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and promises upon promises to keep

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“You do know I’m not going to break if you fuck me, right?”

Next to him on the bed, Feng Xiao gave what he would describe as an incredibly dignified splutter, given the circumstances. He’d only just finished cleaning off his hands and was getting quite ready to drift off to sleep, perhaps even try to coax Cui Buqu into letting him cuddle him a little (it really was his loss, that he hadn’t let Feng Xiao so far. Ququ could probably use the extra body heat during the night).

He was not at all prepared for this.

“Says the one who had to request we take a break or else he’d have a coughing fit!” And that had just been his mouth! It was a point of pride for Feng Xiao that anyone he deemed worthy of taking to bed had an unforgettable experience (with him on the side of quite forgetting), but he wasn’t used to having those tables turned on him, and certainly not like this.

“Oh. That’s disappointing. I thought you’d tell me it would be an honor to die by your cock or some nonsense. I’m not entirely fragile.” Cui Buqu’s words would’ve been stronger if they hadn’t been punctuated by another slight cough, but they still struck straight through Feng Xiao’s heart.

He leaned over eagerly, the better to look Cui Buqu in his eyes and make sure he was getting this right, even as the other turned his head to avoid him.

“I regret this already. If you’re so worried I’ll perish within your arms like some maiden in a poem, then go slow.”

An idea started to form in the back of Feng Xiao’s mind, and he leaned in to kiss Cui Buqu quickly. Which backfired, as he found he wanted to deepen the kiss instead of ending it, only pulling back when Cui Buqu’s sinuses started to complain.

“Oh, Ququ, I’ll go slow.” The way Cui Buqu’s eyes narrowed at the grin Feng Xiao could feel spreading across his face was the best answer he could have gotten.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t put his plan into action immediately: even the second commander of the Jiejian Bureau couldn’t entirely skip on work to blow his lover’s mind.

It did sort of take the edge off of having to wait, seeing Pei Jingzhe go white opening the bag he’d had delivered. Feng Xiao had just raised one eyebrow at him and held his hand out for the paper bag, enjoying the stammering and knowledge that Pei Jingzhe wouldn’t ask any questions about any of his orders for at least a week.

It was especially good when at the end of it, Cui Buqu himself walked in. Pei Jingzhe had glanced between them, once, his face red as Feng Xiao assumed he was remembering what had been in that bag.

“Commander Cui, how nice of you to visit. Did you miss me? Was our separation too much for your heart?”

Feng Xiao laughed as Cui Buqu turned right around, about to go out the way he’d come. He darted around the desk, picking up the paper bag as he passed and following Cui Buqu out into the hallway.

“Forgive me for thinking that the lack of interruption at the Zuoyue Bureau meant that either you were thinking up some truly insane stunt or that your corpse was cooling on the steps.”

“So you left it a week before checking on me? How cruel, Ququ, I wouldn’t have even been a beautiful corpse at that point.” It was true though, that he hadn’t even sent filthy letters over to the Zuoyue Bureau in the time between, much less any other larger intervention, and his heart turned over a bit at the thought of Cui Buqu worrying about him. Or perhaps it was just the thought of the state of decay after a week.

“Would you have at least examined my corpse? Taken revenge for my murder?”

“The affairs of the Jiejian and Zuoyue Bureau are kept separate for a reason. Besides, if you were murdered, there’s likely little I could do to defeat them.”

Feng Xiao felt his heart skip another beat and wondered briefly if this was what Cui Buqu felt all the time with a weak heart. If so, no wonder he had trouble distinguishing between them and finer feelings. “Was that a compliment?” He made eye contact with Pei Jingzhe, who retreated faster than Feng Xiao had ever seen him move before. He’d remember that the next time they found themselves in a fight.

Cui Buqu didn’t reply, but he did slow down enough for Feng Xiao to be able to walk abreast with him through the hall. Not that Feng Xiao wouldn’t have outpaced him anyway, not with Cui Buqu’s stamina, but it was the way he didn’t move away when Feng Xiao’s arm brushed his that counted.

The carriage ride was uneventful, for once, which given their history, was a rather delightful surprise, but it meant that in what felt like no time at all, they were at Feng Xiao’s quarters. They’d been to Cui Buqu’s once before, whereupon Feng Xiao had laid down upon the bed and pronounced it part of at least half of the trouble of Cui Buqu’s health. Not to mention his laundress only came once a week. Feng Xiao’s came daily.

Feng Xiao made tea. It was only polite. He watched Cui Buqu pick up and set down the teacup no less than three times without taking a sip before it was finally too much.

“You doubt that I’d give you an unwashed cup? Ququ, I’m hurt.”

Cui Buqu immediately took a sip - too quickly, judging by the way he blinked suddenly.

