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worth it for the feeling

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“I’ve never gotten off with another person,” Wei Ying says that night, apropos of nothing.

 

Lan Zhan pauses in what she’s doing to swivel, and to stare, in that precise order. Wei Ying is hanging off the couch upside down, her ponytail pooling on the shag carpet. She’s boredly looping a yellow strand of sugar gum around her finger, the brand she buys that’s so sweet it gives Lan Zhan a jaw-ache.

 

The statement was clearly directed at someone, so Lan Zhan think her input might be expected.

 

“Is that so,” she says, and skates her gaze over the familiar angles of Wei Ying; her belly shirt rucked up so that the band of her bra is visible, her jean shorts pulled low down on her hips. Her navel piercing winks at Lan Zhan like a taunt. Wei Ying idly kicks her legs over the spine of the couch, smooth tan skin and muscle.

 

It’s like she does it on purpose.

 

“Yeah,” Wei Ying says, narrowing her eyes with a thoughtful smack of her gum. “I’ve only ever been able to come on my vibrator — or I guess the old-fashioned way with my hand, if I’m really up for it. So much work that way, though. Sometimes I think the whole sex-with-another-person thing is overrated. What’s the point of going to all that trouble and mess if I can just do things better myself?”

 

Lan Zhan takes a deep breath, slow through her nose and out through her mouth. She feels as though she’s being baited into something. Or, possibly, karmically punished.

 

“Perhaps they’re not giving you what you need,” Lan Zhan says coolly, and decides to leave it at that. Wei Ying wouldn’t know what she needed in bed if it rolled up to her with the Dykes on Bikes.

 

This fact, unfortunately, does not make Lan Zhan like her any less.

 

Wei Ying twists onto her stomach, pushing out the curve of her ass as she hoods her eyelids at Lan Zhan. “And what exactly is that?”

 

Lan Zhan raises one eyebrow at her. It says, very clearly: Careful.

 

Wei Ying audibly scoffs at the expression, propping her chin on her forearms with an exaggerated moue. Her dark, uneven bangs fall into her face. “It’s not like it’s my fault. And it’s not like I don’t want to. I think I’m just — not really a penetration gal? Guys have never really done it for me.”

 

There’s a reason for that, Lan Zhan wants to say, but she thinks it may be snide, and also, it’s not her place. Because Wei Ying is her very straight, very heterosexual best friend, who only occasionally suggests making out with women “for the bucket list” like she wants to see Lan Zhan’s heart put through a blender. That’s the line in the sand that’s been drawn. Lan Zhan thinks about Wei Ying with a teenaged obsession, comes on her fingers to the thought of licking her open and the noises she’d make, and the sweet, dopey, wondering smile she’d give Lan Zhan right after she finished. And, very carefully, she does nothing about it.

 

“How did you know you liked girls, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying asks, all guileless innocence. It’s a conversation they’ve had multiple times, and which Wei Ying, for whatever reason, always insists on repeating as though she has no recollection of it.

 

“Always knew,” Lan Zhan says, for the umpteenth time. “There wasn’t one specific moment.”

 

Wei Ying slowly blows a bubble, hollowing her lips as it pops. Lan Zhan wants to eat her alive. She won't.

 

“Things would be so much easier if I were gay,” Wei Ying sighs, forlorn, and drags a finger through her ponytail to twirl it around and around.

 

It’s a ridiculous aphorism that straight people love to say, and Lan Zhan usually just ignores it because — where, even, to begin — but for whatever reason, with Wei Ying, she’s feeling a little ruthless tonight. She pushes it.

 

“And why is that,” Lan Zhan says, a little too crisp to be casual.

 

“Oh, you know,” Wei Ying says. “Because then you and I could —”

 

“Don’t,” Lan Zhan snaps, the response out before her thoughts have time to catch up, and Wei Ying pauses in surprise, her eyes widening at the edge of ice in Lan Zhan’s voice. There was a time, in their early days, where Lan Zhan used that tone with her often, but not for a long time. Not with Wei Ying.

 

But no, Lan Zhan does not want to hear this. She doesn’t think she’s quite equipped to.

 

“What are you all worked up for?” Wei Ying whines, her brows lowering into a frown. “I was giving you a compliment. I was going to say that I know you’d be amazing in bed.”

 

Wei Ying has a tendency to just — throw words around like that, heedless of the damage, casting landmines in all directions. Lan Zhan swallows against the rashy heat in her cheeks. Her own anger surprises her.

 

“And how would you,” Lan Zhan says, still a little too coldly, “know a thing like that?”

 

“Alright,” Wei Ying says, backtracking with a pout, “alright, alright, I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just running my mouth, aiyo, you know how I do that.”

 

She sounds contrite enough for Lan Zhan to feel appropriately guilty about her response. Wei Ying never truly means harm in what she says, but the knife is always readily available, when Lan Zhan’s feelings are so quick to bleed. She’s usually a little better-tempered in responding to it.

