Darkness was a cloak, and Jiang Cheng desperately needed to hide.
The wooden floor was cold against his knees as he kneeled in the center of his room, shivering. His head slumped down, and he worried his tongue over his lips—raw from where he’d bitten them earlier.
Yet again, the night had come to this:
Jiang Cheng on the floor, kneeling, Zidian wrapped around his wrists. Alone.
He was hard, leaking through the layers of his robes.
When he’d done this for the first time, it had been during those long months when Wei Wuxian was missing, and his world had suddenly turned itself inside out.
He had been angry. So angry.
Every second had felt like he was a ship caught in a tempest, thrown from side to side carelessly with nothing to ground him.
He didn’t know, then, that it could become so much worse.
That first time, perhaps, he might have been trying to punish himself. Wei Wuxian was missing—right after Jiang Cheng had sacrificed himself to save him.
Jiang Cheng, as always, could never do anything right.
After waking up from a nightmare one fateful night, Jiang Cheng had instinctively reached from Zidian and secured the weapon around his wrist, poised to confront whatever demon had invaded his dreams.
He was only greeted by the quiet stillness of the dark, though.
And the loneliness. Oh—the loneliness. It crawled into his skin and sunk down somewhere so deep he would never be able to reach it.
Heart racing from adrenaline and soul unmoored, Zidian had crackled with purple electricity, and unconsciously, Jiang Cheng had flicked it out like a whip.
Zidian unfurled to its full length, pulsing with energy, and Jiang Cheng reached a shaky hand out, wrapping his fingers around the weapon. It pulsed in his hand—a low, tingling hum of power.
A grounding vibration. A slight sting.
In that moment, Jiang Cheng had needed both.
Breath catching, he had clumsily tied the purple rope of Zidian around his wrists, wanting to feel something. Maybe that way, it was alright to feel helpless—to feel useless. He was tied up, after all. He couldn’t be expected to do anything.
Jiang Cheng sat there, trembling underneath his soft sheets, Zidian knotting his hands together. He twitched and shifted around the electric rope, but there was no give.
Slowly, Jiang Cheng had relaxed into the sensation of being bound. All he had to accomplish was staying as still as possible. No chaotic sect meetings, no frantic searches for Wei Wuxian.
Lying there in the darkness, Jiang Cheng had never felt more shame. Yet—
He had never felt more whole.
Now, years later, sitting in his dark bedroom in Lotus Pier, Jiang Cheng still hadn’t broken himself of this awful habit.
Wei Wuxian was back and, god, married to Lan Wangji. Each time Jiang Cheng had traveled to Gusu for sect business, he had tried to avoid the pair, but Wei Wuxian, as always, had appeared before him. When he looked at Jiang Cheng, though, his smile became tight as if he was perhaps forcing himself.
Jiang Cheng hated that, and he had opened his mouth to tell Wei Wuxian to stop holding back like an idiot, but before he could, Lan Wangji moved to stand beside Wei Wuxian and glared at Jiang Cheng with such force that Jiang Cheng had balled up his fists and stormed silently away.
He had glanced over his shoulder as he left, watching as Lan Wangji gently ran his hand through Wei Wuxian’s hair and Wei Wuxian smiled brightly up at him.
Those two were insufferable. Yet, the sight of such easy affection stirred a longing within Jiang Cheng.
Jiang Cheng, when he allowed himself to think about it, was…
Perhaps lonelier than ever.
That was probably why he was alone, kneeling on the hard floor of his room with Zidian pinning his wrists together. The electric warmth of the weapon heated his skin, and he chased the sensation, leaning into the press of the purple rope.
If he closed his eyes, he could imagine—maybe—that someone had tied Zidian around his wrists for him, had hummed low as gentle fingers threaded Jiang Cheng’s normally menacing weapon through little knots.
Greedily, Jiang Cheng sank into his imagination.
The shadowy figure took their time. They stroked small circles into Jiang Cheng’s skin as they tenderly pulled on Zidian, sending a rush through Jiang Cheng’s quivering body. He arched upward, searching for the phantom touch.
Straining against his bonds, Jiang Cheng could almost hear a quiet whisper in his ear. “So strong,” the imaginary voice said, praising him. “So good, too. Such a perfect boy. All tied up and kneeling so patiently for me.”
Jiang Cheng had never been called perfect before. Shamelessly, he craved it.
A low whine slipped from his lips.
The voice continued. “My good boy would like a reward, wouldn’t he? Go on, then. You may come now, Jiang Cheng.”
With only a desperate squirm against the tight pressure of Zidian, Jiang Cheng came untouched, dirtying the fabric of his robes with his release.
