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a pinch that doesn't leave

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At the sound of it, a muted clinking from downstairs, Lan Zhan sits up and moves the book from his lap. He quietly climbs off the bed, taking his phone from the nightstand. He turns on the flashlight setting but keeps it pressed against his side as he ventures out into the hallway.

 

He stands at the corner and stays still. He can’t hear anything apart from his own breathing and the soft, even ticking of the clock on the wall. His uncle has half a dozen throughout his home, perfectly in sync with each other, refusing to rely on far more popular digital versions. Lan Zhan agreed to house-sit while his uncle attends another intercollegiate conference, not that he could refuse.

 

He shuts his eyes and listens for the sound again. He could accept that it was only his imagination if he weren’t absolutely certain that he heard something. Squaring his shoulders, he starts down the stairs, shining light on the steps until he makes it to the bottom. In the kitchen, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, just the low hum of the refrigerator. The living room is much of the same, almost unnerving in its emptiness, not even a spark left in the fireplace.

 

Lan Zhan decides on a complete sweep of the first floor, checking the bathrooms and neighboring hallways, the dining room, the closets and pantries, and finds nothing, no one. He’s about to head back upstairs when he hears, much closer and much clearer this time, a faint shuffling from the only room he hasn’t gone into. His uncle’s study.

 

The door is closed, which likely caused him to walk right past it, out of sight, out of mind. On the other hand, he might have forgotten it entirely because he was never permitted in his uncle’s study as a child. When the door was closed, that meant Uncle was working, and even when it was open, Lan Zhan used to do nothing more than give the room a passing glance.

 

He tries the doorknob, thankfully unlocked. He wouldn’t know where to begin in determining what his uncle would consider the most rational place to hide a spare key.

 

The blinds are partially open, and with the light of faded streetlamps and cars passing by, he can just make out the basic shapes in the room to keep himself from bumping into anything, the bookshelves lining the walls, the leather chair behind its wide mahogany desk, and the grandfather clock that chimes on the hour.

 

It sounds before Lan Zhan can take another step, resonating deep in his chest like a ship’s horn blaring in open waters. In the moment he tries to breathe again, holds in that first shaky breath, he hears footsteps from behind.

 

A hand on each of his arms, he’s pulled and dragged, wrestled down despite his efforts to keep his feet fixed to the floor. Whoever grabbed him has the advantage of not being detected, and Lan Zhan is flipped onto his back, the hardwood cold against his hands as his wrists are pinned down. He tries to move his legs but finds them held in place by someone else’s knees.

 

“Well, look what I’ve got,” the voice above him purrs. “Brave of you to chase after the thief all by yourself. Isn’t that dangerous?”

 

Lan Zhan can’t make out the man’s face, only a leather jacket, his hair twisted into a loose bun, the curve of his smile. A grin.

 

“Get. Off.” With the little breath in his lungs, Lan Zhan’s voice comes out small. He tries again to wrench himself out of the stranger’s hands, but this just gives him more leverage to tighten his grip.

 

“But I like the view,” he says as he leans in, the glint of his teeth catching the last shreds of light soon eclipsed by his shoulders. Lan Zhan cants his hips to throw him off, causing him to press down with his own – he smells warm, like spice and cinnamon.

 

“I guess you’re going to make this difficult,” he huffs.

 

He moves Lan Zhan’s wrists above his head. Holding them in one hand, he uses the other to dig into his jacket pocket. Seizing the opportunity, Lan Zhan manages to twist free, only to find one of his hands caught in a rope. It’s quickly looped around his wrist before the other hand is tied with it, then tucked into the little space between them and pulled tight, tighter.

 

Lan Zhan frowns as he tests the bindings, but he only succeeds in digging them further into his skin. He tries again and again, and the rope doesn’t budge. The stranger begins to laugh.

 

“Look at you!” he all but squeals, throwing his head back. “Helpless!”

 

Lan Zhan grits his teeth. “Not – ”

 

Then something is forced between his lips, thick, stifling cloth, a gag, he realizes, tied behind his head, pushing his tongue into the back of his mouth, smothering every word he means to call his attacker – uncouth, boorish, impossibly and wholly infuriating –

 

He takes advantage of Lan Zhan’s indignation and moves fast, tying his ankles together just as he did his wrists, leaving him with all the range of motion of a wriggling fish, with the elegance of one too.

