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honey-stalk, moon-drenched

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She lets herself in with the spare key slipped underneath the gap of the leftmost front window, just big enough for the bit of metal. Her fingers slither into the crack to seek out its familiar shape. Three years now she has known of its location; if Chu Wanning didn’t want her coming in the middle of the night, she could have moved it. 

 

“Professor?” she calls into the dark interior, stepping out of her low heels and placing them beside her professor’s loafers. The floor’s wood is cool beneath her feet through the flimsy layer of her stockings. Shi Mei attempts to correct her appearance; pushes her hair out of her face, smooths down her skirt. Her knees ache from the long drive back.

 

It seems her fussing is unnecessary. Only the empty house yawns before her. The usual amount of clutter breaks up the peaceful scene in looming shapes. 

 

Asleep, then. 

 

She is not entirely surprised. The professor’s schedule is completely at the whims of her hectic sleeping pattern, moored only by the necessary regiment of her classes. Without that, Shi Mei is certain she would barely sleep at all. Not that she does much of that now, but at some point exhaustion drives her towards collapse. Usually, she is already perched at her desk or sprawled across the couch. 

 

The woman is discomfitingly absent from both. 

 

Shi Mei tidies things as she comes across them but is careful not to move anything too far from its original locations. She merely makes stacks of the textbooks instead of moving them back to the bookshelf across the room, brings the laptop’s cord over to where it’s currently located rather than put the laptop back in its proper place. Chu Wanning functions on a certain amount of dysfunction ; disrupting that is less than helpful. 

 

Her own graded papers go into the tidy drawer of the desk that has silently been designated for her. 

 

In the kitchen she puts down the groceries she’s gotten for the weekend. She’ll make something simple for breakfast in the morning, she thinks. Congee or scallion pancakes, some of the bruised peaches that she’ll fish from the produce drawer. It’s very late or very early depending on how one looks at it, but there are a few hours left until she needs to face the morning proper.

 

She steals deeper into the house, half feeling like a thief. There’s always a sense of awe that she is allowed here; Chu Wanning is so intensely private that these glimpses into her inner sanctum feels like a gift. 

 

Despite her bone-deep exhaustion, she heads to make a stop before grabbing her usual linens for the guest room. 

 

Just like she knew it would be, Chu Wanning’s bedroom door is cracked open the slightest bit. She can’t stand to stare into the yawning abyss of the open hallway, but she doesn’t like the confinement of a closed door either. Chu Wanning had told her as much once, tired and as close as drunk as she ever gets - just the right side of tipsy. 

 

Shi Mei only means to peer inside, truly. To settle this last affair before she can allow herself to rest. She already imagines the comfort of finally laying down. Sleep beckons with cotton-fingers, tugging insistently at her heavy eyelids. 

 

Her plan goes to hell the moment she sees Chu Wanning. Not a single stitch of clothing covers the professor. The sheets are kicked out of the way, pooling around her feet and half off the bed. 

 

Tonight is the stickiest of the summer yet, but she still doesn’t expect to see the subtle curve of a bared breast, the tender stretch of skin over vertebrae, nor the tantalizing triangle of shadows between her legs. 

 

Shi Mei doesn’t make a conscious decision to move closer. She is a woman possessed by madness or spell or both, so utterly caught in the orbit of Chu Wanning. There is no denying that magnetism, there is nowhere else for her to go. It doesn’t even occur to her that she can leave and close the door behind her. It seems inevitable that she is here, with a knee already perched on the mattress. A long foregone conclusion that she has only realized lay before her now. 

 

She cannot pretend that she has not thought of a moment like this for far too long. When her dreams are not haunted by memory, they are only of Chu Wanning. 

 

The precipice beckons with the sleep-slacked face of her professor. 

 

Shi Mei has always favored the sight of her in the sun. In the lazy mornings in the kitchen, profile turned away and eyes on the world outside, she looks more divine than human. When she stands by the large bay window and is gilded by light, the beams transmutate her dark hair into precious metals, highlighting the copper strands woven throughout. 

 

On one memorable occasion, Shi Mei had been so distracted at the time that she’d burned herself on the warming skillet. She rubs her thumb across the broken skin where the mark lasts. For once, a scar that carries with it no pain, only memory. 

 

Beautiful as Chu Wanning may be at dawn, the moonlight silvers her svelte form like a second skin. It is like she was made only to be seen at night. Like before this Shi Mei has only seen glimpses of her, this sinuous, darting fish in a stream, with its sun-yellowed waters bubbling over stone. 

 

Chu Wanning groans, her face turns minutely away The sound is so quiet that she almost misses it. A suggestion of noise, a murmur of distress. For a moment, Shi Mei thinks that she has woken. What would she say, should she find her assistant looming over her in the middle of the night? Would she welcome her?

