking him. Part of him was relieved and eagerly chased the climax Zhan's hand was offering. Another part was undeniably disappointed and it filled in the blanks, pretending the oiled plug inside him was the Yiling Patriarch's delicious cock.
When Zhan leaned down over his back and sank his fangs into his neck, Yibo's fantasy was complete, and he came unglued - drenched in sweat, oil, cum, and blood, he'd never known a pleasure so complete it stole his consciousness.
Chapter 6: Lesson 6: If You Can't Beat Them...
"So how's it going with your new pet?" Xue Yang asked, entering Wei Zhan's study early one evening. "You've been keeping him to yourself for the last week I hear."
Zhan glanced up. "That pet wanted to kill me. I'm making him want other things."
Zhan raised a brow.
"Oh, come on," Xue Yang said, flopping onto Zhan's couch. "You made me buy Omega-stim oil. I'm not an idiot. You want him to present as a full omega, so you're dosing him. Does he even know?"
He scoffed when Zhan looked away. "What are you really up to? I know why you say he's here, but this seems... extreme."
"Do you have anything new to report or did you just come to annoy me?" Zhan asked.
Xue Yang sighed and cut him a sidelong glance. "Nothing new with Lan clan. Or should I say Wen clan? They are consolidating their hold quickly."
Zhan was relieved when Jiang Cheng opened the study door, but the look on his face told him good news would not be forthcoming. "Wei Zhan," he said. "We need to talk." He glanced at Xue Yang. "Alone."
Waving Xue Yang out, Zhan watched him pout and then blow Jiang Cheng a kiss as they passed. Jiang Cheng grimaced, and Zhan chuckled. He wasn't sure if Xue Yang meant his flirtation or if Jiang Cheng meant his denials.
"Wen Qing says she's done all she can," Jiang Cheng said when it was just the two of them. "Xichen isn't going to get any better. There's too much silver still in his system."
"Alright. I understand. I just hope he will, too."
"So you've decided to turn him, then?"
Zhan nodded. "Yes. He didn't hate vampires, and he knows what I am. I think it's what he would want."
"What's his brother going to think?"
Running a hand through his hair, Zhan sat back and sighed. "I don't know. It's going to come as a shock. Maybe I shouldn't have kept this from him."
Jiang Cheng frowned, but didn't comment. "Who do you want to do it?" he asked. "You can't because of the silver in his blood. Do you want me to turn him?"
"I'm going to have Jin Guangyao do it."
"Why?" Jiang Cheng looked surprised.
"He's a born vampire, for one reason. Xichen will be stronger if Guangyao does it. Also, the bond between child and sire is quite strong at first. I wasn't sure you would welcome it. I think Guangyao will."
Jiang Cheng merely nodded in agreement, but Zhan thought he looked relieved.
"Let's do it tomorrow," he said, getting to his feet. "You tell Wen Qing. I'll talk to Guangyao. Then I have to go see to my wolf."
"You'd better tell him something, Zhan. Or he may not forgive you."
Jiang Cheng's words were still hammering around in Zhan's brain when he opened the door to his room. But the sight of Lan Yibo tied to his bed drove away all thoughts but one.
He'd tied him lying down this time, instead of on all fours. Face up, because he intended to fuck him and he wanted to see his face. But he needed Yibo to ask for it.
He knew he was close to doing so. His wolf was desperate for him. The oil on the butt plug was made to stimulate omega wolves to present early or to put already-presented omegas into heat, but it was also an all-purpose aphrodisiac.
Yibo's whole body was taut from pulling against the wrist restraints as the plug's heat made him writhe. God, he was sinful to look at.
Zhan stripped as he crossed to the bed, seeing Yibo examine him, then close his eyes.
He clenched them shut tighter when Zhan lay down beside him and began to run his hands over Yibo's chest.
All that perfect white skin made Zhan want to do bad things. He bent his head and sucked hard at one of Yibo's nipples, wringing a moan from those amazing lips.
He moved to another patch of skin, sucking harder this time, wanting to see his marks on his lover. When he raised his head, he ran a thumb over Yibo's lips, and Yibo unconsciously licked them.
Zhan felt himself go rock hard and closed his eyes to try and bank his desire. "No greeting for me?" he asked a moment later, when he'd gotten his control back.
Yibo's lips parted, but he didn't say anything.
Zhan let his hand trail from Yibo's chest down to his cock, his fingers feathering over the heated flesh.
When he glanced up, he saw Yibo's teeth cutting into his bottom lip.
"Uh, uh," he said, leaning up and licking that bottom lip free. "Those lips are mine to bite," he said, wrapping his hand around Yibo's cock as he demonstrated by pulling on Yibo's bottom lip and then sucking it into his mouth.
When Yibo moaned again, he pushed his tongue into his mouth and kissed him in earnest. Yibo welcomed him, sucking on his tongue, and matching his movements so perfectly Zhan's head began to swim.
"I think I could kiss you forever," he muttered when he reluctantly pulled away.
Yibo looked surprised. "I..."
Zhan smiled at him. "Still no greeting for me?" He let go of Yibo's cock. "I guess you don't want me here then?"
As he rolled toward the edge of the bed, Yibo gasped.
Zhan sat up, giving Yibo his back. "Something to say?"
Zhan rolled back to Yibo's side. "What was that?" he asked softly.
Yibo was looking at him now. "Please," he said again.
"Please what, Yibo?"
Yibo pursed his lips.
Zhan bent down and put his lips next to Yibo's ear. "Please what?" he growled.
"Fuck me," Yibo gasped out. "Fuck me. Please, Zhan. Fuck me."
Zhan felt those words from his chest to his dick, and his hands clenched into fists in the silky fabric of the bed covers. He wondered if Yibo had any idea how he affected him. Or why.
Soon, he told himself. Soon he would tell him everything.
In the meantime, he felt like he'd been waiting an eternity for this moment, so he kissed Yibo hard on the mouth and then worked his way lower, leaving marks wherever his lips landed.
But kissing wasn't what they needed. He gently raised one of Yibo's legs over his shoulder and removed the plug. Seeing Yibo clenching against the force of his desire made Zhan want to just power into him and slake his need for this boy.
But he steadied himself and instead inserted his fingers: two, then three, scissoring Yibo open even further, wringing whines and moans from those gorgeous lips.
I might be obsessed with Yibo's lips, he thought.
Then he positioned his cock at Yibo's entrance and began to push inside.
Yibo was panting now, and Zhan watched, mesmerized, as he slowly filled him. When he was all the way in, he leaned forward and claimed his mouth as well.
The penetration of Zhan's cock and tongue seemed to do something to Yibo, who began to moan and writhe. He pulled away and glared at Zhan. "Untie me."
Zhan reached up and flicked the latch on the leather restraints that held Yibo's arms.
He flexed his fingers and wrists for a moment, then grabbed Zhan's shoulders, wrapped his legs around Zhan's waist, and kissed him.
It was Zhan's turn to groan. Yes, definitely obsessed, he thought. And not just with his lips.
He began to move, giving Yibo what he needed, fucking him hard and fast, showing him what it meant to take another man as a lover and just how good it could be.
Chapter 7: Lesson 7: Yibo is not a Morning Person
Yibo woke before the sun had set, still not used to being completely nocturnal. And though his mind felt clearer than it had since he'd arrived, that just meant the memories of last night - of all the previous nights - were even more unpleasant.
He'd humiliated himself. He'd begged the Yiling Patriarch to fuck him! Maybe the first time could be explained away... but not the second. Or the third.
