A few months after their first kiss, Xie Lian is still in human form, courtesy of Hua Cheng’s insistence and doting eyes that lingered on his figure.
After a quick drop down to visit a nearby village, Xie Lian was fitted into simple white robes so he didn’t have to borrow Hua Cheng’s much too-big ones, although Hua Cheng had loved to see him in them.
They didn’t say much after his birthday, finding that their actions spoke louder than words: A light brush of their hands while they walked through the peak together, Xie Lian quickly adapting to his old human legs, or a quick smooch on the forehead as they said goodnight, entering the womb of night with their bodies comfortably entangled on Hua Cheng’s sheets.
The dragon’s nest that Xie Lian used to occupy was now used as a sort of living room- albeit a very large one that didn’t have a roof. Since Hua Cheng was already used to taking his meals or lounging about there to have Xie Lian’s company, it already felt like a good enough spot for leisure. Hua Cheng’s flower gifts had, over time, entirely engulfed the space, having planted them around his dragon or twined them into the vines. The view as a human, Xie Lian concluded, made his den look fantastical and like some royal garden, which he had been unable to appreciate as a larger lifeform.
Like a catalyst, Xie Lian as a human steadily pushed their relationship to new heights.
It was only natural, then, that they would desire a bit more than their fleeting, casual touches or the soft brush of lips on flesh.
The sunset shed delicate rays of light from the distant mountains as Hua Cheng coaxed Xie Lian back into his small hut that they’d been sleeping in.
“Gege is comfortable like this?” Hua Cheng asked, not for the first time, as they readied themselves for sleep on the thin mattress. Whether the mortal had the foresight to get a big enough mattress to fit the two of them, Xie Lian didn’t know, but was still grateful for it.
“Yes,” Xie Lian responded like he always did. And even if he had to reassure Hua Cheng every time, he was still genuine in his confirmation. He patted the sheets down with a hand for good measure. “You have a very soft nest.”
Hua Cheng smiled at him, allowing his shoulders to relax a bit. They sat side-by-side, barely touching, their hands consciously close, but neither finding it in themselves to make the first move.
“But are you okay being human?” This question was much quieter than the first, Hua Cheng tensing up again.
“Mm,” he nodded. “It’s good. I used to be a bit scared of it.” Scared of how weak he was, scared that he couldn’t protect the ones he loved. “But I feel at ease with you here.”
That was all he needed to say before he took Hua Cheng’s hand in his, gently squeezing. Hua Cheng lightly pressed back, his larger hand dwarfing Xie Lian’s, but not in an overpowered way.
Their eyes met, black and hazel, and it wasn’t long until Xie Lian’s gaze drifted a little lower, towards Hua Cheng’s lips, wondering, are we going to kiss?
But instead of leaning forwards to do so, Hua Cheng instead asked, voice rough, “May I touch Your Highness?”
While Xie Lian had been apprehensive about Hua Cheng calling him that, he gradually got used to it, feeling like his exposure to Hua Cheng’s devoted voice that said those words had overwritten every curse of it from his past. He no longer anticipated anger following that address, and instead grew to pair it with Hua Cheng’s endearing intent.
“Touch?” Xie Lian repeated the question, mind going blank.
“Mm,” Hua Cheng agreed, bringing his other hand up to Xie Lian’s face, not quite making contact, but making his desire known.
Xie Lian nodded, eyes tracing his hand’s movements as Hua Cheng’s thumb swept out to graze against his cheek. His single eye seemed to soften into what Xie Lian coined as his worship look- the dragon god often felt like Hua Cheng was too enamoured with him, the him that was a failure and certainly didn’t deserve such devotion.
“Your scales,” Hua Cheng suddenly exhaled, and Xie Lian was confused, until his hand reached forwards, then brushed backwards very gingerly.
“Ah!” he exclaimed loudly, flushing deeply. Hua Cheng had rubbed the opposite direction of the small scales on his face, and Xie Lian was... pleasantly... surprised to find that the small amount of pain that flashed there turned into a jolt that went straight down… there.
While he indeed was born a human and later made a dragon when he ascended into god-hood, Xie Lian wasn’t the perfect shape-shifter, even if he was simply forming back into his original figure. And so small traces of his dragon origins were left behind on his human skin, small patches of silvery-jade scales that were scattered across his body like freckles.
“San Lang,” Xie Lian could only say in a trembled warning, but not before Hua Cheng had grown a mischievous smile at his earlier reaction, and had done the same to the other side of his face, a little below his right cheekbone.
To his own chagrin, he let out a low moan, which he covered up too late with his free hand.
“Does gege have something to tell me?” Hua Cheng teased. “I would very much like to find out other things Your Highness likes.”
“What do I like!?” he chided. “San Lang, I really, this really is-”
While he stumbled over his own words, Hua Cheng lowered his hand to play with the tie around his waist, eyes questioning, as he seriously asked, “May I?”
Xie Lian made a sound unfitting for a dragon, but ended up nodding, his hand still over his mouth.