Waves of pleasure washed over him for a few moments, but as always, reality crept back to him.
Jiang Cheng slumped over in the center of his room, clothes soiled and Zidian still snug around his wrists.
He was truly pitiful.
When Jiang Cheng arrived at the Cloud Recesses for the next cultivation conference, the air was sharp with a bitter frostiness. Winter was slowly creeping closer, and the chill sank into Jiang Cheng’s bones.
Growing up among the humid, long summers of Yunmeng, he had never been suited to cold weather.
He wondered how Wei Wuxian, who had enjoyed those endless days splashing in the lakes with him, was faring with the harsh winter, and then he promptly shoved the thought away, burying it deep inside.
Forcing his breath to remain even, Jiang Cheng marched forward, arriving at the main conference hall with time to spare.
When he entered the hall, he absently stroked Zidian where it curled around his finger and wrist. He found himself doing this with increasing regularity, now.
Jiang Cheng’s gaze settled on the only other person in the room—Lan Xichen. He was clad in his usual white robes, but the smile he offered Jiang Cheng as he approached did not reach his eyes.
Instead of forcing himself to perform such a hollow smile, it would be better for him to not smile at all. Jiang Cheng wanted to tell him so, and he might have, if Lan Xichen hadn’t immediately bowed towards him in greeting.
“Sect Leader Jiang.”
Jiang Cheng matched him. “Sect Leader Lan,” he said, dipping his head forward.
“I trust you are well?” Lan Xichen asked.
Jiang Cheng was as “well” as he could be these days. He nodded.
He did not return the question.
Lan Xichen, when Jiang Cheng paused to look at him, did not appear “well” either. The skin underneath his eyes was an ashen color, most likely a consequence of fitful sleep. Or no sleep at all. There were tight lines on his forehead—similar to the ones on Jiang Cheng’s own.
Jiang Cheng knew what a broken man looked like. He stared at one in the mirror each morning.
That endless night in the Guanyin temple, Jiang Cheng had watched as the light had faded from Lan Xichen’s eyes after he instinctively stabbed his sworn brother, leaving behind only a shell of his old self.
He’d heard of Lan Xichen’s subsequent self-imposed seclusion through official sect letters.
Months later, he had received a hand-written letter from Lan Xichen himself, informing him and the other sect leaders of his decision to finally leave his isolation.
Jiang Cheng had seen Lan Xichen several times since that letter, and each time, it never looked like seclusion had helped much at all. Lan Xichen dressed in the same clothes, spoke with the same care, but the foreign, far-away glaze in his eyes remained.
Jiang Cheng’s coping method was no better: throwing himself into back-breaking tasks during the day and tying a spiritual weapon around himself at night, rutting against the floor until he finally spilled over onto himself.
Jiang Cheng came back to himself as a blast of cold air invaded the hall. The rest of the sect leaders had finally arrived.
With a polite nod, he shuffled away from Lan Xichen and kneeled down on a floor cushion. Around him, voices shouted greetings, filling the space with a loud murmur.
Sometime in the midst of the chaos, Lan Xichen quietly settled at a table next to him.
Jiang Cheng blinked, and the meeting had already crossed the three-hour mark. At the table beside him, Nie Huaisang was struggling to stay awake, fan lifted to strategically hide his drowsy expression.
In the center of the room, Sect Leader Yao was performing one of his usual tirades about the most recent danger to the cultivation world.
The issue he was shouting about had been already solved three months ago—by the Jiang sect.
Weary, Jiang Cheng’s mouth opened before he could stop himself, and he said sharply, “I fail to understand how this issue is still relevant. My sect and I already dealt with this months ago. It’s pointless to bring it up again.”
Sect Leader Yao sputtered in indignation and turned to Jiang Cheng, lowering his arms from where they had been gesturing wildly.
Beside Jiang Cheng, Lan Xichen let out a muffled—laugh?
Jiang Cheng’s brow furrowed.
The word was tenderly whispered beside him, drifting through the air like an arrow and finding its target in Jiang Cheng’s heart.
It was Lan Xichen’s voice, the gentle tenor the same.
Unbidden, a flush spread across Jiang Cheng’s face, and he reached down to place a hand upon Zidian, grounding himself.
A strange warmth drifted through him. He felt himself…
He was growing hard. Here, in the conference hall of the Cloud Recesses. With dozens of cultivators surrounding him.
All because of one word, thoughtlessly uttered.
Again, Lan Xichen spoke, louder this time, addressing the crowd.
“Sect Leader Jiang has spoken well. Perhaps it would be in everyone’s best interest to move on to another topic?”