 

“Forgive me,” Lan Zhan says, abruptly very tired. “I spoke harshly.”

 

Wei Ying gives a prissy little hmph sound and flips onto her back again. The navel piercing has returned to the scene. “I’ll say.”

 

There’s a bumpy quiet for another moment, and then Wei Ying tentatively suggests a movie, and of course Lan Zhan agrees, and the night is smooth from there, Wei Ying tucked in her familiar spot into Lan Zhan’s side, her calves dangling over Lan Zhan’s thighs and her hands, always too cold, burrowed into Lan Zhan’s sweatshirt.

 

And Lan Zhan takes it, because she’ll take whatever Wei Ying has to give, in whatever capacity she’ll be had.

 

 

Lan Zhan thinks that’s the end of it, but it comes up again two days later, again in Lan Zhan’s apartment. Wei Ying is almost always talking about sex, in one way or another, and Lan Zhan is usually fairly patient when it comes to hearing about Wei Ying’s unsuccessful trysts with men, even though Wei Ying says the same thing over and over again and it’s always the same complaint.

 

Tonight, though, Wei Ying is more explicit than usual, moaning as she drapes herself over Lan Zhan’s shoulder.

 

“If someone would just — I don’t know, bend me over and fuck me, then I could stop feeling so horny all the goddamned time,” Wei Ying says. She’s wearing a different crop-top today, some grunge metal band shirt that she possibly stole from her brother and then mutilated, and her hair smells like strawberry shampoo, silky and soft against Lan Zhan’s skin.

 

“That’s not what you need,” Lan Zhan says before she can think twice about it, an automatic and idle response, and then she freezes. Wei Ying goes still too, looking surprised.

 

A furrow forms between Wei Ying’s brows. “Okay, resident sex expert, what exactly do you think I need?”

 

Lan Zhan’s ears are furnace-hot. Still, if Wei Ying insists on continuing to have these conversations with her, she’ll get what she’s requesting.

 

“Getting bent over is too perfunctory,” Lan Zhan says, as matter-of-fact as a textbook reading. Although her tone is cool and detached, she feels her pulse flutter erratically. “You want to be paid attention to. Taken apart. Owned. Praised. Brought to some edge until you can’t think anymore, because thinking is what stops you from coming.”

 

Wei Ying stares at Lan Zhan with large eyes, all of her whining evidently forgotten.

 

“And how would you…” Wei Ying says hoarsely, then swallows. She’s so close to Lan Zhan, and Lan Zhan is so, so close to breaking — to ruining everything between them, simply for a taste. Wei Ying’s voice drops, her gaze sliding away. “How would you, uh…go about doing that?”

 

Lan Zhan pulls away sharply from Wei Ying’s grasp, feeling goaded. She sometimes can’t help feeling like Wei Ying’s lesbian plaything, some blank wall for Wei Ying to project her curiosities onto, and while she loves Wei Ying too much to resent her, the feeling gets tiresome, not to say anything of the hurt.

 

Wei Ying surprises her, though. She follows after, her hand still curled in Lan Zhan’s sweatshirt sleeve.

 

“Lan Zhan,” she says, more seriously than Lan Zhan has ever heard her, in a context like this. Wei Ying swallows, then bites her lip before she says, “I…I really want to know. What you would do. What I…need.” And then she catches her breath, and she just looks at Lan Zhan a little helplessly.

 

Is she…is Wei Ying asking what Lan Zhan thinks she’s asking? Lan Zhan stares at her, her palms damp, and Wei Ying stares back, her expression clear of its usual teasing. She looks a little guarded, but mostly like she’s holding her breath, her eyes still wide and entreating and her cheeks very pink.

 

Lan Zhan can’t quite conceal the rough edge in her voice when she speaks. “If you want to ask for something,” she says, lowly. “Then ask.”

 

Wei Ying glances away, flush darkening further. She starts to fiddle with her bracelets, uncharacteristically reticent.

 

“Well, it’s only if you were offering,” Wei Ying mutters petulantly. “I mean, usually I would ask you to buy me dinner fir—hey!

 

In one rough, quick move, Lan Zhan’s pushed Wei Ying toward the couch, hard enough to unbalance her; not hard enough to send her to her knees, but Wei Ying goes anyway, gasping and a little splayed and her ass raised toward Lan Zhan.

 

“L-Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying wheezes, and Lan Zhan squeezes her bare waist too hard, where the crop top has ridden up. The soft skin is warm under her touch. Wei Ying moans. “Wh-what are you —“

 

“If you didn’t mean it,” Lan Zhan says. She feels wild, unhooked from any rational bindings now that this has been offered. “Say so.”