But who knew it would feel so good? Just thinking about it made him shudder. Every time Zhan drank from him or filled him up and hit that sweet spot inside him... he'd lost all sense of who he was. In those moments, he'd known only the pleasure Zhan was bringing him.
He slung his arm across his eyes. Maybe it was good neither his uncle nor his brother could see how low he'd sunk.
He felt Zhan stir, and a wave of panic hit. He lowered his arm and forced himself to look over. But the Yiling Patriarch wasn't awake; he'd just moved a bit closer.
Yibo sighed and took the opportunity to study him. To his surprise, naked in bed next to him, the Yiling Patriarch didn't look evil or fearsome. Yibo took in his fair skin, heart-shaped lips complete with that sinful beauty mark, and long, sooty lashes that dusted his cheeks when he slept. For some reason, Yibo's hand snuck out and weaved through Zhan's hair.
Zhan rolled closer, wrapping an arm around him and snuggling into his chest.
Yibo really wanted to die. How could the same evil bastard who'd had him tied to his bed for the last ten days now be snuggling him?
And, more importantly, how could he be liking it? He wasn't, he told himself. But his wolf definitely liked it.
He was beginning to think his wolf had lost its mind the night of the attack. Maybe they both had. Nothing else made sense.
Most certainly not the way he was watching Zhan smile in his sleep.
Or the fact that he was smiling down at him like a big idiot.
Do you know anything about this? he asked his wolf. Or are you still not talking to me?
For a long time, it said nothing. Yibo could feel how content it was. Traitor.
He's good for us, his wolf said finally. You should give in to him.
Give in to him? Yibo demanded. Just what do you think I did all last night? How much more can I give in?
Yibo was pondering his wolf's crappy advice when he felt Zhan stir beside him. Fingers tightened against his ribcage, and Zhan's chin moved to rest on his chest.
Yibo schooled his features and looked down at him, his breath catching at the mega-watt smile on his lover's face.
His lover? No, that was stupid. He was a prisoner. This was just... Stockholm Syndrome. Wasn't that a thing?
Does that mean you have feelings for him? his wolf asked.
Shut up, Yibo told it. Just shut up. I do not.
Zhan didn't say anything, just stretched out, moving up Yibo's body until his lips hovered over Yibo's own.
Then he kissed him. And it was the slowest, gentlest, most intimate thing Yibo had yet experienced. He didn't even respond at first, thinking it was just a good morning peck. But Zhan's lips were warm, and when he repeated the gesture, Yibo returned it, curious.
Then Zhan bent to nuzzle his neck and behind his ear, making his wolf a little giddy.
When his mouth returned to Yibo's, Yibo and his wolf both kissed back, enjoying the slow exploration of Zhan's mouth and tongue.
Yibo had only been kissed a few times before and never like this. Never like there was nothing his lover would rather be doing for the next few hours than kissing him.
He lost track of how long their mouths were joined together. He'd clutched onto Zhan's shoulders at some point, but not in an urgent way. And that scared him more than anything.
When Zhan finally pulled back, he stared at Yibo for a few moments, blinking as if he were also surprised. Then his smile reappeared - not the scary one, but the really dangerous, innocent one - and he pecked Yibo on the tip of his nose and said "good morning."
For some reason, that put Yibo over the edge. He sat up, ignoring the soreness in his lower body, and pushed Zhan away. "Don't do that," he spat out, feeling his heartbeat go into overdrive the moment his hand touched Zhan's chest. "Don't be... nice."
Zhan's smile dimmed, and Yibo felt he'd hurt him somehow. But that was ridiculous. He was just a plaything to the Yiling Patriarch. A prisoner.
"Right," Zhan said, rolling away from Yibo. "Well, there are things I must do."
Yibo didn't want to know what kept the Yiling Patriarch busy. He really didn't. He got up slowly, anticipating more pain than there actually was.
Zhan watched him but didn't speak. Then he got out of bed, grabbed a black silk robe, quickly tied it, and headed into the other room. "Get dressed and see yourself out," he said, closing the door.
Yibo blinked. After a moment of feeling confounded that Zhan had done what he asked, he found his clothes had at some point last night been folded and put neatly onto a chair.
Chapter 8: Lesson 8: Never Run From an Apex Predator
Outside Zhan's room, the hallway was so quiet, even Yibo's sneakers seemed to echo on the stone floor. He supposed no one else was awake as the sun was still up.
That thought sent him downstairs. Still, no one presented themselves. Which meant... no one to stop him.
He chose a side door off the kitchen and stepped out into the afternoon sun. It felt good on his face - warm and exhilarating. The smell of the tall pines beckoned to him, and he felt the urge to shift.
The full moon would be in two days, and that was close enough. This might be his only chance. He stepped into the shadow of the house, stripped off his clothes, and shifted into his wolf form.
Then he ran full tilt toward the stone wall that circled the house - it really was a fortress - and leaped to the top before heading into the woods.
As he ran, he breathed in deep and felt his muscles respond to propel him forward. Even if one of the other wolves gave chase, he was sure he could outrun them. And the vampires would be house-bound until sunset.
He might actually escape!
To go where? his wolf asked. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the run, but you've got no clothes and no money. We can't run all the way back to Gusu.
I can if I have to, Yibo said, feeling more confident than he had in weeks. He blindly picked a direction, knowing it hardly mattered so long as it got him down the mountain.
After an hour, he felt like he'd made good progress, so he stepped inside an empty cave to rest. As the sun was still up, he allowed himself to close his eyes.
When he opened them, he felt his heart drop through the floor. At the entrance to the cave, silhouetted against the dying light, stood the Yiling Patriarch.
How had he found him? How was he outside the fortress with the sun still up?
"Shift." One word, deadly quiet, and Yibo found himself standing naked in front of the man he'd been trying to escape.
"You have questions?" Zhan's voice was low, each word dripping acid. "Pray tell, what questions can I, the four-hundred-year-old Patriarch of Yiling and all the allied vampire clans, answer for you - a lone juvenile wolf with no clan, no fortune, whose very life is forfeit outside of my protection?"
Yibo gulped and shifted his weight from one foot to the other, also dropping his gaze from Zhan's mirrored sunglasses. He didn't want to see his own reflection right now.
"You seem to have forgotten you belong to me."
Zhan's footsteps came closer, then stopped, and Yibo heard him sniff the air. Did he sense danger? Yibo's nerves already had him trembling. Then he realized no one was more dangerous than the one who was already here.
Two more steps brought Zhan directly in front of him, but Yibo didn't raise his head. He couldn't. But he did suck in a nervous breath, and with it came the scent of fir trees and night-blooming jasmine.
Strange, he thought. He sniffed deliberately this time and grew more confused. It was a wolf scent. A good one - one that made his mouth water and his body suffuse with heat.
Was there another wolf nearby?
Zhan grabbed his chin and forced him to raise his gaze. Then he removed his sunglasses, slipping them into his jacket pocket.
And Yibo could see that around his dark irises bloomed a ring of glowing red. Alpha red.
Yibo's lips parted, his nose twitched, and he began to pant. "You? Wolf!?!" He couldn't make sense of what he was seeing.
"My hybrid status is not widely known," Zhan said. "But you've forced me to show you. I don't like to be forced, Yibo."
"I..." Yibo's voice trailed off into a whimper and he bit his lips. God, why did he have to smell so good right now? That scent was making him crazy.
"It's almost the full moon," Zhan said. "So I can walk in daylight like any wolf. And my alpha presence is stronger."
No shit, Yibo thought.
"I thought it only fair to tell you since I'm going to use it against you."
"What?" Fear made his voice squeak.
