Xue Yang is asleep. It would be so easy to reach across the bed, take the knife the animal keeps on the headboard and silently slit his throat. Watch him bleed out, listen to the musical drip-drip-drip of blood pooling under the bed...
No. That would be too simple.
Xuexiao - E - Chapter 1 on Tumblr - Read on AO3! (<- heed the tags)
Xue Yang is at his side in an instant, offering him fresh water, removing the jug of vomit, giving him a handful of raisins to clear his mouth.
Looking so solicitous, so worried, so sincere, even as he laughs and says, “A little warning next time, maybe?”
Xiao Xingchen swallows a raisin. It almost chokes him. “I want be alone,” he says. His voice is weak, scratchy, almost inaudible, but strangely calm.
"You don’t look too good, daozhang.”
A surge of something approaching hysteria. “Leave me alone!”
Xue Yang sits on the edge of the bed. “You’re not well, daozhang. I’ll just sit here quietly. I promise not to talk.”
That would be a first, Xingchen thinks, but, afraid that he’ll burst out with recriminations if he keeps speaking, he lies back down silently. Light pours in through the windows, filling the room with uncomfortable brightness, and it’s all too much after spending so long in darkness, too overwhelming. He tucks the rest of the paperman down into the darkness of his robe and tries to pull a second coherent thread of thought from the tangled snarl in his brain.
All he can focus on is that it’s Xue Yang, it’s Xue Yang. The monster, the murderer, the subhuman animal, sitting not three feet from him, one hand tapping worriedly on the bed, the same hand that had touched his tongue—his face—his—his—
And Xingchen’s mouth between Xue Yang’s legs, Xue Yang’s cum on his tongue—
A nightmarish eternity passes, an unbearable whirlpool of betrayal and horror, and then he feels that hand on his.
“Feel any better, daozhang?”
Xiao Xingchen allows the paperman to peep above the rim of his collar, just enough to look out without being seen. The room is black, Xue Yang’s head silhouetted against the dark gray of the window.
“Head injuries do a number on you,” Xue Yang says, and he sounds so normal, so exactly like Chengmei, that it’s all Xingchen can do to keep from shoving him away from, knocking him to the floor, driving his heel through his teeth—
A stab of heat in his brain. He should do it, smash Xue Yang’s face in, crush his skull to a bloody gray and pink pulp—
Xue Yang’s face is just barely visible in the dim gray starlight. His regrettably fine black eyes are gazing fixedly at Xiao Xingchen.
The eyes come closer, catching the faint light from the window, gleaming like demon eyes, stopping mere inches from his face.
Then they start to move again, floating downward past Xiao Xingchen’s lips, and he feels the brush of skin against his throat, a faint suction, and knows Xiao Xingchen has kissed him, is kissing his way down his chest, down to—
“I’ll take care of you, daozhang,” whispers Xue Yang, his breath warm against Xiao Xingchen’s cool skin, and he licks Xiao Xingchen’s nipple, teeth grazing the sensitive nub.
Tingles spread throughout Xiao Xingchen’s groin as a painful rush of blood engorges his cock.
He moves his hand, meaning to grab a fistful of hair, rip Xue Yang off of him, fling him across the room, but Xue Yang’s mouth is on his cock, sucking it hard, and instead Xiao Xingchen feels a bloody tear slip down his cheek as he comes almost instantly, filling Xue Yang’s mouth.
Xue Yang laughs, swallowing with an obscene gulping sound. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Someone’s eager tonight,” he grins. “Was that all that was wrong?” The delinquent is straddling Xiao Xingchen, wearing just a half-open inner robe as he gazes fondly down at him in the darkness. “You can tell me these things now. Anything you want, I’ll do it.”
I don’t want anything from you, don’t touch me! Xingchen screams inside his head, but he can’t move, can’t speak, disgust choking the air out of him.
Supporting himself on his good hand, hair trailing down over Xiao Xingchen’s midsection like a silky black curtain, Xue Yang begins to move, rubbing his stiff pink cock over Xiao Xingchen’s still half-erect one. There’s something wet there—oil? Precum?—that eases the friction on his oversensitive member and makes it pleasurable instead—
Pleasurable. Xiao Xingchen wants to rip his own brain out through his ears at the thought. And yet he just lies there, rocking his hips slightly, as Xue Yang thrusts down at him with smooth quick movements, their bobbing cocks rubbing together, shafts sliding up and down, until Xue Yang comes with a little gasp, cum speckling Xiao Xingchen’s stomach.
Immediately Xue Yang is bent over him, Xingchen’s hardening cock cradled in the curve of his throat and shoulder, licking the cum from Xiao Xingchen’s stomach in long broad strokes, wiping it off where he can’t reach with his tongue and sucking it off his fingers.