He punctuated his words with a smile, but this time it seemed slightly less forced.
Jiang Cheng wanted to run away before he did something foolish. Why was his body like this? Did he truly have such little self control?
When the meeting mercifully ended, he shot up from the floor, poised to flee.
A feather-light touch to his arm stopped him. Jiang Cheng turned, and the hand drew back as if burned.
Lan Xichen stood in front of him, lips slightly parted. Jiang Cheng didn’t know why his mind chose to focus on that.
Those patches of ashen skin underneath his eyes were still there, and Jiang Cheng flustered so much by his earlier words, and unable to properly think, blurted out: “Do you honestly expect to be able to lead your sect properly if you’re so exhausted?”
Lan Xichen’s eyes widened for a brief moment, and then his shoulders started shaking in…laughter?
Jiang Cheng stared at him, frozen with shock.
Muffled laughter spilled from Lan Xichen’s lips, and Jiang Cheng grew concerned. Perhaps the sleeplessness was taking its tolls if he was chuckling at Jiang Cheng’s rudeness.
Lan Xichen inhaled a deep breath.
“Jiang Wanyin,” he said, voice soft. A smile tugged at his lips. “Thank you for being so concerned about my wellbeing.”
That was what he got from Jiang Cheng’s words?
Jiang Cheng sputtered.
“Would you like to have tea together later this evening?” Lan Xichen asked. “I think it would be good for us to talk. I’ll bring a pot and leaves to your room if you’d like.”
“That sounds—” Jiang Cheng willed himself to continue. “—fine.”
“Perfect,” Lan Xichen said, shattering Jiang Cheng’s world.
That word. That word—
Jiang Cheng hastily bowed, turned, and fled back to the safety of his room.
Sliding the door tightly shut, Jiang Cheng collapsed onto the floor, legs weak and clumsy. His chest heaved from the sprint and the echo of Lan Xichen’s nonchalant… praise.
Jiang Cheng was truly pathetic—to be so greatly affected by a few small words.
He sat there, leaning against the door, skin flushed and body desperate for something.
A hand gripping the back of his neck. Electric rope pulsing around his wrists—his chest. A low, gentle voice whispering good, so good for me in his ear.
Jiang Cheng wanted.
He could not have it, though, and a weak whine left his throat.
The sun was sinking low in the sky, and he was aching, cock swollen and leaking through his robes. No one was there to take care of it—to take care of him.
So, Jiang Cheng once again did what he always had to.
He moved toward the bed and sank to the floor, sitting on his heels.
With a desperate flourish, Jiang Cheng unfurled Zidian. He began to frantically wrap the weapon around his wrists, chasing the sensation of wholeness it always gave him.
This time, however, the tight press against the skin of his wrists was not nearly enough. He needed more. Needed the stinging pressure running through every part of him.
Zidan unknotted itself from Jiang Cheng’s hands at his command. His fingers twitched, and he grabbed the pulsing rope and began to thread it around his chest.
It formed a snug coil around his middle. Each time he breathed, it shifted with him, resting on top of the fabric of his robes.
His arms were bound to his sides, and he could nothing but kneel next to his bed. He couldn’t move, but that thought didn’t frighten him at all.
He was tied and secure, and there were no impossible expectations for him to live up to. Nothing to do except stay silent and still.
It was so easy—so simple—to be good when Zidian was wrapped around his chest like this.
Beneath his clothes, his cock twitched pitifully, begging to be touched. Bound, Jiang Cheng could not reach down and curl his fingers around himself. He could only rut pathetically against the floor and hope to scratch the insistent itch welling up inside him.
Jiang Cheng was close, so close, but he couldn’t get the stimulation he needed. He shifted and twitched, but nothing brought him any closer to satisfying himself.
If he untied himself, he could all too easily wrap a hand around his cock and bring himself to completion.
Yet, he didn’t want to lose the tight, secure pressure Zidian offered him.
It would stay tied around his chest.
He needed it.
Jiang Cheng leaned into the feeling of being so wholly restrained. Kneeling, his mind drifted somewhere deep. Minutes passed, and his harsh breathing grew soft, settling into a gentle rhythm.
He was hard, still, and needy too—if he allowed himself to focus on it for long enough.
Nothing could be done about it, though. After all, Jiang Cheng was alone. As always.
He could handle this on his own. He always did.
He didn’t need anyone—no matter what the insistent voice inside his head whispered to him in the dead of the night.
Snow-colored robes flashed through his mind. A smile. Words, next—
Absolutely not. He didn’t need anyone. He didn’t.
Lan Xichen wasn’t an option. He hardly acknowledged Jiang Cheng outside of—
There was a quiet knock on the door.