 

She doesn't have to find out. As suddenly as she’d complained, Chu Wanning settles again. She sighs and nuzzles back into the pillow, guileless and trusting. 

 

While awake she may seem to be made of stone, but in sleep she is honest. Just another creature turning towards soft things for comfort. 

 

Shi Mei could be a soft thing, she thinks. She gentles her hand from where it has come to clench - she hadn’t noticed she’d been gripping the bedsheets so tightly - and reaches for her.  

 

Shi Mei touches her first like this: to soothe the rocking of the translucent, shimmering eyelids. Some night terror must plague her. The little blue veins and their trembling skin are so delicate beneath her fingertips. Soft things . When that garners no reaction, she becomes bold. With trailing fingers she traces the cheek, the chin, the throat. 

 

The pace at which she learns the shape of Chu Wanning’s face is glacial. Her touch remains exploratory, only above the collarbones. This is about discovery.

 

Transfixed, ensorcelled, enslaved - her hand ghosts over milk curves, miles of skin bared only to her eyes. She’s barely touching Chu Wanning with her butterfly carrasses, and yet she still burns. A live wire must live under her fingertips, sensitized to touch as they are. 

 

Shi Mei looks at her, a body of art turned monochrome, and desires . Her heart thumps, her throat tightens. 

 

She had known nothing. 

 

Only the moon and the space between her throat and her burning belly are privy to the depths of it. The key slides into the lock, finally. Knowledge of herself blooms in the heady silence. She realizes, on the next inhale that catches in her fluttering throat, that she would do anything to have Chu Wanning.

 

If she is careful, she can touch all she wants. Can map as far as her fingers can spread: to tightening nipples to goose-pimpling arms to ears to her nails. There is no part of Chu Wanning that escapes her greedy gaze; she nudges apart her legs gently, so gently. 

 

What voyeuristic pleasure. Something awful blooms in the absence of rebuttal, sick and overwhelming like nausea. Disbelief. Euphoria. 

 

Professor ,” she sighs, for she cannot help it. Before she remembers herself she repeats it. 

 

 She moves slowly to the end of the bed, careful not to jostle her. Her hand settles on the ankle, slightly chilled from its lack of covers. In her head she names the bones, maps the achilles tendon and imagines the ligament and the muscle in the voice of her anatomy instructor. 

It is only natural to let her lips meet Chu Wanning’s instep. She lingers on the heel and then trails up to the inside of a knee. The thin skin there is easy to worry between her teeth, but not too hard. Each sharp intake of breath that may signify waking makes her pause. Now that she has the opportunity, Shi Mei is not eager to have it taken from her. 

 

It feels far too long before she reaches her destination; the divot between those slender thighs. Just the barest hint of folds covered by wiry hair peeks out. 

 

As much as she craves it, Shi Mei avoids the feast. There is still more to explore. Chu Wanning’s narrow hips jut with bone; she lays reverent kisses on them. Her professor does not eat enough. The back of her legs are surprisingly ropy with muscle; Chu Wanning has practiced martial arts since childhood.

 

When she finally noses her way back to her cunt with long drags of her mouth, Shi Mei takes a moment to breathe her in. Her fingers drift down to spread the petals of her labia. She swipes her entire sex with a broad, flat tongue, lingering on the subtle swell of her clit. The taste is as tart as it is sweet, like strawberries as they near the end of their season.

 

Chu Wanning tenses and then settles, breathes evening. She turns to bury her face into the mass of her inkwell hair splayed across the pillows. The long tendrils stretch across the sheets like the points of a star. If she were awake, Chu Wanning might try to hide her face the same way. All Shi Mei can think of is how pretty the length of it would look spooled around her wrist twice. The embarrassment would make her shy away until Shi Mei would force her to look at her. She could hold Chu Wanning’s head back like that so she would be incapable of hiding. 

 

Shi Mei lowers her head to her prize. As attentive as any student, as reverent as any devotee. Each lap of her tongue is long and languid. Unhurried, as Chu Wanning is meant to be enjoyed. The way her body opens, the unfurling of her legs falling aside in silent welcome, is intoxicating. Underneath touch she blooms; a late spring bud that just needed to be coaxed to unfold. 

 

Her entrance flutters around the tip of Shi Mei’s littlest finger as she presses it inside. It is likely nothing else has ever breached her. Chu Wanning is not the sort who would touch herself, or maybe even know that she could. And oh, the idea that she is the first - 

 

The realization has Shi Mei stilling. After all, who else would dare to touch Chu Wanning? This woman made of ice, unpleasant to most. Her fury or seeming indifference have hardly earned her many friends. 