“You look so beautiful like this, daozhang,” he whispers between each swipe of tongue. “As if you’re only half in this world…”
If that’s true, then it’s loathing taking Xiao Xingchen out of himself, a searing hatred that keeps Xiao Xingchen floating somewhere between pleasure and revulsion. He wants to savor the disgust, bathe in the venom before snapping Xue Yang’s neck between his legs—
Xue Yang tucks Xiao Xingchen’s cock more firmly under his chin, fondling his balls with his good hand, and rubs up and down with his chin, turning his face to brush his lips over the swollen flesh. Inhales deeply as if trying to breathe Xiao Xingchen into him, kisses the tip, sucks it gently.
“I like how you feel against my mouth,” he says, and Xiao Xingchen sputters all over his hair, his face, his eyelashes, coating him in a splattered layer of sticky white cum. Grinning, Xue Yang licks what he can off and wipes the rest on the sheets.
“Laundry tomorrow, I think,” he says, curling up beside Xiao Xingchen. He pulls the blanket over the half-naked daozhang. “My robes from last night have been soaking. Maybe we can use the spirit beast’s core to get the bloodstains out, haha…”
He drifts off.
Xiao Xingchen begins to shake.
A few touches of stickiness remain between his legs, and he wants to scrub himself clean, tear his own skin off—
Xue Yang is asleep. It would be so easy to reach across the bed, take the knife Xue Yang always keeps on the headboard and silently slit his throat. Watch him bleed out, lie there listening to the musical drip-drip-drip of blood pooling under the bed...
A flash of heat in his skull. No. That would be too simple.
Xue Yang must be planning something. He has to find out what. It’s been almost two years since he first came to Yi City with—with—
A chill of horror.
He can’t let her come home to this. Can’t let her get caught in whatever trap Xue Yang is laying—
A few days. She won’t be back for a day or so. She likes her space—
Tomorrow he’ll put up a paperman at the courtyard gate. Have an early warning, be able to head her off.
In the meantime—
He sets up two more papermen in the morning, one in the Coffin House, one looking out over the courtyard, making sure they’re well-hidden. He can’t quite get used to the triply-split vision, and ends up maneuvering them so their vision is blocked, all but the one peeking from his robe.
The rest of the morning is spent sitting on the porch steps, just looking at everything, trying to get used to the unsettling sensation of not blinking. The dusty coffins, the clear blue spring sky, the ghostly white scraps of funeral banners, the bobbing funeral lanterns on sticks—all swim before him, and he has to take a break, tucking the paperman down fully into his robe when everything overwhelms him.
It’s hot out on the porch. Too hot. The heat seems to be coming from inside him, but that must be his imagination. He bathes his face with water and pulls the collar of his robe open and remains there, sitting, waiting.
He’s not sure what he’s waiting for. It’s hard to think straight, his mind stretched between three papermen. Little red lines mar the edges of his vision, pulsing slightly with little flecks of crimson light.
He tries to meditate, soothe himself, do something to cool the heat in his brain, settle himself enough that he can fully enjoy the novelty of being able to see again after years of darkness, but all he can think of is A-Qing, A-Qing, I have to protect A-Qing, and the memory of letting that monster put his hands on him, his mouth on him, cup the most private part of him against his throat. Let him whisper sweet nothings to him in mockery of—of—
No. He had not had true feelings for this disgusting animal. Friendship, perhaps, but that was it.
Against his will, his body stirs at the memory of Xue Yang’s mouth, and in a fit of self-loathing he digs his fingernails into the bruises on his ribs, focusing on the pain.
An enormous silver moon has climbed high over the city by the time Xue Yang returns.
“We’ve got to clean that blindfold of yours,” he says, tilting his head at the bloodstained bandages covering Xiao Xingchen’s eyes. Xingchen wants to cut his own dick off at the way his entire body comes alive in Xue Yang’s presence. “I totally forgot about the laundry. Anyway, I flew over half of Shudong, but I found you this.” He dangles a small black pouch from his fingers, grinning. “Medicinal tea, for your head.”
A stab of rage. How dare he do this, how dare he try to take care of Xiao Xingchen—how dare he continue trying to manipulate him—
He forces a smile. Can’t give himself away just yet. “Thank you, Chengmei.”
“Can’t have you dying on me before you sew up my robes, at any rate.” Laughing, Xue Yang enters the house. A few minutes later he exits with a cup of tea steaming in his hand. “Here, daozhang.”
“You should have some too,” Xiao Xingchen says, making no move to take the cup. He knows it’s ridiculous, that someone like Xue Yang would never kill someone by poisoning their food, but—
“I bought it for you, daozhang.”