"Turn around and bend over."
His body obeyed the alpha over his mind's screaming objections, and he found himself grabbing his ankles and trying to stop shivering so that he wouldn't fall over.
He heard Zhan drop to his knees behind him and couldn't imagine what he intended.
Chapter 9: Lesson 9: Obedience Has Its Rewards
Zhan used his fangs to cut his tongue and then licked Yibo's entrance, feeling very satisfied with the gasping groan it induced in the young wolf. He could tell Yibo was about to go into heat. His honey and wildflower scent was already so much stronger than it had been just this morning. His blood should be enough catalyst to bring it on now.
So he held Yibo's hips and dipped his tongue inside, thrusting just enough to tease. After a few moments, he tasted the sweetness of Yibo's slick, and his eyes closed against a wave of pleasure.
He'd actually never had an omega before. Too risky when he usually wanted to keep his wolf traits hidden. But this one was his.
Disobedient, but oh, so delicious. Right now, he was a lot more okay with that than he had been a hour ago. An hour ago, when he realized he'd run, he'd wanted to kill him.
Now, he just wanted to fuck them both into oblivion.
He stood and wiped the slick from his face, using it to lubricate his cock as he released it from his jeans. He was still angry enough not to give Yibo any warning before he thrust into him, and he heard him cry out.
That cry only turned him on more, and he pulled back and thrust in again, feeling Yibo's body bathe him in slick. He began to pound into him, angling his hips to hit the spot that had made Yibo keen so beautifully for him last night.
This time, when Yibo cried out, it wasn't in pain, and Zhan marveled that he could get more turned on. But he wanted to hear it again. And again. So he thrust madly against Yibo's prostate and rejoiced in the debauched sounds he wrung from him.
When Yibo came under him like that, just from penetration, Zhan almost couldn't hold on. He pulled out just as Yibo finished, ejaculating onto his ass.
For a moment all he could hear was their labored breaths. Then Yibo spoke: "Can I stand, Alpha?"
Zhan closed his eyes against another wave of lust. His wolf really liked being recognized. "Mmmn."
Yibo turned and faced Wei Zhan, feeling somehow more calm than he had all day.
"Where did you think you were running to?" Zhan asked.
Yibo thought this an odd question. "Home."
Zhan's brows shot up. "What? Why?"
"What do you mean? Because it's my home. Gusu will always be my home."
For some reason, this seemed to anger Zhan. "Are you completely mad?" he demanded. "Do you really hate vampires so much that you'd run back to let Wen Chao put your head on his wall? Or do you just hate me that much?"
Yibo suddenly felt like they were having two different conversations. "What does Wen Chao have to do with Gusu?"
Zhan gaped at him, blinking as if he couldn't believe his ears. "So just who do you think attacked you, and your uncle, and your brother?" he asked.
Yibo gulped, all his calm dissipating under Zhan's withering gaze. "I've always thought it was vampires."
"Really? Any vampire in particular that you've fitted up for this crime?"
Yibo shook his head.
"Liar." Zhan's tone dropped into the icy depths again. "You think it was me, don't you?"
When Yibo didn't deny it, Zhan scoffed. "My god," he said. "No wonder you were so pissed." He ran a hand through his hair. "I just knew you didn't like vampires. I didn't imagine..."
For a long time, neither of them spoke.
Yibo stared at the ground, trying to get his thoughts in order. Could he have been so wrong all this time?
When he looked up, Zhan's eyes had gone slightly glassy.
"Zhan?" he said.
Nothing. He took a step closer. "Alpha?"
At that, Zhan closed the distance between them and dragged Yibo's body full against his own. His lips crashed down, claiming Yibo's mouth as his, and Yibo let his tongue plunder wherever it wanted. He was in a frenzy, but somehow Yibo didn't want to break away.
He wanted Zhan's desire - wanted it more than anything. Zhan's lips stoked the heat inside him, but his hands were cool against his skin as they roved over his back and sides.
"Ahh," Yibo moaned when Zhan started sucking at the base of his neck. "That feels - ooh."
"God, you smell divine," Zhan murmured.
"Mmmn." Zhan kept sucking on his neck, but moved his hands lower, pressing the two of them closer together.
Yibo tilted his head back to give Zhan better access, and the motion pushed his hips further forward, rubbing his cock against Zhan's. He bit back another moan.
By now, of course, he knew what was happening. Omegas going into heat wasn't new to him. He'd just expected to have one as his mate one day, not to be one himself.
Did it really matter?
"Do you... do you know what's happening to you?" Zhan asked. He seemed to be having trouble steadying himself, which made Yibo feel a little better, if he was honest. He'd always thought of omegas as being the only ones affected by their heat. Clearly, that wasn't the case.
"I'm an omega now," he said, knowing his voice sounded a little weak.
"You... uh... you're not mad?"
Yibo felt his brows shoot up - both at the question and at Zhan's suddenly meek tone. "Why would I be mad? Wen Qing explained when I got here that presenting as an alpha was out of the question. You didn't make the rules. I was going to be a beta or omega depending on how I related to you..."
He stopped talking when he saw Zhan's expression. "What?" he demanded. At the same time, his fingers had started working at the zipper of Zhan's jacket. He needed to be touching him.
Zhan bit his lip. "That's true. But I may have nudged it a bit."
Yibo leaned up and licked Zhan's beauty mark. That damn thing was so sexy... "Nudged it how?" he asked, slipping Zhan's jacket down his arms.
"With the lubricant," Zhan said. "It normally only works on omegas, but you were in a bit of a special situation. And I may have been deliberately hard on you at first. "
Yibo thought about it as his hands moved to the buttons of Zhan's shirt. "You wanted me to be an omega?"
Zhan nodded. "My omega."
That caused a shudder to run through Yibo's entire body. God, his wolf liked the sound of that.
He pulled Zhan's head down and ran his lips over Zhan's. "Your omega," he whispered.
Zhan groaned and kissed him hard for a long moment, but then pulled away again.
Yibo wanted to smack him. All he could think about was how their bodies were pressed together and now Zhan wanted to talk?
"I'll say this once, Yibo, because I think you need to hear it. I had nothing to do with any attack on Gusu. It wasn't me or any vampire under my patronage. Do you believe that?"
"Does it matter?"
Zhan's shoulder's dropped. "Yes. It matters."
Yibo sighed. "I'm willing to believe it," he said. "Can that be enough for now?"
Zhan cocked a brow at him, but Yibo saw him undo his last shirt button. "Still so skeptical, little wolf?"
"No," Yibo said, watching Zhan's black silk shirt hit the ground. "Just horny. Too horny to think straight, to be honest. Can't we pick this up after?"
Zhan laughed, and Yibo loved how it made his face light up.
"After what?" he asked, stripping out of the rest of his clothes.
"After my alpha fucks me," Yibo said.
Zhan's laugh turned into a groan, and he pulled Yibo as close as vampirically possible before laying him down on top of his long jacket and taking his time making love to his omega.
Chapter 10: Lesson 10: Trust Issues Can Ruin a Relationship
"So you can teleport and have to drink blood, but once a month you can shift and walk in daylight?" Yibo asked when they'd finally gotten to a lull in his heat.
They were just lying in each other's arms in the dark of the cave, fingers running lightly over sweat-damp skin.
"Not quite," Zhan said. "I can change into my wolf form at any time. But at the full moon, some wolf traits are a bit more prominent."
"Is that why you know so much about Gusu? Because you're a hybrid?"
Zhan hesitated. "No. Yibo, I..."
Yibo suddenly felt nervous and stilled his hand.