Jiang Cheng stopped breathing.
“Jiang Wanyin,” a muffled voice said. Lan Xichen. Oh god—Jiang Cheng had agreed to have tea with him.
Now, here he was—kneeling on the floor, Zidian wrapped like a vice around his chest and cock pathetically hard.
“I’ve brought tea for us to share,” Lan Xichen said from behind the door. “Please pardon the intrusion.”
The door began to slide open, and Jiang Cheng panicked. Normally, he just had to give Zidian a simple mental command, and it would unravel itself immediately.
However, with the chaos in his mind, this function was not working. He sat there, frozen, as Lan Xichen entered the room, carrying a small tray of cups.
Once inside, he turned around to face Jiang Cheng and promptly—
Dropped the tray to the floor.
“J-Jiang Wanyin,” he stuttered, face frozen in shock. “Are you alright? W-who did this to you?”
Seeing Lan Xichen’s wide eyes and open mouth and hearing those words finally snapped something inside Jiang Cheng.
“Are you stupid?” Jiang Cheng choked out. “Is it not perfectly clear? I fucking did this to myself!”
Lan Xichen flinched. His gaze roamed across Jiang Cheng’s Zidian-bound chest.
“Ah,” he said, mouth hanging open like a fish. “I…see.”
Even in the midst of chaos, Lan Xichen’s voice was still so gentle. Jiang Cheng shook underneath his restraints.
This was just perfect. The person who had indirectly caused this humiliating situation was here, staring at the embarrassment that was Jiang Cheng and his pathetic desires.
He handled his shame the only way he knew how—anger.
“Does this shock you?” Jiang Cheng asked. “I bet the First Jade of Lan has never seen something quite so pitiful.”
Lan Xichen took a single step closer, staying silent.
Jiang Cheng continued, trying desperately to deflect. “I bet you wouldn’t even know what to do if you had done this to me.”
Lan Xichen stopped. He fixed his gaze on Jiang Cheng, eyes piercing him. His lips sank down into a thin line. Jiang Cheng felt the binds around him grow tighter, as if they were responding to the sharp stare.
When Lan Xichen spoke, his voice was firm.
“Jiang Wanyin. You are not ‘pitiful.’ Please do not refer to yourself like that.”
Jiang Cheng wanted to laugh. Lan Xichen didn’t want him to call himself pitiful. Even now, he was ever so polite.
“Well, what am I, then?” he asked. “Desperate? Shameless?”
Lan Xichen’s tongue flickered out to wet his lips. Jiang Cheng didn’t know why he was watching.
He couldn’t look away.
“You are lovely.” An exhale. “Like this.”
Jiang Cheng’s breath left him.
Suddenly, he wanted, fiercely.
Lan Xichen stepped closer. A whimper left his throat. The air grew thick.
“How r-ridiculous,” Jiang Cheng stuttered out, mouth moving on instinct in order to break the sudden heaviness inside the room.
Lan Xichen was almost standing beside him, now. He had crossed the room so gracefully that Jiang Cheng had not even noticed.
“Hm, I’m not sure if I agree with Jiang Wanyin,” Lan Xichen murmured. “Surely it is alright to call a lovely thing lovely?”
Why was he doing that with his voice? Whispering in that soft yet firm tone? What exactly was the purpose—except to rile Jiang Cheng up further?
Jiang Cheng didn’t want to hear it anymore. He didn’t.
Besides, where was Lan Xichen even getting this sudden energy from? Looking at Jiang Cheng in this humiliating position, perhaps?
“Lan Xichen,” Jiang Cheng said, trying to sound as menacing as someone tied up and kneeling on the floor could sound. “If I wasn’t tied up, I would make you shut your mouth. I am not lovely.”
His threat did little good. Lan Xichen quietly chuckled, staring down at Jiang Cheng. “Would Jiang Wanyin prefer me to use another word, then?”
Other words could be much worse. Jiang Cheng was already quivering just from being called lovely. He stayed quiet, preferring not to give Lan Xichen anything more to work with.
Jiang Cheng stared resolutely at the floor, avoiding eye contact. It would be far too dangerous to even glance at Lan Xichen right now.
Lan Xichen noticed. “Jiang Wanyin. Look at me.”
As if possessed, Jiang Cheng’s head snapped up to meet Lan Xichen’s gaze.
“Good,” Lan Xichen whispered. He stared at Jiang Cheng with unbearable warmth in his eyes.
Jiang Cheng didn’t deserve to be looked at like that. Not one bit.
He shook in his binds, body straining towards—
“Oh dear.” A breath, incredulous. “Jiang Wanyin, you—”
Jiang Cheng froze.