“Ququ, it couldn’t be...are you nervous?” To be fair, Feng Xiao thought, while this was far from the first time they’d tumbled into bed, far even from the first time they’d come back to these very quarters knowing where the night would end, it had always been more of an addition to an invitation for dinner or tea or just a desire for conversation with someone who could keep up. Never had there been this sort of anticipation that hung over the both of them, heavy in Feng Xiao’s throat and chest.

“Are you actually required to give voice to everything that crosses your mind?” The annoyed look on Cui Buqu’s was his favorite, because it meant that Feng Xiao had broken past that facade and won a genuine reaction. Or perhaps soon to become his second favorite, depending on what the night brought.

He moved to the other side of the low table, sweeping out his sleeves as he knelt next to Cui Buqu with a grace that would make dancers weep. Cui Buqu didn’t even blink. He took Cui Buqu’s chin in his hand, and it was more the lack of resistance and the way his mouth opened under his that told Feng Xiao what he needed to know.

He caught Cui Buqu’s gaze as he pulled back, his eyes sharpening as he said, seriously, “I promise you…”

“Oh, would you just get on with it!” Cui Buqu stood up himself, starting to shed clothes and let down his hair as he made his way towards the bed. Honestly, he had no sense of romance!

Sighing, Feng Xiao also stood, making quick work of his own robes until they were both in their innermost clothes. Cui Buqu’s hung off of his body, emphasizing the thinness of his frame, a plain robe for a plain face, and Feng Xiao wondered once more how he’d fallen so as he continued to stare.

“I thought the point of this was for you to fuck me.” Ah yes; perhaps it was precisely because Cui Buqu cared precisely nothing for Feng Xiao’s reputation that they were so matched. Rather than prick his ego, every time Cui Buqu ignored a move that would have another falling over their feet to catch Feng Xiao’s attention, Feng Xiao found himself delighted, wanting to try harder, to find those ways he could turn Cui Buqu’s head.

For now, he settled for doing so physically, once more taking hold of Cui Buqu’s chin and pulling him in for a kiss. He could feel Cui Buqu relax into it, familiar ground they’d both tread and found a rhythm that did not rely on trying to trick watching eyes. This was just for them, and more than that, for Cui Buqu. Feng Xiao had had plenty of kisses, good and bad, but delighted in the knowledge that the majority of Cui Buqu’s were his to claim, his to make good. No one else would work their way past the prickly exterior to the tenderness underneath.

Even if that tenderness was currently manifesting itself as Cui Buqu’s hand pushing at Feng Xiao’s shoulder to push him back towards the bed. Feng Xiao was more than willing to let him take the lead, to give eager clues for his sharp mind to absorb. Perhaps even someday Cui Buqu could press him into the mattress like he would do later. Or, more likely, Feng Xiao could ride him, a thought that had Feng Xiao shuddering and Cui Buqu pulling back in confusion.

“You’re not getting out of this so easily. Lay back.” Feng Xiao moved to climb off of the bed to go grab the bag he’d brought in. He didn’t, however, turn away quickly enough to miss Cui Buqu’s roll of his eyes, though he did settle back into a comfortable position against the pillow.

He put the jar of oil to the side as he came back to the bed, sitting on the side and just looking his fill. Cui Buqu looked back at him, suspiciously.

“I do know that just sitting there won’t get either of us off.”

“Oh, Ququ, if only you know how many people in the capital have probably been sent into throes of ecstasy just from being in my presence.”

Cui Buqu rolled to the side, away from him. Feng Xiao’s hand shot out, pinning his shoulder back into place against the bed as he leaned in to press a quick kiss to his brow.

“Give me until the morning to change your mind.”

With that, he set to work, kissing Cui Buqu to keep him from retorting, holding fast even though he could feel him try to pull back so he could scold him. Eventually, he gave in, mouth softening and grudgingly allowing Feng Xiao to sweep in, kissing him ever more deeply. Feng Xiao didn’t mind at all - a win was a win, especially against Cui Buqu.

Though kissing was the best way to keep Cui Buqu’s mouth occupied and thus the best way to keep him from making any comment until Feng Xiao had brought him to that brink upon which even he lost a response, Feng Xiao had other things he wanted to do with his mouth. Cui Buqu, for all his body’s frailty, inversely proportional to the fierceness of spirit within, deserved to be worshipped, and apparently it fell to Feng Xiao to do the deed.

Every inch of Cui Buqu deserved to be explored, marked - Feng Xiao had discovered a spot half down the curve of his neck that would make Cui Buqu shiver, and while he’d exploited it mercilessly so far, knew there must be more and was determined to find them all.

