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The Best Luo Binghe

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As fertility rites went, it wasn't the strangest Binghe had seen, but it was certainly in the top ten.

This place he'd been transported to had to be very far from his empire. The houses were built in unfamiliar styles. Many people wore their hair shorn close in bizarre unfilial ways. Their clothes were made of fabrics unlike anything he'd seen before.

The language spoken was his own, but with many words he'd never heard. When he focused, the entity that had brought him here sometimes gave him a translation, although not usually a particularly helpful one.

But the hallmarks of a fertility rite were familiar, even when nothing else was.

Most everyone was undressed down to appealingly tight underpants and short shirts that barely covered their stomachs and often bared the entirety of their arms. Bizarre costumes abounded, most of them designed to show off the wearer's assets. People were kissing in public. Over there, a couple was brazenly making out against the wall, hands on each other's asses.

A voluptuous woman in a chest band that struggled to contain her gave him a smile as he passed. Binghe smiled back easily. Xin Mo was still an inert hunk of metal at his side, sealed by the same entity who'd dropped him here. But he wasn't too worried about it. These sorts of things tended to happen to him, and while they could be inconvenient, in the end things usually worked out in his favor. A few rounds of dual cultivation usually sufficed to set the world to rights.

This time, the disruption wasn't even very great. The entity had snatched him from the middle of an interminable meeting on land rights at the border of the Eastern desert, so finding himself at this strange rite had come as a welcome change of pace.

Binghe took his time strolling through the festival. The sights were fascinating, he was in no hurry, and who the fates wanted him to dual cultivate with would usually become obvious in time.

He couldn't help but notice that while he had never heard of this place, the people here must be familiar with him and his court. Occasionally, he'd spot someone dressed up to resemble people he knew, although usually in a version of their robes adjusted for a fertility rite. Even Sha Hualing's admittedly risqué leather armor did not show that much of her chest.

He'd already seen a few people dressed in garish replicas of his own robes. It was really quite flattering. He himself garnered many admiring looks, despite wearing a lot more layers than most.

"That's the best Luo Binghe I've seen yet. Kudos, man!" someone yelled as he passed.

Binghe smirked. Considering the general friendly reception, there seemed little point in letting these people know that he was truly Emperor Luo Binghe walking in their midst, and not simply an admirer in his guise. Why disrupt such a pleasant day?

He was still smiling when he turned around and saw him.

Everything froze. A bell-like sound rang through the air.

Congratulations! Mission: Papapa Your Way To Closure has become available

       ☐ Accept

The strange, glowing entity that had transported him here popped up in the air beside him. Binghe barely noticed it. All he saw was the slender figure in front of him, bathed in golden light, a fan clutched in an elegant hand, a familiar sneer on a familiar face.

Shizun.

Not Shizun himself, of course. Like everyone else, this was only a festival-goer in disguise. But unlike the others, this one had not adapted his chosen outfit to the more revealing local style. Every detail of his guise was perfect, from the robes—Shizun's favorite green robe, with the bamboo leaves curling down his shoulders—to the fan, to his tall silver guan. Xiu Ya hung from his belt, identical to the real thing in every detail but the lack of a spiritual presence.

Even the physical resemblance was uncanny. This man was shorter, a little more slender, and Binghe suspected the long hair was a wig. But the face was almost right, and the sneer was every inch Shizun's contemptuous sneer: thin lips curled in a familiar grimace of distaste as he examined something he found beneath him.

Binghe followed the direction of that judgmental look.

Ah, of course. Another Luo Binghe, this one dressed in the flimsiest robes Binghe had seen so far, and with a sword at his side that didn't look anything like either Xin Mo or Zheng Yang.

The column of golden light surrounding the Shizun imposter started to strobe.

Mission available!

       ☐ Accept

the entity prompted him once again. Everyone else, including the Shizun imposter, was still frozen in a suspended moment of time. Binghe had already learned that things would not unfreeze until he acceded to the entity's demands.

"Yes, yes," he said impatiently, tapping the prompt suspended in the air. He caught another glimpse at the glowing characters in the air just as they dispersed: papapa something something.

Ah. This was the one, then?

He looked at the Shizun imposter, who'd just begun to turn. Binghe had never had a man before, although he wasn't opposed to the idea in theory. But—this one? While he was dressed as Shizun?

He couldn't help but imagine it: pushing Shizun down, tearing those elegant robes off his body, putting his hands all over that slender figure until the sneer melted off his face.

Yes.

The mental images stirred a vicious kind of animal hunger within him, as much bloodlust as carnal desire. He'd have to make sure to keep himself contained, to remember that this man was an actor and not the real thing.

He'd taken his revenge on Shizun long ago, and yet he'd never managed to excise the man from his mind the way he'd wanted. Maybe fate had given him another chance to lay that old grudge to rest.

The imposter finished turning and finally saw him, and the most remarkable thing happened. The sneer melted off his face as he looked Binghe up and down. He smiled. It made sense, of course: considering the attention to detail showcased by his own costume, this man clearly valued authenticity. Binghe's robes were, for obvious reasons, the most authentic at this festival. Binghe was, as someone else had already told him, the best Luo Binghe here.

But Shizun had never looked at him as if he was the best Luo Binghe he could be.

Seeing that look on that face… it caught in his guts like a bladed hook. He moved before he could let himself think about it, crossed the distance between them with a cultivators' speed, and took the fake Shizun by the wrists.

"Shizun. I've come to have my revenge."

Binghe had already discovered that the actors here responded well if he treated them as if they were the real thing. This man was no different. He started, surprised, his thin wrists jerking in Binghe's grip, but then he gave a short laugh, sounding pleased. "Hello!" he said, before his mouth curled back into the familiar sneer—not nice, but easier to bear than the smile had been on that face.

He pulled against Binghe's grip, but carefully, not as if he truly wanted to get away. "Unhand me at once, you little beast!"

"You don't get to give the orders now, Shizun," Binghe said, holding him still, careful not to bruise. The blade still twisted in his gut, along with a vicious satisfaction. It hadn't gone like this the first time he'd captured his Shizun. "Beg me for mercy, and I may still go easy on you."