“You’re just waiting for someone to tell you what to do, aren’t you?”
“Waiting for someone to recognize just how lovely—how good you’ve been all this time. Hm?”
Jiang Cheng stared up at Lan Xichen from his knees. His world was suddenly tilting on its very axis. He was certain his eyes were glazed with something pitiful.
“I—” He couldn’t speak.
Underneath it all, he was… he was truly…
Afraid to be seen like this—cracked open until his pitifulness spilled out completely.
“There’s no need to be afraid now.”
Lan Xichen was speaking to him as if he was a small, scared child who had done something wrong and hidden in some dark corner of a room, refusing to come out. It was ridiculous—he was past thirty for god’s sake! Yet…
Jiang Cheng felt so warm, hearing those words.
Lan Xichen cupped Jiang Cheng’s chin in his palm, brushing his cheek with gentle fingers. Jiang Cheng instinctively leaned in to the touch. His eyes fluttered shut.
“See? There’s a good boy,” Lan Xichen said, shattering Jiang Cheng effortlessly. “So sweet, all tied up and leaning in to my touch.”
Jiang Cheng whined. There was wetness on his face. Surely not tears. He would surely realize…
“You’re helping me, too, like this, Jiang Wanyin. Did you know it?”
“I need it—feeling like I can properly take care of someone. It’s difficult for me to feel in control…nowadays.”
Jiang Cheng’s thoughts flashed to that fateful night in the temple. Everyone there had left changed in one way or another.
If Lan Xichen needed this, too, then maybe it was alright…
Jiang Cheng nuzzled further into Lan Xichen’s open palm. The skin was rough and warm, and curious, his tongue flickered out to lick.
Lan Xichen made a little choked off noise in response.
Jiang Cheng did it again.
“J-Jiang Wanyin,” Lan Xichen said. His cheeks were flushed, and something in Jiang Cheng preened. He was the one who had put that blush on the cheeks of the First Jade of Lan.
Lan Xichen suddenly seemed frozen. That wouldn’t do.
“Lan Xichen,” Jiang Cheng said, staring him dead in the eye. “If you want control, then take it.”
Firmness returned to Lan Xichen’s gaze, melding with the gentleness that had never left. Jiang Cheng’s breath caught.
“So brave, asking for something like that,” Lan Xichen said, voice low. “Such a perfect boy I have kneeling before me, offering himself up like this.”
Jiang Cheng shivered. An insistent current of need ran through him.
Lan Xichen was calling him perfect. No one had ever…
Lan Xichen’s fingers drifted away from Jiang Cheng’s chin, moving up to run through his hair. He gripped and then tugged, pulling a punched-out sound from Jiang Cheng’s throat.
“Hm? Does Jiang Wanyin like that?” Lan Xichen asked, already knowing the answer. “If you use your words to tell me, I’ll do it again.”
“I—” Jiang Cheng steeled himself. “Like it.”
Lan Xichen hummed, petting the top of Jiang Cheng’s head.
That was good, but not what he’d earned, and Jiang Cheng opened his mouth to say so.
“Wow, I thought you said you’d do it again—”
Lan Xichen tugged on his hair, firmer this time.
“Don’t you want to be good for me, Jiang Wanyin?” Lan Xichen asked. Fingers still in Jiang Cheng’s hair, he bent down until he was crouching in front of Jiang Cheng.
Their gazes met and held.
“Good boys have to learn to be patient. Don’t you think so?”
Jiang Cheng whimpered. Around him, Zidian crackled with electricity.
Lan Xichen noticed the sparks. He reached out to touch.
“Hm? What should we do with this?”
Jiang Cheng trembled as he became aware of the tiny electric pulses running through his body.
“Or this?” Lan Xichen’s gaze drifted down further.
Jiang Cheng’s cock, forgotten, was still so hard underneath his robes. It twitched pathetically under the weight of Lan Xichen’s stare.
“Tell me what you need, Jiang Wanyin,” Lan Xichen commanded. “I’ll give it to you.”
How could Jiang Cheng object when that was offered to him? From Lan Xichen no less.
“I need…” he started. “I need you to tie me up.”
Lan Xichen tilted his head to one side, brows furrowing. “But you’ve already tied yourself up so nicely?”
God, sometimes Lan Xichen could be so obtuse.
“Yes,” Jiang Cheng said. “But I need you to do it. I’ve never let anyone…” He couldn’t let himself finish that sentence.
“Oh,” Lan Xichen breathed in response.
Frustrated with need, Jiang Cheng’s mental link with Zidian suddenly strengthened, and with one thought, the weapon unraveled, sliding back into the metal coil attached to his wrist.