 

The intruder stands and claps his hands together. He looks down at Lan Zhan, eyes dancing in the low light, clearly delighted. Even if this treatment is beyond humiliating, especially in the presence of another person, Lan Zhan strains and pulls, arching his back, straightening his knees, trying to break free. He manages nothing of the sort, rolling onto his side, then his stomach.

 

“Alright, alright. C’mon.”

 

Without another word, the man scoops Lan Zhan into his arms and throws him over his shoulder, so that Lan Zhan is facing the back of him, his legs dangling in the front. Furious, he demands to be put down, but the words are lost behind the gag.

 

With one hand on the small of his back, the man walks them out of his uncle’s study and down the hall. To keep from hanging upside down, Lan Zhan brings his head up, but for all his efforts he can’t tell where they’re going, watching what shrinks behind them. The intruder seems to have no trouble moving about the house with Lan Zhan in tow, effortlessly climbing the stairs even as he continues to struggle.

 

Lan Zhan hears a door open, and the next thing he knows is being dropped unceremoniously onto a bed. Landing on his back, he looks at the ceiling and quickly recognizes the guest room where he’s been staying.

 

With the lamp on, Lan Zhan can see the man clearly now, can study the angles of his face, the slant of his nose, his broad smile, mischievous eyes. He finds that the person in front of him can’t be any older than he is, and is quite handsome. Lan Zhan isn’t ashamed of that; it isn’t of any consequence. That the stranger doesn’t carry a menacing air in the amber light, that something about his features is uniquely pleasing; he knows better than to be fooled by this.

 

The man sighs as he peels off his jacket, tossing it over the back of the desk chair, keeping his gaze on Lan Zhan. “Your uncle was worried about his silver, but what about you? Leaving you alone like this, just about anyone could break in and do whatever they want with you.”

 

The bed barely shifts under his weight when he climbs on. Still, Lan Zhan tries to move, but the stranger simply grabs the rope around his ankles and tugs him down. Taking his shoulder, he turns Lan Zhan onto his back, just as he had him on the floor, and kneels over him.

 

He tsks, bringing his knees together until they’re bracketing Lan Zhan’s waist, effectively caging him in. “You don’t believe that? I’m serious, you know. You’re lucky that it’s just me.” He tilts his head, grinning again. “And I won’t even steal anything! That’s a promise.”

 

As if to prove that, the intruder – not a thief, apparently – unties Lan Zhan’s wrists. Taking another length of rope, he lashes them each to a bedpost instead. First the right, then the left, until Lan Zhan’s arms are pulled taut, stretched farther than he thought was possible. His body forced into a T, he flexes his fingers but doesn’t try to move this time.

 

“Aw, you poor thing,” the man coos. “Is it too tight?” He bends forward, looking at the gag. “What about this? You want it off? It’s too bad that I like you like this.” He wets his lips with his tongue. “Do you know what I’m going to do with you?”

 

Lan Zhan can’t speak. He can barely move. He’s tied down to the bed with a stranger pressed against him. All he has are his eyes, to say that he won’t give an inch. But the man merely raises his eyebrow, accepting the challenge with a smile that’s certain he’ll get what he wants by the end.

 

Indeed, Lan Zhan finds that he can’t control his body’s reaction to being touched, the way it tenses when something snakes under his sweater, pulling up the fabric. The stranger’s hand is splayed across his stomach, slowly kneading the ridges of muscle, nails grazing his skin.

 

The hand catches his nipple as it moves, rubbing and teasing with two fingers, then pulls. Lan Zhan draws in a sharp breath through his nose, his back arching without his permission. Further enticed, the man shuffles backwards on his knees, bending forward so that it’s his mouth, not his hand, on Lan Zhan’s bare chest.

 

Without time to brace himself, Lan Zhan buckles at the first drag of his hot tongue. He tries to maintain control of his features. The intruder, keeping his head where it is, peeks up from beneath his lashes and giggles.

 

“Look at your ears!” he says, reaching up and tugging on one. It only keeps his attention for a moment, and he soon goes back to kissing and nipping Lan Zhan’s skin, giving special care to the nipple he played with, soothing it with the heat of his mouth.

 

“It feels good, doesn’t it?” he whispers. “You hate that it feels good.”