"I have something to tell you," Zhan finished.
Yibo remembered what they were going to discuss later and sucked in a breath. "You lied to me?"
"No!" Zhan said. "At least, not exactly. And not about that."
"I just haven't kept you completely informed about things."
"Things?" Yibo repeated. "How many things are we talking about?"
Zhan's mouth dropped open, but he quickly snapped it shut. "We need to talk about your brother."
"What about my brother?" Yibo asked, body going tense. "He's dead."
Zhan sighed. "No," he said, "he's no. Your brother is alive, though only just."
Yibo's heart banged against his ribcage. "What? He... he can't be. I don't feel him. At all."
Zhan sat up. "We should go back. I'll take you to him. I've been waiting to see if his body could recover against the silver rounds he took."
"You mean he's here? He's been here all along?"
Zhan turned his back to him as he dressed. "I wasn't sure what the outcome would be," he said. "I thought it would be better since you already thought he was dead, if you only had to mourn him once."
Yibo couldn't move.
"I know you may not agree with my decision," Zhan said. "But I did really think it was better for you. And safer for the clan. I didn't know you thought I'd killed him."
He rubbed his hand over his face.
"Take me to him," Yibo said, getting to his feet. He didn't know how to react, so he just wanted to focus on Xichen.
Zhan nodded and came close, wrapping Yibo in his coat and his embrace.
"Hold on," he said.
The mountainside swam away, and before Yibo could blink, they were standing in Yibo's bedroom back at the fortress.
Yibo shook his head and clutched at Zhan's arm to steady himself.
"Teleporting takes a little getting used to," Zhan said. "Even for vampires."
Yibo nodded and waited for the room to stop spinning. Then he went to his closet to get dressed.
"Yibo," Zhan called out after a moment. "There's something else."
Yibo's movements stilled. "What else?"
"If I do nothing, your brother is going to die. That's what I've been waiting to determine." Zhan hesitated. "But I don't have to do nothing. I can turn him. Into one of us. I can't guarantee he'll survive the transformation, but I'd give him pretty good odds. Lots better than he has right now."
"You want to make my brother a vampire?" Yibo felt the old well of hatred open up inside him.
"Yibo," Zhan said, "there's still a lot you don't know. Your brother and I... were friends. He was interested in a peace treaty. So was I. I like Xichen. I don't want to make him a vampire. I want to save his life."
Yibo was shaking his head. "He would have told me."
"He knew how you felt about us. Vampires. He... he thought he was doing you a favor by keeping it from you until things were more certain. But it was me he was meeting that day. That's how I got to him before the shooter. That's why he's here and still alive. My blood has been helping him hang on. But it won't cure silver pollution. Not in such small amounts."
Yibo felt his lips begin to tremble as he thought of his brother - shot, in agony, carried off to a vampire's fortress.
"He's the reason you're here, too" Zhan continued. "He asked me to save you. Those were his last words before he lost consciousness. But he didn't tell me where you'd be, so I'm sorry I couldn't find you before the auction house. I made sure you were unharmed."
Yibo crossed over to his bed and sank down, all his strength deserting him.
He spent the next two hours at his brother's bedside, holding his clammy hand, watching Wen Qing monitor him. She'd told him basically the same story Zhan had. That his brother would certainly die if they did nothing. That he might die even if they made the attempt to turn him.
But then she'd told him something unexpected: that it wouldn't be the Yiling Patriarch who did it. He'd asked his half-brother to do it instead.
Yibo didn't understand this, and Wen Qing didn't have a satisfactory explanation, so he went to find Wei Zhan to ask him directly.
He found Zhan in his study, and he seemed annoyed by Yibo's question, though not surprised.
"I can't fully explain," he said, "but I've decided the best course for Xichen is for Guangyao to do it. Can you not trust me in this?"
Yibo raised his brows.
"I wouldn't do anything to hurt your brother or minimize his chances," Zhan said. "Guangyao is strong."
"Not as strong as you."
"In this matter, that might not be the case. Besides, sires and children will ideally have a very close bond right after the turning. I think your brother would be more comfortable having that kind of bond with someone other than me."
"Why?" Yibo asked, honestly puzzled.
"Because we were just friends," Zhan said, now looking puzzled himself. He hesitated. "And would you not think it... unsettling if I took your brother as a lover?"
Thoughts and images flashed through Yibo's mind, and he was totally unprepared for any of them. Very close bond? That's what that meant?
His heart felt like it was being ripped from his chest as he imagined his brother in the Yiling Patriarch's embrace. That triggered the memory of Xue Yang sitting in his lap offering to fuck. Which triggered a rippling cascade of pain through his whole body.
He didn't realize he'd started whimpering and shaking until Zhan came and put his arms around him. He smoothed his hand down Yibo's back and spoke softly against his ear.
"I don't want that either," he whispered. "It's okay. I swear, I only want you. But if it would be better for your brother, I'd find a way to make it work. Without hurting you. Do you believe me?"
Zhan's nearness calmed him, though his scent made Yibo's body start to feel hot again. "How can someone else be better than you for this?" he asked.
Zhan pulled back and looked at him, a shadow crossing his beautiful, sculpted face.
"Please," Yibo whispered, "tell me the truth."
Zhan released him and stepped back, his face going cold. "I have told you the truth," he said. "I've told you that your brother will die if we do nothing and that Jin Guangyao is the best candidate to sire him. This is all true. What you want are explanations, and those I cannot give."
"This is my clan," Zhan said. "And my responsibility. Would you have me turn those over to you?"
"And that's why I've informed you of my decision. But, make no mistake, it is my decision."
Yibo bit his lips. He had no power here. "Please, just save him," he said finally.
"That is also what I want, Yibo. Why do you doubt that?"
Yibo wasn't sure of anything at the moment, and it seemed his hesitation annoyed Zhan.
"Go back to your room," Zhan said. "If anything happens, I'll send for you."
Defeated and hurt, Yibo retreated to his room as he was told.
Chapter 11: Lesson 11: Situational Awareness is Key
Laying across his own bed, Yibo gave in and wept, hating Wei Zhan and hating himself for being such a crybaby. He couldn't even blame it all on being an omega. Since he first arrived here, all his emotions felt like they'd been scraped raw.
Love, hate, fear, anger, grief, joy, lust, disgust... why was being here so hard?
Was it just because he was too used to sharing the alpha role with his brother and uncle - and Zhan was too used to not sharing it?
He rolled over and stared at the ceiling. Truly, all Zhan had asked for was an acknowledgment of his position, and Yibo had let his hatred and wrong assumptions turn everything between them into a battle.
A battle he lost every time.
Could it be true that Zhan was friends with Xichen? That he didn't have anything to do with the attack? That he'd brought him here out of goodwill, even?
If so, then Yibo had made the last couple of weeks unnecessarily hard on himself.
His mind showed him Wei Zhan's smile when he'd awoken that very morning with Yibo in his bed. He'd really looked happy.
Perhaps Yibo had been making this unnecessarily hard on both of them?
A day passed before Yibo learned anything about his brother. And then it was Wen Qing who came to tell him all was well.
"So, it went smoothly?"
She nodded. "Very. Werewolf transformations can be tricky, but Xichen is doing just fine. He should wake in two days - give or take."
"What will he be like?" Yibo asked. "When he wakes up?"
"Like? Well, personality-wise, he won't be any different. You will face more emotional changes in becoming an omega than he will in going from wolf to hybrid. In that respect, he's got it easier than you." She gave him a gentle smile before continuing.