Informing Zidian he was temporarily ceding control to another, Jiang Cheng detached the weapon from his wrist and handed it to Lan Xichen who stared at him, stunned.
“It will listen to you now,” Jiang Cheng said.
Lan Xichen blinked at the weapon in his hands like he couldn’t quite believe it was really there.
“I’ll take it back if you’re not going to fulfill your promise,” Jiang Cheng threatened.
Lan Xichen laughed.
“Hm. Our first lesson is definitely going to be patience.” He looked down again at the evidence of Jiang Cheng’s arousal.
“As much as I enjoy the floor, I think it would be best to move somewhere more comfortable,” Lan Xichen said. “Would your bed be alright, Jiang Wanyin?”
“That’s fine.” Jiang Cheng tried not to shiver as he climbed onto the bed.
As he absently gripped the sheets, Lan Xichen watched him.
“I think you might need to feel this on your bare skin, Jiang Wanyin.” Lan Xichen raised Zidian in his hands. “Why don’t you undress for me? I’d love to see how lovely you look underneath those robes.”
Face hot with (welcome) embarrassment, Jiang Cheng peeled off his layers until he was left with nothing. His cock was hard, brushing the muscles of his stomach and leaking. He wanted to hide it, but he couldn’t.
Lan Xichen looked him up and down and licked his lips. Jiang Cheng wondered what they tasted like. He wanted to find out.
Unconsciously, he leaned forward and tilted his head, parting his own lips.
“Ah, would Jiang Wanyin like a kiss?” Lan Xichen asked.
Stupid. Wasn’t it obvious?
Jiang Cheng nodded.
“You’ve listened to me so well. I’d love to reward such a good boy with a kiss.”
Lan Xichen swallowed Jiang Cheng’s whine, pressing their lips together. The slide was hot and slick. Jiang Cheng licked at the swell of Lan Xichen’s bottom lip, worrying it with his teeth. It felt so nice, to have someone so close.
They kissed mindlessly for several moments, sharing breath until the air between them grew sticky with heat. Lan Xichen slid his tongue into Jiang Cheng’s mouth, and greedily, Jiang Cheng suckled at it.
Jiang Cheng’s fingers drifted to tangle in Lan Xichen’s hair, dragging him closer.
“More,” he found himself demanding.
Lan Xichen gave it to him, kissing him even deeper. Their mouths collided and parted in an addictive dance. Jiang Cheng couldn’t get enough.
Soon, though, they had to stop and take in a few gulps of air.
Lan Xichen looked at him, eyes dark and panting. It was a sight that made Jiang Cheng quiver.
Suddenly, he needed—
“Tie me up. Please,” he begged.
Lan Xichen made a low, rough noise in his throat that sounded almost like a growl.
He flicked Zidian out until it unraveled, purple and fierce and crackling. Coiling up the electric rope into his hand, he carefully began to wind it around Jiang Cheng’s bare chest.
At the first combined touch of Lan Xichen’s tender fingers and Zidian’s electric pulse, Jiang Cheng almost cried out. Lan Xichen patiently looped Zidian around Jiang Cheng’s chest and arms. He tied two knots at the small of Jiang Cheng’s back, securing the electric rope in place. Jiang Cheng relished the slight sting pressing against the expanse of his naked chest.
Only on rare nights would he allow himself the pleasure of fully undressing and tying Zidian around himself.
With all the layers of fabric gone, he was left vulnerable, and he hated it.
Hated how whole it made him feel.
Someone—Lan Xichen—was here. He was taking care of Jiang Cheng, tying him up with gentle words just as he’d wished during all those sleepless nights.
Jiang Cheng tested the strength of his bonds, straining against Zidian. He could only squirm in place. Lan Xichen had wrapped him tight, and the electricity sent pleasant shocks through him.
His mind drifted.
Now, there was nothing to worry about. Jiang Cheng was tied up and helpless. All he needed to do was kneel on top of the sheets and wait. Everything else was unimportant except for the pulse of Zidian around his chest and Lan Xichen’s slow, even breaths beside him.
He didn’t realize he was making tiny, needy whimpers until Lan Xichen leaned forward and pressed his lips against his forehead, quieting him.
“I’m here. Don’t worry,” he said, lips curling up in a smile.
Lan Xichen brushed his hand over Zidian.
“How does it feel? Are you comfortable?”
“It feels fine,” Jiang Cheng gritted out. Couldn’t Lan Xichen see how much he liked it? Why did he need to ask?
“Good. I wanted to make sure,” Lan Xichen said. “Jiang Wanyin looks so lovely like this. All tied up in my knots. Sitting so still and perfect for me.”
