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Nie Mingjue growled in frustration, pacing the length of his office back and forth. Qinghe Nie would be hosting the next Discussion Conference, which meant his workload had doubled. His hand itched to pick up Baxia and storm out to the training grounds, sparring every last disciple in the Unclean Realm — dragging out his lazy brother if he had to — to work off all this restless energy. Not that it would help. This agitated energy was familiar to him and he knew no amount of fighting would appease it; if anything, it would only make it worse.

Another frustrated growl rumbled in his chest, glaring at the pile of missives on his desk that needed his attention. The Discussion Conference was still a month but planning was months of hard work and meticulous considerations. Who to send a personalized invitation to, who received a general one, where they would stay, who would stay, meals to serve, where the ceremonies would take place…a list a li long of things to consider, most requiring not only his personal attention but also considerations of an endlessly shifting political climate. A Discussion Conference was also an excuse to demonstrate a sect’s might and aptitude so the excursions and events planned must also be exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Anything less than that would be considered a loss of face in front of the rest of the cultivation world.

There were some sects whose opinion Nie Mingjue cared very little about or had ways to handle. Then there were the sects whose opinion Nie Mingjue did care about and actions could have a lasting impact. Unfortunately, those were the sects that Nie Mingjue had to send out the pile of invitations to.

None of which he had started yet.

There were a few he could potentially delay a couple of days; the ones to the sects like Meishan Yu which were formidable but small and far, their connection ambivalent at best. But few needed to be sent with the earliest haste — the ones to the other Great Sects.

In the past, if the letter to Yunmeng Jiang arrived a few days late, Jiang Fengmian would not have taken it as a slight. Now with his son in charge, Jiang Wanyin, Nie Mingjue wasn’t sure if he would share his father’s courtesy in that regard. He would never hear the end of it if the letter to Lanling Jin was late, the Jin clan would surely lord it over his head until the end of his days.

Finally, there was Gusu Lan.

While Xichen would forgive him for any wrong, Lan Qiren would no doubt make him feel like he was fifteen years old again sneaking into places he shouldn’t be. He was the one man Nie Mingjue could not afford to irritate.

Now he had a problem, one that was very much of his own making since he had ignored the physician’s advice.

He was going into rut.

In his defence, it was sometimes hard to tell the difference between his cultivation and his biology. Both made his core burn with a raging fire, made him aggressive and unreasonable. He had only realized something was wrong this morning when Huaisang had asked to borrow a book Lan Xichen had given him and Nie Mingjue had snarled at him unprovoked. Since then, he had shut himself away in his office attempting to finish some work before the rut fully settled in. He’s managed one letter in the last half a day, the second one didn’t count because he had splattered ink all over it halfway through out of irritation.

The urge to fight, the angry simmer beneath his skin were nothing new to him but the desire at the back of his mind to prove his strength and pull a lithe, gentian-scented body next to his and entwine their limbs together — amongst other things — scorched with ardent fervor. The apothecary had hastily managed to gather the necessary ingredients to brew a suppressant blend but there was no guarantee it would work; the tea normally consumed starting a week before an anticipated rut. If he was lucky, it would make the rut pass sooner through his body and less violently. He should have heeded the physician’s words — the recent volatility of his qi meant there was potential for the rest of his body’s regulation and cycles could be thrown into disarray. Ruts worked differently for unmated and mated alphas — those without a mate would become aggressive, territorial and blindsided by sexual urges, making it difficult to function as normal. Ruts were milder for those with a mate; primarily hyperfixated on their mate, seeing to their mate’s every desire, as a mated pair’s heat and rut would sync together. Given he was not yet mated but had an intended beloved, it gave him a nasty mix of both symptoms. Hyperfocus, aggressive and territorial were not a pleasant combination in someone of his temperament, even less so when it was an unplanned one; the additional anger just served to make it worse.

Nie Mingjue grunted, fist punching the wall and leaving behind the slight indents of his knuckles in the wood. He was a sect leader, well over the age of adulthood and here he was unable to control the simplest urges of puberty! Teeth gnashed together as he considered his options. Huaisang could probably handle the simpler letters; his complaints and protests aside, Huaisang was a talented wordsmith — a skill needed for the more delicate aspects of sect leadership, even when he rather spend his days painting frivolous fans. It pained him to do this, but he might need to bribe Huaisang with some pointless trinkets for his assistance.

The door creaked as it opened, a tongue-lashing already forming in Nie Mingjue’s mouth, lips twisted in a snarl. He had told — barked at — everyone that he was not to be interrupted for at least the rest of the day.

But the scent of floral gentians wafted to his nose, cutting through the potent smell of incense masking his own overbearing pheromones, and all the furious words evaporated like water during Qinghe’s summer heat. His instincts stirred in interest, every part of him recognizing his omega mate-to-be. “Mingjue?” The divinely sweet voice called, and it took all that remained of his rationality to not sweep the owner of that voice up in his arms and tuck him away in the security of Nie Mingjue’s rooms as his instincts rattled against its cage.

“Xichen.” The name felt like a prayer on his tongue, spoken with such reverence yet strain. “You should not be here.” He should be at the Cloud Recesses, lofty heights that even celestial beings were envious of. Not here in Qinghe, where every beat of his heart tantalized Nie Mingjue more than the last. The words hurt to say; Nie Mingjue internally still warring with the desire to smother the omega in his scent and send him away as would be considered proper. Lan Xichen was like a nymph descended from the heavens; a celestial gift Nie Mingjue did not know what he did to deserve but would spend his life treasuring.

