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Mycelium

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“Are you sure about that?”

An Zhe’s mycelium only pulsed slightly as it reached up further to wrap around one of the low-hanging fruits, a bright splash of red amongst the dark green of the foliage of the tree they sat underneath. Lu Feng had stopped the car a while back and they’d walked on further, just the two of them in the quiet dark of the Abyss until something had called to An Zhe, something about this tree. The fruit was soft, its juices already spilling out and staining An Zhe’s white mycelium in dripping red even before he’d pulled it off.

After the vine incident, Lu Feng had been more discerning with what An Zhe absorbed at the base, but out here in the Abyss was a different story. Here, it was never more clear that his little mushroom was a part of this world, that only fate and some sort of luck on An Zhe’s side had brought him to the city and into his life.

Lu Feng had no illusions about his own luck.

He would have to rely on An Zhe’s luck now, though, that fate wouldn’t see it fit to separate them just yet, as he watched the red of the fruit seep further down An Zhe’s mycelium. An Zhe leaned more heavily against Lu Feng’s shoulder as it did, the color fading slightly until the tips of the mycelium that spread softly from where his fingers were intertwined with Lu Feng’s were tinged pink.

As An Zhe absorbed the fruit, Lu Feng avidly judged each flutter of An Zhe’s eyelids as normal or not, his breath only seeming to come when his senses told him that nothing vital seemed to have changed. Even though it had been years that the frequency was stable, no matter the amount of examples they had of hybrids being able to be sustained with no issue, his heart still felt squeezed in his chest every time he watched An Zhe in the Abyss.

“Alright?”

“Mm, yeah. ...feels...sticky?” Lu Feng’s senses went on alert at the questioning tone in An Zhe’s voice, but nothing about his relaxed posture seemed to be alarmed. Not that that was really any indication, given An Zhe’s history regarding self-preservation. Lu Feng felt the grass under his fingers start to edge away from him as he clutched at the ground more tightly with the hand that wasn’t in An Zhe’s.

“Not uncomfortable, though?”

“No…,” An Zhe’s voice turned thoughtful, “more like a nice sort of warmth, like the sun on a spring day. Like intertwining with another set of roots to help it grow.”

It seemed that this would simply be one of the times that An Zhe only absorbed the memories of the plant, an experience he never seemed able to describe in words to his satisfaction. Lu Feng didn’t truly need to know; just seeing the content smile on An Zhe’s face, the way he would stretch languidly or seem revived afterward was more than enough for him. He was smiling now, the soft uptick of his lips that made Lu Feng want to kiss him, both for the pleasure of doing so and in some sort of hope that he could learn from it, could absorb its secrets as An Zhe did.

Kissing An Zhe was always a careful affair; he always wanted to leave his mark upon that white flesh, but once An Zhe had confessed everything after he’d bit too hard upon An Zhe’s lips and cut their night short, he’d become much more conscientious. Now, though, An Zhe seemed to be the one wanting more, pressing closer, nipping at his lips, shifting to sit in Lu Feng’s lap.

It wasn’t until Lu Feng felt the press of teeth against his neck that he thought of the fruit, of its juice running like blood. Drawing back his senses, he realized that while An Zhe’s fingers were as soft as ever intertwined with his, the mycelium spreading out from them was different from normal, that the sense of his skin tingling in sharp pricks wasn’t entirely from the sense of nearness to An Zhe or of just being in the Abyss.

Looking down, he could see that An Zhe’s eyes were tinged with red; not an uncommon sight, but instead of looking coquettish, An Zhe stared hungrily up at him. Dimly, a part of Lu Feng realized that the mycelium he was staring at was darkening in color, slowly going from a light pink to the same red as the fruit and starting to ooze a red fluid as well.

No part of Lu Feng felt anything less than safe as An Zhe pressed him back against the tree, though, even with teeth that felt sharper than normal scraping across the curve of his neck. His hands merely came to rest at An Zhe’s waist, holding him steady and drinking in the comfort of the familiarity of how An Zhe fit into his hands.

He tilted his neck, baring it. Instead of sinking in as he expected, though, An Zhe’s teeth simply continued to skim over his skin as he ground closer to Lu Feng. There was none of the urgency of the vine, it seemed, nor the discomfort—An Zhe seemed perfectly happy to move languidly above Lu Feng, the dappled light that reached through the canopy of the Abyss dancing across his skin.

The mycelium continued to drip red, falling atop Lu Feng’s hand. Eventually, he brought it to his mouth before it could spill over the back of his hand and run through his fingers, licking at it as An Zhe watched.

“It’s sweet.”

“Really?” An Zhe tipped his head to the side; staring at the line of his white neck, Lu Feng thought he knew how that fruit had affected him. “All its memories are of the animals finding it bitter. No one would eat its fruit, no matter how ripe.”

“Try it.” He offered his hand to An Zhe, who took it delicately, a contrast to the way the blood-red mycelium wrapped around Lu Feng’s wrist. His soft tongue cleaned the traces of red, even turning over Lu Feng’s hand to lick between his fingers, giving each one a kiss and only stopping when both of their breath started to turn ragged. Finally, he lifted his eyes to meet Lu Feng’s.

“It really is sweet.”

“Maybe you turned it sweet.” Lu Feng shifted, tugging An Zhe down with him to lay fully atop the earth before he started to push up the hem of An Zhe’s shirt. “Let’s see what else it’s turned sweet.”