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The morning starts like any other.

At the first sign of light creeping under the windows, Xie Lian stirs. Hundreds of years spent sleeping wherever he could, often out of doors, have left him waking with the sun. Naked, he lets himself luxuriate against the silken sheets covering the bed. As he moves, a hand that had been resting on his waist slides down to drape over his hip.

It’s… small.

The man sleeping next to him changes forms all the time, and his hands grow and shrink to accommodate his whims. They were never never quite this small, though, save for when he had been forced into the body of a child, a situation that has not repeated itself, despite how adorable it had been.

But these are not a child’s hands.

Xie Lian freezes.

As though awakened by the sudden absence of steady breathing, the too-small and actually too-soft hand gently caresses his hip, coming dangerously close to a region where strange hands should probably not go. Trying not to make a fuss, Xie Lian reaches under the sheets and wraps the hand in his. Despite how cold it is, it’s not the hand of any version of Hua Cheng that he has yet touched, and he’s memorized them all. He’s never held a hand remotely like this before, in fact.

Taking a deep breath to prepare himself for whoever is lying behind him, he turns.

It’s still Hua Cheng.

He could recognize Hua Cheng in any form, even at the darkened bottom of the sea. And this form of Hua Cheng looks very much like Hua Cheng. And yet remarkably not. The angle of his jaw has changed, his cheekbones are no longer sharp enough to cut glass, and overall he has softened.

“Good morning, Gege.” A voice an octave higher than normal leaves Hua Cheng’s plump lips.

Xie Lian sits up in bed, startled, and Hua Cheng sits up to follow him, sheets falling to reveal a pair of perfect, snowy white breasts.

Xie Lian falls off the bed and skids backwards across the floor.

Hua Cheng smiles at him as she reaches for her eyepatch from where it rests on the bedside table. Her breasts are unapologetically present, bouncing a little as she moves.

Suddenly aware of how naked he is, Xie Lian stands and crosses his hands in front of his most intimate area. Hua Cheng’s eyebrow rises halfway to her hairline, then she chuckles a little. “Too much, Gege?”

Her voice is deep for a woman, just as velvety as his male voice, and the mere sound of it has Xie Lian blushing to the tips of his ears.

“No no.” He reaches around, trying to find his robes where he discarded them distractedly the night before. “Everything is just fine, San Lang, er… San Niang.”

Hua Cheng throws back her head and laughs at something, but Xie Lian is uncertain as to what caught her amusement. There is something borderline vicious in her tone, maybe something that has been there all along, but as a woman it’s just… more. Xie Lian is unabashedly terrified, and he finally locates his robes, stumbling awkwardly into them while trying to keep himself covered.

“Can I make you some breakfast?” he asks the wall, because the wall does not have breasts.

“I’d love some,” Hua Cheng responds. Xie Lian can hear her climbing out of bed. He finds himself preparing to run for it, rather than be in the presence of a completely naked woman. But he steals a glance despite himself and finds that Hua Cheng has dressed herself in tight red robes that follow the curves of her body, slitting up to mid thigh. Still present are E-ming, her vambraces and butterfly necklace, as well as the chain covered boots, though they have grown substantial heels.

“Better, Gege?” she asks, chin in hand.

Xie Lian laughs rather helplessly. “It’s fine! Whatever San… Niang wants is just fine. This form I, uh, think it’s, uh…”

“Rumor has it that this is my most vicious form.” Hua Cheng stretches, making the curves of her body all the more visible. Xie Lian decides it is best to stare at his feet. “But sometimes I just can’t be comfortable any other way. But if it’s making Gege nervous…”

“I’m fine!” Xie Lian looks up and makes firm eye contact. “I want San Niang to be comfortable in whatever body she choses.”   

Hua Cheng smiles, and it looks so different and yet the same that Xie Lian’s heart flutters in happy confusion. Neither of them is naked now, so it’s looking far easier to deal with. In fact, to prove it to himself and his husband… or rather, wife, he crosses the room until they’re facing one another.

In this form and in heels, Hua Cheng and Xie Lian are exactly the same height. That’s still pretty tall for a woman, but Xie Lian has to forcibly counter his usual habit and stay off his tiptoes as he leans forward and lightly kisses Hua Cheng on the cheek. “Let’s have some breakfast.” He smiles.


No one in Paradise Manor bats an eye. Yin Yu lightly bows his head with a murmured, “My Lady,” then hurries on his way, not affected by Hua Cheng’s transformation in the slightest. As they walk, Xie Lian notices a slight change in Hua Cheng’s gait, a light swing of her hips. He fights off being flustered, chastising himself with the knowledge that he has interacted with hundreds of women in his eight hundred years of existence. None of them made him so unbalanced.

Of course, he didn’t see any of them naked either. But he hadn’t ever concerned himself with that. His cultivation method was never a trial. There were never any women who he had to fight to keep from glancing at a second time. He simply didn’t care.

But Hua Cheng turns into a woman and he’s suddenly fallen to pieces.

They make it to the kitchen and Xie Lian pulls out a chair for Hua Cheng. Hua Cheng laughs while she sits, propping her arms up on the back of the chair in the most unladylike manner. The position makes her breasts stick out even more than they were before, and Xie Lian busies himself with the stove so he doesn’t have to look.

He’s not aroused.

Or is he?

He knows he’s behaving as he behaved when his attraction to Hua Cheng in his masculine form first became apparent — mainly expressed through an overabundance of nerves. But Hua Cheng has been in this form for less than an hour. Xie Lian is certainly not the kind of person who—

“Gege what are you making? Can I help?” Hua Cheng asks.

Xie Lian spills the rice all over the stove.

Hua Cheng is immediately at his side, grabbing his hands to stop him from frantically scraping the ashy rice back into the bowl.

“It’s dirty, Gege. We have plenty of rice.”

“Yes but there’s no reason to waste,” Xie Lian reasons. “I’ll just wash it again.”

Making a noise like she wants to argue but won’t, Hua Cheng instead wraps her arms around his waist. “I will happily eat whatever Gege cooks for me.”

Xie Lian can feel her breasts press against his back, and he fumbles with the bowl until Hua Cheng catches it to keep it from falling on the floor.

“Actually, let’s ah… let’s go out to a food stall for breakfast.”

There’s no way he can cook in this condition.


The residents of Ghost City lose their collective minds when Hua Cheng steps out of the doors of Paradise Manor in heels.

“My Lady, you’re looking beautiful! Sharper than your sword!”

“My Lady, would you like to torture anyone today? We volunteer!” 

“Has someone betrayed the city? Are you going to obliterate them?”

Hua Cheng holds up her hand and they fall silent far faster than they do for any other form.

“Nothing is happening. Dianxia and I are getting breakfast, nothing more. Go about your business.”

And for once, they immediately listen. The Ghost City residents back away from the main thoroughfare and scatter into stalls and houses and anywhere they can find that is out of Hua Cheng’s way.