 

He lifts his head, pinches Lan Zhan’s cheek, then the same pink earlobe for good measure. “Don’t worry, I won’t bully you anymore.” His eyes seem to hold a different light now, something firm with intention, almost predatory. He straightens his back and begins to unzip Lan Zhan’s jeans.

 

Lan Zhan goes rigid at the deft hands pulling at the fabric, brushing against his hips. The jeans fit tight over his legs, made even tighter by the rope around his ankles, but the man gets them off quickly, pushing them down as far as the rope allows.

 

“You’re getting hard,” he marvels, cradling Lan Zhan’s hips. Lan Zhan looks if only to refute, but then his underwear comes off in one smooth motion, bunched down near his jeans, and he sees himself, half erect. “Are you getting off on this?” the man asks. “You like being tied down, at my mercy? You like that I can do whatever I want with you?” He taps his lips with his finger and laughs. “You do. And here I thought you were some proper little thing.”

 

He gives Lan Zhan’s cock a light flick, and Lan Zhan tenses up again, this time with rage. No matter how he tried not to give a reaction, no matter how he tried to control himself, his body has surrendered without a fight, flushing and pliant. Powerless.        

                    

The stranger rests his chin in his hand. “There’s no shame in wanting it,” he says idly, shaking his head like he knows exactly what Lan Zhan is thinking. “And, sweetheart… I’ll take good care of you.”

 

He moves a lock of stray hair behind his ear and sinks down onto the cock in front of him. He isn’t teasing now. He works at taking the length of it into his mouth, his throat. He gazes up at Lan Zhan, trying to catalogue the minute shifts in his expression.

 

Lan Zhan looks past him, denying him eye contact, keeping his face blank. What he can’t control is the way he hardens, how the blush spreads from his ears to his chest, how the rest of him has gone stiff, his arms tugging helplessly at the too-tight restraints. Being pulled like this, the bite of the ropes is almost agony, but it’s a welcome distraction when he can’t do anything else, can barely think. It’s too much, the heat of the man’s mouth, a clever tongue moving with practiced ease, the loud, lewd noises.

 

Lan Zhan knows he’s coming undone when he feels a rapid fire at the base of his spine, a tightly wrought coil burning to be unraveled. The man must notice Lan Zhan’s shallow breaths because he doesn’t let up, hollowing his cheeks again, sucking without pause. Lan Zhan holds himself back. He can’t. He won’t –

 

The man takes it without hesitation as Lan Zhan spills into his mouth, then lets go of the cock between his lips with a wet pop. Lan Zhan sags against his bindings as the ache of pleasure ebbs, fades, pulsing down to his fingertips, a bead of sweat tickling his brow. When he opens his eyes, the intruder is looking at him and pouting, mouth shiny with saliva.

 

“No fun!” he says. “It’s not good to try and deny yourself like that, you know. Well, suit yourself.”

 

He hops up off the bed and begins to undress. Lan Zhan can’t help but watch his movements at the footboard, how he sheds his clothes effortlessly, a red flannel, black t-shirt underneath. He nearly trips stepping out of his jeans, then pulls down his boxers.

 

His body is a flawless expanse of glowing skin, long and lean; yet he’s broad-shouldered, limbs sculpted with muscle. There’s a birthmark above his right hip, a shade lighter than his skin. In between his legs –

 

“Eh, don’t shut your eyes!”

 

A light slap to his calf, and Lan Zhan opens them again. The man is leaning over the foot of the bed, elbows on the mattress, holding his chin in both of his hands. He’s looking at Lan Zhan like he’s something both endlessly endearing and something which he doesn’t have the patience for.

 

“What?” he asks. “You won’t look? Or you don’t like what you see?” He stands and straightens his back, putting himself on display, baring his shoulders, his chest, the trail of hair from his stomach to what’s covered by the footboard. It’s as if he expects Lan Zhan to answer him. “Too cruel.”

 

Even if Lan Zhan could speak, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to ask the stranger what he’s doing before he unties his ankles, setting the rope aside but keeping it close, and yanks the rest of his clothing off in one swift motion. The room isn’t cold, but Lan Zhan’s legs curl up like withering snakes. All that’s left on him is his sweater, rucked up to his collarbone, leaving him just as exposed as he is below.