 

“I…” Wei Ying says, her back heaving with her breath, her dark hair slung over her face. Her hesitation is too long, by just a beat, and Lan Zhan starts to pull her hands away, retreating because — she should have expected this, and now she’s taken far too much, been too rough —

 

Wait,” Wei Ying says desperately, and flails backwards to grab for Lan Zhan’s wrist. “No, Lan Zhan, I — I really want to, please —”

 

That’s permission. More than permission, it’s desire. I want. A white-hot haze settles over Lan Zhan like a desert sun, and then her fingers are moving, hooking in the waistband of Wei Ying’s Spanx shorts to peel them halfway down her thighs. Wei Ying whimpers and gasps in tiny puffs, curves her back into a deeper arch as if presenting herself to Lan Zhan’s gaze. She’s wearing lacy, carnation-pink panties, the ones with a small bow in the front. Lan Zhan has seen them before, when Wei Ying has trampled around Lan Zhan’s apartment half-dressed; remembers them because they’re sheer enough to see the dark of Wei Ying’s pubic hair through the fabric. Lan Zhan has dreamt of them before.

 

Wei Ying is still making those high-pitched, panting gasps like she can’t get enough air in her lungs, but she hasn’t tried to wriggle away yet. She hasn’t shoved Lan Zhan off in disgust or told her to stop, and she’d initiated, she’d asked, in her circumventing way, so surely that means…?

 

Lan Zhan uses one hand to grip the soft, firm curve of Wei Ying’s ass, the other to experimentally trace a thumb where she’s already damp enough to have soaked through the panties. So, she…she gets wet easily. Lan Zhan always thought she might, but never imagined that she’d have a chance to find out firsthand. It’s gratifying, a relief, to know Wei Ying is wet just from this; that her body is fully on-board with the proceedings even if she’s scrambling through things mentally.

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whimpers again, pushing back against the pressure of Lan Zhan’s hand, and Lan Zhan rubs her thumb against her entrance more surely, her breath caught in her throat. At her touch, the fabric soaks her thumb even wetter, a hot spurt of slick. Wei Ying twitches beneath her, trying to clench down around it. Yes. This is exactly what she needs.

 

“You’re wet,” Lan Zhan observes finally, because it should be noted, and Wei Ying makes this choked, moaning noise and buries her face in the couch. It’s ridiculously, unmooringly hot.

 

“Please, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying whines softly, “don’t tease, I can’t —“

 

“You can,” Lan Zhan counters, a mere statement of fact. “And you like it.”

 

Fuck,” Wei Ying groans, burying her face deeper in the cushions like it’ll swallow her whole. Then she says, muffled, “This is why I fuck strangers, because I can’t have people going around knowing me and the way I —”

 

No one will know her like Lan Zhan knows her. She twists two fingers into Wei Ying's cunt further to emphasize that point, pushing the wet fabric of the lace up inside of her, and Wei Ying full-body jolts and cries out, rocking back against it, clenching down futilely around the blunt press of Lan Zhan’s fingers.

 

It’s at this point that something strange happens, some shift that Lan Zhan can’t put a name to — Wei Ying gets breathier, moaning loud and nasal through her nose as Lan Zhan continues to finger her through the lace.

 

“Yeah, yeah, that’s it, baby,” Wei Ying says, a sweet, sickly curl to her tone as she rocks backwards. “Right there, jiejie, you’re getting me so nice and wet, unhh, yeah.”

 

She gives another forced, breathy “ah” as Lan Zhan circles a thumb around her clit through the damp cotton, then another nasal “yeahh.

 

Lan Zhan stops with two fingers still partially inside Wei Ying, suddenly impatient when she realizes what’s happening. Wei Ying has clearly watched porn, maybe even lesbian porn, and if there’s one thing Lan Zhan, a lesbian, knows, it’s how real women do not sound in bed. Maybe Wei Ying has done this for men before, and none of them had known any better, none of them had stopped because they hadn’t seen the signs of artifice, they hadn’t known her.

 

Wei Ying whines at the interruption, spreading her knees further. “Wh-why did you stop?”

 

“You don’t need to perform anything,” Lan Zhan says. “Not for me.”

 

Wei Ying shifts her hips, a small tell. “W-what do you —“

 

“You know what I mean,” says Lan Zhan.

 

Wei Ying goes quiet for another moment. Her shoulders are hunched inward, strangely vulnerable, her skin warm under Lan Zhan’s touch, her ponytail curling by her cheek.

 

Wei Ying speaks quietly then, uncertainly. “Then…what should I…” Her fingers curl in the fabric of the couch cushion.

 

Lan Zhan leans over, suddenly fiercely unable to keep from pressing a kiss to the back of Wei Ying’s neck, the top of her spine. Wei Ying makes a soft, sweet sound beneath it.

 

“Tell me what you like,” Lan Zhan says. “Tell me when it feels good.”

 

Wei Ying nods obediently, sounding a little breathless. “Yeah. I. Okay. Can do that.”