Easing the edges of Cui Buqu’s top open, Feng Xiao set about doing just that, the pallid white robe revealing even more pallid white skin. A part of him wanted to mark that skin as he had before - both intentionally and accidentally (Cui Buqu bruised like a peach, and he glared at Feng Xiao each time he discovered a new one. Feng Xiao didn’t know what he was so upset about; it would all be covered by robes anyway) - but he had told Cui Buqu he would go slow, the allure of watching him fall blind with pleasure even before Feng Xiao took him enticing enough to pull back, to kiss instead of nip, to lighten his touch until it was barely there. Cui Buqu’s skin was soft; Feng Xiao almost started to feel like all of his sense of feeling was through his fingertips now as he trailed them lightly, delicately, over the curve of Cui Buqu’s shoulder and down his arm.

Under him, Cui Buqu shuddered. He did not make a sound, his lips and eyes closed - a lesser man could have mistaken him for falling asleep, but Feng Xiao could make out that the line of his lips was thinner than usual, strains of white limning both telling the truth. That, and the way Cui Buqu’s arm shook under his hand.

Intrigued, Feng Xiao repeated his movements, hands moving slowly over Cui Buqu’s skin, watching the hairs there rise in his wake.

He couldn’t help but huff a small laugh. “The point is to let go, Ququ.” The strain of trying to hold himself still was starting to become too much for Cui Buqu, his body’s limit reached easily as he started to shake all but outright.

“Your ego’s big enough already; I’ll never hear the end of it to give in so early.” Cui Buqu’s voice was as sharp as it had ever been, but he still hadn’t opened his eyes when Feng Xiao looked up. He felt something twist around his heart at the sight of it, of Cui Buqu so undone by a simple touch so quickly. They’d hardly begun - they’d even done more than this before, and Feng Xiao regretted his rush all those times before. But it had been enough then that Cui Buqu was returning his attentions, was matching him move for move as usual. It wasn’t their way to go slow.

“It’s not a fight,” he found himself saying as he leant in to follow with his lips the lines he’d traced with his fingers, still clear in the way Cui Buqu’s skin hadn’t recovered from pebbling at his touch.

“Isn’t it, though?” The gasp it won him - and he couldn’t deny, he was tracking this still in victories, always victories and never losses, for how could he lose when Cui Buqu was already in bed with him - had a tinge of resignation to it, but they began to fall more steadily as Feng Xiao continued, moving from the soft skin of the underside of Cui Buqu’s arm down to his wrist, to his fingertips, nuzzling gently into his palm before moving to kiss each finger.

Each touch seemed to leave Cui Buqu pinned by the weight of it - it stunned Feng Xiao slightly to see him so affected by something so simply. He’d thought slow would have meant working Cui Buqu’s meridians, getting him to relax and letting them both focus on the joy of the pleasure of coming together rather than the rush of passion. He’d wanted to see Cui Buqu shake apart under him, but hadn’t expected it would come at the lightest touch, the smallest delicate affections.

If Cui Buqu hadn’t done such a thorough and peerless job of tearing down the Cui family to the ground, Feng Xiao would be tempted to go back and do it himself. But they had already seen first-hand what they had lost, and their loss was his gain.

He couldn’t stop his heart from softening further - a constant problem he was coming to find - even as a determination settled into his bones.

Leaning down, he captured Cui Buqu’s mouth once more, a kiss Cui Buqu tried to turn deep, but Feng Xiao kept tender, a slow press of lips he kept light.

Cui Buqu could only escape by drawing further back into the pillows, just far enough to hiss, “would you get on with it?” The strain in his voice was audible now, especially so close as to all but be spoken right in Feng Xiao’s ear.

“No,” he replied simply, too honestly. Then, to recover face for both of them, he winked. “I promised Ququ I would go slow, and what kind of man would I be if I went back on my word?”

“Less of a pain in my ass, for one.”

“Oh Ququ, you have no idea.” Feng Xiao was grateful to hide some measure of genuine emotion under a joke once more, purring as he leant in to nip at Cui Buqu’s earlobe, his heart somewhere near his throat as he waited for Cui Buqu to change his mind, to push back, to go back to the way they’d done this before, to leave this tender blossoming thing behind them.

“Fine,” Cui Buqu grumbled, his tone disgruntled but he lay back, once more still under Feng Xiao’s touch, his acquiescence stealing Feng Xiao’s breath.

“Turn over.” Feng Xiao knew his voice was tight, but he had to somehow regain his footing in this situation and that would be easier if he went back to his original plan, easier when Cui Buqu couldn’t see right through him like he always did. To his credit, Cui Buqu only raised an eyebrow as he shifted, letting his shirt fall entirely out of the way as he did.