"Physically, we will have to wait and see. He'll need to drink blood, of course. Which of the other strengths and weaknesses he will have is anyone's guess. Kind of like how you don't know what your child will be like until you meet them."
"It varies that much? What about Zhan? Which does he have?" Yibo asked. "I mean, I know he can shift and teleport."
Wen Qing's brows shot up. "He told you that?"
"Uh, yeah? Why wouldn't he?"
"That's the wrong question," she said, after pressing her lips together for a moment. "The right question is - why would he? He protects himself - and, by extension, all of us - by keeping his both his strengths and his weaknesses well-guarded."
"I don't think I..."
"Let me put it this way," Wen Qing said. "If you knew what the Yiling Patriarch's weaknesses were, what do you think that would be worth? Do you not think he has enemies? Rivals?"
"I hadn't given it much thought."
"Didn't you consider him an enemy when you arrived here?" she pressed.
Yibo swallowed. "I... Yes."
"So why is he telling you anything?" Wen Qing's hands landed on her hips. "Is it because you're in heat?" She rolled her eyes. "He can't be that desperate."
"No, I don't think... Well, I don't think it's that."
Wen Qing smoothed her hair behind her ear and seemed to regain some composure. "Don't worry about it. It's not your fault. Zhan, on the other hand, has lived for centuries. He should know better."
"You don't think I'm trustworthy?" Yibo asked.
"It's nothing personal," she said. "I don't think he should trust anyone."
"That's a lonely way to live."
She scoffed. "Most of us here were betrayed in some way by our own families, Wei Zhan included. Lonely is better than dead."
Wen Qing's visit alleviated much of his worry about his brother. It also helped put Zhan's attitude into perspective. While he didn't completely agree with Wen Qing's view, he could understand it. And, if he could understand, then he could be patient.
Being patient with the waves of heat and pain wracking his body...that was a different story. Or maybe it was just getting worse. It felt that way, and he wondered how often he would have to go through this. He hoped it wasn't monthly. What a drag. Especially if he and Zhan weren't going to be... close.
Zhan used Yanli's arrival as an excuse to boot Wen Qing out of his study. She'd made her point, though, so she left without objection.
"Zhan Zhan," Yanli said with a smile. "It sounded as though the healer was about to do you an injury."
Zhan grinned at her. They weren't real siblings, but he regarded her as his sister. Long ago, his father had turned the Jiang siblings in order to provide companions for him. After a period of... adjustment, they'd all grown close, and close they remained.
"She sticks to her positions," he said. "I like that."
"I'm glad Zhan Zhan has someone he likes."
Zhan's face fell. "Don't get the wrong idea, mei mei." He eyed Yanli's smooth, guileless face. "But would you really be happy?"
Yanli's brows shot up and her smile widened. She approached and laid a hand over his heart. "I would be very happy if you had someone who warmed your heart, gege. Your happiness is my happiness."
Zhan laughed. "I believe you, mei mei. But are you sure this has nothing to do with that peacock, Jin ZiXuan? I told you I wouldn't object to him, didn't I? I know you have feelings for him. I don't have to like him. Only you have to like him."
Yanli's face clouded over. "I think I worry more about his father's objections than yours. You know how he feels about turned vampires. I don't think he would accept me for ZiXuan."
"Not accept the Yiling Patriarch's sister? Both of them should be so lucky. They don't deserve you, Yanli." He cupped his hand over hers. "None of us do."
She smiled up at him again, and he couldn't help but feel it was a bit forced. "So, is it the good doctor? Or someone else?"
"What? Oh. Well.. uh.. it's no one. Not really. I was just... idly asking, you know?" He wanted to slap himself. Why did he suddenly sound like he was fifteen again and she'd caught him and Jiang Cheng breaking into the armory in the middle of the night to play with swords?
She nodded at him, clearly trying not to laugh. "It wouldn't be one of the new arrivals, would it?"
"What? No! How could it be? They just got here, and Xichen has been unconscious the entire time."
"I see," she said. "So, it must be his brother. His younger brother." She placed her hands on her hips. "Just what are your intentions toward this young man, Wei Zhan?"
"You heard me. It's no secret you bought him and have been hiding him away." She put up her hand when he would have interrupted. "Don't-" she said. "If you knew what you were doing, you wouldn't be asking me such questions, would you?"
"Um..." She had him there.
"So is he a prisoner or a guest?"
Zhan opened his mouth to answer but hesitated. "Well, it's not that simple."
"I'm sure it seems that simple to him," she replied. "And have you asked him how he feels about anything? Or have you just been telling him what to do and expecting him to go along with whatever the great Yiling Patriarch says?"
"It was necessary-"
"If you like him," she said, "you need to change your approach."
Zhan pursed his lips and expelled a short breath through his nose. "And just how should I do that?"
"You have to let him in here," she said, patting his chest over his heart. "And hope he doesn't find it too cold and dusty."
"Are you done?" he asked, trying to hold down a frown. She should at least feel guilty for abusing him so.
Her smile got even brighter. "For now."
She turned to him as she left. "Good luck, Romeo."
Chapter 12: Lesson 12: Give and Take
By the following day, Yibo had resorted to lying twisted up in the covers for comfort, with his window open to keep cool, and two towels under him to deal with the quantity of slick his body was producing.
Jin Ling had temporarily changed rooms, but otherwise, his heat was only causing him inconvenience. Turned out, a house full of vampires could care less. But at least he didn't have to worry about getting raped. Wen Qing brought him food and cold compresses, along with updates (or rather non-updates) on his brother.
But during the remaining hours in his bed without Zhan, Yibo felt alone and empty. His wolf had been forlorn since they'd fallen out. And now his body seemed forlorn as well.
He wondered what Zhan was doing. Was he missing him? Did he need to feed?
He realized he didn't know how often Zhan needed to do that. At his level, he could go without for a while, surely? Or would he just feed from someone else?
A blanket of misery settled over Yibo, making him even hotter and more agitated. Zhan had told him he didn't want anyone else. Had he really meant it? Did that include feeding?
His misery finally propelled him off the bed and into a cold shower.
With his eyes closed, forehead cooling against the white tile, Yibo didn't hear the bathroom door open.
But Zhan's scent was unmistakable, and his body sagged in relief when the curtain slid back and a naked Wei Zhan joined him in the shower.
Neither of them spoke, but lips and hands connected instantaneously, and Yibo marveled at the way Zhan's hands both aroused him and cooled him off. He was like the worlds' best medicine.
He smiled into the kiss, and Zhan pulled back to look at him.
After a moment, he smiled, too. Still, neither of them spoke, but Zhan seemed to know what Yibo needed, moving his hand to his cock and his lips to his throat. He fed while Yibo held onto him and came under the steady stream of cold water.
Without giving him a chance to recover, Zhan licked his bite closed, then turned Yibo around so his hands were braced against the back wall of the shower. Then he slid two fingers into him.
"Ah," Yibo groaned. It felt good, but it wasn't enough. "More, Zhan. Please."
Zhan removed his fingers, and it sounded like he licked them, moaning a bit at the taste.
Did he really like that? Yibo didn't dare interrupt with a question.
A moment later, he lost all train of thought as Zhan's cock forced him open and filled his ache completely.
The sensation of having Zhan inside him, filling him like a cannon, was almost better than the orgasm that followed after Zhan began to thrust, hitting him deep inside, time after time.
When Zhan again pulled out ahead of his own release, Yibo was irrationally disappointed. He knew a pregnancy was the last thing he could deal with right now. But, still, he wanted all of Zhan whenever he was with him.
Was that part of being an omega, he wondered? Feeling so... angsty around an alpha? He wished there were someone he could ask.