Tossing her hair, Hua Cheng turns to him and smiles, “Shall we, Gege?”

Xie Lian awkwardly offers her his arm. Usually this is the other way around. He’s relying on centuries old information from his early teens when he once escorted a visiting princess around the palace. He had been more interested in the swords her guards were wearing than her. But Hua Cheng is different, and as she slides her soft arm into the crook of his, Xie Lian simultaneously wants to touch the delicate skin inside her elbow and run away and hide in his temple.

He does neither.

The ghost who runs the stall they stop at is so flustered at the sight of Hua Cheng that she almost drops their food on the ground. Hua Cheng waves dismissively, and the ghost bursts into grateful tears.

“Thank you, My Lady!” she cries before blowing her nose in a towel that was most certainly assigned the purpose of drying clean dishes.

Normally breakfast is a chatty affair, where they exchange the latest gossip from the Heavens, the mortal, and the other ghost realms. Even without Black Water spying for him, Hua Cheng seems to know everything about everyone at all times, and he absolutely loves to share that information with Xie Lian. For his part, Xie Lian collects bits of poetry and stories and other sundry scraps of information, and Hua Cheng has always been an enthralled audience to whatever he has to say.

But not today. Today they quietly eat, then quietly sit, while the denizens of Ghost City try to spy on them.

Hua Cheng is as beautiful in this form as she is handsome in her true one. Xie Lian knows this because he keeps peeking at her over his food, then pretending he was looking at something else. He tries to remember the last time he thought a woman was beautiful. The last time he thought anyone was beautiful. He can’t. He doesn’t know what that means, and the fact that he doesn’t know is making his heart stutter unevenly.

“Gege,” Hua Cheng shifts into his true form in the middle of speaking, his voice sliding down the octave more smoothly than you would think possible. “This form is upsetting you.”

“No!” Xie Lian protests. And it’s not. Confusing? Certainly. Stressful? Somewhat. But upsetting? No. Absolutely not.

Hua Cheng gives him an incredulous look laced with some amusement. “Gege you broke both your chopsticks when I took a bite of this meat bun.”

So he had. But it’s not like that. Not what he thinks. Wait. What does he think?

“I’m not very ah… used to dealing with women.”

Raising his eyebrow, Hua Cheng takes another bite of his meat bun. “But Gege speaks to Ling Wen almost every day. He’s nothing but polite to the Rain Master. There are many female ghosts that Gege’s become acquainted with, and he’s friendly with them despite their oddities.”

Xie Lian fiddles with the broken stubs of his chopsticks. “San Niang is very um…”

“Vicious?” Hua Cheng says just as Xie Lian finishes.


Hua Cheng drops the meat bun. Despite the lack of blood, red gathers high on his cheeks. But Xie Lian doesn’t notice this because he is too busy staring at the chopstick stubs as he prepares to continue his weak personal defense.

And then stops, as Feng Xin’s angry voice blasts through his personal communication array.


He spends the rest of the day mediating a ridiculous argument between his two former retainers that, before his arrival, resulted in the destruction of Mu Qing’s palace and a great deal of the streets in the Heavens. No one seems to know how it started or even what it was really about, but it finally ends with the two of them exchanging idioms in front of the Palace of Ling Wen with more vitriol than the game has ever seen.

After sharing a meal with Quan Yizhen, who spends more time asking after Yin Yu than anything else, Xie Lian descends.

It’s late, and Hua Cheng has already holed down in Paradise Manor for the evening. Xie Lian finds him in their bedroom, reading some ancient and evil looking book. He’s dressed in nothing but a soft-looking under robe. He looks… very good.

“Welcome home.” He sets the book aside. “Trouble in paradise?”

Xie Lian laughs, then leans forward to kiss him. “The one constant in the Heavens is that those two will fight.”

Hua Cheng’s arms reach out and snake around Xie Lian’s waist, pulling him onto his lap. “Gege took so long. I was lonely.”

Squirming at the attention, Xie Lian wraps his arms around Hua Cheng’s neck to hold steady. “San Lang…”

“Those two aren’t worth Gege’s time.” Hua Cheng makes his way down Xie Lian’s neck, biting and sucking at the delicate skin. Xie Lian puts his hands on his chest and lightly pushes him away. In that moment he remembers the breasts that were present earlier that day and how he easily could be touching them. What would they feel like? What would Hua Cheng do? A rush of unexpected arousal overwhelms his body, and unbalanced from the push, he tumbles to the side, sprawled across their sheets.

Hua Cheng follows him down, pulling apart his robes to reach his collarbone, but Xie Lian is reeling from the undisputed fact that he has a sudden and raging erection because of breasts, Hua Cheng’s or otherwise.

“Wait-wait.” He firmly grabs Hua Cheng’s shoulders, effectively immobilizing him.

“Dianxia?” Hua Cheng looks down at him, starry eyed at the use of force. After a few seconds, he contains himself and asks, “What’s wrong?”

Xie Lian makes it a habit of always telling his husband the truth. It is part of the bond of perfect trust the two of them share, and he knows Hua Cheng is equally as honest with him. But this…

…this is so so embarrassing.


They sit on the bed in their underwear. Normally they don’t wear anything at all in bed, but Xie Lian is too embarrassed to be naked. He… can’t be naked for this conversation.

Hua Cheng hasn’t asked him what’s wrong. He hasn’t even touched him. They’re just sitting side by side, thighs lightly brushing each other. The coolness of Hua Cheng’s skin is grounding, and helps Xie Lian sort through the words he needs to make this convincing.

“San Niang has been on my mind,” he finally says.

Whatever Hua Cheng expected, it must not have been that, because he jumps a little, then puts his hand on Xie Lian’s knee to overcompensate.

“I happily ignored women for hundreds of years,” Xie Lian continues. “But she is you and I… am drawn to her because of, despite of… I have no idea. But just then I was… ah… when I was touching you… I was thinking about touching you in that form and it was…”

“So Gege wasn’t upset after all.” The voice is higher, body next to him slighter.

Beginning to get flustered, Xie Lian’s words come out in a rapid stream. “It’s just, it was my cultivation method, you know? And women were the source of temptation and then you were a woman and I’ve thought of women a certain way my entire life but of course I’d want you, you’re you but how was I supposed to think about you when you had… when you had…” 

The small hand on his knee squeezes. “I can change back if Gege wants.”

Xie Lian turns and looks at her. She’s wearing a light red shift that comes down to her calves and it’s gently hugging the curves of her body. She looks so soft. “No! That’s not what I want. I just…” He turns to face the room again and lifts his hands weakly. “You have breasts?”

He can feel Hua Cheng shaking with laughter next to him, and he turns to smile at her sheepishly, despite himself. When their eyes meet, there isn’t any question that this is Hua Cheng, the person that Xie Lian loves more than the rest of the world combined. He leans forward and, resting his hand gently on her shoulder, kisses her softly on the lips.