Before he could stop himself, Feng Xiao found himself trailing fingers down the line of Cui Buqu’s spine, the outline of each knob of bone clear, giving away each hitch of breath and shiver, both coming more frequently and strongly than they had before. It seemed like Feng Xiao was not the only one who found this position more freeing.

Once more Feng Xiao followed his touches with kisses, light on each side of Cui Buqu’s spine as his fingers moved, pressing in more firmly as he went, both into muscles and meridians as he sought out those places where Cui Buqu carried the stress that made up his life. He found himself riding out each shudder and shift Cui Buqu gave, as he bucked slightly under Feng Xiao’s hands and his movements started to resemble something more familiar. He ground into the mattress, body rising to meet Feng Xiao as Feng Xiao’s kisses dipped lower, as he pulled at the waistband of his pants, thumbs slipping into the slight grooves at the base of his hips as he held them both steady.

“Patience, Ququ,” he murmured, and he knew Cui Buqu was getting close because there was no sharp retort, only a low groan that ended in a gasp as Feng Xiao shifted him to roll back over, diving to swallow down Cui Buqu’s erection in one smooth move.

Below him, Cui Buqu cried out fully, one hand flying up to cover his eyes. There was a sheen of sweat on his skin now, the signs of his exertions trying to stay still, keep himself together as Feng Xiao tried to take him apart. His breathing was uneven, shuddering but not rasping as he responded to what seemed like every single touch.

Fumbling to the side for the pot of unguent, Feng Xiao blindly opened it, dipping his fingers in to coat them. Like this, he could focus on Cui Buqu’s reactions, give himself over to finding and repeating the movements and places Cui Buqu responded to the most. He’d catalogued many before, but between taking his time now and the way Cui Buqu seemed more vulnerable and bare before him, Feng Xiao found more, the way he could get Cui Buqu’s entire leg to jerk with a small nip to his inner thigh, or forget himself entirely, hips thrusting forward as Feng Xiao swallowed.

He drew back before Cui Buqu could come, watching as his chest heaved, pausing for a moment. Fingers circling, he started to press one finger in; even as Cui Buqu’s erection flagged slightly. Leaning in once more, he licked a stripe up the side of it as he pressed further in, happy to take his time here too. His earlier work seemed to have paid off: for all that Cui Buqu never seemed to relax, only resting when he was too sick to do anything else, he opened easily under Feng Xiao’s touch, his legs falling open to the side and letting Feng Xiao settle more firmly between them, claiming his place.

Soon enough, Cui Buqu was driving down onto his fingers, hips working between Feng Xiao’s mouth on his cock and fingers in his ass as Feng Xiao worked him over, using all of his skills to continue to keep the angle perfect, drawing back and slowing each time he sensed Cui Buqu tensing, each time he seemed close.

“S-stop.” The stutter, more than the word itself drew Feng Xiao to a halt. He paused, as awkward as it was to stop entirely with half of his hand still buried inside of Cui Buqu.

“No, not entirely, get that look off of your face.” The words somehow had less of an effect when Feng Xiao could still see his chest pitching, when his voice was still half-breath. And most importantly, when Feng Xiao could feel him still clenching around his fingers. “You’ve proven your point, just fuck me already.”

“As milord wishes.” Feng Xiao couldn’t help but grin as he divested the rest of their clothes, returning to the bed with the jar and slipping alongside Cui Buqu, positioning them both on their sides. Hooking one arm under Cui Buqu’s leg to draw it up, Feng Xiao wrapped the other around Cui Buqu’s waist to hold him tight against him.


“I am about to leave this bed and tell everyone Feng Xiao left me unsatisfied if you don’t just get on with it.”

Feng Xiao buried his laughter in the nape of Cui Buqu’s neck, a sound that quickly become a groan as he slid in, a slow working of hips into a tighter press than he had planned, but Cui Buqu was rocking back to meet him, giving him to room to retreat. He had already memorized the angle he had used before and found it again now, driving cries and gasps from both of their lips.

Cui Buqu had already been brought to the edge so many times under Feng Xiao’s touch that it was no surprise when he shuddered and came at the first touch of Feng Xiao’s hand to his cock, leaving Feng Xiao to gasp and thrust until he followed him over that edge. Dimly, he recognized that he was holding Cui Buqu close and as he recovered his own breath, realized that Cui Buqu’s hand was overlaid with his own, the fingers just barely entangling.

“Well, it seems your reputation remains intact.”

“Is that all you have to say?”

“What, are you going to promise to do even better next time? My heart might not be able to take it.”

Feng Xiao once more buried his face in Cui Buqu’s neck as he tried not to laugh, his heart light. “Be careful with my promises, Ququ, or I just may keep them.”