“Please, A-Mei. A sip. For me.”
Xue Yang almost melts at the A-Mei, blinking at Xiao Xingchen with liquid black eyes. For a moment Xiao Xingchen wonders if he knows he can see, for him to be keeping up his act without an audience. Xue Yang leans towards him as if he wants to touch him again, and a tingle of disgust spreads from the backs of Xiao Xingchen's knees.
“Just a sip, then,” says Xue Yang, twisting a length of hair around a finger, and he takes a small sip. He swallows dramatically to make sure Xiao Xingchen knows he's done as asked, and the tingle of disgust turns to one of arousal, throbbing gently between Xingchen's legs.
Xiao Xingchen downs the tea, sets the cup down on the steps, picks up Shuanghua, and flies up into the night sky.
He gazes down on Yi City. The grim funeral town is beautiful from this height, silver moonlight frosting the sloping rooftops and imbuing it with a mysterious, unearthly air. Starlight illuminates the surrounding forests, their boughs waving gently in the soft breeze, and in the distance he sees the curve of the river that supplies the city with its water.
“Would you like me to describe it to you?” Xue Yang is beside him, balanced effortlessly on Jiangzai. “It’s nice up here.” His voice is so soft that Xiao Xingchen has to fight the urge to shove him off his sword, watch him plummet to the earth, break open on the stone of the Coffin House courtyard in an explosion of blood and bone.
Xiao Xingchen recognizes Jiangzai’s dark energy now. He should have known sooner, should have known —
The red veins edging his vision throb gently, shedding a halo of crimson light, tinting the silver moonlight like blood smeared over a windowpane.
Xue Yang doesn't wait for a response. “It's all silvery. Lots of stars. Mountains in the distance, dark against the sky. Faint pink light still clinging to the horizon. Bats wheeling to the east, a silver ribbon of water to the west…”
Xiao Xingchen can’t listen to this discordant drivel anymore, not from someone standing atop a sword gorged on the blood of countless innocents.
“Get down,” he hears himself saying.
“To go make dinner? I bought some dried fish."
“Down on your knees.”
Without another word Xue Yang drops to his knees on the blade, good hand gripping the hilt for support.
Xiao Xingchen slips his hands inside his robes, takes out his cock. The mere sight of his enemy kneeling before him has him fully erect, and it’s almost painfully sensitive to handle.
“Kiss it,” he orders, and Xue Yang leans forward eagerly and closes his mouth around the tip, tongue caressing the swollen pink flesh.
Xiao Xingchen jerks his head back roughly by the hair. The malignant red light is all around him now, pulsing hot in his brain, and he wants to rip Xue Yang’s scalp off. “I said kiss it!”
Xue Yang is shaking all over now, high color in his cheeks. He gazes up at Xiao Xingchen with a worshipful look that makes Xingchen want to plant his foot on his throat. Gently, so gently, Xue Yang leans forward and presses a kiss to the underside of Xiao Xingchen’s cock. He touches the very tip with his tongue. flicking it back and forth, lapping at the milky beads of precum.
“You have the most magnificent cock,” he says, licking the precum from his lips and running a finger along an engorged vein. He gives a little laugh. “Majestic. You wouldn’t think it to look at you but you could use this thing as a club. They ought to carve jade replicas for the women. Hell, men too. I’d buy one.” He hesitates, waiting for Xingchen to laugh, then, giving up, he kisses the underside, right at the root, and reaches down into his own robes.
Xiao Xingchen tugs roughly at his hair again. “Did I say you could touch yourself?”
Touch yourself. Such vulgar words, but they sound right in this moment. Xue Yang looks up, still trembling, eager for this new game.
“Just for that, open your mouth.”
Xue Yang opens his mouth obediently, and Xiao Xingchen thrusts deeply into his mouth, his cock fitting snugly in Xue Yang’s throat. He grips Xue Yang’s hair as he fucks his mouth, jerking his head farther down on his cock, holding him steady as he fills his throat, heedless of Xue Yang’s strangled gagging.
He pulls out, and Xue Yang draws in a rasping lungful of air.
“Mouth open!” he orders before Xue Yang can catch his breath, and Xue Yang, breath coming in a thin whistle, obediently parts his lips.
Xiao Xingchen pumps his own cock, a few quick strokes, and then he’s coming in Xue Yang’s waiting mouth, on his tongue, his lips.
The red haze fades slightly as he spends himself, the heat in his brain cooling slightly.
“Swallow,” he orders, and Xue Yang does so, eyes bright, entire body quivering with arousal. A few drops of cum have gone astray, landing in his long thick eyelashes.