Jiang Cheng trembled. Those words were far too much to handle at once.
“You’re so brave, Jiang Wanyin. Did you know that? Offering your spiritual weapon up to me and letting me take care of you like this.”
Why did it feel as if Zidian was suddenly tightening around him with every new word falling from Lan Xichen’s lips? He leaned into the delicious pressure.
“…’m not,” Jiang Cheng mumbled.
Lan Xichen’s fingers snuck underneath the binds and tugged. “Hm? You’ll have to say that a little louder for me.”
“I’m not brave,” Jiang Cheng repeated. “Not for something like this.”
Lan Xichen hummed. “Well, I think you are, and I’m going to tell you so. This is an act of trust. You’re trusting me so well, Jiang Wanyin. Helping me feel so good.”
He was helping Lan Xichen. That was something, wasn’t it? Maybe, just maybe he was—
“Am I… good?” Jiang Cheng asked. His voice sounded so small to his ears. “Am I good for you?”
His eyes itched, and wetness threatened to spill out. Fruitlessly, he tried to blink it away.
“Yes,” Lan Xichen answered, voice calm and tender. He settled a hand on the back of Jiang Cheng’s neck. “You’re so good. Absolutely perfect for me.”
With his thumb, Lan Xichen swiped away a tear that was beginning to roll down Jiang Cheng’s cheek.
God, he was already crying, and they’d barely done anything at all.
“Jiang Wanyin is so beautiful.”
The whisper echoed down, down, down, kindling a flame inside Jiang Cheng’s heart. He curled forward, seeking Lan Xichen’s warmth.
He was safe. Praised and cared for, Zidian wrapped around him so perfectly.
Effortlessly, Lan Xichen was taking him apart and stitching him together again. It felt like he might shatter with every breath he took.
“So strong,” Lan Xichen said. He mouthed at the curve of Jiang Cheng’s neck, sucking a red bruise into the skin. He nipped with gentle teeth, and Jiang Cheng whined at the sting. He couldn’t help but bare his neck further, eager for more.
“Your skin takes my marks so well, Wanyin.”
Jiang Cheng let out an insistent whine, hoping Lan Xichen would grasp its meaning.
“Oh, do you like when I call you Wanyin?” Yes—he’d gotten it. “I’ll say it as many times as you’d like.”
“I like it,” Jiang Cheng admitted. It was becoming easier to allow himself to be honest. “You’d better keep your word.”
Still, he threatened out of habit.
Lan Xichen laughed—a short, fond sound. Jiang Cheng wanted to hear that sound more. Wanted to force it out from Lan Xichen’s lips.
“Wanyin,” Lan Xichen said. He bent down to kiss the top of Jiang Cheng’s chest just above where Zidian rested.
“Wanyin.” This time, his shoulder.
“Wanyin.” His hand.
Jiang Cheng trembled, overwhelmed. Perhaps he should have thought better.
Lan Xichen pressed his fingers to Zidian and gave the pulsing rope a gentle pull, pressing the bonds a little tighter against Jiang Cheng’s skin. Jiang Cheng shivered into the feeling.
“Good, Wanyin. Feels nice, doesn’t it?”
Jiang Cheng simply nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
“What else would you like from me?” Lan Xichen asked, lips next to Jiang Cheng’s ears. “I’ll gladly give it to Wanyin. I know he’ll ask for it so nicely.”
Jiang Cheng wanted…
He glanced between his legs. Forgotten, his cock was red and swollen, leaking pitifully onto his stomach.
“Touch me,” he said. “You made me this way, so touch me, Lan Xichen. Please.”
Lan Xichen made a choked off noise, but he quickly composed himself. “Hm? I’m touching you already, though, Wanyin.”
God, could he not even take a hint—
Jiang Cheng couldn’t even show him where he needed to be touched. Not tied up like he was. He whined.
“I’m hard,” he said, voice breaking. “Please. N-need it, and I can’t do it myself.”
Lan Xichen smiled. There was a dark heaviness in the curl of his lips. “Ah, I see. Now I know just where Wanyin wants to be touched.”
“You did so well, telling me this,” he said, tasting Jiang Cheng’s lips for a few moments. Jiang Cheng fought himself not to squirm in his bonds, trying to chase Lan Xichen’s mouth.
“I’ll give you what you need.”
Lan Xichen wrapped a gentle hand around Jiang Cheng’s cock. It twitched pitifully in his grip. Jiang Cheng’s hips begged to buck into Lan Xichen’s touch.
“So lovely,” Lan Xichen whispered. “Wanyin is so warm.”