"Never," Shizun sneered, twisting in his grasp again—gently, like a fish who didn't actually want off the hook.

"You'll beg eventually," Binghe said, although the words made his stomach twist. Shizun never had, all the way to the end.

"You'll regret this, demon!" the actor said, and then, "Oh, look at that!" in a completely different tone. "Is that the belt of the seven-bladed steel snake? Did you make that? You must've made it, you can't order it anywhere, I've tried. How on earth did you get the metallic effect to look so real?"

He twisted one of his wrists again, with clear intent this time. Binghe released him.

"May I?" The actor said, his hand hovering in the air just above Binghe's belt.

"Yes," Binghe said, bemused.

The actor ran his fingers over the scales. The hide of the seven-bladed steel snake was as supple as the finest leather but as hard as tempered metal, and it shone with the luster of a well-tended blade. Binghe rather liked this belt.

"This is awesome, where did you get it?"

"I made it," Binghe said.

"That's so cool, and I want to hear all about it, but actually—uh, I need to sit down for a moment." The actor pulled his other hand from Binghe's grasp to fan urgently at his face, which had broken out in a sweat. The color was draining from him before Binghe's eyes.

"Whew. It's really too hot to be wearing these robes, but you know how it is—"

Binghe caught him by the shoulder as he swayed. He could hear the actor's heart pounding unevenly in his chest.

Most of the benches were taken, but there was a rickety chair shoved out of the way in a shadowed corner. Binghe towed the actor towards it, taking on more and more of his weight as he faltered, and helped him down into the chair.

The actor tipped his head back, panting. "Whoa. Thank you. That was, uh."

He pressed his hands to his chest, where Binghe could still hear his heart thundering along in a frantic, offbeat rhythm.

Binghe crouched down beside him, concerned. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, yeah," the actor said, waving him off. "I got some chronic stuff. Never mind about all that."

He fumbled in the sleeves of his robes, took out a little canister, and sprayed something into his mouth. "Sorry about this. You think you could get me a glass of ice water, maybe?"

When Binghe came back with the water, he already looked a little less alarmingly pale. Binghe didn't think he ought to be drinking cold water when he was already sick, but he seemed set on it, and by the time he'd finished drinking it down, his heart had returned to a steadier rhythm.

"Sorry again. And thank you. My name's Shen Yuan, by the way," the actor said.

"Luo Binghe."

"Ah. Staying in character, huh? I can do that," Shen Yuan said. "Little beast," he added, his face smoothing out into Shizun's more familiar sneer, although he didn't keep it up for very long; he still looked a little pale. If Binghe strained his hearing, he could pick up a faint wet rattle at the bottom of his lungs, although his breathing was steady now.

"Listen, I think I need to sit here and not move for a couple more minutes, but I'd love to hear more about how you made that belt."

"Of course," Binghe said. "I caught the seven-bladed steel snake in the Mountains of Eternal Mourning. A nearby village had sent complaints of sheep and cattle disappearing—"

The actor raised his eyebrows at the beginning of the story, well before Binghe even got to any of the more unlikely parts of the tale, but he didn't say anything until Binghe had finished.

"I don't remember the book saying anything about the seven-bladed steel snake having acidic saliva," he said, frowning thoughtfully.

"I've often found the bestiaries incomplete." Binghe wasn't sure what book Shen Yuan was talking about, specifically, but it was true of almost all of them. He himself probably had a more extensive knowledge of dangerous beasts at this point than any compendium he'd encountered, just going by every creature he'd personally fought.

"Hm. I don't remember anything about there being a ram-horned water salamander in the cave, either."

"They often coexist. They like to bathe in the puddles of saliva, to clear parasites off their skin."

"That's definitely not in the book. Do you have some sort of secret monster handbook?" Shen Yuan said, sounding deeply skeptical.

"The Compendium of Amphibious Western Yaoguai has notes on several species of flesh-eating salamanders," Binghe said. "But I don't suppose more than five copies of it were ever made, so I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it."

"I'm pretty sure I've heard of all the limited edition lore drops, dude. Are you making this up?"

"Am I… making up an obscure volume of scholarship on amphibious monsters? Why would I do such a thing?" Binghe asked, baffled.

He'd had tales of his battles questioned before, but Shen Yuan hadn't batted an eye at the story of his subduing the seven-bladed steel snake with his bare hands. Why Binghe would invent a book that no one but a few very specialized scholars and the odd monster hunter would even care to read, he really couldn't imagine.

At least Shen Yuan seemed to notice his honest surprise. "All right, all right. Sorry. Lucky you! So what all is in there?"

Shen Yuan was still a little pale and sweaty, but he'd perked right up at the mention of this book. So Binghe submitted to being quizzed on the characteristics of a series on monsters in exhaustive detail: ram-horned water salamander, spotted silver siren, bleeding tiger newt, horned eagle-toad—

"No, that can't be right. The horned eagle-toad doesn't spit fire," Shen Yuan interrupted him.

Binghe frowned. "I didn't think so, either. But I fought it with my own hands, in the Cave of Shattered Bones."

"You fought a red-clawed eagle-toad in that cave. They do still have horns, you know. I've read that section like five times, it says right there, 'a carmine stripe going down the back of its neck.' I guess it's no wonder that hack author got his monsters confused. Or maybe that was on purpose—does Binghe not know the difference? No wonder he got his armor burned off."

"Mn," Binghe said. He hadn't known. It would've been useful knowledge to have had in advance. The eagle-toad hadn't just burned his armor, but he wasn't surprised that part hadn't made it into whatever account of the encounter Shen Yuan had apparently read. It hadn't been a very glamorous moment. Thankfully there'd been no one there to witness him writhing on the cave floor in pain, trying to wipe acid off his freshly-burned skin.

By the time he'd made it to the next town, the skin of his chest and back had already regenerated, but his robes had still hung off him in blackened shreds, leaving swathes of his skin exposed in a way the mayor's daughter had seemed to appreciate. That sort of thing did usually make it into the stories.