 

Lan Zhan bends to kiss the dents in the small of her back, and Wei Ying makes that small noise again, like she’s been taken off guard or dismantled. Lan Zhan brushes her lips lower, over the swell of her ass and down to where she’s spread and wettest, seeping hot through the panties. With a pinky, Lan Zhan hooks the wet string aside, exposing Wei Ying’s pussy fully to her; she’s very slick, swollen and flushed dark, much more closely trimmed than Lan Zhan is. The scent of her is thick enough to taste, even without a mouth on her. Even so, Lan Zhan leans in to lick her, once, twice — carefully, deliberately, just for the flavor — and Wei Ying cries out and says, “Lan Zhan,” in a wrecked voice, her real voice.

 

“Good,” Lan Zhan murmurs against her skin, and slips two fingers back inside her, the slick channel of her cunt hot and wet now without the fabric to impede.

 

“Oh, that feels,” Wei Ying says in a wondering, disbelieving voice as she shudders and rocks backwards. “Oh —

 

Lan Zhan keeps two fingers buried to the knuckle, pushing in and out at a steady rhythm, then dips lower to probe her tongue lightly against Wei Ying’s clit, fluttering and pliant, as she sets an unrelenting pace.

 

Wei Ying goes wild above her, animal sounds and Lan Zhan’s name and her hips squirming to escape oversensitivity, rocking back at the same time to get closer. She’s wet enough that slickness trails around Lan Zhan’s fingers as they pump in and out, the sounds of it loud enough to fill the room. She’s going to come, and Lan Zhan’s going to make her if it takes all night, although from all indications, it will not.

 

As if on cue, Wei Ying moans and says, in this dazed voice Lan Zhan’s never heard before, “I’m going to — stop, I can’t, Lan Zhan, no, please, I’m —"

 

"Stay still," Lan Zhan says, mostly because she's curious if she'll be obeyed.

 

Wei Ying squirms harder with incoherent whimpers, trying to wriggle away from Lan Zhan's mouth and fingers. Impatient, Lan Zhan smacks the back of her thigh with her free hand; certainly not hard enough to hurt, but Wei Ying makes a gutted sound, jerks like she's been electrocuted, and comes on Lan Zhan's fingers, on her mouth. Far easier than Lan Zhan thought, to make her fall apart. Wei Ying keens and spasms through orgasm, another gush of slick coating Lan Zhan’s fingers. Her thrashing is too weak to dislodge Lan Zhan, and when the flutters subside a little, Lan Zhan presses her open with fingers and tongue again, wringing a second full-body shudder out of her.

 

“Oh, fuck, I,” Wei Ying moans, “fuck, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, I —“ And then she goes silent for a long time, puddling bonelessly into the couch.

 

It’s abruptly all too much, and not nearly enough. Lan Zhan exhales, slips her fingers loose, and then, a little ridiculously, readjusts the ruined panties so they’re back in place. Wei Ying’s taste is everywhere, behind her teeth and under her tongue and along the back of her throat.

 

Wei Ying’s gone loose-limbed and silent, her face hidden from view. There’s a splotchy flush that’s crept up her lower back, the back of her neck. Lan Zhan hadn’t even undressed her, had just gotten straight down to the buffet of it.

 

Lan Zhan wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, where Wei Ying’s slick coats her from nose to chin.

 

“That,” she says, quiet and a little unsteady, “is how I’d fuck you, if you were —“

 

Wei Ying twists suddenly on the couch, her eyes shining and a little hazy, like summer heat. Her cheeks are pink, her skin glowing and her bangs sweaty. She’s so beautiful that it hits Lan Zhan like a slab of concrete rising to meet her, and she thinks, I didn’t even kiss her —

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says breathlessly, then her eyes flutter shut, lashes long against her cheeks. She exhales once. “I'm sorry."

 

Lan Zhan says nothing, but frowns with incomprehension.

 

Wei Ying clarifies, "I know I’m — I’m not the type you go for, and I really — I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you, but I just wanted you to — I wanted this to —”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan interrupts, suddenly a step behind. “Explain.”

 

Wei Ying settles back into the couch with a small hiccup, her eyes a little wet along the lower lids. “I know you’re gay and I’m not, and I never, ever wanted to use you, but I’ve been — I’ve thought about you doing that for so long that when you said all of that stuff I couldn’t help myself, Lan Zhan, please, please don’t hate me.”

 

“You’re…” Lan Zhan says, very stuck on the words I’ve thought about you doing that for so long. “You wanted…”

 

Yes,” Wei Ying says with a stormy, aggrieved sigh, and she rubs at one eye with two knuckles. “I’ve been trying to bring it up, or I was trying to — I don’t know, seduce you with all these stupid crop tops and shorts, but I knew because I was straight you wouldn’t want to, because you could get any gay girl in the world, you’re Lan Zhan, and you’re just as amazing at this as I always imagined, other girls don’t even know what they have, but please, please don’t say things like that’s how I’d fuck you if because all I wanted was for you to —“

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan interrupts, a little dizzy. She needs to get a couple of things nailed down. “You said you’re straight, but you…thought about me fucking you?”