A slight frown pulled at Lan Xichen’s lips and Nie Mingjue instantly regretted his words — hated being the one that put that expression on his face. “Huaisang mentioned you were feeling unwell. I said I would visit later instead but he insisted that I may be able to help your affliction?” His words washed over Nie Mingjue like a soothing stream, the dulcet tone distracting him so thoroughly it takes an extra moment to process what he said.

Oh, Nie Mingjue was going to string his little brother up by his ankles! That little meddlesome brat!! The irritation must have shown on his face as Lan Xichen latched the door shut and took a few steps closer. “What is ailing you, Mingjue?” He asked again and Nie Mingjue eagerly awaited the day ‘husband’ left those lips for him.

His hands clenched tightly at his sides, not trusting himself otherwise to reach out and draw the sweet-smelling omega to himself. “Nothing that hasn’t ailed me before, just unexpectedly. You can smell it, no?” Rue laced his voice, a half-smile decorating his face. Fondness filled the expanse of his chest as he watched Lan Xichen’s nose twitch minutely and his eyes widened slowly in realization.

“Oh.” He said sheepishly, a faint blush fitting his face. “You’re…” Lan Xichen’s voice trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.

“Going into rut, yes.” Nie Mingjue really shouldn’t laugh at his flustered expression. “Which is why I will string Huaisang up by his ankles at my earliest convenience for his suggestion.” Lan Xichen’s inability to tell upon his entry was nothing surprising — the scent-blocking incense efficiently masked his pheromones thus preventing it from inciting others in his vicinity. Nie Mingjue could only smell traces of Lan Xichen’s own tranquil gentians through the incense because all his senses were currently heightened due to the impending rut.

(Across the Unclean Realm, a shiver of terror jolted up Nie Huaisang’s back.)

A contemplative look crossed Lan Xichen’s face. “But…” His eyebrows furrowed in thought. “You’re not due for one till after the Mid-Autumn Festival.” Of course, Lan Xichen would remember when his next rut was supposed to be. The man was perceptive — Nie Mingjue had hoped he wouldn’t notice this fact; he hadn’t wanted to worry the other man.

Nie Mingjue hesitated, a difficult expression settling on his face as Lan Xichen patiently waited for an answer. “Qi instability can disrupt other body functions, according to the physician.” The words reluctantly dragged out of his mouth, already seeing the frown spread on Lan Xichen’s face. His instincts hovered the back of his mind, berating him for upsetting his mate. “Do not worry, it is just temporary due to this damn Discussion Conference planning.” He gestured to his desk and the paper pillar stacked on one side. “It is my fault for not heeding the physician’s advice and now this is more of a mess than before.” While most of the larger preparations were complete or could be completed without his attention for a few days, barring any emergencies, these were the one part that would definitely be late due to his lapse of judgement.

Xichen’s eyes fell on the heap of paper on the table, being a sect leader himself, he was well aware of the politically delicate and time-sensitive nature of the work there. “The Discussion Conference Invitation Letters —”

“— Are going to be late.” Nie Mingjue bit back the additional comment ‘your uncle will skin my hide’. After all, Qinghe Nie’s actions would not reflect only upon them but on Gusu Lan, their closest ally. In many ways — not that anyone would dare say it to the man’s face — Lan Qiren was like an overprotective mother rather than an uncle to his nephews which was understandable given the circumstances of the family. Nie Mingjue had no desire to rile the man’s ire and has tried earnestly to keep himself in his good graces ever since the time he was caught trying to sneak a peek of Lan Xichen when Nie Mingjue was a guest disciple at the Cloud Recesses.

Who could blame him — he had been a curious boy who wanted to see what his potential bride looked like! But his attempt was thwarted by the opposing figure of Lan Qiren, who had proceeded to give him the longest lecture of his life. He then received a letter from his father reprimanding him for the same but more understanding of his curiosity. He had only met Lan Xichen once before as young children but the memory was long lost to the sands of time. While an arranged marriage was common practice, Nie Mingjue had foolishly once thought it would be impossible for him to accept a mate from this stifling, rule-obsessed sect; the childish arrogance of youth that he thankfully matured from.

Then when he finally met Lan Xichen properly for the first time two years after that debacle — he was smitten at first sight. The grace his every action exuded, the eloquence of his words and most importantly, the quiet strength in his eyes captivated Nie Mingjue. The marriage agreement had been tentatively set between the sects since they were children, but it was only when Lan Xichen had presented as an omega at seventeen, two years after their formal meeting, that the engagement was officially confirmed. Admittedly, Nie Mingjue would have asked to court Lan Xichen regardless of how he presented, having lost his heart to the man at eighteen summers of age. But the engagement made it easier to simply show up at the Cloud Recesses and woo the omega properly. It hadn’t mattered that Nie Mingjue didn’t need to — Lan Xichen was his regardless — simply that he had wanted to. It had been worth every last day-long flight to Gusu, to see those glittering eyes look only at him.

But right now, those same eyes were tempting him in ways that would surely send Lan Qiren into a qi deviation if he ever found out.