Her mouth is smaller than Hua Cheng’s masculine forms, but her lips are just as pliant. She seems surprised to be kissed at first, but in no time at all, the soft kiss turns into something far more intense. Xie Lian doesn’t know where to put his free hand, so it hovers awkwardly between them until Hua Cheng reaches out and takes it, weaving their fingers together.

“Gege can touch them if he likes,” Hua Cheng murmurs against his lips. “Whenever he likes. At his own pace.”

Xie Lian feels his ears heat up. “En.”

Whether accidentally or with his own subconscious intent, as they kiss, his hand on Hua Cheng’s shoulder slides down until it’s resting on her collarbone, hovering just above her chest. Hua Cheng doesn’t seem to mind. Her free hand is in his hair, nails gently scraping against his scalp the way she knows he loves. Hua Cheng knows everything about his body, what he likes most. But Xie Lian is utterly clueless when it comes to hers.

But he’s never going to know anything if he’s not willing to learn.

Pulling away a little, he breaks their kiss, then buries his head in Hua Cheng’s neck, where it’s not easy for them to make eye contact. Trembling, he slides his hand down her shift until he comes into contact with soft, pillowy flesh.

Dianxia,” Hua Cheng gasps breathlessly. 

Xie Lian has no point of comparison, but Hua Cheng’s breast spills out of his hand, too much for him to grab all at once. It’s so soft, like a cloud, and he is overcome with the urgent desire to bury his face in it.

“San Niang…” he says into her neck, then begins to kiss the soft skin. He doesn’t know what to do with his handful of breast, so he just gently squeezes until he can feel the stiffness of a nipple press against his palm. Arousal overcomes his embarrassment, and he pulls back until he can look Hua Cheng in the eye. 

Her eye is heavy-lidded, and she looks up at him through long, lush lashes. “Does Dianxia like it?” she asks.

Xie Lian is dizzy with the amount of blushing he’s doing, but he squeezes his hand tighter then kisses her in response. He’s unaware of the amount of force he’s using until Hua Cheng falls backwards onto the bed, Xie Lian on top of her. Their lips jar apart and Xie Lian’s hand slides off of her breast. He looks down, and she’s spread out beneath him, dark hair blossoming over the sheets, chest rising and falling. She has a little blissed out half-smile. Xie Lian has seen that same smile dozens of times.

Maybe he knows what he’s doing after all.

He trails kisses across her cheek until he reaches her earlobe and bites down, hard. Hua Cheng gasps, and her soft hands clutch at his arm. Once she has enough purchase, she flips them, straddling him, shift riding all the way up to her hips.

“Dianxia does like this.” She grinds down on him lazily, leaning forward, her hair a curtain around their faces.

Xie Lian reaches up, taking a handful of hair and pulling down until their faces are even again. He kisses her hard, sliding his other hand down to her waist. And there it rests, because he’s not sure what to do with it. Hua Cheng takes his face in her hands as she kisses him, pulling back with his bottom lip captured between her teeth. Just when she reaches the point where the pain outweighs the pleasure, she lets go.

He twitches, and she must notice, because her smile turns terrifyingly feral. “Dianxia can touch me any way he likes,” she murmurs into his ear, then leans back, reaching at the hem of her shift and pulling it up and over her body until she’s completely naked on top of him.

Somehow, he has never seen a fully naked woman before. Eight hundred years, and not once has he seen the… lower half of a woman. Now one is on top of him, the thin material of his underwear the only thing keeping them from skin to skin contact.

And his underwear is wet where her… where she’s touching him.

It’s not clear whether it’s out of terror or arousal, but he flips them again.

Dianxia,” Hua Cheng gasps. Her legs slip apart, and Xie Lian settles between them. She reaches for his face, pulling him in close for a wet, rough kiss and he feels the press of her breasts against his chest. He reaches out for them again, sloppily pressing them into his hands, while, somehow without his consent or knowledge, his hips slowly thrust against the wet center of her.

He really has no idea what he’s doing, but he kisses her the way he knows she likes, fiercely and with the edge of teeth. Her hands are in his hair, scraping his scalp and tugging, then Hua Cheng is pulling him down so she can speak in his ear.

“Dianxia can take me if he wants.”

Oh. Oh well. That’s… it isn’t that he doesn’t know the vagaries of sex between a man and a woman. His information may be very old and unused, but it’s unlikely anything has changed in human anatomy in the past 800 years. And it’s not like his ignorance on the subject makes him want the woman beneath him any less.

Letting go of her breasts, he reaches down and pulls off his underwear, throwing them to some unseen corner of the room. Then, slowly and without any sense of direction, he lowers himself down onto her again.

It’s incredible how wet she is. Wet and hot. And he’s not even inside. At least he doesn’t think he is. Maybe he slid inside by accident? No, he’s pretty certain he’d know.

Hua Cheng reaches out for him, pulling him down so they can kiss again. And as he thrusts against her with a combination of mindlessness and obsessive consideration that is dizzying, Hua Cheng crosses her legs behind his back, drawing him even closer.

“San Lang er… Niang,” he stammers against her lips, “I… does this feel good?”

“I’m so wet for you, Dianxia,” she murmurs back. And Xie Lian didn’t actually know that wet meant aroused, he thought it was just a woman’s constant state, but he does now and he twitches knowing that he managed to make her feel good.

He pulls back, and goes to thrust against her again, when he slips on the edge of something and suddenly he is engulfed in the tightest, wettest heat he can possibly imagine.

Oh,” he says.

And then he’s holding himself still, afraid to move because he has no idea what he’s doing. The angle is different, and the tightness and the texture and nearly everything is different and he had no idea it could be so different but apparently it is.

Hua Cheng reaches for him, brushing his hair away from his face. She’s gasping, breasts heaving with every breath. He wants to touch them again, but he’s busy holding himself still with his arms, so he leans down, softly kissing until he gets to a nipple. It’s much larger than Hua Cheng’s male form, but Xie Lian can still bite it, which he does. Hua Cheng sucks in a deep breath and then she tightens around him, and Xie Lian sees stars behind his eyes.

“San Niang… can I?” he asks vaguely, hoping she knows what he wants.

Chuckling a little, Hua Cheng brushes her hand through his hair. “I said Dianxia can take me if he wants.”

Permission granted, Xie Lian pulls back and thrusts.

He could say it feels like heaven, but he has been there many times. It is full of backstabbing, weak-willed gods, and it does not in any way compare to how good Hua Cheng feels.

Pulling back, he thrusts again, looking down at Hua Cheng to see how she’s reacting. He doesn’t know what part of her feels good. He doesn’t know what to focus on, so instead he focuses on what he does know, kissing and biting at her neck. She moans softly, and he takes it as encouragement to go faster.

She feels so good, so tight, and he wants to tell her, but he’s never been very good at bedroom talk. Anyway, it’s getting difficult to talk at all. As he thrusts, he feels himself tighten, and he should slow down, he really should slow down, but instead of slowing down he goes faster, and it’s too much because seconds later he can’t control himself, and he’s coming inside her with long spurts.