"Careless," Shen Yuan admonished, rapping him on the shoulder with his fan. It wasn't truly painful, as it always had been before, but it stung enough to make Binghe realize, with sudden horror, what he was doing here: crouched at his Shizun's feet as if he were a young and stupid disciple again, getting quizzed the way he had the few times Shizun had actually bothered to be a teacher to him.

It hadn't happened a lot. Mostly when someone else was watching them. He was there again, suddenly: Shizun's harsh eyes on him. Getting every one of his mistakes thrown back in his face. The snap of the fan against his skin, a warning of what was to come as soon as the observers left.

The old rage came flooding back. It wasn't quite as overwhelming as usual, with Xin Mo sealed, but still powerful enough to choke him like a hand around his neck. He struck out on instinct, grabbed a slender wrist. The fan went clattering to the ground.

"You're not my master anymore, Shizun," he growled. "I didn't come here for your lectures."

"Right! Um, I—"

The man in his grasp stuttered in a way Shizun never had. Binghe could feel his pulse fluttering frantically against his thumb. The rage drained away. This wasn't Shizun. It was only an actor with failing health and a passionate interest in monsters that Shizun himself had never had.

He gentled his punishing grasp.

Shen Yuan blinked at him. "I, um. I've got a room in the convention hotel, if you want."

Ah, yes. That was why he'd been brought here, of course. The dual cultivation part of the day.

Binghe smirked. He stroked the captive wrist in his grasp. "Will you submit to your punishment, Shizun?"

Shen Yuan flushed crimson. "Binghe! You can't just—say things like that! In public! Shameless!"

As if people weren't doing much more scandalous things all around them.

"Can't I?" Binghe asked. He raised Shen Yuan's wrist to his mouth and kissed the soft, unmarked skin, letting him feel just a hint of teeth. Shen Yuan squeaked.

"I, um. Just so you know. So things don't get awkward later. I'm, uh. I'm straight in real life," Shen Yuan said, restlessly twisting his wrist as if he wanted to test the strength of Binghe's hold.

The translation came with the moment's delay that meant he'd used a word that didn't have a perfect equivalent in Binghe's own language—although he thought "not a cutsleeve" was clear enough—but the tone came through perfectly clearly.

If there was one thing Binghe could recognize, it was the tone of a great beauty asking for an excuse to let themselves be ravished without compromising their virtue.

Binghe smirked. He tightened his grip, almost but not quite to the point of pain.

"You think your preferences matter now, Shizun? I shall have my revenge whether you like it or not."

After he'd made his point, he loosened his grasp, thumb and forefinger resting on Shen Yuan's wrists as light as a feather: just in case he'd misread the situation and this was the (much less common, in his experience) plea of a great beauty who actually wanted to get loose.

To his complete lack of surprise, Shen Yuan immediately melted in his hands.

"That's all right then," he said faintly. "I mean—unhand me at once, demon!"

Binghe tightened his grip again to lift him to his feet. "Show me to this room of yours, Shizun. Unless you'd like to have your punishment witnessed by all these people here?"

Shen Yuan's eyes went wide. "Don't say things like that!" he hissed.

His heart was picking up the pace again, if in a steadier rhythm than before. Binghe would've been more worried about his failing health if he hadn't known the miracles dual cultivation could work for a sickly constitution. Shen Yuan wouldn't take any harm from Binghe taking him to his bed.


Shen Yuan's bedroom was as bizarrely appointed as everything else in this place, but large and bright. The bed was sized for a king and had a conveniently slatted headboard.

"Acceptable," Binghe said. He caught Shen Yuan by the wrists again, pressed him against the wall, and finally let himself kiss him.

Shen Yuan was clearly inexperienced. He kissed back with the untutored enthusiasm of someone who'd never done it before—who had, maybe, always thought himself above it all—Binghe groaned and pressed his tongue into that yielding mouth, bit at his lips, took possession. Shen Yuan made a muffled sound, his hands flexing in Binghe's grip, but he wasn't really struggling to get loose.

He smelled mouth-wateringly good, a little sweaty from the sun, very clean under that. Some sort of obviously-expensive scent clung to his skin as if he'd bathed just before going out. Binghe pinned him more tightly to the wall. When he pressed their hips together he could tell that, for all the protests, Shen Yuan's body was having a good time. He enjoyed the little squirm he got when Shen Yuan felt the evidence of his own interest in return.

Shen Yuan's heart was beating too quickly again. Most of Binghe's qi was still sealed, but it wasn't entirely inaccessible, and a kiss always made a qi transfer easier. Shen Yuan's body, which didn't seem to have any developed spiritual veins at all, dissipated most of what he tried to give him. But even a fraction of Binghe's power was a lot by any normal standard, and his control had always been very good. He managed to transfer enough qi to strengthen that thready pulse, and incidentally to spice up the kiss.

When he pulled back, Shen Yuan blinked at him dazedly, one hand coming up to touch his swollen lips, which Binghe knew he'd left tingling and sensitive.

"That was. Wow," he said.

Binghe smirked. "That was nothing yet, Shizun."

He bent down and slung Shen Yuan over his shoulder, as easy as a sack of grain. Shen Yuan squeaked in protest and beat his closed fan against the back of Binghe's thighs, but he barely had time to put up any resistance before Binghe crossed the room and dumped him on the bed.

"You—! You beast!" Shen Yuan gasped. His robes had come loose at the top, gaping enough to show the flush spreading down from his cheeks to his collarbones.

Binghe grinned. "You'll want to watch your mouth, Shizun. Remember who has the power here, now."

He had a few loops of immortal-binding cable up his sleeve. Shen Yuan watched him with wide eyes as he ran them slowly through his hands.

"You wouldn't dare," he said, with a good attempt at Shizun's haughtiest tone, but he didn't even try to pull his wrists away when Binghe reached for him. Binghe easily pinned him down with his hands above his head, tied his wrists together, and threaded the rope through the headboard. By the time he was done, Shen Yuan was breathing hard. The skin he could glimpse through that appealing little gap in the collar of his robes was flushed an even darker red.

Binghe ran a finger down that heated skin, dragging the collar further open.

"Don't you dare, demon," Shen Yuan snarled, even as he arched his chest into the touch.