“Xichen, you need to go — unless you’re unsatisfied with just being the subject of my rut-hazed fantasies.” A pretty rosy blush blossomed across Lan Xichen’s face again at his honest words; Nie Mingjue guffawed, adoration scorching in his chest. It wasn’t doing either of them any good for Nie Mingjue to tease the omega like this, but he couldn’t help it. Lan Xichen was an enticing, delightful omega and Nie Mingjue was a simple hot-blooded alpha. He had spent many ruts — all the ones he had since they meet — envisioning Lan Xichen with him in various explicit ways, imagining how beautiful he would be in the alpha’s arms. Had gotten himself off in his hand plenty of times over the last few years, nose pressed into a robe Lan Xichen left behind, deeply inhaling and recalling his delicate floral scent and imagining how it would change once they were mated. The wait till their wedding day was an arduous one; their age difference of three years meaning three painful years of longing till Lan Xichen turned twenty. Nie Mingjue had used that time wisely, deliberately courting Lan Xichen and winning his favour only for their union to be wayside by war.

Since then, their courtship period had passed and three of the six etiquettes had long been completed — what they were still waiting for was the selection of an auspicious date. From there, the rest of the rites could be completed and Lan Xichen could finally be his entirely. The thought made a low rumble reverberated in his chest.

Something flickers across Lan Xichen’s eyes as he glanced at the table back to Nie Mingjue’s face. Teeth worried at a plump bottom lip — the desire to kiss those lips sharply increased — a quirk he displayed when deciding whether or not to say something. “Well…” The word crawled out, Lan Xichen’s voice filled with uncertainty. It was rare to hear him sound so unsure in Nie Mingjue’s presence; at the beginning of their relationship, when Lan Xichen was younger and had this engagement thrown upon him, it was a common occurrence but those days were far behind them now. The crease in between Nie Mingjue’s brows deepened— what could be so difficult to say between them now? Hesitatingly, Lan Xichen continued speaking, “I may have chanced upon a technique that could help you delay the beginning of the rut and assist in focus for the duration of your pre-rut.”

Nie Mingjue blinked. “What is it?” That sounded far too good to be true, and the way Lan Xichen said it made it seem it was something he would disagree with.

“Well, erm…” Golden eyes glanced away from him, unable to meet his eyes. The blush on his cheeks darkened and fingers fidgeted with his sleeves.

“Xichen?” Nie Mingjue spoke his name with an underlying demand for an answer. The more Lan Xichen wavered, the more impatient he grew; thus, the more likely he was to give in to his urges and simply throw the omega over his shoulder and carry him in such an embarrassing manner to his rooms.

“I-it has been noted many times that an omega’s presence can induce a rut.” Lan Xichen continued his explanation, still unable to look at Nie Mingjue’s face. “But...an omega presence can also delay the rut in a ‘specific circumstance’ during the pre-rut period.” His speech stumbled over the words ‘specific circumstance’, cheeks colouring further.

“...and what is this ‘specific circumstance’?” Nie Mingjue repeated, although there was a growing suspicion in his mind. It was hard to believe what he was suspecting, given that it was Lan Xichen saying it, but the omega had surprised him numerous times before with sudden boldness — many of his discarded robes ripped at the seams served as proof.

Lan Xichen hesitated for another moment before speaking further. “If the alpha’s…” A pause and a brief glance down Nie Mingjue’s body. “Is…” Lan Xichen’s entire face is florid by this point. “...sheathed in the omega’s...channel.” The sentence was choppy, the well-mannered sect leader attempting to find a way to say it as delicately as possible. “It sates the alpha’s instincts and grants a temporary reprieve.”

There is another pause, longer than the one before, as Nie Mingjue waited for Lan Xichen to say it was all a ridiculous joke. When Lan Xichen continues to say nothing but quietly observe him, Nie Mingjue blurted out, “...where did you hear about this?!” He expected something of this nature as a bawdy courtesan’s tale or a suggestion from Jin Guangshan! In fact, Jin Guangshan probably had said something along these lines to him before and Nie Mingjue had used all his long-taught diplomacy to not strike the man! Lan Qiren’s sharp tongue also reminding Jin Guangshan exactly whose nephew Nie Mingjue was engaged to also helped silence that wretched man before Nie Mingjue attacked him. The man was foolish but not foolish enough to anger two sects and receive no aid from the other two — even Jiang Fengmian’s tolerance often tested by Jin Guangshan’s words as well. Nonetheless, Nie Mingjue’s body stirred in interest at the concept, arousal starting to press against his trousers.

“I...may have ran into a certain trickster-hearted disciple of Yunmeng on my way to Qinghe.” A half-smile flickered across Lan Xichen’s face as he spoke. “When I stopped for a rest, I discovered a book in my possession that was not there when I left Gusu. And I was thus...enlightened.”

Nie Mingjue found annoyance course through him once more. Once he got his hands on him, he was going to string Wei Wuxian up in the tree next to Huaisang!

(In Lotus Pier, Wei Wuxian sneezed into his bowl of lotus root soup, a cold wind blowing through.)

“And…” Lan Xichen crossed the distance between them, his steps fluid as if he was floating. His hand rested on the center of Nie Mingjue’s chest, feeling the steady beat of his heart increase in frequency due to their closeness. The lovely undertones of gentians tickled Nie Mingjue’s nose, more noticeable at this proximity. “Perhaps I am not. Satisfied, that is, with ‘just being the subject of your rut-hazed fantasies’.” Lan Xichen repeated Nie Mingjue’s earlier words back to him, amber eyes darkening as pupils dilated. “Besides, we have already partaken in the wedding night a bit early and given my sect traditions, I will not have a heat till we have made our three bows. What is the harm in indulging a bit more?” The seductive words were accompanied by the hand on his chest tracing along the side of his neck before fingers flirtatiously brushed along his cheek. The sensible thing to do was turn the omega around and shoo him from Nie Mingjue’s presence.