 

Wei Ying thinks about this for a moment, then says sullenly, “Well, it sounds weird when you say it like that.”

 

Whatever is going on there can be addressed later. Lan Zhan moves onto the next order of business. “You think you…took advantage, because…”

 

“Didn’t I,” Wei Ying says in a small voice, her hands curled together by her collarbones. Lan Zhan had just been inside her, had just licked her open until she’d broken. With no one else, has she…Lan Zhan is the first, to make her come like that, to see it and taste it. It hasn’t fully sunken in yet; how perfect and right it had been, how Wei Ying is everything Lan Zhan has imagined.

 

“It’s not just because you’re gay or anything, or because I had to — I had to get anything out of my system with just any girl, I wasn’t using you. I just — ” Wei Ying stops, flushed again and almost awkward and hopelessly endearing. “I just. Really wanted it. From you.”

 

Lan Zhan closes her eyes. Something impossible, something she’d never even dared to hope for, is suddenly so close within reach, and she resists the urge to shy away from touching it, the shape of what could be. “Wei Ying.”

 

“I know I’m probably like, aha, perverting our friendship or something,” Wei Ying says, before Lan Zhan can protest. “By coming onto you when you’re not even! When you’re not even —“

 

“Not even what,” Lan Zhan says roughly, and twists her hand around Wei Ying's calf tight enough to hurt. Wei Ying’s eyes widen, her mouth going a little slack.

 

“You’re not even…” Wei Ying says, her voice trailing off. “Into girls like me.”

 

“You keep saying that with such certainty,” Lan Zhan says.

 

“I mean,” Wei Ying says, “lesbians, don’t they like, um, other lesbians? You know, butch with button-downs and I — I don’t even have a cat — ”

 

“Stop,” Lan Zhan says, “telling me what I like,” and then grabs Wei Ying by the chin and kisses her.

 

Wei Ying makes a shocked, breathy sound against Lan Zhan’s mouth, but she doesn’t pull back, doesn’t retreat or back down. She pushes back into the kiss tentatively, like she isn’t sure what she’s allowed, tipping her head down so their lips meet in a sticky press. She tastes sweet, herbal — like the peach she’d eaten moments ago while the juice dripped down her chin, like mint tea from the sip of Lan Zhan’s drink she’d stolen. Lan Zhan rubs one hand along her waist, uses the other hand to hitch Wei Ying’s leg around her hip and hold it there, flicking Wei Ying’s bottom lip with her tongue. Letting her taste what remains of herself.

 

Wei Ying pulls away with a slick sound, her face much redder than before, to stare at Lan Zhan with open amazement.

 

“Oh, wow,” Wei Ying says, her eyes luminous and awed, “oh, you’re really good at that, come back — ” And then her hands are on Lan Zhan’s face, cupping her jaw, kissing her sweet and deep.

 

It's good. It's objectively, maddeningly good, by anyone's standards, Wei Ying's tongue between her teeth. Wei Ying sweeps her hands down the muscles of Lan Zhan’s shoulders and her back like she’s charting territory — Lan Zhan is a runner and a swimmer, so she’s under no illusions about her physique and its general effect on her partners. Other gay girls are into it. She’d just assumed Wei Ying never thought twice about it.

 

“You’re so fucking hot,” Wei Ying breathes against Lan Zhan’s mouth, her palm running up Lan Zhan’s side. “You’re so sexy, jiejie.”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan begins reproachfully, arousal stabbing through her nonetheless, and Wei Ying talks over her, insisting, “I’m not performing for the — the shitty, stupid male gaze, or whatever, I’m telling you what I think, I think you’re so fucking hot, you’re so hot when you come home from a run and you’re all flushed and your undercut’s sweaty, you’re hot in those horrible one-piece swimsuits they make you wear, do you know — Lan Zhan, do you know how you’ve been driving me crazy, even when I was looking at boys, I was looking everywhere for you —”

 

Lan Zhan pins Wei Ying’s wrists down into the couch so hard that Wei Ying yelps, wriggling under Lan Zhan’s grasp.

 

“Do you want me, Lan Zhan, do you want me,” Wei Ying rambles, then heaves a trembling little sigh as Lan Zhan sucks a hickey under her jaw with her teeth. “I thought s-sometimes when you l-looked at me that you did, please say you did —”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says. Her voice nearly breaks. Her voice is a whip-crack. “Bed. Now.”

 

“Okay, okay,” Wei Ying chants, scrambling up from the couch with her eyes very wide, her ponytail knocked completely sideways and baby hairs curling around her temples. Her Spanx are still halfway down her thighs, hobbling her, and she almost trips. “Bossy, you’re so — ”

 

Lan Zhan had soaked through her boxer shorts well before now, the moment she’d gone down on Wei Ying, but she can feel the insides of her thighs are slippery with it as they both stumble toward the bedroom. Embarrassingly turned on, from nearly nothing. It usually takes a lot to work her way to this point; at least when she’s with other people. Or so she’d thought.