“Thank you, daozhang,” he says, licking his lips, and Xiao Xingchen would get hard again if it were physically possible.
He reaches down into the courtyard, stirs the paperman outside the Coffin House, looks up through its eyes.
He is standing tall against the brilliant silver moon, white robes and black hair flowing out behind him. Xue Yang, the murderer, the monster, kneels at his feet, gazing up at him, one shaking hand extended slightly as if to touch the hem of his gown, sully the white linen with his filthy fingers.
Xiao Xingchen turns and flies back down to the courtyard. As if nothing had happened he strains the rice Xue Yang had boiled along with the tea and seats himself at the table, his mind a curious blank.
Xue Yang steps over the threshold. He’s not fully erect anymore, but Xiao Xingchen can tell he hasn’t touched himself, either, and his cheeks are still flushed. He glances at Xiao Xingchen, that same oddly soft look on his face, and fills a bowl with rice. He bites his lip as he does so, hesitating for a fraction of a second. In all their time together, Xingchen has never once taken a bowl of food for himself without setting one out for Xue Yang and A-Qing.
No. He has time to handle Xue Yang. He has time to protect her—
Xue Yang pulls his chair out, and Xiao Xingchen shakes his head.
“Did I say you could sit at the table?” he says sharply. It’s a tone he’s never heard from himself before tonight. “The table is for people.” He sets his own half-eaten bowl on the floor and takes Xue Yang’s full one from his hands.
Xue Yang grins and settles down on the floor, thrilled at this new game, at being taken care of by the daozhang, a favored pet. His back rests lightly against Xiao Xingchen’s leg, warm and solid and far too alive.
It would be so easy to reach down, plunge an ivory chopstick into Xue Yang’s ear—not his ear. His eyes—take his like he took Song Lan’s. Ivory chopsticks, slick with his blood—
Ivory chopsticks. Xiao Xingchen glances down at the smooth white sticks in his hand. He’s never thought twice about the chopsticks “Chengmei” had brought home one day as a gift for him. Stolen, no doubt. Had he murdered the owner? Killed them for a pair of chopsticks, a gift for the daozhang—
Of course he did.
The only other gifts he had ever received from anyone other than Xue Yang had been Song Lan's horsetail whisk and Shifu's parting gift.
He reaches down, rests a hand on Xue Yang’s head. Xue Yang makes a small sound in the back of his throat, and Xiao Xingchen removes his hand.
He hands Xue Yang his bowl when he’s done, watches as he washes the bowls and chopsticks.
“We should do laundry tomorrow,” Xue Yang says as he dries them. “And move your coffin out of the house—” He glances at Xiao Xingchen expectantly, as if wondering if he’s gone to too far, expecting Xiao Xingchen to remain in his bed, and Xiao Xingchen nods and crosses the room, undresses, lies down.
Grinning, Xue Yang strips off all but his inner robe and scrambles into bed beside him.
“Foot of the bed,” Xiao Xingchen orders.
Obediently, Xue Yang curls up at his feet. Through the eyes of the Coffin House paperman Xiao Xingchen can see the swollen flesh pressing up against his inner robe, the bright moonlight gleaming off the bulge, a small wet spot staining the green silk. His robe is half-open, and Xiao Xingchen sees his bloodstained bandages.
How could I have forgotten to wash his wounds, change his bandages—
The thought is gone almost as quickly as it appears, but it leaves a scar of shame and rage behind. The moonlight is bloodying again as he reaches out to the paperman in his robe and the one across the room, looking through their eyes.
He likes the sight of Xue Yang curled up like a docile dog at the foot of his bed. A rabid animal brought low, kept sniffing his hand, until he decides to put him down.
Another quick, flitting thought: this is not like Xingchen. Mercy is. Not forgiveness, perhaps; not after what Xue Yang has done, but a quick death. Not playing with his prey, not delighting in this—this perversion—
The veins on the edges of his vision throb hotly, clamping his head in a skull-crushing vise.
“Don’t move until I tell you to,” he commands, and he goes to sleep.
Xue Yang is still curled up in the same spot when he wakes the next morning. Clouds have rolled in during the night, and rain taps on the windowpanes. The room is cool, shrouded in grim gray light, dampness seeping in under the door and around the windows.
Xiao Xingchen has always liked rainy days. The peace, the coziness of the Coffin House, Xingchen holding in a laugh as he listens to Chengmei try not to curse as he stuffs the cracks he’s already fixed a dozen times before. A small fire, Chengmei telling stories, A-Qing pretending not to listen but secretly entranced—
A-Qing. Where is she? It’s rainy out, she should be home early—
He glances at Xue Yang. His eyes are open, gazing across the bed at Xiao Xingchen with that same bizarrely soft look. There’s something else there, too, that Xiao Xingchen can’t decipher.