"You think you can threaten me now, Shizun?" Binghe said, baring his teeth in a smile. "You think there's anything left I won't dare to do?"

Shen Yuan was breathing hard as Binghe undid the ties of his robes, pushing the layers aside one by one until he had him naked to the waist. The flush extended all the way down Shen Yuan's chest. He tried to curl in on himself, tugging at the ties on his wrists, pulling his legs up as if he could hide behind them. Binghe flattened him out easily enough. He shuddered when Binghe pinned him to the bed.

"You'll regret this, demon," Shen Yuan said breathily.

"I really don't think I will."

Binghe's cock throbbed urgently. He couldn't remember the last time he'd enjoyed himself this much in bed.

Shen Yuan kicked a little when Binghe worked his pants down, just enough to make it fun to subdue him. It sated some deep-seated demonic instinct that enjoyed the hunt before a feast. And then Shen Yuan was lying exposed in the middle of the silken spread of his robes, caught by his tied wrists, as helpless as a butterfly pinned to a board.

"Beautiful," Binghe said, smirking. Shen Yuan hissed at him.

He looked smaller without the many layers of robes, not quite so convincingly like Shizun anymore. Shen Yuan's narrow body was clearly a mortal man's, without the muscles or the strength of a cultivator. But it was an appealing body nonetheless. In fact, there was something about how small he was, lying in the wreck of Shizun's robes: like a Shizun made smaller, made touchable, peeled out of his icy shell for Binghe to have.

Binghe tugged his belt open. Presumably, for this man who'd chosen to dress like Shizun for a fertility rite, who'd looked so pleased at what he thought was Binghe's own costume, the clothes were part of the appeal, so he didn't bother to undress all the way. He dropped his outer-most layer and his sword belt on the floor and opened the rest just enough to expose his cock.

Shen Yuan's eyes went wide. "Binghe! What on Earth!"

It was hardly the first time someone's reaction to Binghe's pillar had been somewhere on the spectrum between shocked, awed and slightly fearful, but it was especially satisfying to see those reactions chase each other across that particular face.

Binghe gave himself a leisurely stroke from root to tip. He let Shen Yuan have the time to really take in the size of it, framed against his hands.

"Impressed, Shizun?"

Shen Yuan was left with his mouth hanging open a moment longer, but then he pulled that haughty look back over his face.

"About what I'd have expected of a beast," he sneered.

It hit Binghe like a fishhook lodging in his guts. It was so perfectly what Shizun would've said, the tone he would've used. Shizun had only ever seen one thing when he'd looked at Binghe, and his cock was all of a piece with the rest of it: a beast's tool on a beast's body.

Rage flooded up from that sore spot in his guts. On the floor where he'd left it, Xin Mo strained against its seal.

Binghe mastered himself with an effort. When he grabbed Shizun by his naked ankles and yanked him down until his tied arms stretched out straight above his head, he made sure his grip wasn't tight enough to bruise.

Shen Yuan's eyes went wide as Binghe swung a leg over him to straddle his shoulders.

"I warned you to watch your mouth, Shizun. You think I'm not able to make you shut up?"

He tapped the head of his cock against Shizun's mouth. Shizun opened to him easily, sweet as anything, his tongue flicking out to lap a bit of precome from the head before his lips closed softly around the shaft.

It was obvious that he hadn't done this before. He wasn't any good at keeping his teeth out of the way, and when Binghe pushed himself in deeper, he choked on it immediately.

Binghe eased off a little, giving him room to breathe. But he didn't pull out entirely. Like this, looking down at the elegant hands twisting in the ropes, the arms in their green sleeves, everything but the fall of his dark hair and a hint of long lashes obscured by the angle of their bodies, it was easy to imagine that this was really Shizun. That it was Shizun stroking him clumsily with his tongue, not knowing what to do because he'd never lowered himself like this for anyone else before.

Too lofty to warm anyone's bed, was he? He'd sneered at Binghe's cock—well, let's see him try to handle it now.

He grabbed Shizun by the back of the head and shoved himself deeper, not the whole of his length or even really half of it, but enough to make him work for it.

"Suck it properly," he growled.

He guided Shizun into a rhythm, one hand in his hair and the other around the base of his own cock. He ignored the occasional painful scrape of teeth and rubbed himself off against Shizun's lips and tongue until Shizun finally managed to sort himself out enough to contribute.

It had been good already, and it got even better when Shizun sucked him for real, head bobbing up and down as much as he could in the position. Drool spilled down the side of his face from his stretched-out lips, nothing left of the dignified immortal he pretended so hard to be, just a body for Binghe to use.

Binghe found himself growling a little with every breath, the sound barely human anymore. He felt every inch the slavering beast Shizun had accused him of being.

It was the labored sound of Shen Yuan's breathing that brought him back to himself.

He yanked himself out of Shen Yuan's mouth with a gasp, sitting back on his heels, careful not to put any weight on Shen Yuan's heaving chest.

Shen Yuan twisted his head to the side and coughed. There were tears standing in the corner of his eyes, drool smeared down the lower half of his face and a hectic flush on his cheeks. Binghe found himself suddenly and horribly reminded that the body he'd been treating so roughly wasn't Shizun's near-indestructible body but Shen Yuan's frail and very mortal one.

He dried Shen Yuan's face with his sleeves in frantic apology. Had Shen Yuan tried to pull away? He'd been clutching at the ropes, but only like he was holding on, not like he'd been trying to tear himself loose. Surely, if there'd been a sign of real distress, Binghe would've noticed? He would've noticed and he would've stopped, he told himself, and was horrified to find that he couldn't be sure it was true.

He reached out, stopped himself before he could touch. "A-Yuan?"

A-Yuan blinked his tear-damp eyes open. "Binghe? Why'd you stop? If I was doing it wrong, you could've said."

"No. Not at all," Binghe said, light-headed with the depth of his relief. He stretched out beside a-Yuan on the bed, leaned over, and kissed him, gently, slowly, licking the taste of himself out of a-Yuan's mouth.

They kissed for a long time, until Binghe felt a-Yuan squirming and followed the restless motions of his hips with his eyes. A-Yuan's untouched cock stood up red and dripping, swaying a little with every shift of his body.