 

Lan Zhan has almost never finished with other partners, usually far preferring to provide pleasure than take it, and besides, she gets too...in her head about who she’s with. Each time, she tries to approach her partners with apathy, and each time, she’s reminded over and over, in every possible way, that they’re not Wei Ying and they will never be. None of the girls who have shared her bed, though she can only count them on two hands, have done enough to allow her to forget that fact, despite their earnest best efforts.

 

The second they’re through the doorway — Lan Zhan’s sweatshirt crumpling onto the floor, Wei Ying’s Spanx shorts shimmied off the rest of the way — Lan Zhan pushes Wei Ying backwards onto the bed, and Wei Ying goes with a squeak and a bounce, her hair a wild nest around her face. Lan Zhan slides one knee over her so that she’s straddling her chest.

 

“I’m going to ride your face,” Lan Zhan says, in a tone that brooks no argument, and Wei Ying turns practically scarlet but she just squeaks, “Yep, okay,” and gives several vigorous nods. Wei Ying’s hands, smaller than Lan Zhan’s but still lovely, lift to wrestle with the elastic waistband of Lan Zhan’s women’s boxers. They wrangle them off as a joint effort, and then Wei Ying’s hands are moving, sinking into the muscles of Lan Zhan’s thighs. In one smooth motion, Lan Zhan pulls her sports bra over her head, her breasts unsticking from the fabric as they spill loose. Perhaps it should feel stranger than it does, to be naked and straddling Wei Ying’s chest, but Lan Zhan has waited for this long enough to grow impatient with modesty.

 

“Oh,” Wei Ying breathes, staring up glassy-eyed at Lan Zhan’s chest, “you’re…”

 

Lan Zhan walks forward on her knees, Wei Ying’s hot breath skidding against the inside of her thigh as she reaches out to grip the headboard. For a moment, for just a moment, Lan Zhan hesitates, the vertigo of the last minutes swooping over her in a quick headrush. This is a point of no return, after all — an irrevocable change between them, the beginning of something that cannot be undone, or taken back. She’s — afraid of losing Wei Ying. Afraid that having Wei Ying like this will ruin her, ruin everything.

 

Then Wei Ying looks up at her from between her legs, earnest and trusting and still a little dazed-looking, and she opens her mouth with the expectant eagerness of a baby bird. Her hand slides back to grip Lan Zhan’s ass and squeeze the muscle, and Lan Zhan promptly forgets whatever it is she’s supposed to be worrying over.

 

She situates herself more securely, her knees pressed into the mattress on either side of Wei Ying’s ears.

 

“I will not be gentle,” Lan Zhan warns her, tightening her grip on the headboard as she lowers her hips.

 

“Thank God,” Wei Ying says dreamily, then tilts her chin up to swipe her tongue against Lan Zhan’s clit.

 

Lan Zhan groans; shocked by the strength of the sensation, by her own unusual loss of composure, and the headboard creaks as she drops her hips fully, Wei Ying’s tongue sinking deeper into her.

 

Fuck.

 

Lan Zhan levers herself up again, dropping back down harder than before with a flex of her thighs. She’s careful not to crush Wei Ying, although she’s less careful in minding Wei Ying’s ability to breathe, if only because it’s so appealing to hear her gag and gasp for breath as she sloppily but sincerely tries to eat Lan Zhan out. It takes Wei Ying a few minutes to learn her anatomy, her tongue probing clumsily into her opening and then the insides of her folds, but it all feels good, all of it, no matter where she touches, and then —

 

A gold rush, a match striking, Wei Ying’s tongue connects with where Lan Zhan’s aching and pulsing and swollen enough to throb, and Lan Zhan exhales “hah” and snaps her hips down harder, her head thrown back. Wei Ying makes a pleased, self-satisfied sound at the find, and she licks into Lan Zhan with more insistent pressure, a flick of her talented tongue. All that talking, good for something, Lan Zhan thinks, and wants to laugh, except laughing right now feels too close to crying, a hot pressure rising up behind her eyes and sinuses. Wei Ying. Like this, Lan Zhan can’t escape the hot, deft sweep of Wei Ying’s tongue, and even though she’s the one on top, controlling the movement of her hips, she feels wildly helpless to the brunt of her own pleasure, her defenses split bare, entirely at Wei Ying’s mercy. The tease of orgasm is inescapable, all-consuming, tingling like static under her skin.

 

Wei Ying is loud as she works, making wet sounds against Lan Zhan’s pussy, tiny moans and whimpers in her throat. When Lan Zhan glances down, she realizes Wei Ying’s hand has fallen between her own legs as she strokes herself in time with the rhythm of her mouth, wet fingers moving in and out of view.