He doesn’t bother trying.
Without a word to Xue Yang he dresses and leaves the Coffin House with a fourth paperman infused with the spirit beast's core. Carefully, he carves off another section of his mind and slips it into the paperman.
He drops his umbrella at the sudden jolt of blinding, searing, world-reddening pain, staggering backwards, one foot crushing the bamboo spokes of the umbrella, tearing the delicately-painted paper.
Umbrella. Another gift from Xue Yang—
He steps on it again, again, smashing, stomping it to splinters, then places the paperman in a dry alcove of the courtyard wall and returns to the house.
He’s a bit shakier than he’d like to admit, everything still tinted red, little pulses of light racing along the veins on the edge of his vision. He takes a moment to steady himself before entering the Coffin House.
“Get up,” he says shortly. A buzzing, crackling, energy is in the thick cool air, and when he grabs Xue Yang’s ear, yanking him up, he feels a spark of lightning jump between them, intensifying the heat in his brain.
Xue Yang scrambles to his feet, stumbling slightly, either from having lain so still or from the blood Xiao Xingchen notices seeping through the bandages on his side.
“Clean the house before I get back,” orders Xiao Xingchen, because he can’t stay another second in that house with Xue Yang. He loathes how his traitorous body still lights up around the repulsive creature, can’t stomach how the mere sight of him sends his blood rising, from lust or hatred or a mix of the two he doesn’t know. A flare of heat and he’s seized by a sudden desire to pin the dog down, fuck his wounds, brand him from the inside, fuck his side open, rip his bones out one by one—
“Daozhang?” Xue Yang is sitting on the edge of the bed. His face is pale, good hand on his bleeding side. “I…” He stops. “Where are you going?”
“Did I say you could talk?” Xiao Xingchen says coldly, and a look just as odd as that horrible soft one creeps across Xue Yang’s face. “Should get you a muzzle—”
Ugly words, foul words, words that feel foreign in his mouth, but ones that send a thrill through him.
Fuck the murderer like a dog, treat him as he deserves to be treated—
Xue Yang removes his hand from his ribs, glancing down at the blood staining his palm. “I’m not a…”
Xiao Xingchen’s mouth is set in a thin hard line. That heat is back, turning the hairline fractures along the edges of his vision a violent scarlet. “Rabid dogs are good for one thing only, and it’s not talking.”
Xue Yang glances up at Xiao Xingchen, that same odd look still on his face. There’s no bulge in his robe this morning, and his scarred skin is bone-white and streaked with blood from his side, as if his meridians half opened during the night.
Xiao Xingchen smiles.
It is not a nice expression, but all Xue Yang sees is the smile. He revives like a wilted flower, a smile of his own splitting his face. The game is back on.
“Tell me you’ll obey,” demands Xiao Xingchen, pointing at the floor, and Xue Yang gets down on his knees, shaking with excitement.
“I swear I will, anything you say—”
“Take a bath. Clean that blood. I’ll be back for you later.”
A flicker of a frown—Xiao Xingchen has always tended his wounds—but it quickly disappears. Xiao Xingchen knows what he’s thinking: all part of the game. The daozhang knows he’s all right, that the stitches half-tearing is nothing to Xue Yang, how he’s survived far worse—
Xingchen heads out. Flies over the walls of the city to walk under the trees, tries to absorb the peace of the forest. It’s the first time he’s seen greenery like this in years, but there’s a mounting pressure in his skull, and the leaves appear to be coated in blood, dripping—
The paperman is hot against his collarbone, searing the bruises Xue Yang left on his skin. He tucks the paperman fully into his robe and casts his consciousness back to the Coffin House paperman. It’s agonizing, white-hot heat blooming in his brain, but he can see Xue Yang stripping the bed, hauling the sheets out into the rain. He switches to the courtyard paperman and watches Xue Yang scrub the sheets with his one good hand, frowning at the bloodstains, whistling off-key, smiling when he gets the white streaks off the brown cotton.
A filthy lie.
For hours he paces under the dripping trees, swallowed by the growing shades of twilight as his thoughts blaze bright and hot.
A lie. A lie. All just a filthy lie—
The heat in his brain builds, expands, searing the inside of his skull.
If only A-Qing were back. Knowing she was safe, he could settle things once and for all—
A-Qing is not coming back.
The thought, cold and calm and blue against the scarlet of his mind, sits there, hands folded, staring at him with clear eyes.
A-Qing is not coming back.
Chengmei’s voice returns to him: “Good thing A-Qing isn’t home…”
He had killed her.