But Nie Mingjue was not a sensible man, least of all when Lan Xichen was concerned.

Not when the fingers of Lan Xichen’s other hand danced against his own throat, drawing Nie Mingjue’s attention there; the black and gold silken collar bearing the Nie Sect motif distinctive against the pale column of Lan Xichen’s neck. The omega had dutifully worn it since he accepted it as the traditional first courting gift years ago, the band stitched with powerful spells keeping it from ripping or staining. Now five years later, it looked just as sublime as when Nie Mingjue first clasped it around his neck, exhibiting to the world who Lan Xichen belonged to. The tantalizing hint that peeked out from underneath his white robes, the fabric resting on the hollow of Lan Xichen’s throat, was a constant alluring reminder of things to come. Every time they met, it took an extra moment for Nie Mingjue to tear his eyes away from it, his mind drinking its fill of the pleasing sight; a fact — based on his amused expression each time — Lan Xichen was well aware of.

Nie Mingjue gulped, throat suddenly dry as the western desert. “This is but hearsay, no? If it doesn’t work then...” A token protest, the words weak to his own ears.

Lan Xichen’s eyes twinkled in triumph, already knowing he had gotten his way. “As I see it, it either works thus allowing you to finish your work and prevent the ire of the other sect leaders and Uncle or…” He tilted Nie Mingjue’s head down to meet his in a fleeting kiss. “...It does not and we simply enjoy ourselves.” He whispered, lips brushing together with every word.

Nie Mingjue groaned, lips chasing after Lan Xichen’s, unsatisfied with the fleeting touch. “Xichen, you don’t need to do this.” One last offer, mumbled between kisses, a chance for the omega to change his mind while Nie Mingjue still had the capacity to let him go.

A huff of laughter against his lips. “I want to.” The honesty rang clear in his voice — Lan Xichen was never good at lying. “Additionally, what bride-to-be would I be if I did not help in your time of need?” The familiar mischievous note in his voice enticing Nie Mingjue further.

With another groan, Nie Mingjue relented, drawing Lan Xichen in for a longer, amorous kiss. The affection he held for this person, never had he expected it to grow to this extent, ensnarled by his every whim. He remembered how it had been so hard, to let Lan Xichen go that morning in Hejian, to watch his heart go away to war and being unable to stop it. The heaviness in his chest, the roar of his instincts — never again should this happen — made his veins thrum and fight with greater ferocity. He had held great pleasure in beheading Wen Xu, that dog, remembering the way he had once leered at Lan Xichen. The way he had suggested it be better for the Cloud Recesses if Lan Xichen married him instead, be sure to ‘put him to good use’.

Nie Mingjue thanked the gods every day that the night of Cloud Recesses’ burning, Lan Xichen had escaped. The other option...was not one Nie Mingjue, leader of the bloody-bannered Sunshot Campaign, the butcher of countless Wen dogs — could stomach. Jin Guangyao would never know how deep a debt Nie Mingjue owed him, having sheltered Lan Xichen during those days. He had laughed when Lan Xichen finally divulged the story of their meeting, then spent the next incense stick’s time cajoling Lan Xichen’s forgiveness for laughing.

(Nie Mingjue wasn’t surprised though, Lan Xichen was spoiled by his sect in specific ways.)

But those blood-stained days were behind him and now they had the rest of their lives together to look forward to.

Now, Nie Mingjue could kiss him gently like so, their tongues twined together and coaxing soft gasps from sweet lips. Eager hands made quick work of their clothes, belts removed, trousers discard somewhere as they undressed as they stumbled down behind the low writing desk. Lan Xichen’s robes had slid off his shoulders and pooled at his wrists, revealing the creamy expanse of his torso. Flushed pink and breathless, the very image of a celestial fallen into Nie Mingjue’s arms.

His hand snuck down under Lan Xichen’s disheveled robe, gently stroking along the curve of his buttocks. A finger languidly caressed over the omega’s entrance, slowly teasing and pressing on the puckered entrance until a steady dribble of clear slick coated his finger. It wouldn’t be until Lan Xichen’s first heat that his body would start producing its natural lubricant in abundance. Then it wouldn’t require as much effort to prepare Lan Xichen’s body but Nie Mingjue had no complaints with the current circumstances. This gave him the opportunity to feel as his finger slowly sunk into Lan Xichen’s heated depths, eased in by the transparent liquid— allowed him to luxuriate in the hands clutched firmly on his shoulders and the press of a nose against his neck, inhaling deep gulps of Nie Mingjue’s scent. Hips eagerly undulated against his fingers, silently begging for him to hurry. But Nie Mingjue took his time, savouring the sight of Lan Xichen coming undone in his arms. Fingers continued to play with his omega’s ass, the wet squelching noise mixing with Lan Xichen’s soft moans, until it could easily fit three of his fingers. His free hand tilted the Twin Jade’s chin up to capture tempting lips in another heated kiss, drinking up every sweet mewl that fell from them akin to a parched man seeking life-saving nectar.