He tries to stay up, but he collapses on her, completely spent.

Hua Cheng has clearly not found her release, but she strokes his back as he lays on top of her. After a quick paranoid worry that ghosts can get pregnant, he gets up and kneels between her legs, frantic.

“San Niang you didn’t…”

“Gege it’s fine.”

“No it is not fine, you didn’t! What can I do?” Unabashedly, he spreads her legs apart, revealing the folds of her, and the creamy white of his spend dripping out of her. There is… a lot going on down there.

His confusion must show on his face, because Hua Cheng chuckles, closing her legs. “Gege, just relax. You can figure it out another time.”

“But this has never happened before!” Xie Lian puts his hands on her knees, though he’s not about to wrench her legs open. “San Niang are you certain? Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

“Come lie with me, Gege.” Hua Cheng pats the bed next to her. She looks certain, and pleased in her own way. And Xie Lian is still dizzy from coming, so it doesn’t take much for him to collapse on the bed next to her.

She takes off her eyepatch and sits it on the pillow above her. Xie Lian reaches out and gently touches her face. She leans into his touch, blissful half smile on her lips.

“You’re sure you don’t mind, San Niang?” He strokes the contours of her cheekbone.

“Gege was looking overwhelmed,” Hua Cheng leans into his touch, amused.

Xie Lian drops his hand, “I could still try!” 

Hua Cheng picks his hand back up and kisses his palm. “You will try. Just not tonight.”

With no other options, Xie Lian wraps her in his arms and holds her close. It’s different, being the bigger one, but he’s so tired from coming that he doesn’t get to appreciate the experience for very long, until he’s fallen into a deep sleep.


When he wakes up, Hua Cheng is gone. There’s an nearly unreadable note on the bedside table letting him know that Hua Cheng has gone to meet with He Xuan and will be back late tonight. That means that Xie Lian will have the day to himself.

He lies spread-eagle on the bed, recalling the events of the night before. The bliss of the actual event is clouded by the fact that Hua Cheng did not see her completion. That she didn’t even let Xie Lian try. There are many reasons this could possibly be, but the one that looms largest in Xie Lian’s mind is that Hua Cheng didn’t think he could do it

Regrettably, this is almost certainly true. Xie Lian knows nothing of female anatomy, or of pleasuring said anatomy. It was not part of his cultivation training, not part of his training as a crown prince. Even the bawdy songs he’s heard throughout the years said very little on how to bring a woman to her completion. Xie Lian, to his shame, has no idea what part of Hua Cheng even feels good.

It’s no surprise that Hua Cheng wouldn’t want him trying. He’d be bound to fail, making everything extremely awkward. Worse, he might — he might hurt her. Women are more… sensitive, or so the whispers he’d been unable to avoid these many centuries claim. Even if Hua Cheng is satisfied with Xie Lian just taking initiative with her female form, Xie Lian isn’t. He can’t be.

If he can’t try, he can’t get any better. He needs to practice somehow, but he’s not about to practice on another woman. Which limits his options significantly.

Although, actually…

He dresses in a flurry, heads down to Ghost City to run a brief errand, then makes his way through Paradise Manor to one of the small rooms set aside for his distance shortening arrays. He’s no good at drawing them and his luck is still miserable, even with Jun Wu defeated, so he can’t use the dice that Hua Cheng and Yin Yu use. Ever thoughtful, Hua Cheng had instead had He Xuan install a set of distance shortening arrays for places that Xie Lian tended to go.

Opening the door to the Royal Capital array, he steps inside and then finds himself in a dilapidated shack. The only illumination is the sunlight streaming through the cracks in the walls. Stumbling over the trash that’s somehow ended up on the floor, Xie Lian makes his way to the entrance. He opens a creaky door onto an alley with more than a few beggars lying about, all taking a break from plying their trade. None of them pay him any mind.

“I brought dumplings, if anyone wants any?” he offers. 

The change in attention is significant.

“Did you cook them yourself?” a cheeky voice calls out from down the alley.

“No.” Xie Lian laughs off the insult at his culinary skills,“These are from your favorite stall in Ghost City.”

The beggars nearest to Xie Lian jump to their feet. “Ol’ Feng’s friend is here! And he brought food!”

About a dozen men swarm Xie Lian, the last making his way down the alley slowly.

“Now, now, leave some for me.”

Shi Qingxuan looks every part the beggar he is. Despite the attention of a doctor that Xie Lian once brought along, his arm and leg are still lame and unusable. He doesn’t often bathe, and his once-perfectly tended hair is snarled with knots.

But as he takes one of the dumplings from Xie Lian, the smile on his face is as pure and as happy as is possible to get. He’s content with his life in the capital. Much more content than even Xie Lian was when he was picking up scraps for a living.

“What brings you here, Dianxia?” he asks between bites.

“Ah, haha, I um, had something I wanted to ask you about,” Xie Lian says, mindful of the dozen other men surrounding them.

“Oh? Something… private?” Shi Qingxuan raises his eyebrow. 

Xie Lian clears his throat. “Um, yes, actually.”

“Well, let me just finish up here and we can take a walk along the beach. Hopefully you can keep up with me.”

By finish up here, Shi Qingxuan means eating as many dumplings as humanly possible. And Xie Lian brought a lot. Finally, there are no more left, and the beggars in the alley slap Xie Lian on the back and then return to their previous seated positions.

“Let’s go,” Shi Qingxuan weaves his good arm through Xie Lian’s and they slowly make their way out of the alley and towards the beach. Until they’re safely away from the noise of the capital, Shi Qingxuan babbles about local gossip, which he knows an astounding amount of, ranging from squabbles among the beggars to the newest lovers of the royals in the capital. Xie Lian listens, and laughs where he should and gasps where he should, but the nature of his upcoming conversation weighs heavy on his heart and to his great discredit, he does not pay Shi Qingxuan the attention he deserves.

When they finally reach the shoreline, Shi Qingxuan frees his arm, and tries his best to cross them, looking at Xie Lian expectantly.

“Now, whatever this is, it best be important because you weren’t paying attention to a single thing that I said!”

Xie Lian begins to apologize, but Shi Qingxuan holds up his arm to stop him, smiling sweetly. “None of that, Dianxia. Just tell me what’s on your mind.”

Looking at the rocks, Xie Lian swallows. “Well, um… yesterday morning, I woke up, and San Lang was in a new form.”

Shi Qingxuan beams. “Oh ho! Tell me about it! Was he handsome?”

“She,” Xie Lian coughs out.

Eyes huge, Shi Qingxuan whispers delightedly, “I can’t believe it. You finally saw her.”


“‘A gorgeous female ghost with a poisonous heart,’ they used to say in the Heavens,” Shi Qingxuan recites. “Is she as beautiful as they say? Who was prettier, her or me? No, don’t answer that, I know what you’ll say.”