Seeing the trust that flicked through hazel eyes, Hua Cheng began to unravel the beautiful mess that was his god- even if he’d never made it known explicitly, he was still determined to show his unconditional love.
“You should,” Xie Lian whispered. “...your, um. Take off yours, too.”
Hua Cheng couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped his lips, not bothering to be as gentle with his own clothes as he had so tenderly taken off Xie Lian’s.
And so the two of them lay together, slowly exploring each other’s bodies, naked except for Hua Cheng’s black eyepatch.
The presence of it didn’t bother Xie Lian so much as the idea that Hua Cheng was still so self-conscious about it, and perhaps still carried negative memories of it.
“San Lang,” he tentatively began, shivering as Hua Cheng rubbed against a particular set of scales against his thigh. “Would you be comfortable…”
He paused, trying to find the right words. Xie Lian knew the power of his words over Hua Cheng, and truly didn’t want to pressure the other into doing anything that he would be uncomfortable with.
While he was thinking, Hua Cheng slowed his ministrations of his hands over skin, looking intently at Xie Lian.
He tried again, putting forth his raw emotions in his voice, making his usual chiming of bells feel more like gongs, “You’re so beautiful. And I would accept you no matter how you looked.” He cautiously drew a hand to Hua Cheng’s chin, rubbing there a bit on his lips, before moving it up to his cheek, where his eyepatch laid. “I just want to cherish you, all of you, even the parts you might not like.”
His motive to remove the eyepatch was brighter than day, and Hua Cheng seemed to think for a moment, drawing in the atmosphere, hands unable to keep still, now caressing Xie Lian’s pale shoulders.
After a time, Hua Cheng nodded slowly, then more confidently again, bringing Xie Lian’s hand over his eyepatch, well within reach. “You can, if you really want to.”
“You’re okay with this?” Xie Lian wanted to be absolutely sure. “I won’t think any less of you if you change your mind.”
“Mm,” Hua Cheng lips curved up. “Just like Your Highness is okay being human with me, I want to do this with you.”
With shaking fingers and Hua Cheng’s hand guiding his own, he peeled off the eyepatch, and as he did so, Hua Cheng seemed to shut his eyes reflexively.
Xie Lian breathed out, humming as he gently set aside the black cloth, and took Hua Cheng’s face in his hands, forcing the other to face him.
“San Lang doesn’t need to be shy,” he murmured, and he lightly pecked the shut eyelid like a hummingbird would kiss the nectar from a flower.
And there it was. A deep, red eye looking back at him, blinking a bit to get used to the light. It fluttered like a baby bird flapping its wings.
Heterochromatic eyes flickered back and forth between Xie Lian’s own, black and red worryingly flashing. But Xie Lian quickly eased his fears with a content smile, saying, “I knew it. San Lang always looks good in red.”
While Xie Lian was waiting for the treat of getting to see Hua Cheng blush, his sight was obscured as the mortal crashed their lips together, his tongue flicking out experimentally, and Xie Lian opened his mouth further to welcome him.
As their breaths and tongues mingled, Xie Lian unconsciously moaning into it, Hua Cheng threw a leg around Xie Lian, suddenly flipping them from their sides to tower over Xie Lian, the god now on his back. His hands had gently softened the fall, and they now moved from his back to his front, still exploring just as Xie Lian’s were.
A few more minutes into their foreplay, and Hua Cheng felt over some scales just right, the sensation so powerful and erotic that Xie Lian keened, a high-pitched whine escaping his throat from pure need.
“San Lang, I can’t,” he managed to say past the haze of pleasure. “Please.”
But what he was asking for, he didn’t know, until he felt a warm hand touching his hard length, and he pushed his hips into the feeling, needing more, so much more.
Hua Cheng groaned at his voice, barely holding it back behind his teeth, bringing his own hard erection to Xie Lian’s, rubbing them together with his hands. Xie Lian was all-too ready to add his own in the mix, needing the extra stimulation.
The hut was filled with their voices, more often incoherent than not, their noises growing louder as they neared their climax, sloppy kissing making obscene wet noises and their cocks sliding through their mixed pre-cum, the sound of flesh on flesh echoing past the wooden construction.
Xie Lian came first as Hua Cheng stimulated a particularly erogenous bundle of scales at the small of his back, his spine arching upwards. The sight of his god losing himself to the pleasure Hua Cheng himself had given, sent him, too, reeling back in the aftershocks of their coupling.
Xie Lian’s stomach was covered in their seed, and before it began to cool, Hua Cheng made quick work to wipe him down, throwing the soiled cloth away from them once he was finished. He then wrapped them both in the now-heated blankets, spooning Xie Lian’s smaller form, feeling waves of content and comfort.
He layered Xie Lian’s neck, shoulders, and back with kisses, sometimes adding more pressure and sometimes leaving just his hot breath over a quick brush of his lips.
They fell asleep like that, the heat of their love-making acting as a barrier against the coming cold.