Lidded eyes stared at him once the kiss broke with a faint purr audibly to Nie Mingjue’s ears — the signs of scent intoxication starting to show. Lan Xichen’s enthusiastic response to his smell made a smug sense of satisfaction curl in his chest. With a pang of reluctance, Nie Mingjue withdrew his fingers and propped Lan Xichen over his lap, gently lowering the omega onto his cock — the delicious sight unfortunately blocked by the silken robes — till their bodies were firmly slotted together; Lan Xichen’s back flushed against Nie Mingjue’s chest, legs splayed over his thighs, knees bent against the floor cushion.

A groan sighed out of his chest as Nie Mingjue rested his forehead against a pale trembling shoulder. Lan Xichen’s warmth was exquisite — it was difficult to resist the urge to abandon this endeavour and just fuck him into the floor. Based on the shuddering breaths he could feel vibrate against his skin and the muscles twitching around his cock, Lan Xichen faced a similar dilemma.

“H-how do you feel, Mingjue?” Lan Xichen panted, struggling to keep still as he glanced over his shoulders.

Nie Mingjue scoffed, the demand to burn that accursed book lingering on his tongue. Except…

His instincts were indeed...sated just as the book had stated.

It wasn’t gone — that nagging feeling at the back of his mind — but currently it was content basking in his chosen mate’s wet warmth and presence. A rumble started in his chest, satisfied in knowing that all of this omega’s other suitors had lost; this person belonged in his arms alone.

“...I did not expect this to work.” Nie Mingjue said awkwardly, his mind feeling oddly clearer than it had all day.

A quick puff of laughter fell from Lan Xichen’s lips, not daring for anything more rambunctious lest it cause too much stimulus. “Then you can focus on your work.” Hips shifted slightly against Nie Mingjue’s lap as Lan Xichen searched for a comfortable position to settle in. “Just...ignore my presence.” Nie Mingjue grunted — as if that was possible even normally. Another light laugh rang out in response as hips wiggled once more. “Pretend I am an object or— oh!” His words broke into a sound of surprise as the cloud-embroidered ribbon fell from his forehead, strong hands deftly tying his wrists behind his back.

“Just to ensure you stay put.” Nie Mingjue explained, licking a teasing line against the crook of Lan Xichen’s neck not blocked by the black band, breathing in his lovely scent. The action sparked Lan Xichen’s muscles to reflexively clench tightly around his cock and whatever self-control Nie Mingjue had maintained, shattered completely. He couldn’t resist; the loud gasping moans the most wonderous melody he had ever heard as he fucked Lan Xichen with strong, sharp grinding thrusts, rubbing insistently over his most sensitive part till an outright wail of pleasure tumbled out of his omega’s lips. The heated channel pulsed rhythmically around his cock induced his own ejaculation, his essence shooting deep inside Lan Xichen’s warm body. Pity, his seed would not take root, that Nie Mingjue wouldn’t see him round with their children just yet.

For a moment, the room was silent except for the sound of gasping breaths, both occupants attempting to wrestle some semblance of cognition. Nie Mingjue lifted his head from Lan Xichen’s back, grazing his cheek with a tender kiss. Darkened golden eyes glanced his way. “That...was not...the purpose.” The words were muttered between long heaving breaths. The glare was much less effective on a red-flushed face, Lan Xichen’s eyes still dazed from his climax.

A series of breathless chuckles rattled through his chest as Nie Mingjue pressed an apologetic kiss on a soft-skinned shoulder. “I am a weak-willed man when it comes to you, Lan Xichen. I can only resist temptation for so long, especially when it is placed right in my lap.” Despite his orgasm, he’s still hard within the soft depth of his omega’s body, not softening in the slightest — the rut fueling his drive. “Now my concentration is even better.”

An elegant eyebrow arched at him as a delicate but disbelieving snort resounded through the air. Nie Mingjue yelped as a finger unexpectedly and harshly jabbed him in the gut. “Then, da-ge, please hurry and finish your duty so you can fulfill other ones.” A deliberate grind of his hips against Nie Mingjue’s accompanied his words, emphasizing exactly what duties Lan Xichen was implying. Instilled with new motivation and some focus — Lan Xichen was a distraction in himself — Nie Mingjue set to work, pulling the table closer and started with the most irritating letter, the one to Lanling Jin. While one hand busied itself marking ink across paper, his other arm was wrapped tightly around Lan Xichen’s waist, securing him snugly in Nie Mingjue’s lap with his cock sheathed as deeply as possible in his omega’s hole.

Nie Mingjue could tell that despite just having an orgasm, Lan Xichen was becoming aroused again based on the twitching of his muscles and the slight rocking of his hips. Shallow breathy moans slipped from his lips as an evident tenting appeared in the disheveled robes gathered around his torso. The invitation to Lanling Jin almost wrote itself, Nie Mingjue mustering whatever diplomacy he could to word it as concise and courteously as possible. He may hate dealing with Jin Guangshan but cooperation between sects was necessary in these post-war days to prevent future tragedies. The ink had barely dried before Nie Mingjue threw it aside and picked up the next one from his pile. The message to Yunmeng is easier, fewer motives to question and an easy solidarity had formed between Jiang Wanyin and himself as they were driven by similar goals.

As he wrote, his thumb stroked along the delicate crest of Lan Xichen’s hip, a soothing repetition back and forth. This close, Nie Mingjue could feel every trembling breath and hear every sweet moan that fell from those lips. He was not expecting it, when he shifted forward to dip his brush in more ink, the jolt that shocked through Lan Xichen’s body and the loud keen that ripped from his mouth.