 

“Don’t come,” Lan Zhan manages to say, the first speech she’s been capable of thus far. She’s already so close to release it feels like her teeth are buzzing. “Wait until I —”

 

Wei Ying’s hand, wet with her own slick, comes up to rub a thumb against Lan Zhan’s nipple, a shock of friction as the pad circles the soft pink skin, and Lan Zhan gives a weak moan, her head falling forward as she rides Wei Ying’s face more frantically, as rough as promised. Her thighs are shaking from stimulation and the ache of this kind of exercise; her athleticism is not inconsiderable, but her muscles are unused to this kind of strain, this angle in her hip flexors. Wei Ying’s hand isn’t large enough to entirely encompass the surface area of her breast, but it works as insistently as her mouth, cupping and squeezing the tender skin. Her tongue must be sore by now, the muscles of her jaw twinging and her breath short, but she stubbornly does not relent, driving Lan Zhan closer to the edge, so stubborn and eager-to-please always, Wei Ying —

 

"Good girl," Lan Zhan breathes, and Wei Ying moans brokenly, gouges her fingers deeper into the muscle of Lan Zhan's thighs, tight enough to pinch. "Good —"

 

Lan Zhan’s orgasm breaks through her in a slow-mounting wave, welling up inside her almost like panic until it is not; until the encroaching, claustrophobic pressure of it gives way to a mindless tide lapping and breaking as she fucks herself on Wei Ying’s mouth, a breathless litany of ah ah ah wrenched from her. When the first orgasm recedes, she comes again, smaller and deeper, shuddering with aftershock and deaf to whatever damning sounds she must be making. She tries not to crush Wei Ying’s beautiful face when she sags forward a moment later, resting her sweaty forehead against her forearms, braced on the headboard. Sweat pools on her lower back, prickling with the sweep of fan air circling through the room. Her thighs are shaking so hard that she’s unsure she’ll be able to dismount without truly hurting Wei Ying, without collapsing into jelly on top of her.

 

For a moment in the after, there’s just the low whine of the fan, Lan Zhan’s disordered gasps as her pulse slows, Wei Ying’s shocked breath against a wet patch on Lan Zhan’s inner thigh. The bray of a truck passing on the street below, the wheedle of a mourning dove singing, a sleepy rain beginning to patter on the glass panes.

 

“That was,” Wei Ying says hoarsely, “um,” and Lan Zhan finally looks down. Wei Ying’s mouth is wet and berry-red, parted for breath, slick from her nose to her chin and her eyes very dark, very glazed.

 

“Lan Zhan, did you like it?” Wei Ying asks, blinking up at her like she truly has a doubt. “Was it okay?”

 

Lan Zhan does move at this, swinging her leg over so that she can settle next to Wei Ying, the soft planes of their skin colliding. She reaches up with one trembling hand to cup Wei Ying’s jaw, and tilts her head with a thumb to kiss her. The taste on Wei Ying’s lips has changed from when they kissed before, more musky and sour with Lan Zhan’s come, but she swallows it greedily, as well as Wei Ying's tiny, content noises.

 

“You were very good,” Lan Zhan murmurs. She doesn’t even have the words, really, to describe just how good, so understatement will have to suffice. “Wei Ying is a natural.”

 

Predictably, Wei Ying preens at this, her puffy lips curling up at the corners and her eyes narrowing with delight.

 

“Only the best service for er-jiejie. My face and my neck hurt,” Wei Ying continues, “but it was worth it, to see you like that, to — feel you.” She drops her voice on the last few words; lowers her eyelashes, glossy with sweat. This is the most beautiful person on earth, Lan Zhan thinks, very rationally, through a fog of oxytocin.

 

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying mumbles, then squirms, her hand catching on Lan Zhan’s wrist. “Can you help me come now? You said I could, after — after you —“

 

Lan Zhan surges forward, on a second wind, to kiss her fiercely, sucking Wei Ying’s bottom lip between her teeth. Wei Ying laughs a little breathlessly against her mouth; giddy, maybe a little nervous, still. Wei Ying’s bra had somehow survived the carnage, which is frankly unforgivable, and Lan Zhan moves hurriedly to divest it, both of them struggling in one ungraceful orchestration to unwork the clasp.

 

After the straps slip over her shoulders, Wei Ying is finally naked, looking a little shy under Lan Zhan’s gaze, biting her lip and her neck flushing. Her breasts are smaller than Lan Zhan’s, smaller than average, something she complains self-consciously to Lan Zhan about often — “I’m as flat as a surfboard, Zhanzhan, just put me on my back and you can iron your clothes on me” — but they’re perfect, of course; perfectly sized for Lan Zhan to take into her mouth, lipping at each dark nipple until Wei Ying cries out and pushes her hips up against Lan Zhan’s stomach, her fingers clawing into Lan Zhan’s back. Lan Zhan has seen Wei Ying’s tits through her shirts before, her nipples pebbling through her tank top when the air conditioner runs too cold. Once, for real, when they were drunk after a house party and Wei Ying had stripped down to nothing but her panties and socks, and had turned toward Lan Zhan in a wash of fluorescence from the bathroom light, and the image of it had pierced directly through the liquor haze and stuck itself like a dart to the corkboard of her brain. So Lan Zhan takes her sweet time getting acquainted with Wei Ying’s breasts personally, after all these years of long distance, warming the skin in her hands, massaging and biting and sucking.