Binghe gave him one last lingering kiss. "Do you still want to—?"

A-Yuan squirmed, twisting his head to the side as if he was trying to hide behind his own arm. "Obviously," he said, the words muffled against his shoulder. "Are you going to need an engraved invitation for everything here?"

Binghe laughed. "All right then."

He sat back on his heels, giving his own cock a few cursory strokes.

"Just—" A-Yuan said, following the motion of Binghe's hands with his eyes.

Binghe paused. "Mn?"

"Just—I'm really not sure that's going to fit."

He was glaring again, his cheeks flushed deep red. Binghe smiled. If there was one thing he knew how to do, it was easing an anxious virgin through taking his pillar for the first time.

"Don't worry, a-Yuan. I'll make it fit."

A-Yuan didn't look vastly reassured, so Binghe gave him one more lingering kiss and then lay down on his stomach between a-Yuan's thighs. He'd never done this with a man before, but he was pretty sure the general principle was the same: use your mouth to get them nice and relaxed, and then a lot of oil and patience.

In fact, with a-Yuan's cock standing up all hot and urgent in front of his face, it seemed a lot more obvious where to begin than it had been his first time with a woman.

A-Yuan squeaked when Binghe gave the head a broad wet lick. Binghe had always liked the taste of sex, the raw salty primalness of it. Another thing Shizun would've called him a beast for, probably. But it wasn't Shizun with him, now, and a-Yuan only groaned and tried to hide his face under his arm again.

Binghe reached up and nudged his chin until he could see his face. "Don't do that. I like to hear the sounds you make."

A-Yuan glared at him. "This is all really OOC, you know," he muttered, which the translation spell hiccupped over and then didn't even attempt to translate. But he didn't sound all that displeased about it, and he didn't try to hide his face again, so Binghe figured, whatever it was, it couldn't be too much of a problem.

"If a-Yuan wants me to stop, he need only say," he said, just to be sure, and also because it was cute how flustered a-Yuan got every time Binghe made him admit that he was enjoying himself.

"You don't need to stop on my account," a-Yuan grumbled. His cock twitched, like at least that part of a-Yuan's body wasn't shy about admitting how much it was enjoying itself. Binghe gave it another lick and then sucked it into his mouth.

He had to hand it to a-Yuan, this wasn't as easy as it looked. But Binghe had plenty of experience getting his cock sucked, so at least he knew what felt good. And he wasn't afraid to experiment. A-Yuan's cock was a manageable size, and although he was clearly still trying to keep himself quiet, the breathy sounds he couldn't help but make were a pretty good guide.

He liked it when Binghe rubbed his tongue against the spot just underneath the head that Binghe himself liked, too, and he liked to be as deep in Binghe's mouth as Binghe could take him. He didn't seem to get as much out of the hard suction that Binghe himself preferred, and the one time Binghe grazed him with his teeth just by accident, he flinched so hard that Binghe was sure to be very careful after that.

Apart from that little mishap, he thought it was going pretty well for his first attempt. A-Yuan was gasping and shoving himself up against the arm Binghe had braced across his hips. Binghe put two of his fingers into his mouth alongside a-Yuan's cock, and then ran them, dripping wet, down between a-Yuan's legs.

He'd never done this with a man before, either, but the differences seemed even less significant here. A-Yuan twitched when he touched him there, and he was clenched up tight, so Binghe didn't even try to push in, just stroked gently around the outside with his slippery fingers. A-Yuan's noises got even more high-pitched. Binghe had to use some actual strength to keep him still with his free arm. He sucked a little harder, stroking his tongue against the good spot. A-Yuan came with a gasp and a burst of salty fluid that Binghe rolled around his mouth for a moment, curious, before swallowing it down.

Not bad.

A-Yuan went limp and pliable, after, melting into the mattress with a groan. Binghe let his softening cock slip from his mouth and rested his head on a-Yuan's thigh, petting idly at his stomach and sides. He gave him a few minutes to recover, and then, before a-Yuan could start tensing up again, started stroking him between his legs.

He wasn't clenched up as badly anymore, but still tight enough that Binghe wasn't sure about pushing in with nothing but spit. But he was pretty sure if he woke a-Yuan from his daze enough to make him go looking for oil, he'd undo all the hard work he'd done to get him to relax.

Well, in this sort of situation you could never go wrong using your mouth some more.

A-Yuan made a cute little sound when Binghe pushed up his legs, folding him up: dubious but too dazed to really protest. Binghe kissed the soft inside of his thighs and petted him until the grumbling subsided. He kissed his way down a-Yuan's thigh, sucking up a few nice purple marks—that got a bit more grumbling, too, although a-Yuan wasn't trying to pull away even a little—and then spread him open and put his mouth where it would do the most good.

The first soft lick over his hole got a deeply confused noise, and then Binghe licked him again, and a-Yuan shivered all over.

"Binghe! What the hell, what are you doing? You can't just—you—that's—"

"No? Are you sure?" Binghe asked, stroking the flat of his tongue over his hole a few more times. A-Yuan pressed himself against his mouth, and then immediately pulled away again.

"Binghe! Don't, you—that's horrible!"

"You don't like it?" Binghe asked. A-Yuan's cock had certainly liked it; it was twitching, half-hard already although barely any time had passed since he'd come.

"It's not about whether I like it! That's disgusting!"

Binghe petted his thighs some more, and gave the head of his stiffening cock a lick, too, trying to provide some encouragement.

"If you like how it feels, and I like doing it, what's the problem? No one's telling you where to put your mouth," Binghe said reasonably.

"You—you—it's OOC as hell, for one," a-Yuan said. That word again, which still refused to translate but which he seemed to use for things he objected to on general principle but didn't actually mind.

"Hm. I think—I think I've got you all tied up, so what's OOC or not is really my decision right now," Binghe said, taking a gamble. He sat up a bit so he could get a good look at a-Yuan's face, prepared to cut him loose in a hurry if a-Yuan looked scared. He was fairly sure—

Ah. Yes.

A-Yuan's body slowly softened in his grip. He let his head drop back against the mattress, let his thighs fall open invitingly. "I guess I can't stop you. Little beast," he said.