Not Zhan. Even if he knew, he'd made it clear he didn't like questions.
When they were both dressed and back in Yibo's room, he thought for a moment that Zhan looked nervous.
"Um. Thanks," he said, not sure if they were speaking yet.
Zhan nodded. "I didn't just come for that. I also came to tell you some things."
He leaned against the dresser, and Yibo straightened the covers and sat on the bed facing him and waited.
Zhan closed his eyes and breathed deep. "You smell like honey," he said. "And wildflowers. It suits you."
He thought Zhan's scent suited him too - intoxicating and mysterious. But he kept his mouth shut.
"I've had Xue Yang looking into the situation in Gusu," Zhan said finally. "Wen clan has taken over there. I suspect Old Wen has been eyeing GusuLan for a while, precisely because the clan was alpha-less. He's the one responsible for the attack on you and your brother and Qiren."
Yibo closed his eyes. "Are you certain?" he whispered, unable to restrain himself.
Zhan nodded. "After your parents were removed, he assumed the clan would be rudderless. When Qiren and Xichen held it together, it created a problem. In the end, he had to move before you turned eighteen."
He stopped, as if waiting for Yibo to question him further.
Yibo held his tongue.
And, miraculously, Zhan continued. "He's put Wen Chao up as the new alpha and is killing anyone who objects to GusuLan being annexed into Wen clan. That's enough proof for me. Is it enough for you?"
Yibo blinked and then nodded.
"Good. When your brother is strong enough, we will make Wen Rouhan pay for what he's done. But I don't want to be too hasty. I think Xichen will need to play a role. Is that okay with you?"
Again, Yibo just nodded, hardly believing his ears.
"Don't worry," Zhan said. "I promise you Wen Rouhan will die in pain."
Zhan said those words so matter-of-factly it made Yibo's heart ache. Not for Wen Rouhan, of course. But Yibo had never killed anyone. How many had Zhan killed to be able to say such things?
Something else occurred to Yibo then that he couldn't hold back. "Did he kill my parents?"
"That I don't know for certain yet. I believe so. I also promise you I will find that out."
Who was he that the Yiling Patriarch would make promises to him? Yibo wasn't sure what was happening, and once again, he didn't know what to say so he just nodded.
Zhan ran a hand through his hair, but his stance had softened as they spoke, and he now seemed oddly relieved.
Yibo supposed he was, too. This conversation had been good. Awkward. But good.
Zhan took two long steps toward the door but then turned back. "One other thing," he said. "I know you won't want to go anywhere until your brother has recovered, but, after that, if you want to leave, no one will stop you."
After Zhan left, Yibo stared for a long time at the closed door and wondered why that bit of news made him feel like a boulder had fallen on his chest.
Chapter 13: Lesson 13: The Yiling Patriarch Doesn't Date
Two afternoons later, Yibo's physical misery was easing. He was still too hot, but his body had stopped producing slick and he felt comfortable leaving his room - and telling Jin Ling he could move back into his.
"You've missed some drama," Jin Ling told him, propping himself on the frame of their shared bathroom door.
Yibo tried not to think about what had happened with Zhan in that bathroom. It made him blush.
"What's happened?" he asked.
"Jin Guangshan and Nie Mingjue are here," Jin Ling said as if that explained everything.
"I know Jin Guangshan leads one of the vampire subclans. His son is here, right? Who's the other one?"
Jin Ling's eyes went wide. "They really don't teach werewolves anything, do they?"
"Vampires are beneath us," Yibo retorted. "Why do I need to care who's who?"
"Well, they care about you," he replied. "Nie Mingjue is another subclan leader. Both their sons are here, in fact - Jin ZiXuan and Nie Huaisong. Somehow..." he dragged that word out and rolled his eyes. "Somehow both daddies found out about you, and they've come to lodge formal objections."
"Found out what about me?" Yibo asked. "Why would they care that I'm here?"
Jin Ling shook his head. "It's not that you're here, really. Or even that you're... you. It's that the Yiling Patriarch has taken a werewolf as a lover. That's what they're in a snit about."
"Oh." There was that word again - Lover. "Why would they care?"
"You think it's only werewolves who hate vampires and not the other way round?" He snorted. "Don't kid yourself."
Yibo first went to see his brother, but Wen Qing met him outside the door and told him to come back later.
She nodded. "Yes, but right now, he's talking to Jin Guangyao."
"He'll want to see me," Yibo insisted, reaching for the door.
"No," she said, grabbing his wrist. "They're... he's feeding."
Yibo shuddered and drew his hand back. Nope, he wasn't ready to see that.
"Want to play video games?" Jin Ling asked, sticking his head out of the door to his room.
"Were you waiting for me?" Yibo asked.
Jin Ling scoffed. "Don't flatter yourself. My hearing's just better than yours. Since no one else is up yet, the footsteps coming down the hall had to be yours. Or Wen Ning, which would also have been fine."
"Oh." Yibo shrugged. "Then, yeah, sure."
To his surprise, Jin Ling closed his door and led him downstairs to a large rec room filled with cozy chairs, bean bags and a gigantic tv.
He started pulling out controllers. "CoD or GTA?"
Yibo just stared.
"What? You didn't think vampires watch tv?"
"I... I don't know," he said. "I guess not. There are books everywhere. I just thought they liked to read a lot."
"Eh, they do. But we're not all centuries old."
"How old are you?"
Jin Ling turned up his nose. "You're rude, you know that? Only about twice as old as you."
Yibo hesitated. "Why don't you seem older?"
"Don't know. What's the hurry to grow up when you're going to live for donkey's years?"
Yibo lost his focus on Call of Duty when Zhan's scent hit his nose. He closed his eyes and breathed it in, then turned.
"Hey," Jin Ling said, "you're supposed to be watching my back. What are you doing?"
But there was no one there, just a dark doorway.
"Um, sorry," Yibo said. He put down the controller. "I need to see about something."
He ignored Jin Ling's stammering and hurried out, tracing Zhan by scent. He caught him at the bottom of the stairs and grabbed him by the arm.
Zhan turned, looked down at his hand, then looked at him.
Yibo withdrew it, grimacing. "Sorry," he said. "I..." I what? I wanted to see you? I missed you? Fuck.
Zhan didn't seem to know what to say either, but then he pulled Yibo into his arms and kissed him.
Yibo couldn't describe what he felt in that moment. He wrapped his arms tight around Zhan's body.
Moments later, when Zhan raised his head, his irises were ringed with red. "I know I should let you go," he said.
Yibo couldn't catch his breath, and so began shaking his head fanatically from side to side.
Zhan chuckled. "No?"
"Fuck, no," Yibo said, pulling him closer.
Zhan's gaze flickered away, then returned. "Alright then."
Before Yibo could respond, he found they had flashed into Zhan's bedroom.
Zhan grinned at him.
"God," Yibo said, "your smile is the cutest." He stopped, wondering if Zhan would be offended. "I mean..."
"It's okay," Zhan said. "I don't have to be the Yiling Patriarch all the time."
He held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Wei Zhan. Nice to meet you."
Yibo smirked. "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."
"I'm not a stranger. I'm a friend of your brother."
"Oh, well, in that case..." He took Zhan's hand. "I'm Lan Yibo. Please treat me well."
Zhan's smile faded. "I wish we could have begun differently. I should have told you about your brother. And treated you better."
"Maybe," Yibo said. "But I understand."
"You govern a vast territory and are responsible for an awful lot of people. I don't know what that's like, not really. But I'm willing to listen."