Xiao Xingchen knows it like he knows his own name.
Xue Yang had murdered A-Qing.
Murdered an innocent girl in order to get the daozhang alone. Alone to—to—
His hand on his hip, his mouth on his cock—
Xingchen doesn’t remember the flight back to the house. He steps inside, heat flaring through every inch of him despite the wet chill, and stares down at Xue Yang.
Xue Yang looks up at him, eyes bright. Three candles flicker cheerfully on the table, sending black shadows dancing through the room. Rice is cooling on the stove, a mound of fruit on the table. Xue Yang has been carving them into shapes with a long silver knife, fitting them together into little animals.
“Give me the knife, strip, and get on the bed,” Xiao Xingchen says, and Xue Yang goes rigid, mouth opening. He closes it with a snapping sound and is across the room in an instant, shedding his robes. He lies naked and eager on the bed’s fresh blankets, swallowing convulsively.
Waiting for Xiao Xingchen.
Xiao Xingchen snuffs out all but one of the candles and sets it on the floor beside the bed. Rain dashes itself against the windowpanes and hammers the stone courtyard, the only sound in the house as he slips off his soaked robes.
“Just tell me what to do,” says Xue Yang, already breathless. His burning eyes are fixed on Xiao Xingchen’s face as if devouring him, hunger in the lines of his mouth. He’s already hard, cock swollen and heavy between his legs, just visible in the glow of the candle on the floor.
Slowly, Xiao Xingchen removes the white jade hairpiece Baoshan Sanren gave him as a parting gift, wraps it in a handkerchief, sets it on a shelf. Combs out his wet hair, letting it fall around his bare shoulders. Lays Xue Yang’s knife on the headboard along with a small bottle of soybean oil from the pantry.
Unties his bloody blindfold, lets it drop to the floor.
Xue Yang’s eyes widen and Xingchen thinks the animal might come on the spot. He’s never seen Xiao Xingchen’s true face like this before, fully exposed, bare. Xiao Xingchen can see himself as Xue Yang does, long white body wreathed in candlelight and shadow, purple bruises mottling the faint outlines of his ribs, dark hollows swallowing half his bony, beautiful face. Stern, cold.
A hazy look enters Xue Yang’s eyes, softening their usual intensity. He reaches up towards Xiao Xingchen’s face, and Xiao Xingchen finds himself leaning over him. Xue Yang tilts his face at Xingchen, fingertips grazing the rims of his empty eye socks.
“You’re even more beautiful like this,” he breathes, and he leans up to kiss Xiao Xingchen, their first real kiss, full on the mouth. Warm and soft—
Xiao Xingchen feels himself returning the kiss, the heat in his mind cooling. Watches himself lean over Xue Yang, watches Xue Yang’s long pale fingers tangled in his dark hair, watches himself slip between Xue Yang’s legs, one hand resting on the bandages, the other bracing himself on Xue Yang’s bent knee. Xue Yang’s cock is trapped between them, hot and hard against his stomach.
Xue Yang bucks into Xiao Xingchen, rocking his hips. There’s increasing desperation in his kiss, his legs tightening around Xingchen as he ruts against him. He comes quickly, long-neglected cock spurting up onto Xiao Xingchen’s stomach.
“You didn’t mean what you said before, did you?” Xue Yang whispers into his throat. Haltingly, as if still hesitant to ask despite their intimacy loosening his tongue. “This morning.”
Rabid dogs are good for one thing only, and it’s not talking.
That morning. It seems like an eternity ago. Before Xiao Xingchen had left the house, before he had realized—had realized—
Xiao Xingchen straightens up. Xue Yang’s cum is hot on his stomach, burning the skin. Tainting him, marking him. Gritting his teeth, he leans back, straddling Xue Yang, gazing down at him in the flickering glow of the candle.
“Did I say you could finish?” he asks. He wants to wipe the cum off but can’t bear to give Xue Yang the satisfaction. “Did I give you permission?”
Xue Yang looks up in confusion. “Daozhang…”
Xiao Xingchen smiles.
Xue Yang’s eyes widen but then, reading something in Xiao Xingchen’s face he’s certain isn’t actually there, he relaxes, tilting his head and grinning back.
“Now, stay quiet for me,” Xiao Xingchen tells him, because he can’t bear the sound of Xue Yang’s voice, Chengmei’s voice. The heat is returning, red splotches pulsing along the edges of his vision, scorching his empty eye sockets. “Keep your mouth shut for once.”
“I will, I won’t make a sound—”
“I said be quiet.”
Xue Yang’s grin stretches wider. “I promise, I'll be so quiet you won’t even know I’m here.”