Binghe buried his smile against a-Yuan's thigh. Sometimes you just had to give people permission to stop worrying and enjoy themselves.

Binghe pushed his thighs up again and went back to licking. Like this, he could let a-Yuan move around a lot more without any risk of choking himself. It was great. He got a-Yuan squirming on his tongue almost immediately, and then, when Binghe went too slow for his liking, a-Yuan actually put his heels on Binghe's back and yanked him closer: begging with his body the way he'd refused to beg with his mouth.

The first time Binghe pushed his tongue inside, a-Yuan yelped and kicked him in the shoulder with one foot while pulling him closer with the other. Binghe hummed happily and shoved one arm underneath himself to palm his own aching cock. It was getting surprisingly hard to be patient. His whole body ached for it already.

A-Yuan was so soft and hot inside. He'd finally loosened up enough that Binghe could slip a finger in. A-Yuan made faintly alarmed noises about it, but Binghe licked him some more, and he worked himself around to moaning again before Binghe could really think about pulling out.

Binghe crooked his finger searchingly, just out of habit. That got a really good gasp. Huh. He hadn't known men had a good spot inside them, too. He worked that spot some more while he licked around the rim. A-Yuan was barely even trying to hold back his moans anymore, and the headboard rattled with how much he kept pulling at the rope.

He was relaxing beautifully for Binghe, but Binghe thought he'd just about hit the limit of what he wanted to try doing without any oil.

He pulled his mouth off.

"A-Yuan? Do you have oil? …A-Yuan?"

He had to nudge him pointedly in the thigh before a-Yuan finally picked up his head to blink at him dazedly. "Huh?"

"Oil. Or something else slippery."

"Oh. Umm…. Bedside table," a-Yuan said. He flushed bright red again, as if there was anything embarrassing about a young man having something slippery stashed beside the bed.

Binghe pulled the drawer open. He wasn't entirely sure what he was looking for, but there wasn't anything in there beside a strange small bottle. It took him a moment to figure out how the stopper worked, which flipped open in a clever way.

The clear salve inside was very nice, silky smooth and more slippery than oil. Binge rubbed it between two fingers and then pushed back in, so nice and smooth that he could slip in a second finger with no trouble at all. Didn't taste too bad when he licked some more, either.

By the time he had a third finger in, a-Yuan was dripping with sweat and resting the whole weight of his legs trustingly against Binghe's shoulders. His cock stuck straight up, flushed dark and dripping wet at the top. Binghe gave it a friendly little lick as he pulled his fingers out. A-Yuan gasped. He looked utterly wrecked, his hair a sweaty disheveled mess, chest heaving like a bellows.

His heartbeat was good and steady, though. Binghe hadn't consciously been transferring qi anymore, but the power differential between them was very great, and apparently A-Yuan's body had helped itself to what it needed. Now that he was paying attention, he could feel the thin but steady stream of energy passing between them. He widened the channel a little, directing it to where he had one hand still touching a-Yuan between the legs. Couldn't hurt, and might help, he figured.

He set the head of his cock against a-Yuan's hole and pushed, gentle, steady, easing him open very slowly around the tip. A-Yuan gave an appreciative groan, his back arching into it.

And then his entire body went tight in sudden refusal. "Wait! Binghe, wait!"

Binghe pulled out immediately. "A-Yuan?"

Had he hurt him? That hadn't seemed like a pain reaction.

A-Yuan raised his head, wide-eyed. "Condoms. Tell me you have a condom."

The word didn't translate, but this seemed important in a way that the subtle nuances of 'OOC' hadn't, so Binghe focused on the word, frowning, until whatever spell or entity was handling the translation finally spit out protection from disease in a sullen sort of way.

"I do not have a disease, and I don't believe I can catch yours?" Binghe tried.

A-Yuan groaned. "So you're saying you don't have any?" he said, plaintive in a way that made Binghe feel that the translation must've been missing important nuances. "Ugh. You know what? My doctors would freak, but either way, that's not gonna be what kills me. So. Fuck it. Go for it."

He let his thighs fall open again.

Binghe petted him soothingly. "You're sure?"

He still wasn't entirely certain what the issue had been, and he wasn't sure it had been resolved to a-Yuan's satisfaction, either.

"Well… I'm all tied up here, so I can't exactly stop you, can I?" a-Yuan said.

Binghe still felt a little shaken from the way a-Yuan's body had suddenly flipped from yes yes yes to NO in that moment of panic. It didn't feel quite right to push the way he had been until now.

"You could tell me to stop at any time," he said.

"Ugh, I hate you. Go ahead, if you're gonna," a-Yuan said, deeply ungracious. He was muffling his words against his arm again, too, but it still seemed as clear a go-ahead as Binghe was likely to get.

Binghe leaned down to lick his cock again, slipping his fingers inside to check how much of his work a-Yuan had undone. But a-Yuan was already relaxing for him again. It only took Binghe a little more effort to work him back up to panting excitement.

He slathered some more salve on his cock and pushed inside as gently and patiently as he could.

A-Yuan gasped when the head went in. He tightened up once Binghe started working the shaft inside, his muscles flexing in rippling waves around Binghe's cock.

Binghe patted his thighs. "Feels great for me, what you're doing, but you're not making it any easier on yourself. Relax a little."

"I hate you, demon," a-Yuan muttered, but he took a shuddering breath and the tight clutch of his body loosened enough that Binghe could push a little further in. By the time he had his cock all the way inside, a-Yuan's body was a beautiful arch on the mattress, his arms flexing in their ties. He was groaning, eyes half closed.

Binghe paused a while to let him adjust before he started moving, slow and steady, aiming for that good spot he'd discovered. A-Yuan wrapped his legs around him, drawing him in.

Binghe leaned over him, bracing his hands beside a-Yuan's shoulders so he could bring their faces close.

"Is it good? Tell me you like it."

"It's good," a-Yuan gasped. "No, wait, sorry. OOC. You still want me to—"

He gestured vaguely, a gesture that came to nothing at all, arrested by the ropes as it was. Binghe had no idea what he was trying to say.

"A-Yuan should do as he pleases," he said affectionately, rocking in him.