Zhan dropped his hand and crossed over to the window. Like all the others in the house, it was tall and covered by a thick curtain. Zhan pulled the curtain back, exposing the mountainside lit by the sun's long afternoon rays.
"My mother was one of my father's captives," Zhan said. "She used me to try to get my father's attention. Then he took me away, killed her, and trained me to be a warrior. When my wolf traits first appeared, he was furious. We discovered I could tolerate sunlight near a full moon because he threw me out of a window one day."
"Oh my god."
"That was just the beginning. He forced me to go through trials to try and extend my day walking ability - and cure my silver allergy."
He turned back to Yibo. "That's the other thing that changes at the full moon. Silver can injure me. That's another reason it couldn't be me who turned your brother. His blood was full of silver. The timing made it so I couldn't be the one who turned him."
Yibo nodded, then recalled his conversation with Wen Qing. "Who else knows this?"
"Just my siblings - Jiang Cheng and Yanli."
"Not Xue Yang?" Yibo wasn't proud that he'd asked this, but he needed to know.
"Not my brother?"
"Of course not. But, speaking of your brother, I know he's awake. Have you told him anything?"
"I haven't seen him yet."
Zhan nodded and came closer. "Then would you mind if I spoke to him first? I want to... to try and explain."
Yibo laughed. "Better you than me. I wasn't looking forward to that conversation."
Zhan blinked. "You could do worse than me."
"Hah," Yibo said, hoping they were still joking around. "No one wants to see their werewolf brother dating the Yiling Patriarch."
"Dating?" Zhan echoed. "Is that what we're doing?"
Yibo's confidence flew straight out the window. "I... well, what are we doing, then?"
"I wouldn't know," Zhan said. "I've never dated anyone."
Yibo's mouth dropped open. "What?"
"I mean, I've had sex, obviously. And there's Xue Yang, but that's... not dating. I've always been fighting or killing or threatening to do one or the other. So, no, I've never... " He ran a hand through his hair and looked away. "I've never had someone like you before."
Yibo really wanted to say 'awww', but thought that might be pushing his luck. And he really liked this open, nervous version of Zhan. He didn't want to scare him off.
"Hey," he said. "None of your vampire friends will be up yet, right? And the full moon has just passed. Want to go for a run?"
A knock at the bedroom door cut off Zhan's answer. "Wei Zhan?" said a voice. "I think you're going to have to talk to them."
Zhan looked from Yibo to the door and back again. "Want to come see how glamorous it is to be the Yiling Patriarch?"
Chapter 14: Lesson 14: The Yiling Patriarch Protects His Own
In the study were Jiang Cheng, who had summoned them, and two older vampires Yibo didn't know.
"Gentlemen," Zhan said, moving to stand beside his desk. "What couldn't wait?"
They looked pointedly from him to Yibo.
"Nie Mingjue, Jin Guangshan, meet Lan Yibo."
Nie Mingjue spluttered and Jin Guangshan managed a short bow.
"This isn't a matter for outsiders," Nie Mingjue said. "We came to speak with you in private."
"Maybe I should go?" Yibo asked.
Zhan shook his head, not looking at him. "He stays. Say what you've come to say."
"We know you've been making overtures to the wolves," Jin Guangshan said, "but this..." He waved a hand in Yibo's direction. "...isn't this taking things too far?"
Zhan laughed. "Nie Mingjue, you feel the same?"
Nie Mingjue nodded. "Even if we want peace, vampires and wolves..." He shuddered. "Don't have to mix."
"So, you're here to tell me how to negotiate with the wolves?" Yibo knew this cold, low tone. The Yiling Patriarch didn't like to be challenged.
Nie Mingjue had the good grace to look a bit embarrassed. "It's not like that, Wei Zhan," he said. "We just didn't want you to feel you had to go this far. We support you. And we don't need a peace treaty if it comes at such a cost."
"Then let me reassure you," Zhan said. "I'm not sleeping with him to further any peace treaty. I'm sleeping with him because I want him."
Jin Guangshan's features twisted in distaste. "You can't be serious, Zhan. This is beneath you."
The next thing Yibo knew, the window on the wall opposite Jin Guangshan had exploded outward and both he and Zhan had disappeared.
He, Nie Mingjue, and Jiang Cheng ran to the window. The other two hung back because the sun was still up, but Yibo leaned as far forward as he could.
Outside, on the wide front yard, Zhan stood tall, holding Jin Guangshan by the throat as his feet dangled and his skin began to smoke.
Zhan knew his fury was probably out of proportion. He wasn't entirely sure why, but he didn't care. He'd had it.
"Guangshan, you are a filthy man-whore, even by vampire standards. Yet you dare to come into my home and look down on me? To look down on my sister because she's not a born vampire? Let me tell you just how much you or your son matter to me - zero. I am going to roast you right here, and no one - literally, no one - is going to say anything."
"You... you..." His eyes were wide with shock. "How can you...?"
"Again, not your business," Zhan said. "The only thing you need to know about the Yiling Patriarch is that he won't stand by while his underlings insult him. Not behind my back and certainly not to my face. More importantly, you will also show respect to everyone from my household. These people are here by my choice, understand? If you insult them, you insult me."
"You don't want to insult me, do you?"
Guangshan shook his head vigorously.
"Good. Since I want to help you be better, we are just going to stay out here for a bit. Until you are too injured to speak. Because I don't want to hear from you until the wedding. Understand?"
"What wedding?" His voice was already sounding tearful as his skin bubbled and turned black.
"Yanli and Zixuan's wedding, of course."
His eyes went wide, and Zhan pushed his head back so his face was directly in the sun. He screamed aloud and then his tongue burst into flames.
"I'll take that as a yes," Zhan said.
Nie Mingjue and Jiang Cheng carried Jin Guangshan's shriveled, blackened body away. Yibo assumed they would just leave. He couldn't see them asking for help from a werewolf doctor.
"Don't ask about him," Zhan said. "I should have killed him a long time ago. I'll have to one day. But it will be less trouble when ZiXuan is ready to govern. So, I've held back, but he doesn't make it easy."
"I'm sorry to cause trouble for you."
Zhan smiled at him. "I think I'm overdue for your kind of trouble. You still want to go for that run?"
Yibo grinned and nodded. "If you've got time. I've missed it."
Zhan wrapped his arms around him and flashed them to the top of the mountain.
Chapter 15: Lesson 15: Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
At the higher altitude, snowflakes dotted the air and swirled around the entrance to the cave Zhan had teleported them into.
Yibo looked around to get his bearings and saw that this wasn't just any cave. Behind them, the floor was covered with a rug, and there were pillows and books scattered around.
"You come here a lot?" he asked.
"Not a lot," Zhan said. "But it's the only place I have that no one else knows about. I tend to come here more when the moon is full and I feel the need to be outside." He stepped away and put some distance between them. "Can you shift?"
Yibo closed his eyes and inhaled the cold, damp air. Inside, his wolf was ready. "I can," he said. Then he realized he'd never seen Zhan's wolf form. "You first?"
Zhan nodded, stripped, and the next instant, Yibo found himself staring at a magnificent, enormous, black and silver wolf. It's red eyes and rippling musculature made its alpha status apparent.
"Wow," he said. "You're beautiful."
Zhan's wolf sat down on its haunches and tilted its head as if puzzled.
Yibo smiled and walked over to caress his head. "It's true. You're magnificent."
Zhan nuzzled against his hand and then rubbed his head against Yibo's chest.
"Okay, let's go," Yibo said, stepping back and shifting into his own wolf form.