 

He makes a pitiful noise as his legs are pulled straight and spread apart. Only his right ankle is tied to the bottom bedpost, but the tension of the rope barely allows his foot to twitch.

 

“Look at you. That’s what I like to see.”

 

The stranger jumps back on the bed and pushes himself up until he’s sitting on his own knees. From here, Lan Zhan could see the man quite intimately, could see everything, if he shifted his gaze from his leg to his opposite hip. He doesn’t, but he has no choice but to look at the sound of plastic clicking.

 

The man never takes his eyes off of Lan Zhan as he coats two fingers slick, tongue darting out as lubricant slides down his palm. As one hand takes Lan Zhan’s free ankle to spread him wider, the other lands on his hip, the sleek substance still pocket-warm.

 

“Look at you,” he says again, sounding fond, the way a person is fond of something small and helpless. “How could I just leave you be?”

 

Lan Zhan thinks his lips, stretched sore, form a word, but any word, any fragment of thought soon leaves him when his leg is folded over, calf against thigh, and one finger enters him in a smooth glide.

 

His breath hitches, but the touch is gentler than he anticipated. The finger prods at him slowly, rubbing back and forth like a tender massage. An exploration inside of him, it’s almost unbearably personal.

 

“So tight,” the man says and looks at Lan Zhan with another impish grin. “Are you trying to hurt me once I get in there?”

 

Lan Zhan musters up a glare that doesn’t last long. The finger bends, coaxing a little whimper out of him, embarrassingly feeble as it’s muffled by the gag.

 

“That’s it,” the stranger whispers, then slips in another finger alongside the first. “Open up for me, c’mon. That’s it.”

 

Lan Zhan begins to understand that it’s not easy work. His chest is heavy, heart fluttering, and he can’t help but wonder if the rest of him is just as tense. He thinks he might be, from the amount of time it takes before the man draws back, exerted but satisfied.

 

He makes a big show out of slicking himself up, kneeling between Lan Zhan’s open thighs, taking Lan Zhan by the ankle to position his leg over his shoulder. Only one thing gives him pause.

 

“You know…” he trails off, quiet and contemplative as he looks at the gag. “When it came to this, I was sure I wanted to hear you mewl for me. But you’re a sight for sore eyes with it, and…” he stops and sniggers to himself, as if he’s too excited to speak. “I’m going to hear you mewl anyway, aren’t I?”

 

Arrogant.

 

Lan Zhan almost says it out loud, almost tries to speak despite his situation. But he won’t give this man the gratification, won’t give him a sound, even as he pushes inside, slowly bottoming out while holding Lan Zhan’s hips.

 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult. Lan Zhan is tense, but the flares of pain, the burn, his body’s stretch to accommodate – it also feels good. He can’t be sure if he’s stifling a cry or something far more indecent.

 

Although subtle, the struggle must be plain to see from this distance, judging from the stranger’s smile, how he pauses for a moment, hovering over Lan Zhan and holding his hips up. He starts dragging it out, his body slowly pitching forward, smile flickering from the effort.

 

“Ah, fuck,” he breathes. “Fuck, if you could see yourself. You’re trying so hard. It’s… admirable really. Very admirable. I think you’re quite admirable.”

 

Irritating.

 

The man shifts their position, lifting Lan Zhan’s leg about as high as it will go, and thrusts from a new angle. Deeper. Deeper like something impossible to achieve until now.

 

Lan Zhan’s mouth is pulled wide around the gag, and he feels the damp of the cloth the same moment he’s rocked by a full-bodied shudder, so intense that he grips the ropes restraining him as if they’re keeping him afloat. The stranger must feel the tremor more than see it, but rather than say anything, he sets his brow and keeps driving into that spot – faster, harder, faster still.

 

The pain subsides, merging with new sensations into something all-consuming, something which Lan Zhan just as quickly loses control of, slipping away so abruptly that he mourns it with a faint whine.

 

Fuck…” the man whispers, spurred on by the sound.

 

He adjusts his own hips and manages something even deeper, moving up and under. It’s then that Lan Zhan finally succumbs, low cries escaping the gag, each more desperate than the last, the bed shaking from the smack of their bodies.

 

“Just like that. Good boy… good boy.”