"Okay. Okay, give me a—just—yeah," a-Yuan gasped, and then he hitched his whole body, drawing inwards somehow, and suddenly his soft, slack-jawed enjoyment turned into an ice-cold sneer.

"Enjoying yourself, demon?"

It hit Binghe like a slap to the face.

Right. That was the game they'd been playing. The game where he was hurting Shizun, not pleasuring a-Yuan. It was not, he found, a game he felt much like playing anymore.

He'd taken his revenge on Shizun long ago. It had felt strangely hollow even then, not the satisfaction it should've been. He'd kept at it for a long time, because… because he'd been so angry, and because he'd thought eventually he'd feel something. He'd finally root out that aching spot Shizun's cruelty had left lodged in him like a splinter in his flesh, an abscess he couldn't lance.

But that old rage seemed far away right now, and the bitter satisfaction of making Shizun pay rang hollow compared to the bright, uncomplicated pleasure of making a-Yuan feel good.

But it was the game he'd signed up to play, and a-Yuan was clearly still enjoying it.

He had his head thrown back, eyes closed, shivering with bliss as Binghe moved in him.

"How dare you do this to me, you beast," he gasped, looking pleased, and they were only words, after all.

"Take it, Shizun," Binghe said, a little too flatly, but a-Yuan groaned and crossed his ankles behind Binghe's back, pulling him in.

"You dare! Demon. Hellspawn. Foul mongrel."

The words were awful, but the tone wasn't so bad anymore: gasps of pleasure, not disgust. Binghe focused on that, and tried to let the words stream past him.

He put his hands on a-Yuan's shoulders and pinned him down. He could remember all sorts of cruel things he'd said to Shizun that he could've spat at a-Yuan, but the words tasted like blood on his tongue.

A-Yuan moaned. "Filthy half-breed. Animal. Unable to control your urges. Of course this is the sort of thing you'd resort to—"

The first tear caught him by surprise. It splashed onto a-Yuan's shoulder before he could blink it back.

"I didn't," he gasped, "I never—"

He'd taken his revenge, but he'd never touched Shizun this way. He'd never forced him, he'd never forced anyone

"I didn't—"

His voice was a thready whimper. Pathetic. Shizun was going to sneer in his face.

A-Yuan's eyes snapped open.

"Binghe? Binghe!" He yanked his wrists down hard enough that the headboard rattled. "Binghe? What is it? Cut me loose—"

The ropes snapped under Binghe's hands. He pulled out, just barely remembering to be careful about it under the urgent drumbeat of get away, get away.

A-Yuan caught him as he tried to retreat, throwing his arms around Binghe's shoulders.

"Binghe? What is it, are you all right? Was it what I said? Was it too mean?"

"I never—" Binghe whispered.

"I'm so sorry," a-Yuan said. "I took it too far—are you all right?"

"I'm sorry," Binghe gasped. "I'd never—"

His voice cracked. He squeezed his eyes shut, angry at himself. Why couldn't he have kept it together a bit longer? Now he'd spoiled a-Yuan's pleasure, and over what? A few names he'd been called a thousand times before? "I'm sorry—"

"Hey, don't. It was my fault. I was being cruel," a-Yuan said. He rubbed Binghe's back, not letting him pull away.

"What if it's true," Binghe choked out. He thought of the way he'd roughly shoved his cock into a-Yuan's mouth. The things he'd done to Shizun. "What if I'm a monster?"

"Hush, don't say that." A-Yuan was still running his hands up and down Binghe's back. "I'm sorry I said those things to you. There's nothing wrong with you. You're a good person."

"Am I?" Binghe said. The words came out bitter.

Poor a-Yuan, stuck comforting some stranger he'd picked up hoping for a good time. Bet he wished he'd gone with one of those other Luo Binghes now, one of the ones with their robes open halfway down their chest. They'd probably know better than to take a silly game too seriously. "You don't even know me."

"I know you've been very nice to me. Of course you're not a monster."

"Unlike Luo Binghe." The words tasted like poison in his mouth. If a-Yuan really knew what he'd invited into his bed—

The hard smack to his shoulder took him by surprise. "Binghe's not a monster, either!"

"Isn't he?"

He'd meant to sound sarcastic. Why should Binghe care what a-Yuan thought of Luo Binghe, after, what, reading a few sensationalized accounts of his battles, maybe some third-hand reports of happenings at his court? What could he know?

It came out sounding desperate instead.

"Of course he isn't!" A-Yuan frowned at him.

Binghe bit the inside of his lip till it bled and tried to bring his face back under control. He could feel his lower lip wobbling. Tears kept welling up no matter how hard he tried to blink them back. "Isn't he?"

"He isn't! Of course he isn't. And neither are you," a-Yuan said.

"Luo Binghe tortured his Shizun. Killed him," Binghe said harshly. He fisted one hand in the fine green robes spread around them on the bed: Shizun's robes, which surely a-Yuan had chosen to wear for a reason. Had he known, when he'd taken Binghe to his bed, what had happened to the man he'd taken such an interest in? How much could he have read, of what Binghe had done? "You don't know me at all."

A-Yuan gripped him by the shoulders until Binghe was forced to look him in the face. "Sometimes people do things that look very bad to someone who doesn't know the full story," he said carefully, as if he was feeling his way along the words. "Sometimes people do things they regret. But I know Binghe was a good kid. I know how much his Shizun hurt him. I know how hard he tried."

He paused, his thumbs rubbing gently against the curve of Binghe's shoulder. "I know how hard you tried to be good to me."

The first sob burst its way out of Binghe's chest like a splinter being drawn from a wound. Tears were pouring down his face now, a horrible, unstoppable flood. He swiped at them angrily with his sleeve.

"I'm sorry," he choked out.

"Hush, it's all right," a-Yuan said. He guided Binghe down to bury his face in a-Yuan shoulder and stroked his hair. "You're all right. It's okay. You did nothing wrong."

Binghe pressed his face against a-Yuan's silk-covered arm, trying to breathe. His chest hurt. "I never—he—I don't know why Shizun hated Binghe so much," he gasped.