Xiao Xingchen extends a hand, and the spirit-binding rope inside his folded robes snakes ribbon-like through the air toward him. Before Xue Yang can react his ankle is bound to the bed frame, a little noose on the end of a long rope.
And the hooligan laughs. “So that’s what you’re into, daozhang? Can’t say I didn’t suspect it, after the past few days. Should probably tighten in a bit, though. Ha, could you imagine if A-Qing walked in right now—”
A-Qing, lying dead in a shallow grave, tossed on the side of the road for the dogs, carved up in pieces and scattered for the crows—
Gripping him roughly, Xiao Xingchen rolls him over onto his front, yanking him up onto his knees. Xue Yang’s shattered arm jerks into the mattress and he gives a muffled grunt, but not a word of complaint escapes his lips as Xiao Xingchen takes the knife from the headboard and slices the bandages off Xue Yang’s wounded side, fingernails digging into his half-torn stitches.
“I told you to take better care of yourself,” he says and rips the stitches out.
Blood dribbles over his hand as Xue Yang gasps, muscles in his bare back standing out like whipcords as every inch of his body clenches. Xiao Xingchen slicks his hand with blood and oil and rubs it roughly over Xue Yang’s hole, nails scratching the delicate skin, digging deep inside him, working him open.
Xue Yang remains silent, every muscle tensed, then moves back, sliding Xiao Xingchen’s fingers deeper inside him.
The degenerate is… aroused by this.
Gritting his teeth, Xiao Xingchen grips Xue Yang’s wounded side tighter.
A wet tearing sound as his finger digs deeper into the gouge wound.
A second gasp. “Daozhang—”
“Don’t talk. Don’t you like this?”
Xue Yang’s cock has grown fat and hard, dripping precum onto the sheets beneath him. “Anything you want, I’ll do anything—”
"What I want—" Xiao Xingchen shoves him forward, pinning the shoulder of his bad arm into the mattress, Xue Yang’s cheek pressed into the sheets, cock crushed at a painful angle "—is for you to be a good dog for your daozhang, Xue Yang.”
Xue Yang’s body jerks in shock at the sound of his name, and Xiao Xingchen plunges his cock inside him. It’s tight, too tight, and Xue Yang twitches spasmodically beneath him.
Xiao Xingchen grabs a fistful of hair, wraps it leash-like around Xue Yang’s throat, and begins to move, thrusting hard into Xue Yang’s tight heat, yanking hard on the leash as Xue Yang’s good hand scrabbles uselessly at the noose of hair around his throat.
“Rabid animal, killing A-Qing—I’ll treat you like one—”
“I—didn’t—” Xue Yang chokes out. He’s bleeding heavily from his side, spirit-binding rope unsealing his blood-stopping meridians. “I—”
Xingchen loosens the collar slightly, allowing him to speak. “Didn’t lie to me all this time?”
“ I lied to you ? You lied to me, pretending you—”
Xingchen cuts him off, yanking on the collar, cutting off his air. Xue Yang’s bloodied teeth are bared, veins standing out in his temple as he chokes, a sudden flash of hatred burning in his eyes.
“Lying dog! So you didn’t slaughter Baixue Temple, murder A-Qing—you blinded Song Lan, set him against me—”
“You did that all by yourself—” Xue Yang chokes.
“That bastard deserved it, taking your eyes—”
“You took him from me—”
Xue Yang's voice is barely audible, a faint wheezing gasp. “That over-saturated blanket? You ought to thank me!”
“Shut up!” He releases the hair collar and instead presses Xue Yang’s head hard into the mattress and thrusts into him savagely, hurting both of them. He barely feels it through the heat blazing bright and red inside him, swallowing all else in an inferno of hate and betrayal and rage. “Shut the fuck up, you subhuman animal —”
Xue Yang manages to turn his head, gasps in a deep breath of air, laughs as if this is funny. Blood sprays the blanket. “Am I delirious, or is the daozhang cursing?”
“I ought to gouge out your eyes, let you bleed to death on this bed; nobody would mourn you, no tears would be shed, just another dog tossed in a roadside ditch. Carve your lying tongue out—”
More laughter, Xue Yang’s body shaking beneath his, accelerating the spread of the blood blooming over the mattress. “I have a collection I can show you.”
More laughter, more blood spraying across the blanket. “You fucking gullible idiot—”
Xiao Xingchen flips him over his back so he can look him full in the face. A fresh trickle of blood is leaking from between Xue Yang’s legs. He’d torn something down there. Good. But Xue Yang makes no sign of pain, doesn’t resist as Xiao Xingchen pins him down, one hand on his broken arm, the other on his wounded side, fingers twisting at the torn flesh, digging deeper, clawing their way down to bone.