He let Zhan lead the way, and they ran for hours through the cold and the snow, chasing birds, deer, each other, and generally doing nothing except enjoying the forest and the moonlight.
Hours later, they returned to the cave, both still in their wolf forms. Zhan quickly switched back and slipped his dark jeans on.
"Stay here," he said. "I'll get some wood for a fire. You'll be warmer if you don't shift yet."
Yibo lay down and waited, feeling strange lying on a rug while still in his wolf form.
He must have drowsed because when he opened his eyes there was a small fire lit near the mouth of the cave, the moon was high in the sky, and Zhan stood silhouetted against its light.
Inside him, his wolf woke and spoke one word: Mate.
Yibo's breath caught, and he must have made some sort of noise because Zhan turned with a look of concern on his face.
It took two seconds for that look of concern to change to one of shock. He strode back in, walking straight through the lit fire.
"Zhan!" Yibo shifted and cried out. He tried to kneel to put out the embers on Zhan's pants legs, but Zhan had gripped him by the arms.
"Is it you?" he asked, eyes wider than Yibo had ever seen. "Are you--" His voice dropped to a pained whisper. "You're my mate?"
Yibo nodded. "I... yes."
Zhan closed his eyes and dropped to his knees. He started shaking his head. "I thought... I mean... I never...."
Yibo put his hands on Zhan's shoulders. "What's wrong, Zhan? Are you not happy?"
Zhan looked up at him, eyes glassy with unshed tears. "I've waited so long for you," he choked out. "I'd given up thinking there would be a mate for me. I thought I was...defective. Or just too much vampire."
"But you wanted one?" Yibo asked. "You want me?"
"God, yes," Zhan said, dropping his head to rest over Yibo's hip. "I want you so much. I want you, Lan Yibo. I'd already decided I wanted you around for as long as I could keep you. If you're my mate..." He shuddered. "Then I want you as my mate, without a doubt. I want you."
He looked up after a few moments. "But... do you want me? Being the Yiling Patriarch's mate won't be easy."
"Then it's good I'm young and foolish, right?" Yibo grinned. "I just realized it must be midnight. I turn eighteen today. That's why we didn't realize before. I've just turned old enough."
Zhan smiled up at him. "Happy Birthday, Lan Yibo." Then his face clouded. "I didn't get you anything. Is there something you'd like?"
"More than finding my mate the minute I turn eighteen?" he said. "How greedy do you think I am?"
His happiness seemed to filter back out to Zhan, easing his worry. "There could also be some undeniable perks to being the Yiling Patriarch's mate," Zhan pointed out. "I'm a very rich man, Yibo. You don't want to reconsider?"
Yibo looked down at his mate and summoned his courage. Then he whispered his birthday wish into Zhan's ear.
"Really?" Zhan asked, looking up at him from under raised brows.
"Is it... a problem?"
Zhan bit his bottom lip. "No," he said. "Whatever my mate wants. Just... special occasions only, yeah?"
Yibo grinned again. "Yeah, yeah. I know you have a rep to uphold."
"Okay, then. If that's what you want."
Yibo shoved him backward, then straddled him on the rug, leaned down and bit his ear. "It is, Zhan."
He licked Zhan's lips and then kissed them open. "You don't have to be the Yiling Patriarch out here," he whispered. "Out here it's just you and me. Just Zhan and Yibo." He kissed him deeply. "Or... on special occasions... Yibo and Zhan."
He sent his mouth lower, exploring all his mate's exquisite flesh. "I do think you're beautiful, Zhan," he said. "I meant that. No matter which form you're in."
When Zhan was again naked, Yibo went back to Zhan's mouth, his tongue entering and stirring the flames he felt starting to engulf them.
He lowered his hand and began to stroke Zhan in time to their kisses, rhythmic and hot, faster and faster.
When Zhan gasped and came in his hand, Yibo captured it and used it to lubricate Zhan's entrance to take him in.
He looked up to see Zhan's eyes were bright, but he was biting his cheek.
Yibo laughed. "Special occasions, huh?" he said. "Let's see if you can even make it through my birthday on the bottom, yeah?"
He slid his finger inside and watched Zhan's eyes roll back. He switched to biting his bottom lip, and Yibo got harder just looking at him. "Goddammit, Zhan."
He put another finger in, and Zhan groaned. "Goddammit, Yibo. Just fuck me, already. I won't break."
Yibo thought he'd never gotten a better invitation than that, and he moved between Zhan's legs, raising one of them to ease the angle.
Then he pushed himself into his mate and watched Zhan's mouth drop open. His fingers clenched against Yibo's chest, and Yibo fought the urge to move for a moment longer than he probably needed to. He just loved looking at Zhan - top, bottom, whatever. He'd never get tired of seeing Zhan's desire.
But he had his own desire, and it drove him to slam their lips and bodies together, find that spot inside of Zhan that give him release in Yibo's arms, and then follow him over the brink.
"So, just special occasions?" Yibo asked when they were walking back down to the house. They were holding hands, his alpha mate had let him top him, and oh, yeah, did he mention they were mates? He was over the moon.
"Mmmn." Zhan said, but Yibo could see he was smiling.
"Not a switch couple, then?" Now Yibo was just teasing, but he thought Zhan was enjoying it.
"No." Zhan squeezed his hand, then stopped and pulled him into his embrace. "I really like fucking you far too much, Yibo."
Yibo shivered and swallowed hard. God, he was... strong. He wanted to curl up into his embrace, but he held out. "I really like fucking you, too, Wei Zhan."
Zhan growled, low in his throat, and Yibo trembled and exposed his throat to him. He couldn't help it.
Zhan nuzzled his nose against his pulse. "I do have to be the Yiling Patriarch - and an alpha - sometimes, Yibo. But I think you like that, too, yes?"
Yibo shivered again. "God, yes, Zhan. You know I do. I like all of you. I--" He leaned back to meet Zhan's gaze. "I love you, Zhan. Whether you are the Yiling Patriarch or not, alpha or not, wolf or vampire. I love you."
Zhan clutched him tight to his chest. "I hope you know I feel the same," he said. "I already did. And I was going to wait, but I'll just say it now. I don't always want to be the Yiling Patriarch. It will take some time, but, after your brother has recovered and things with the wolves are settled, I'd like to take you away from here."
Yibo didn't try to hide his surprise. "But what about all your responsibilities? All the clans?"
"I was thinking that between your brother and Jin Guangyao and Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang - they could probably handle it for a while. A few years, at least?"
"That's a long honeymoon," Yibo teased.
Zhan's smiled faded. "I do want you to marry me," he said. "Is... is it too soon to say that to you?"
Yibo shook his head. "Not if you mean it."
"Is that a 'yes'?"
"Yes, Wei Zhan, Patriarch of Yiling, alpha werewolf, master vampire, and my mate. I will marry you."
Zhan grinned and kissed him.
"I suppose I need to ask your brother," he said a few moments later.
Yibo laughed. "Why do you look more afraid to ask him than you did to ask me? We can tell him together if you're nervous."
"Thanks. I hope he'll understand."
"You're my mate. He'll understand that. Everything else is between us."
Zhan cut him a glance. "I don't deserve you. But I think I'm going to like this - doing things together with my Lan Yibo."
And that's exactly what they did... for a very long happily ever after....
**A/N: Oh, my, it's done! I thought it would be easy to write a short, top/dom Zhan... *whew* *wipes forehead* Not so much! I'm strictly doing top Yibo from now on! (though I do like them as a switch;). Thanks for reading!
**A/N 2: I might, eventually, do some bonus chapters for this story. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. Already received: Mpreg, confronting Xichen. **