“San Niang is incredibly beautiful,” Xie Lian says anyway.

“See? I told you not to answer. So you have a beautiful wife now. Why do you need me?”

There is a heavy silence as Xie Lian tries to figure out what to say.

It speaks for him.

“You’ve got to be joking, Dianxia. You’re asking me about that?”

Xie Lian nods, feeling red gather in the tips of his ears.

The look Shi Qingxuan gives him is complex. Part shock, part amusement, part pure and utter delight.

Xie Lian was once a crown prince, now he is a god, albeit one who needs a little help here and there. There is no question that he at one point had some dignity.

But it is gone.

“I don’t understand women,” he says, as though that is the problem.

Shi Qingxuan dissolves into laughter, staggering forward on the beach, reaching out with his good arm for something to hold himself up with. There is nothing except Xie Lian, who does not feel like helping.

He helps anyway.

“You don’t understand women, or you don’t understand women?” Shi Qingxuan asks in between his hiccups of laughter.

“Both, but um, probably the second is more relevant… at this um… time.”

Shi Qingxuan bursts into laughter again. Xie Lian feels his entire face heat up. There is no distance shortening array nearby, so he can make no escape, unless he goes to the Heavens. No doubt new humiliations wait for him there, so he stays in the mortal realm while Shi Qingxuan laughs at him.

“So you… know what goes where, right?” Shi Qingxuan asks as he gasps for breath.

“Of course, I learned that when I was thirteen!” Xie Lian weakly protests.

“Then why are you here?”

Xie Lian has faced down the Heavenly Emperor and won. He has watched the love of his life disappear into nothingness and found the strength to go on. This situation does not hold a candle to those.

It’s time to face it head-on.

“I uh… well… the thing is… I just don’t… know what…” He can’t bring himself to finish his sentence. 

“What was that? I didn’t hear you, Dianxia.”

“Feels good!” he blurts out, body tense and prepared to run.

“I don’t know what feels good. For her.”

“Well I know all about that, you should just ask—” Shi Qingxuan makes a strange face as he cuts himself off. He bites his lip, then takes a deep breath. “I’d be happy… to explain…” he trails off.

“Actually,” Xie Lian picks up the conversation, not sure how to handle the sudden change in tone, “I was hoping you could just tell me the spell for becoming a woman myself. And I could um… figure it out.”

“I would not put you in a woman’s body without some instructions!” Shi Qingxuan laughs, although it’s weaker than it was before, trying to cover up the sudden sorrow with forced cheer. “Trust me, it’s more complicated than what you’re used to.”

“But you’ll help me?” Xie Lian asks.

Shi Qingxuan lowers himself to the rocky beach. His moment of distemper washes away as he relaxes. Xie Lian takes a moment to think that Shi Qingxuan really is a good person. “Then take a seat, my friend, and allow me to share with you the mysteries of the female body.”

Xie Lian sits.


Forty-five minutes later, Xie Lian is overwhelmed with information he only barely understands.

“And if you really stick to it, you can make her come a second, or even a third time!” Shi Qingxuan is in his element.

“I think I’d just be happy with once,” Xie Lian says weakly.

“Yes, yes, you’re a beginner. That’s only fair. But! You wanted the spell for changing into a woman, let’s see.” Shi Qingxuan shakes out his sleeves and takes a deep breath.

Then nothing. He just sits there for a long moment. Then he puts his head in his hand, and exhales heavily.

“Is everything alright?” Xie Lian asks after giving him some time to pull himself together.

“I don’t… I don’t remember it,” Shi Qingxuan mutters.

“I know some memory games, perhaps we could—”

“No!” He flings his arm away from his face and falls back, tangled hair spreading across the sand. “When I did the spell before I always just… I thought of pretty things, of girly things, and then the words of the spell just came to me, and I was a woman. But I can’t do that now.”

He takes a deep breath and when he speaks his voice is as sorrowful as Xie Lian has ever heard.

“I’ll never be a woman again.”

Xie Lian does not know what to say that can bring any comfort. He too lost his spiritual powers, his identity, his respectability, but nothing that can come close to this. He doesn’t even understand what it’s like to feel at home in another gender, and then to suffer that loss.

Wordlessly, he reaches out and takes Shi Qingxuan by the shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he tells him.

Shi Qingxuan deflects with a laugh and waves his hand away, “It’s nothing. Just a moment’s nonsense.” He clears his throat and sits up straight, “But if you want a woman’s body, I think you’re going to have to ask Ling Wen.”


Xie Lian spends a great deal of his time in the Heavens, helping to mediate squabbles and other minor elements of governance that have somehow fallen on his shoulders despite him never asking for them. He has friends there, like Mu Qing, Feng Xin, and Quan Yizhen. But even if Hua Cheng weren’t in the picture, he probably would have never come back there to live, instead spending his days like the Rain Master on some quiet patch of land.

But Hua Cheng does exist, and she is the reason for this foray into the Heavens in the first place. The reason Xie Lian is standing awkwardly in front of the Palace of Ling Wen. He’s just worked up his confidence to go inside, when someone he would rather not see at that current moment arrives.

“Dianxia,” Quan Yizhen’s statement is less of a greeting and more of a portent of things to come. “Dianxia, when is Shixiong done with his mission?”

For the past few days, Yin Yu has been overseeing the expansion and reorganization of the library in Paradise Manor. Hardly a mission, but not exactly Quan Yizhen friendly either.

“Ah, I think he should be done er… um… back, by the end of the week.”

Quan Yizhen’s brow furrows. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t let me come along. I’m good at fighting demons.” Xie Lian doesn’t need to speak before Quan Yizhen asks, “Why are you here?”

Xie Lian scrambles for the most boring excuse possible. “I have some uh… paperwork that I need to pass on to Ling Wen.”

“Oh.” Quan Yizhen makes a face and his shoulders drop. “Tell Shixiong to hurry up, if you see him.” Then he takes his leave.

“I will!” Xie Lian calls out to his retreating back, then turns back to the palace entrance. If he continues to stand out here, he’s going to run into someone slightly more insightful (and suspicious), like Mu Qing, so he takes a deep breath and then rushes in.

Ling Wen is nowhere to be found. Instead are piles and piles of scrolls, more than Xie Lian thinks he could make his way through in his eight hundred years. They’re piled on tables and on the floor, on shelves that go up much higher than any ladder could safely reach. Most gods’ palaces are sumptuous affairs, with a throne and a main hall, places to live luxuriously. The Palace of Ling Wen is like a library that Qi Rong and Quan Yizhen tried to organize.

Every now and again, mousey minor heavenly officials scurry by, picking up or dropping off scrolls. They seem so certain of where they’re going that there has to be some kind of sense to the madness, but Xie Lian can’t find it. It makes him eternally grateful that Ling Wen turned herself in and, more or less willingly, took the mantle of managing the Heavens up again.