A-Yuan held him close, rocking them together. "I don't know. But I know there's nothing wrong with—with Binghe. It's all right. Binghe did so well, he worked so hard. Hush now, it's okay. You're okay."

He kept muttering things like that, forgiveness and praise, all the things Binghe had wanted so badly to hear from Shizun and never had. Binghe couldn't seem to stop crying: big, ugly, graceless sobs. A-Yuan held him through it, patient, nothing but kindness even as Binghe utterly disgraced himself.

It seemed to take a long while until he'd finally cried himself out and rested limply against a-Yuan's chest.

"There, is that better?" a-Yuan said, stroking his back.

"I'm sorry," Binghe croaked out.

A-Yuan smacked him gently on the shoulder. "None of that, now. I'm the one who made you cry. I was being too cruel." He covered his hand with his sleeve and gently wiped the tears from Binghe's face. "You were doing so well. You made me feel really good."

For a while, before he'd ruined everything.

But maybe he could still make up for it. A-Yuan had been enjoying himself. Binghe could get him there again.

"I can make it even better," Binghe said hopefully.

Yes. He could redeem himself. His own cock had softened, but it wouldn't be a problem. That part of his body never gave him any trouble when he needed it, not even when he was upset, or exhausted, or in pain. And a-Yuan's cock plumped up a little, too, when Binghe wriggled against it where it was pressed between their bodies.

He'd make a-Yuan feel so good he'd forget how much Binghe had shamed himself.

A-Yuan reached for his shoulders as Binghe made his way down his body. "Binghe—"

"I want to. Please," Binghe said. "I'll make it so good, you'll see—"

A-Yuan made an uncertain noise, but Binghe was a man on a mission now. He got his mouth on a-Yuan's cock. He already knew what a-Yuan liked. It only took a little bit of sucking and licking to get him properly hard again, to get a-Yuan gasping with pleasure.

A-Yuan tentatively put his hands in Binghe's hair. Binghe hummed encouragingly around his cock. A-Yuan started petting him, still so gentle. "Binghe's doing so well. That feels so good," he said.

It made tears burn in the corner of Binghe's eyes all over again. A-Yuan had been so embarrassed to show anything of his pleasure, earlier, but he was telling Binghe now, out loud, just to be kind, just because Binghe had cried. It only made Binghe more determined to make it good for him.

A-Yuan didn't even know everything Binghe could do for him yet. He'd never dual cultivated with a heavenly demon before. Binghe would show him—

He gently pushed A-Yuan's legs apart and fit himself between them. A-Yuan opened for him easily this time, a tight, perfect fit, so good Binghe had to squeeze his eyes shut and cling to his shoulders for a bit.

"That's so good," a-Yuan said, each word of praise like a gift just for Binghe.

Binghe rocked them together gently, a-Yuan's arms around his back, leaning down to kiss him over and over. A-Yuan gasped, clinging tightly. He had his eyes shut, his face totally stunned with pleasure. Binghe angled himself into that good spot again and pushed a hand between them to curl around a-Yuan's cock. A-Yuan groaned and tightened around him. Binghe stopped trying to hold back.

The seal on his powers came apart in the moment of climax. The sudden surge of power only heightened the rush of spending himself inside a-Yuan's tight body. Qi poured through him in a torrent and spilled over into a-Yuan. It filled a-Yuan's delicate body to overflowing, forging a path for itself through un-developed meridians in a blaze. A-Yuan screamed, his back arching, his face still utterly transported with pleasure.

Binghe petted him gently as he went limp in his arms, cradling him against his chest.

"What even just happened," a-Yuan asked dazedly. He didn't seem to have the strength to open his eyes.

"Dual cultivation with a heavenly demon," Binghe told him smugly.

"You know what, fair enough. That is probably what that feels like. I don't think it could be any better without, like, actually killing you," a-Yuan said.

Binghe held him tight even as he carefully pulled out of him. A-Yuan groaned a little, but there was no real pain in the sound. Binghe let himself hold him for a while longer before he gently lowered him into the pillows and got up from the bed.

He was glad he'd already had opportunity to observe how the strange fixtures in the bath chambers here worked, so he could wet a cloth with warm water and wipe a-Yuan down. A-Yuan muttered and twitched in drowsy protest, especially when Binghe stroked the cloth between his legs, but he was too dazed to get as embarrassed as Binghe thought he would probably otherwise have been.

When he was done Binghe stretched out beside him again. He rested his head on a-Yuan's chest, listening to the strengthening drumbeat of his heart. The wet rattle at the bottom of a-Yuan's lungs drained away as his qi worked inside a-Yuan's body.

Binghe took a deep breath. "Come back to my palace with me," he said.

"OOC," a-Yuan chided him mildly, without opening his eyes. He rapped him gently on the shoulder. "Luo Binghe is not settling down to a happy ending with Shen Qingqiu."

"Not Shen Qingqiu. You. Let me take you home, a-Yuan."

A-Yuan laughed drowsily. He sounded like he was halfway to sleep already. "You know what? Why not. None of this has been IC. I guess that might as well happen. Shen Yuan, concubine in the emperor's harem."

"Consort," Binghe corrected him gently.

But a-Yuan's breaths had already evened out into the steady rhythm of sleep.

Binghe smiled, shaking his head. There'd be time enough to tell him when he woke. Time enough for him to get used to the idea, too; a wedding ceremony this important would take time to prepare.

He gently tucked a-Yuan back into his robes and combed his fingers through the mess of his hair until it lay straight. Then he went around the room gathering the odds and ends a-Yuan had left around the room into the bag he found in a corner.

Xin Mo hummed peacefully in his hand when he drew it from its scabbard, as happily sated as Binghe himself was. The portal was a howling drain on his powers when it opened, far worse than it usually was. But Binghe had already known he was far from home.

He gathered a-Yuan against his chest with one arm and took his bag in the other. He would've preferred to wait until a-Yuan was awake, but with the state his body had been in, the healing trance was unlikely to lift before the course of a full day. Binghe did have duties to return to.

A-Yuan slept warm and trusting in his hold. Binghe pressed a kiss to his hair, held him close, and stepped into the portal.

THE END