 

Before Lan Zhan can even bristle at the pet name, the man reaches in between his legs and starts stroking him rough and fast. He punctuates each motion with a snap of his hips, flicking his wrist like this is the simplest thing he’s ever done. Lan Zhan is ruined within minutes, coming with a strangled moan, his bound hands in tight fists, his leg clamping down on the shoulder it’s held against.

 

The stranger’s hips keep moving after that, but it doesn’t take him much longer. He stills, buried deep inside of Lan Zhan, who lies there, lax in his restraints, feeling his own fluids run down his chest in rivulets.

 

Lan Zhan is only dimly aware that his arms are now free, dropping onto the mattress in almost the same position. Head turned to one side, he watches his hand, fingers twitching on their own, while the man leaves him empty, reaches behind his neck, and unties the gag.

 

Lan Zhan presses his lips together a few times, still tingling when Wei Ying bends down and kisses them, hand coming up to comb through Lan Zhan’s hair. Wei Ying kisses the tip of his nose, his temple, before speaking into his lips.

 

“Was it good?”

 

Lan Zhan would likely have to lie here for hours before he thought of the most suitable word for the experience, but that suits it fine.

 

“Mn.”

 

Above him, Wei Ying smiles, then seems to hesitate. “Are you sure? I wasn’t – ?”

 

He promptly shakes his head. Good. It wasn’t anything but good.

 

Wei Ying smiles in earnest, as bright as sun glare, and pecks him on the cheek. “Bath, then laundry?”

 

Lan Zhan nods.

 

Wei Ying puts an arm under his back and another under his knees.

 

“Wei Ying. Untie my ankle.”

 

 

- - - - -

 

 

“Where does your uncle keep – ? Never mind, I got it.”

 

Lan Zhan pauses the documentary and looks down the hallway to see if he can help, but Wei Ying is already rounding the corner with a pint of ice cream in hand. He sidles over to the couch and takes his spot behind Lan Zhan, pulling him against his chest.

 

“Lan Zhaaan, I said don’t pause for me.”

 

Lan Zhan turns to his side to make sure that Wei Ying is covered with the duvet.

 

“You only brought one.”

 

“That is called being resourceful,” Wei Ying says, tapping Lan Zhan’s nose with the spoon, then digging around the container to catch the frozen strawberries. “You’re not about to argue that we shouldn’t share germs, are you?”

 

He’s not. He accepts the first bite, leans back against Wei Ying, and presses play.

 


“Yeah, this is a nice house. I bet your uncle would shit bricks if he knew I was here.”

 

Lan Zhan can’t argue with that either, not on principle, but he’d rather not be reminded of it, the way his uncle has made clear what he thinks of Wei Ying without so many words, how Wei Ying brushes it off, all self-deprecating humor. But there will be no fixing it tonight.

 

“I’m glad you’re here,” he supplies, and Wei Ying hums.

 

They sit in silence, sharing the spoon. The snowshoe hare is grooming itself under the sun when Wei Ying speaks again, laughing around a mouthful of ice cream.

 

“I’m not gonna lie, Lan Zhan. I knew what you told me you wanted, but I was still worried it would be too much.”

 

A safe word was not applicable in their case, but Lan Zhan had many opportunities to tap his knuckles against the bedpost. He never doubted the arrangement, and he knew Wei Ying would stop if he did. It was their first time trying something as elaborate as this.

 

He looks at the faint marks around his wrists. “It was perfect.”

 

“Eh? Well, I accept- Ah, could you imagine if I tripped the alarm sneaking into that window?”

 

“I disabled it,” Lan Zhan admits, then immediately wishes he didn’t. Even though he isn’t looking at Wei Ying, his cheeks grow warm at the sound of his bubbling laughter.

 

“Lan Zhan, that’s reckless! I mean – ” Wei Ying coughs and swallows. “Someone else could have broken in, you know.”

 

Lan Zhan had weighed that risk against the chance Wei Ying did trip the alarm system by accident, which would have resulted in his uncle receiving a text alert that it had been activated. It was an easy choice.

 

He tries to make more sense of his reasoning out loud, reminding Wei Ying that the rest of the house is bolted shut, that the chance of an actual intruder finding the exact weak point was very slim.

 

“Guess so,” Wei Ying says, setting the pint on the end table for now. He drapes his arms over Lan Zhan’s shoulders and pulls him in closer. “Of course, if someone did break in, I would have fought them off no problem. I am in possession of a deadly weapon.”