He approaches the back of the building, and as he goes the piles of scrolls get more and more unorganized and the lighting more dim. But this is where all the heavenly officials seem to be going, so he suspects that he’s going to the right place.

Eventually he finds Ling Wen. Or rather, he nearly misses her, as she’s seated at a table piled with so many scrolls only the top of her hair is visible. But in passing he hears her, quietly muttering to herself and that gives her away. He doesn’t have to do anything, though, because she noticed him first.

“Taizi Dianxia.” She stands. She has ink on her fingers and some on her chin and he wants to point it out, but he’s afraid of being rude.

“Ling Wen! So nice to, uh, see you!”

“How can I help you?” she asks, extremely politely.

Xie Lian had planned out this conversation on his way up to the Heavens from the Royal Capital. He was going to be direct, unembarrassed, and calm.

“Ah well I… you see I was just in the neighborhood and…”

“You wanted to visit?” one of Ling Wen’s eyebrows arches. “I’m honored by Dianxia’s company but I saw him just yesterday.”

“No, I just… well… there’s…”

Ling Wen looks at him, and maybe she doesn’t mean it to be so severe but she manages to be extremely severe anyway.

Xie Lian takes a deep breath. “There’s a spell I need.”

Ling Wen’s severity becomes tinged with annoyance. “Oh, just talk to one of my officials. They can find it for you. I’m afraid I’m terribly busy.”

“No, it’s a spell that I think not that many people know.”

Her eyebrow arches even higher. “Oh?”

Clenching and unclenching his fists, Xie Lian tells her, “I would very much appreciate it if you would show me how to turn into a woman.”

Ling Wen is silent.

“Please,” Xie Lian adds.

Ling Wen stays silent.

“Of course if you’d rather not…” Xie Lian begins to babble.

“It requires a significant amount of spiritual power,” Ling Wen finally says.

“That’s not a problem. San Lang… I mean… it’s fine,” Xie Lian finishes lamely.

Ling Wen’s eyebrow has risen so high it’s hidden in her hair. “Let me just write it down for you then, Dianxia.”

The several moments that Xie Lian spends waiting for her to write down the spell are some of the longest of his life. But it only gets worse.

“You should try it here, before you leave,” She hands him the paper. “It would be unfortunate if it didn’t work when you needed it.”

What does she think he needs it for?

But she’s right, he doesn’t want to make this trip to the Heavens a second time. And Hua Cheng is out of Ghost City until late tonight. This is his only chance. He looks at the paper. The characters make no sense together. It’s essentially gibberish.

“You needn’t read them out loud. Just reciting them in your head is enough. Also you should think of… whatever you consider ‘womanly things’ as you do. To undo the spell, just do the reverse.”

Xie Lian recites the nonsense in his mind, and he can think of nothing but Hua Cheng in her female form. If that’s not womanly enough, he has no idea what is.

It works.


Somehow Xie Lian makes his way undetected out of the Heavens and back to Paradise Manor, recognized in his female form only by Yin Yu. To his everlasting credit, he simply bows, says, “Good evening, Dianxia,” and goes about his business.

Xie Lian feels a little better about lying to Quan Yizhen.

He realizes when he finally reaches their room, that it probably would have been better for him to… explore this body in the bedroom in Quiandeng Temple. But doing so would risk him running into worshippers. He has been a woman for an hour, he doesn’t know if he wants to be worshipped as one yet, so better not to expose himself like this. And really, Hua Cheng would come looking for him there anyway, if he wasn’t in Paradise Manor. It’s all a matter of using the time he has before Hua Cheng returns as efficiently as possible

When he makes it into the room, he immediately catches his reflection in a round polished mirror that’s hanging on the wall. The first thing he notices is that he is much shorter than he is as a man. He’s maybe close to a head shorter. Definitely shorter than Hua Cheng’s female form. The next thing he notices is how… soft his face is. The angle of his jaw has evened out, his cheekbones are smoother, he looks altogether rounder. He’s never been one to deny that he was born with good looks, as useless as they were for most of his existence, but it’s hard to say if he’s an attractive woman because he’s unused to deciding if women are attractive. 

Finally free to explore himself, he looks down. And it’s not that he’s disappointed, necessarily. But he wonders why exactly they’re so… small. Barely curving out from his robes, his breasts are minuscule compared to Hua Cheng’s. He reaches up and gingerly touches them. They even feel differently, less pillowy and more solid. But his nipples are sensitive, maybe more than his regular nipples, and just grazing them through the fabric reminds him of the reason he’s here.

No one will come in this room if he doesn’t invite them, but he puts a spell on the door anyway. Of course, that won’t stop Hua Cheng, but it’s still early evening and he said he was coming home late. Methodically, Xie Lian takes off his robes, miscalculating how far he has to reach because of his shorter arms and smaller body. Finally, he’s just in his under robe, but he can’t bear to take the whole thing off just yet, so instead he lies down on the bed, and unties it.

Now his front is exposed.

Here he is, a nearly naked woman. He definitely doesn’t feel like a woman, not like Shi Qingxuan and Hua Cheng seem to. But all the same he has all of the requisite body parts, and it’s time for him to see how they work.

Lightly, he touches his small breasts again. It feels nice, but not nice enough for him to feel any stirrings anywhere else in his body. Clearly that’s not the answer. He slides his hands down his taut stomach, reaching a patch of curls between his legs.

He has no idea what direction to go. Well, that’s not entirely correct, the answer provided by Shi Qingxuan had been “down,” but just how far down? Uncertain what to do, he rubs circles on his lower stomach, procrastinating the inevitable.

Entirely accidentally, that starts to feel good.

Still not sure what to do, he keeps it up and lets his mind wander. He thinks about Hua Cheng, in all forms, switching from one to another without rhyme or reason. He thinks about kissing all of them. He thinks about Hua Cheng kissing his neck, or running fingernails across his scalp. He thinks about them moving together, coming together, bodies slick with sweat.

And he feels it. A buzzing right underneath his hand, spreading out between his legs. Recklessly, he slides his hand between them, only to feel sticky wetness cling to his fingers.  There’s still a lot going on down there, but in between the folds he feels a hard nub, and when his fingers brush it, jarring sensation explodes through his body.

Thanks to Shi Qinqxuan has a vague idea what this is, what it’s called, and now it’s clear it was most certainly what he was missing when he was touching Hua Cheng before.

Rubbing it the speed he would touch himself normally doesn’t work. It’s too sensitive. So he does it gently, in awkward little circles. It feels so good he can feel the sensation run down the back of his legs and to his feet. He doesn’t know what to do with the rest of him. Should he… stick fingers inside? That would be awkward and seems unnecessary when this feels so, so good. A thought strikes him — that he was most certainly unnecessary when he was inside of Hua Cheng last night — but he feels too good and ignores it.

Slowly, steadily, his speed and pressure increase. If he had the space in his head to think about it, he’d be aware that he’s being much rougher than he was at the beginning, but all he can think about is the warm coiled desire he’s chasing after.