Nie Mingjue hissed, hand tightening along the omega’s waist, the sudden contractions around his cock threatening his control. Red seeped into the corner of his sight and his length throbbed, the desire to thrust up into that wet sticky heat and fuck Lan Xichen properly increased immensely.

A weak hoarse sob fell from Lan Xichen’s lips as he desperately tried to relax his muscles around the alpha’s girth. His hole fluttered around Nie Mingjue’s cock, attempting to loosen yet reflexively tightening afterwards.

“Xichen, Lan Huan,” Nie Mingjue said as another pitiful sound shuddered out of the omega. “Do you want to stop?” Most of the outstanding work was completed now with only one correspondence left to finish. But if Lan Xichen had enough, then Nie Mingjue would deal with the repercussions of that at a later time; his omega’s comfort took precedence over anything else.

A few shaky breaths answered him before Lan Xichen slowly turned his head side to side in refusal. “No, this is…” There was a raspy quality to his voice, throat sore from repeated cries. “This feels...” He swallows harshly, hips willingly squirming impossibly closer until his breath hitched from the overwhelming sensation. “T-the book mentioned it would also feel...good for the omega.”

Nie Mingjue’s lips twitched as he imagined what expression must have been on Lan Xichen’s face as he read through all the salacious details; his face redder than a lady’s painted with rouge but with a fascinated glint in his eyes as he turned the pages. Lan Xichen may have never read an erotic book in his life prior to this, but this ‘gift’ bestowed on him had clearly captured his attention and like the earnest student he was — had absorbed every last detail of it. “...And does it?” His hand reached up to rub at one of the soft pink nubs on his omega’s chest, enjoying the way his body arched gracefully into the touch.

Yes…” Lust-drunk eyes glanced at him, his body helplessly wracked with endless tremors as pleasure continuously coursed through his meridians.

Oh, Nie Mingjue realized as he hid his grin in Lan Xichen’s shoulder. He was enjoying this — enjoyed being so overstimulated that even the lightest touch made him jump and mewl so shamelessly. Taking the agreement as permission, Nie Mingjue’s hand travelled across Lan Xichen’s chest to tweak the other rosy nipple, feeling it pebble and peak underneath his fingertips. The resulting high-pitched whine and hot squeeze around his cock were delightful. If Lan Xichen was enjoying this, then he would definitely revel the state his first heat was sure to leave him in.

It was a pity this room didn’t have a bronze mirror; if there was he could show Lan Xichen how he looked right this instant — blown-pupil and enraptured, such a ravishing sight balanced in Nie Mingjue’s lap with his alpha’s cock nestled deeply inside his body.

Perhaps a thought for later, Nie Mingjue pondered as he trailed another teasing lick along Lan Xichen’s sensitive nape. “Alright then, be good and wait a bit more, when I am finished I will be sure to play with you to your heart’s content.” The promise of more in his words made Lan Xichen’s breathing gradually even out as his body grew lax. All the while, Nie Mingjue pressed comforting kisses along his shoulder, waiting till the shivers calmed before picking up his brush again to continue his writing.

He finished the letters to Yunmeng Jiang and Lanling Jin Sect in record time as well as few of the other minor sect ones, the only one left now was the one to Gusu Lan Sect. There was a particular type of amusement to be found in the fact that the person this letter was addressed to was currently perched contently in his lap using his ass to warm Nie Mingjue’s cock.

Just another secret to be kept between the two of them.

This invitation was harder to write than the others as Nie Mingjue found himself preoccupied with watching Lan Xichen; his body was too overstimulated to handle another climax this soon so he was trying his best to stay still, utilizing all the restraint taught by his sect with his back stiff and straight. Limbs trembled due to the strain — the unnatural need to keep as still as possible absolutely maddening — and his wrists pulled tightly against the white ribbon bonds. Seeing his diligence, it made Nie Mingjue want to tease him — so he did. Lightly as a feather, brushed his free hand over perky buds, pinching and pulling at them firmly. Each time Lan Xichen’s body would clench involuntarily and a broken mewl dragged out of his lips as his hips made aborted little thrusts.

Wanting to prolong the experience, Nie Mingjue purposely slowed his writing, leisurely writing each character without his previous haste which also allowed Lan Xichen somewhat of a respite. This continued for a bit of time; the faint sound of ink against paper the only audible thing besides their breaths. Shoulders sagged as the edge of discomfort receded, leaving behind only a lingering sense of fullness.

“Mingjue, you are missing a horizontal stroke in that character, there are three horizontal, not two.” Lan Xichen’s said, his voice calm but with a breathless lilt punctuating his words.

Nie Mingjue paused and inspected the character — Lan Xichen was correct, there was a stroke missing. He had been lost in his own state of bliss until that song-like call of his name drew him back to awareness. Lan Xichen’s voice was beautiful; on a regular day, Nie Mingjue could listen to that mellifluous tone recite all three thousand and more sect rules for an entire afternoon.

But this was not a regular day and he very much preferred rendering Lan Xichen incapable of anything right now but pretty pleas and sobs.

Nie Mingjue added another stroke carefully into the character, the error indistinguishable afterwards. The clack of the brush placed on its stand was loud in the quiet yet energy-tense room. His lips wrapped around the black silk around Lan Xichen’s neck and sucked, listening for the sharp intake of breath. Teeth nipped at the little exposed area at the base of his neck, finding amusement in the little shudder it invoked.