 

You have me though, don’t you Professor? Another finger breaches her. By now she is properly wet. Who else could you need? She curls them. Her hand draws far enough back to expose the glisten of Chu Wanning’s arousal up to the base of her digits. Unwilling to waste any of it, her mouth descends once more to lick around the seam of her clenching cunt. The muscle slips between her fingers to fuck into her too. 

 

Chu Wanning takes penetration beautifully; made for it. 

 

Her hips rock minutely into the pressure, only to fall again in shallow movements. Shi Mei gives it to her deeper, like her body asks for. As much as she wants to go quicker she keeps her pace steady, instead stretching her fingers to stroke her walls with precision. She knows she’s found her mark when Chu Wanning’s toes curl into the bedding, calves clenching and unclenching. Shi Mei draws a long leg over her shoulder to change the angle to hit that spot again. 

 

She could spend hours here, suffocating in her taste and smell. 

 

Eventually the wetness is not just from her own mouth; Chu Wanning’s channel overflows sweetly with slick. She’s so wet, how is she so wet? Better than anything Shi Mei had ever imagined, hand down her pants and furiously touching herself in the guest bedroom she’s usually relegated to. Lust builds in her own belly, stoked and still unsated, but she doesn’t need anything more than this. Her own hips drive slowly into the bedding, no friction but enjoying the simple clench of her thighs and the mimicry of fucking. Next time she’ll get a strap and slip inside her professor from behind. Fuck deep and then stay seated there, filling her like she always should be. 

 

Chu Wanning has begun to make little noises. So terribly breathy, unfettered by embarrassment. Honest, in a way she’s incapable of when she’s awake. Each one is burrowed away to some part of Shi Mei’s hindbrain that will hoard it like the miser she is. She pulls her closer by the hip, as close as far inside her as she can get. 

 

She loves her madly, ardently. Until her jaw aches satisfyingly and she can feel where she sticks to her own panties. Later, she’ll cram the fingers stroking Chu Wanning inside of herself to cum. 

 

Then, the ocean-tide rhythm they follow falters. Chu Wanning’s hips still. Unaware of even having closed them, Shi Mei’s eyes flutter open to glance upwards. 

 

Above the small peaks of heaving breasts, glassy-gazed and red-faced, Chu Wanning peers down at her with wide eyes. Confusion lingers on her slacked features. Her pretty mouth gapes, turned just slightly downward at the edges. She hasn’t fully woken up yet; she isn’t pushing her away. 

 

“Sh-Shi Mingjing?” she asks. A fine tremor goes through her as a tongue flicks over her clit. Shi Mei keeps her head bowed and her mouth sealed to her sex. “What -” 

 

All Shi Mei gives her is an affirmative hum. In response, Chu Wanning whimpers. Flexes upward into the sensation on instinct. Tilting her head, Shi Mei tries a new angle to work her tongue at. The gasp of her name this time is delicious. She’s never heard it said like that. Nor has she ever heard Chu Wanning’s voice so thinly-stretched. 

 

She realizes then that a conversation doesn’t need words, just bodies. Any objections would just be denying themselves what they both want. With how tightly her fingers are being squeezed, it won’t be long before she’s cumming. It would be a waste to work Chu Wanning up like this and then not give her the satisfaction of the orgasm she clearly craves.

 

Her hand slips free of Chu Wanning’s warmth to hoist the other leg over her shoulder roughly, almost lifting her lower half up off the bed. There’s resistance in Chu Wanning’s body that hadn’t been there before. A hand settling on her head, and she isn’t sure if it’s there to rip her away or push her closer and - 

 

It only takes one more furious swipe of her tongue to make Chu Wanning cum. She’s silent except for a gasp cut off by how she savages her own lower lip. Her brow crumples; she looks like she’s in agony as her back bows. Whatever intention her hand may have initially had, it tears at Shi Mei’s hair. A few of them probably come up from the root. 

 

Chu Wanning is beautiful. So beautiful and lovely and gushing wetly into Shi Mei’s mouth. There’s no quarter given to her abused clit; Shi Mei makes sure to suckle it until she’s jerking with overstimulation, heels digging painfully into her shoulder blades.

 

“Professor,” Shi Mei’s voice is rough. The evidence of what she’s just done. She feels just as much of a mess as Chu Waning does, overraw. Her hair sticks to her cheeks. A long strand has made its way between her lips, plastered there by slick. Every shift of her body makes her all the more aware of the way her cunt clenches around nothing. She’s never been this turned on in her life. “Won’t you welcome me back?” She rises, presses Chu Wanning’s limp fingers against her soaked panties. The touch feels so good. 

 

Chu Wanning looks at her like she’s never seen her before. Perhaps she hasn’t; she wouldn’t be so shocked now if she’d ever realized the depths of what Shi Mei feels for her. 

 

Her lip gleams with blood. Shi Mei leans down to lick it away.