His thigh muscles are clenching, all of him is slowly getting tight, and this is so very different from an orgasm as a man he doesn’t know what to expect. He just doesn’t stop. But it feels like he’s close. So, so close.

That’s when Hua Cheng slams the door open.

She’s a woman still. And her velvety voice is in the middle of saying, “Gege, what’s the matter? You didn’t answer when I—”

And then she sees him, spread out on the bed, unde robe open, hand moving frantically between his legs.

Jiejie,” she exhales, and the sound is like an avalanche. Her pupils are huge.

And as close as Xie Lian was to the edge, sudden terror at being discovered yanks him away. He rips his hand from between his legs and pulls his under robe closed. For her part, Hua Cheng just stares at him, a predatory look in her eyes.

“San Niang, you’re back,” Xie Lian says weakly, ready to melt into the bed. Or maybe teach himself how to make distance shortening arrays just so he can disappear. He’s panicking so much he can’t remember the spell to turn back into a man. It’s written down somewhere in his clothes, but they are on the floor and Hua Cheng is… Hua Cheng is…

“Black Water took less time to convince than I thought,” Hua Cheng says, sounding incredibly distracted. She hasn’t so much as glanced away from Xie Lian, and her lips are very red against the white teeth revealed by her smile. “But Jiejie, forgive me, I’ve interrupted you. Jiejie can continue, if you want.”

“Ah it’s nothing.” Xie Lian waves his sticky fingers then regrets it. “I was just, um… ah… trying something.”

Hua Cheng smile turns wicked. “What kind of something was Jiejie trying?”

Sitting up on the bed makes him feel a little dizzy, but he wants to normalize the situation as much as possible.

Which arguably is not much.

“I wanted to, um… well… I was hoping that if I… you see, San Niang never found her completion last night and… ah…”

Hua Cheng takes pity on him. “Jiejie wanted to see how things worked.”

As a woman, Xie Lian blushes just as much. “Yes I… wanted to,” he swallows, “make San Niang feel good.”

The smile that crosses Hua Cheng’s features is diabolical. She takes a step toward the bed and then another and then another, the chains on her boots jingling. Xie Lian feels like a cornered animal.

“Seeing Jiejie like this makes me feel good,” she says lowly.   

It throbs between Xie Lian’s legs.

And then she’s there, looking down on him for a moment that feels like forever. Then she sits down on the edge of the bed, brushing a stray hair out of his eyes. “I know this form doesn’t have the same meaning for Jiejie as it does for me. But he is beautiful like this.” 

Xie Lian feels his ears burn. Hua Cheng strokes his face, down his neck, then plays with the neckline of his under robe. The good gooey feeling is immediately back, buzzing the lower half of his body. Hua Cheng smiles at him, then leans forward to capture his lips in a kiss.

The kiss is long and leisurely, smooth and slick, like Hua Cheng is making her best effort to drive all of the bashful worries out of Xie Lian’s head. And she very nearly does, holding his chin still as her lips and tongue plunder his mouth. Finally, she pulls away, then leans forward to murmur in Xie Lian’s ear.

“Will Dianxia let me touch him like this? He’s so pretty…”

“Y-yes,” Xie Lian exhales. He’s never been called pretty before. It flusters him even more than he already was.

Hua Cheng pulls back and smiles at him, stroking his hair again, then she dives forward and wrecks havoc on his neck, sucking at the juncture between his collarbone and neck. This is nothing new, but Hua Cheng is being particularly relentless, no doubt scattering marks that will be impossible to hide tomorrow. She works her way down the line of his sternum, tugging open the under robe and exposing everything he was trying to hide. Her kisses slow as she approaches his nipples. She looks at them hungrily, and Xie Lian closes his eyes and trembles beneath her.

“Dianxia is so cute here,” she says before taking a nipple in her mouth and sucking.

Xie Lian’s back arches off the bed and he cries out. Hua Cheng shows him no mercy, pinching his other nipple between her fingers. It’s so much more than he’s ever felt before, and something hot and wet pulses in between his legs. He clenches his fingers in the sheets and tries to keep quiet, but he can’t control the soft whimpers that keep escaping. Hua Cheng lets him go, kissing gently all around his breast just to switch from sucking to teeth. She bites down and pulls back, stretching him out. It hurts as much as it feels good and the combination of sensation is enough to make him lose his mind.

Desperation works up the courage for him to look at her, and she smirks around his nipple, then lets go.

“Dianxia is very sensitive.” She softly kisses the underside of his small breasts, then yanks open his under robe even further to kiss down his stomach. He’s ticklish here, and she knows it, but she kisses him in all of the most sensitive spots while he squirms and cries out on the bed, her forearm pressing his hips down into the mattress.

She finally moves herself from the side of the bed, and settles herself between his legs. He’s completely bare before her, and tries to press his legs together so she can’t see. But she catches him behind his knees and spreads his legs apart. She holds him like that, staring down at him voraciously, like something she’s about to devour. He feels taken apart, and she hasn’t even touched him yet.

If San Niang is Hua Cheng’s most vicious form, this may be why.

She extends a single finger and she swipes it down the center of him. Xie Lian shudders at the sudden sensation, but she smiles at him.

“Dianxia is so wet.”

Taking the finger she just touched him with, she puts it in her mouth and sucks on it.

Xie Lian’s heart stops, just in time for her to lean forward and run her tongue up the entirety of him.

Nothing in eight hundred years of life experience could have prepared him for this. All of the delicate pressure issues that arose with touching himself with his fingers are completely obliterated when Hua Cheng’s tongue is involved. His head slams backwards into the bed, and he fists the sheets even more tightly, trying to anchor himself to something. But Hua Cheng goes again, and again, lapping at him with desperate fervor, and there is nothing sturdy enough to keep him together. On top of the incessant pleasure, he begins to feel a hollow feeling inside of him, as though he is begging to be filled. He loses all sense of propriety, crossing his legs behind her, trying to pull her closer, so she can devour him fully. Already so worked up from touching himself before she arrived, he can feel himself hurtling towards the cliff’s edge with every lap of her tongue.

Then she stops lapping, and starts to suck.

The noise he makes as he comes is inhuman, high pitched and wailing as that coiled tension snaps free and makes him arch with brutal pleasure. He crushes her head between his thighs, but she doesn’t stop, just keeps on going even though it feels so much that his hips are wriggling trying to get away. She holds him down and ravages him with her mouth, and in very little time, he’s coming again. 

“San Niang, San Niang, San Niang,” he chants, desperate for her to both let him go, and never ever stop. After the wave of sensation that almost makes him feel like he might come again, Hua Cheng seems to decide to be merciful, pulling away. Xie Lian doesn’t know whether to thank her or curse her he collapses, legs falling open and body still pulsing with that terrible, delicious, oversensitive desire, just to reveal her staring up at him, eye huge and black.