“My beautiful daozhang,” says Xue Yang sarcastically. His voice catches in his throat, as if he finally fully feels the pain in the raw red mess on his side. “My pure white dove with bloodstained wings.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Xue Yang tilts his head at him. His face is lily-white, the blood on his cheek shockingly bright even in the candle’s flickering glow. His eyes are rimmed with pink, hair a matted mess, and Xiao Xingchen almost comes at the sight of him. “Do you really want to know?”
And suddenly Xiao Xingchen does not want to know. It doesn’t matter, not anymore. A-Qing is dead, Song Lan is gone.
But Xue Yang is beneath him. Warm.
Staring up at him fixedly, making no move to push him off. A sneer is plastered over his face, but if Xiao Xingchen didn’t know better he’d think tears were glistening in those fine black eyes.
He reaches down, touches Xue Yang’s face, leaves a trail of scarlet on his white cheek. Brushes his finger over his mouth, reaching past his bloodless lips, easing his teeth open, forcing his fingers in his mouth, stroking his tongue with a finger. Pierces it with his nail, removes his hand, wipes the blood on Xue Yang’s hair.
“You look so pretty with blood on your face,” he says, and begins to move inside him again.
“Fuck me like you mean it, daozhang,” Xue Yang grins, and Xiao Xingchen grips him by the throat, choking Chengmei’s voice out of him. Lets go to flip him on all fours again, then reaches around to grip him by the blood-slick throat again, fucks him violently from behind like an animal.
And Xue Yang laughs, laughs as Xiao Xingchen crushes his throat, laughs as his shattered arm is rocked into the mattress, laughs as he saturates the bed with blood.
Xiao Xingchen can feel nothing but the blazing, all-consuming heat devouring him from the inside, a foreign, malignant presence smothering his mind with rage.
Filthy lie—all a lie—all a lie—
“Not just me,” says Xue Yang, as if he can hear his thoughts, and Xiao Xingchen’s fingers tighten around his throat.
“I didn’t lie,” he hisses. “I did care about you, you subhuman animal, you made me think I loved you—”
Xue Yang ragged choking laugh breaks off and he spams, thrashing beneath Xingchen. A spurt of white splatters over the crimson of the bed. His muscles clench around Xiao Xingchen’s cock as he comes and Xiao Xingchen spills inside him with a shudder, yanking Xue Yang’s head back so sharply he almost snaps his neck in half.
Panting, he shoves Xue Yang flat on his chest, still locked inside him, and takes a moment to examine the tableau he’s created.
Xue Yang, spread out beneath him. The red-soaked sheets. Xiao Xingchen, damp black hair cascading loose over his white back. The glow from the candle on the floor, gilding the edge of the bed, painting the wet windows with gold.
He inhales deeply, the heady scent of blood mixing with the pounding red inside his skull.
“Had enough?” he says. He bends down, turns Xue Yang’s head to the side. “Enjoyed being fucked like the dog you are, my friend?”
Xue Yang stares glassily up at the window.
He touches the dark purple bruises ringing his throat.
He remains very still, still as the corpse beneath him, then pulls out of Xue Yang’s limp body with an obscenely wet sound. Carefully, very carefully, he moves the corpse, dragging it up to the head of the bed, placing it gently in his arms.
It’s rapidly growing cool, a combination of the massive blood loss and chill of the rainy night. He slides it under the blood-soaked covers beside him and kisses its ivory forehead.
“Good dog,” he says, and he begins to laugh.
He can’t stop.
He laughs until his bruised ribs threaten to separate and the blood covering Xue Yang’s body has grown cold and sticky. His mind is cooling too, but the pressure in his head is growing, swelling, threatening to burst his skull into a thousand shards. Icy-hot, it stabs at him as he reaches out to the paperman in the courtyard, the paperman behind the bed, across the room, at the gate—
No need for them now.
With an agonizing wrench, he severs the connection.
Coolness like water rushes into his mind, extinguishing the flames, banishing the malign presence, and darkness swallows the world again.
It’s comforting, somehow. Familiar.
He moves slightly, and is surprised to find that his arm is pinned.
Pinned beneath Xue Yang’s body.
Xue Yang’s cold, lifeless body.
Chengmei’s cold, lifeless body—
A shudder runs through him.
“I had to,” he whispers. “A-Qing, A-Qing, I had to avenge her, I had to…”
He cradles the body in his arms, rocking it gently back and forth as he mumbles to himself.
“I had to…I had to…”
Had to had to had to had to—
Had to. Had to.
Dawn is breaking when he hears the familiar tap-tap-tap of a stick on the stone of the courtyard.
Xiao Xingchen begins to cry.
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