If Jiang Cheng’s arms weren’t tied, he would have lifted them over his face and hidden from Lan Xichen’s awful, wonderful words.
Lan Xichen slid his palm up and down Jiang Cheng’s cock. He thumbed at the head, wet from waiting so long.
Jiang Cheng quivered.
“You don’t have to narrate this,” he said. It was far too embarrassing—hearing Lan Xichen’s praising commentary on any small move he made.
“I have to tell Wanyin how good he is, though,” Lan Xichen said, countering him. “You may thrust into my grip if you’d like.”
Immediately, Jiang Cheng’s hips lifted, greedily pushing his cock into Lan Xichen’s fist. He chased his pleasure with a frantic rhythm, panting.
“Good, so good for me.”
Lan Xichen captured his mouth briefly, giving his lower lip a small nip.
“Up and down. Just like that. You’re doing so well, Wanyin.”
Warmth began to build inside Jiang Cheng, threatening to overflow. The press of Lan Xichen’s palm was addictive—hot and slick and perfect. He thrusted up mindlessly into his grip, feeling feral with desire.
“Xichen,” he whimpered in warning. “I’m about to… I need—”
He trembled, body locking up in preparation. He was almost—
Lan Xichen let go of his cock. Jiang Cheng gasped, denied.
“Need it,” he said, whining pitifully. He was so close.
“I-I know you do, Wanyin.” Lan Xichen was stuttering over his words. “Would you like to do it together?”
Together? To come with the press of Lan Xichen’s length against his own?
He craved it.
“Yes,” he said, breathless.
Lan Xichen frantically stripped off a few layers. Jiang Cheng watched, panting, as he took out his cock and stroked it for a few seconds. It was as swollen as Jiang Cheng’s.
Gently, Lan Xichen lined his cock up against against Jiang Cheng’s, taking them both in his hand. Jiang Cheng’s hips helplessly pushed forward. He needed the friction. Needed it like breathing.
They rutted together, bodies meeting in a slick slide of heat. Lan Xichen stroked them at a brisk pace, letting out small moans as he brushed his cock against Jiang Cheng’s.
It felt so perfect, being connected so wholly to someone like this.
Helpless, needy gasps fell from Jiang Cheng’s throat.
“Ah, so good. M-making such sweet noises for me,” Lan Xichen said.
Even like this, the praise continued. Jiang Cheng shivered against the twin pressures of Zidian wrapped around his chest and Lan Xichen’s cock pressed against his.
After a few more mindless thrusts, Jiang Cheng felt the familiar warmth creep up his spine. He was close again.
“Xichen. I’m c-close,” he gasped out. “Please.”
Lan Xichen moaned and thrusted against him once, twice, and—
Jiang Cheng shook apart, spilling over Lan Xichen’s fist. He shivered, mouth open wide with pleasure. Seconds later, Lan Xichen followed him, releasing with a low groan.
He slumped forward, whispering in Jiang Cheng’s ear: “Good. So good for me. You did so well, Wanyin.”
Jiang Cheng had never felt more whole.
Later, after Lan Xichen had gently untied Zidian from Jiang Cheng’s chest and smoothed a wet cloth over Jiang Cheng’s body to clean him, they sat together, lying underneath the sheets of the bed.
Jiang Cheng’s mind was still a bit sluggish, but he managed to focus as Lan Xichen spoke softly to him. His fingers ran through Jiang Cheng’s hair.
“Jiang Wanyin,” he said. “If you’ll allow me, I would like the privilege to truly know you. To care for you.”
Jiang Cheng’s breath caught in his throat.
“This was good for both of us. I don’t want to let this end right here. You’re so good, and I think—I think I can give you so much. If that’s alright.”
Jiang Cheng sat up, looking Lan Xichen straight on. He felt himself instinctively roll his eyes.
“It doesn’t have to end here,” he said, firm. “How can you suddenly have such less confidence in yourself after everything we just did, Lan Xichen?”
Lan Xichen laughed, startled.
“Besides—” Jiang Cheng stopped. “It might… it might not be truly horrible to let you know me. Possibly.”
Lan Xichen smiled, wide and bright. “Alright,” he said, tender and warm.
He glanced at Zidian, eyes suddenly sly. “Additionally, I’ll have to find some materials and study how to best wrap that around you, Wanyin!”
What had Jiang Cheng gotten himself into?
“In the Lan Library?” he asked. “I doubt you’ll find anything.”
Lan Xichen stared at him, a glint of mischief shining in his gaze. “There is a rather large restricted section to look through.”
He smirked. “And I am the Sect Leader.”
Jiang Cheng’s lips twitched up in a smile of his own.