He looks at her weakly, just in time to see her ready two fingers with a grin. He doesn’t know what she’s going to do with them, but it’s probably going to destroy him. Then her tongue is back at work. His back arches from the oversensitivity and he tries to get away. It’s almost overstimulating enough that he doesn’t notice her pushing her fingers inside of him, where he hasn’t even ventured to explore, but not quite. He feels filled. Once she’s pressed them all the way in, she curves her fingers upwards, rubbing against something deep inside of him that he can feel in his toes. Stars explode behind his eyelids and he’s babbling nonsense begging for her to stop, to keep going, to do both at the same time. All while she hasn’t stopped devouring him with her mouth. As she works him over, his nonsense turns into gibberish, and if it weren’t for Hua Cheng holding down his hips with her free hand he’d be bucking uncontrollably.

The orgasm, when it comes, hits him from an entirely different place than the first two, deep inside him. He clenches down on her fingers, and his back arches into the air, despite her using her full strength to hold him down. An enormous wave of pleasure washes over him and the sound he makes is closer to a scream than anything. After the initial crash, he lets go of the sheets and collapses in an exhausted heap on the bed. He has no energy to hold on to anything, or even to lift up his head. All he hears is Hua Cheng softly chuckling to herself while she strokes his hip and gently pulls her fingers from inside him.

“Does Jiejie understand how it works now?” She kisses his hip.

Xie Lian stares dazedly at the bed’s canopy. “I think so,” he rasps.

When Hua Cheng climbs up the bed and lays down next to him, she’s phased out of her clothing and is completely naked, pressing the softness of her body against him. She takes his hand, stroking her thumb over the pad between his fingers. They lay there for awhile, the entire lower half of Xie Lian’s body pulsating.


“San Niang didn’t again,” Xie Lian slowly turns his head. Pleasure is still coursing through his limbs but it’s finally ebbing, leaving a warm feeling in its wake.

Despite being a ghost, Hua Cheng is flushed from what she’s just done and her hair is in disarray. But she responds as expected, much to Xie Lian’s dismay.

“Believe me, Jiejie I am happy to wait.”

Shaking his head insistently, Xie Lian dizzily props himself up on his elbow. “No. I’m not. Let me…”

This time, Hua Cheng grins at him, her eyepatch adorably cockeyed. She looks down the entire length of his body and back again, and then, as though she’s satisfied with something, she nods.

“If Jiejie insists.”

Xie Lian immediately kisses her. It tastes strange. He assumes he must be tasting himself. The kiss is sloppy, because he can barely hold himself together, but Hua Cheng kisses him back with complete abandon, tongues tangling together as they roll together on the bed. While they kiss, Xie Lian tentatively slides his hands down Hua Cheng’s body, running over her curves, until he reaches her hips.

“I don’t… I’m not sure how to use my mouth.” He blushes furiously, fingers lightly stroking, “But I think I can…”

“Didn’t I say, Jiejie can touch me however he wants?” Hua Cheng strokes his face, kissing him in between each word.

Taking a deep breath, Xie Lian slides his fingers through Hua Cheng’s curls, then reaches the center of her. She’s completely drenched, and his finger slides over her folds easily, searching up and up. He hears her groaned reaction at the same time he touches it. It’s really hard, harder than his ever was. He doesn’t know what that means, but he’s not about to give up so he runs his finger over it again and again. Boldly, he looks at her face, trying to see if he is doing the right thing.

And unfortunately, Hua Cheng is wincing, despite very clearly trying to hide it.

“Ah sorry San Niang!” Xie Lian freezes, afraid to touch her any further but committed to not stopping. “Maybe if you could um… tell me what you like?”

Hua Cheng pulls her head back and gives him a thoughtful look. “Softer, touch me softer.”

And Xie Lian does. Slow gentle circles, drenched in her wetness.

“Mmmmmm,” Hua Cheng’s head lolls against his shoulder, and he kisses her temple. “Yes, just like that Dianxia.”

“Do you want me to—” he isn’t even certain what he’s offering

“I like what you’re doing right now, Jiejie,” Hua Cheng turns and kisses him lazily. “Keep doing it, just a little faster.”

And just like when he was touching himself, Xie Lian slowly increases the speed and the pressure. Hua Cheng keeps kissing him, then pulls back and just watches his face while he concentrates. He’s completely forgotten to touch her anywhere else, and her beautiful breasts go unmolested, but he bites his lip as he watches her watching him. He’s seen this look in Hua Cheng’s eyes as he used his mouth or hand on him, but she’s never made this expression before, hazy-eyed and desperate. Her hips are rolling against his fingers, and she’s clutching at him like he’s the only solid ground she can find. 

“JiejieohJiejieohDianxia,” she murmurs deliriously. With his free hand, Xie Lian cups her face and touches her gently. She leans into his hand, and her eye closes and her eyebrows knit. The noises coming out of her stop making any sense and he can feel her slowly stiffening beneath him as he plays with her, no longer gentle.

He could do this forever, he thinks with a little embarrassment. He could watch Hua Cheng take her pleasure from his hand, watch her beautiful body writhe on the bed as the waves of pleasure which he just experienced crest across her skin.

The noises she’s making start to sound aching and desperate, crying without words for more, so he takes a risk and goes just a hair faster.

That’s what does it.

Her legs clamp down around his hand and her torso arches up in a beautiful arc and she cries out, “Dianxia,” loud enough for all of Paradise Manor to hear. He doesn’t know what to do so he keeps touching her, but she jerks against him and reaches down and to pull his hand up to her chest, panting, “Too much Jiejie too much.” Then she collapses against him, breath still coming fast, face awash with pleasure.

He strokes her hair while she trembles through the aftershocks.

Then, curious, Xie Lian lifts his freed hand to his mouth and sucks on his fingers. It tastes strange, sort of sour and not at all bad. Hua Cheng watches him do it, mouth dropped open in shock, a look Xie Lian rarely if ever sees.

“Jiejie you’ll be the death of me,” she groans, forgetting that he already was, multiple times.

Taking his fingers out of his mouth, Xie Lian leans over and kisses her forehead.

“I can’t believe Jiejie did this for me,” Hua Cheng takes his hand, dark eye glimmering with awe. “Asking alone must have been extremely embarrassing for him.”

There’s a pause.

Xie Lian makes honest, earnest eye contact. “I am happy to do anything for San Niang, but Shi Qingxuan did give me a lecture on the female body that lasted nearly an hour.”

“So he is the one who told Jiejie what to do?” Hua Cheng laughs uproariously, taking a small bit of Xie Lian’s hair and beginning to braid it.

“No,” Xie Lian turns his entire body and tangles them together. “That was Ling Wen.”

Hua Cheng can’t contain her delight, eyes squinting a little with the force of her laughter. She’s so beautiful that Xie Lian’s heart hurts. “Jiejie must truly love me to ask Ling Wen for a gender switching spell.”

Raising his hand, Xie Lian touches her cheek softly, making gentle eye contact.

“I do San Niang. I really do.”