“I have been remiss if you still have the attention to spare my calligraphy.” The words were deceptively mild, Lan Xichen unable to see the wicked glint in the alpha’s gaze, as both of Nie Mingjue’s hands settled on a slim waist, rocking his cock into his omega’s puffy and stretched hole in small tormenting drives.

A series of quiet honeyed pleas quickly fell from Lan Xichen’s lips, hips fruitlessly bucking against the steeled grip on his waist. Nie Mingjue’s length penetrated him deeply, unrelentingly pressing right along where he was most sensitive.

The lewd mewls grew in intensity until Lan Xichen’s body snapped taut before slumping against unyielding hands, keeping him propped in Nie Mingjue’s lap. Soft pants reverberated through the air, his chest heaving as he attempted to catch his breath. The shock of his orgasm left him boneless in Nie Mingjue’s arms save for the involuntary shivers twitching through his limbs. Nie Mingjue presses gentle reassuring kisses against a fair-skinned shoulder blade and uttered soft mumbles next to a flushed ear, slowly grounding the omega in his arms as the wave of euphoria passed. Broad hands reached down to pet Lan Xichen’s thighs and massage the aching muscles in his lower legs.

Satisfied that Lan Xichen was in no state to make any further cheeky comments — gaze dazed and teary with a light purr dancing from parted lips — Nie Mingjue resumed his writing once more with an arm once again securely keeping Lan Xichen in place. Cool, qi-channeling fingers lazily traced feather-light touches across Nie Mingjue’s abdomen, reassuring him that his omega was fine, just temporarily lost in a climax-induced haze.

Nie Mingjue drew the last circular period on the paper with a flourish and briskly swished off the remaining brush ink in water before chucking the brush unceremoniously into the tube with the others. Uncaring of the loud clattering noise, Nie Mingjue wrapped both his arms around Lan Xichen, finally able to properly embrace and scent him. “Now to make good on my promise.” Despite making Lan Xichen come again and again, Nie Mingjue was not satisfied until he could guarantee his omega would not be leaving Qinghe for the rest of the week — if not that, then certainly his bed for the next day.

The table was pushed aside with little regard as Nie Mingjue shrugged off his robe and gently lowered Lan Xichen so his flushed cheek rested against the dark material of his robes set on the floor, allowing him to easily and liberally inhale the alpha’s scent. Lan Xichen looked particularly enchanting surrounded by Nie Mingjue’s colours — the thought flashed across his mind as he made sure that his cock was still warmly buried in Lan Xichen’s hole as he adjusted their position.

Now that there were no more matters that required his attention, he could lavish it all on the exquisite gift beneath him. Lan Xichen would accept all his loving care, despite how overstimulated and oversensitized he was, would greedily receive everything his alpha gave. Even now, as his limbs trembled from exertion, his eyes still glowed with the desire for more, his hips canted to keep Nie Mingjue in as deeply as possible. Impatiently, Nie Mingjue pistoned in firmly, the smack of meeting hips obscenely loud in the room. His cock was engorged from the persistent teasing and the crushing need to release — preferably in Lan Xichen again — whatever reprieve this ‘technique’ gave crumbling against the ceaseless desire for his mate. Blood roared in his ears as he relished in every soft sobbing mewl that left Lan Xichen’s reddened lips, noting the tears of overstimulation and the drool darkening Nie Mingjue’s robes cushioned under Lan Xichen’s head. Wanting, no, needing to see more of his unearthly, strong mate unravel in his arms, Nie Mingjue bunched ethereal white robes together in a hand and carelessly flipped them over bound hands, granting him an unobstructed view of his slick-covered cock penetrating Lan Xichen over and over, each thrust gliding into the swollen hole with ease.

The sight entranced him.

Footsteps approached — Lan Xichen stiffened, eyes wide in shock, breath frozen in his chest, body involuntarily clamping down tightly on Nie Mingjue’s length.

“Sect Leader Nie? I have the reports from the week’s training sessions.” A crisp knock against the door and an unknown voice called through the locked door, shattering the enchantment cast over the room.

A furious cross between a growl and a hiss roared from Nie Mingjue’s chest — a jolting shiver running down Lan Xichen’s body at the aggressive noise.

What part of ‘do not disturb’ did your foolish mind fail to comprehend!?” Nie Mingjue must have imagined it, but he swore Lan Xichen became wetter at the display of hostility. Despite the interruption, he couldn’t stop his hips from rocking against Lan Xichen’s, his hands gripping unwaveringly on pale hips and drawing the omega back snugly against him when Lan Xichen attempted to squirm away. When teeth bit down harshly on plump lips to hold back loud moans, Nie Mingjue leaned over the omega’s back, scrunched up part of his discarded robes and gagged that pretty mouth with it, all the while continuing to fuck into Lan Xichen’s pliant body.

No one had the right to hear Lan Xichen like this but him.

Nie Mingjue continued to growl at the potential intruder, the noise sending more helpless trembles through Lan Xichen’s body — the feeling of being owned by the alpha fogging his mind.

“A-apologies, Sect Leader!” The sound of feet scampering off on stone gradually disappeared. It was only then that Nie Mingjue removed the improvised gag, a faint silvery line of saliva connecting from wet lips to the damp fabric.

Lan Xichen was a mess — pale skin flushed pink all over, tear-laden lashes, saliva-trickling mouth…

Nie Mingjue couldn’t think of anything that looked more precious.

He wanted to breed this beauty in his arms.

The feeling of something bigger pressing on his entrance shocked Lan Xichen back into lucidity, a mix of panic and impossible arousal pooling in his groin. “A-ah?! Da-ge, is that—!!”

Nie Mingjue swore loudly, hands tight on Lan Xichen’s hips, stilling his movements. The combination of the sweet, enticing omega scent and his own accursed thoughts had induced the formation of his knot, despite not fully being in rut yet. “I will pull out now. ” The words mustered out of gritted teeth, fighting against the urge to push in.

“Wait!” The word startled Nie Mingjue, tilting his gaze till their eyes met. Lan Xichen gulped harshly, sight blurry from the tears clinging to his eyes. “I...I want it.” A blazing desire had ignited within him the moment he realized what it was. Lan Xichen swallowed again, mouth suddenly feeling dry despite the copious amount of saliva. “I want to take your knot.” The words felt so shameless on his lips, Lan Xichen was sure he was red to the tips of his toes.

When Lan Xichen spoke like that, how could Nie Mingjue’s resolve not yield?

Slowly and carefully, he inched into Lan Xichen one last time, watching as the abused hole obscenely stretched wider to take his knot, before it was entirely encased in his omega’s wet and warm channel, plugging him up and pumping him full of cum. Lan Xichen’s hitched cries were a sweet song in his ears, his instincts thrilled at how good his omega was, praising him for taking his knot easily even before his first heat. Clearly, he had chosen the perfect mate, guaranteed to bear him strong children.

Now that his robes were shoved out of the way by Nie Mingjue’s hand, Lan Xichen could glance down and see his own cock half-hard and faintly dripping in between his legs, glistening with the aftermath of his previous climaxes. It twitched weakly as he trembled through the electric sparks of one last orgasm, a few drops of clear liquid seeping from the tip, his body fully spent.

Nie Mingjue untied Lan Xichen’s hands with more deftness than he felt, body responding sluggishly to his thoughts. With his hands now freed, Lan Xichen bundled up Nie Mingjue’s robe in his arms, using it as a pillow for his head. Limbs tingled and felt numb, but the heady alpha scent that engulfed him made it feel less bothersome. That, and the adoring chain of kisses he felt against his sweat-sheened back.

“How long till it…” His words trailed off as another full body shiver ran up his spine. Full, he felt so full, body burning from the strain yet mind ...drifting from the sensation, from the steady warm stream of cum pooling into him. A stray thought — if this is what it felt like out of heat, what would it be like in heat? His heartbeat immediately started to pound rapidly in anticipation.

“...Half an incense stick?” Nie Mingjue guessed, rubbing worshipping hands over Lan Xichen’s aching body. Part of him demanded that even once the knot shrunk to keep his lovely mate-to-be plugged and full of him, making sure that Lan Xichen reeked of his scent, so everyone would know that the graceful omega belonged to him alone. Nie Mingjue leaned down to nuzzle the collar-encased neck. The desire to bite down on this pale column, to have his mark stark against fair flesh, it burned within him with such intensity that it threatened to scorch him. “I am eagerly awaiting the day you bear my mark.” Damn those fortune tellers, could they choose a date already?! The words were mumbled under his breath — really, eloping was starting to look more tempting by the day.

“Oh!” Lan Xichen suddenly perked up at his words, a guilty look darting across his face as he glanced back at Nie Mingjue. “Actually, that was why I originally came to see you. I told Uncle I would deliver the news personally instead of sending a letter.” A beatific and abashed smile graced his face. “A date has been chosen. I was simply...distracted earlie— aah!” His words cut off sharply as the alpha shifted closer and with it, a particular heavy gush of cum pulsed from his cock. Lan Xichen’s tongue lolled out as he took a couple more calming breaths, his soft cock twitching pointlessly. “Mingjue!” He whined, hips squirming weakly, trying not to pull at the point they were still connected.

Stronger affectionate kisses decorated his back, shoulders, any point Nie Mingjue could reach. Hands rubbed and kneaded soothing circles on his lower back and haunches. “Sorry, I can’t control it.” Despite his words, his voice was unapologetic and filled with glee. Soon, soon, he could bask in the sight of Lan Xichen in red, lift the red veil and treasure him in the bridal bed. The thought made him nudge his hips in a bit more, a small gasp shuddering out from Lan Xichen’s lips.

Soon.

A small huff of exasperated amusement left lips curved in a genial smile and he could see the delight and knowing reflected in Lan Xichen’s eyes. The eagerness he felt was a mutual feeling between them. “Mingjue,” The euphonic utterance of his name held so much gentle devotion. This voice could ask anything of him, Nie Mingjue would deny Lan Xichen nothing. “My legs and back are aching. Why if I did not know better, I would say I was copying scriptures all day long. Surely, you will not let me suffer so?” The playful quality of his words was not lost on Nie Mingjue, nor was the unmistakable affection. A mischievous face that looked up at him; cheek and nose demurely pressed against Nie Mingjue’s bunched robes, looking like a huli jing charming his victim.

It worked.

Nie Mingjue inclined forward as best he could and pressed a tender kiss to the corner of Lan Xichen’s eye. “Once the knot subsides, I will carry you to the hot springs.” The hum of satisfied agreement he received in answer demonstrated the other man’s approval of these plans.

Afterwards, he would deposit Lan Xichen in his bed and pamper him appropriately.