 

“You’re really,” Wei Ying says after a full minute of this treatment, winded and incredulous, “a boob gal, huh, Lan Zhan?”

 

“An everything gal,” Lan Zhan returns, dipping her tongue into Wei Ying’s navel. “When it’s Wei Ying.” The stud of Wei Ying’s piercing catches on the tip of her tongue, metallic and satisfying.

 

“Fuck,” Wei Ying says wildly, “fuck, Lan Zhan, please touch me, fuck me, fuck me, please —”

 

Wei Ying is wet enough that the dark, trimmed curls between her legs have gone slick, the cradle of her hips gleaming. There’s a smear of it all the way up to her navel. Lan Zhan licks it clean, inhaling the scent of her, musk and sweat and arousal and the faint spice of Lan Zhan’s body soap. Wei Ying whimpers, her thighs spasming around Lan Zhan’s shoulders.

 

It’s right then, when Lan Zhan’s kissing her way back up the ladder of Wei Ying’s ribs, that Wei Ying blurts, “I have, like, the fattest crush on you,” and it freezes Lan Zhan right in her path.

 

“I’m sorry,” Wei Ying says in response to whatever stunned expression Lan Zhan’s wearing. She’s stroking a hand through the fuzz of Lan Zhan’s undercut, tangling her fingers in the longer strands. “I thought it was just a huge girl-crush until like, um, yesterday, and I should’ve told you before, or a long time ago, but — but that’s what this is, right? Isn’t it love? Don’t you feel it too?”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan whispers, feeling unsteady.

 

“Whatever you’re about to say, kiss me first." There's a pleading hitch in Wei Ying's voice. “So it’ll either hurt less, or so it’ll be even better.”

 

Lan Zhan does as she’s asked, a warmth spreading fast under her skin like sun on wet earth, touching everything to gold. She lays everything bare in it, the oceanic span of her feelings across the years and the novel ones too, those freshly discovered and taking shape with each passing moment. She hadn't thought it was possible she could feel more for Wei Ying, but for the first time, she feels acutely the breadth of a love still uncharted. How many more ways she can learn to feel.

 

“Or do you just,” Wei Ying is already talking when Lan Zhan pulls away, her brow pinched with anxiety. “Wait, was that all too much? Did you really just want to fuck me and be done with it?”

 

Lan Zhan kisses her mouth once, then forges a path down her jaw, her neck, the slope of her breast. Wei Ying’s hands scrabble for a grip, clinging tighter in Lan Zhan’s hair and her knees locking around Lan Zhan's hips.

 

“I love you,” Lan Zhan says into the salt of her skin. “And I want to fuck you. Both at once. Whichever order you prefer.”

 

Oh,” Wei Ying says, like a sob. “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan — in that case, please fuck me first, and then love me.”

 

Without further ado, Lan Zhan slips her hand between Wei Ying’s legs, working her fingers into the hidden heat of her pussy, that which has already become familiar; she’s still so wet that she soaks Lan Zhan’s fingers instantly, almost too slippery to find purchase, but Lan Zhan keeps her teeth latched lightly to one nipple as she presses her fingers inside, as Wei Ying pulses and burns around her. It’s easy to work one finger in and out, then two, then three until the fit is almost tight, greedily sucking Lan Zhan in. For extra insurance, she circles her thumb around Wei Ying’s clit as she pumps her fingers, a light drag of pressure.

 

“Don’t stop,” Wei Ying begs, thrashing under the onslaught of Lan Zhan’s mouth and hands, “don’t stop until I,” and Lan Zhan doesn’t until Wei Ying is shaking apart under her, beautifully loud and at a shockingly high pitch.

 

Wei Ying slumps back into the mattress and stares at the ceiling for a long time with a dazed, blank expression, the sweat between her breasts shining. Lan Zhan watches her, fond and a little smug, but mostly just. Very in love.

 

“So,” Lan Zhan says, when the moment feels right to speak. “Girl crush.”

 

Wei Ying turns her face into Lan Zhan’s shoulder and groans softly. Lan Zhan strokes a hand along her arm, down to the soft curve of her hip, over a scar there where she’d tried to out-backflip Jiang Cheng at a lake and landed on driftwood.

 

Wei Ying takes a deep breath, then starts to speak rapidfire into Lan Zhan’s collarbone.

 

“At first, it was like — I was seeing guys, as you know, and they weren’t doing it for me at all, and one day, after I came over here after a shitty hookup and I was hanging out with you, I just thought, ‘Everything would be so much easier if Lan Zhan had a cock,’ that would solve all of my problems. And then I was like, well, couldn’t Lan Zhan just use a fake cock? And that’s when I fell down a research rabbit-hole about pegging, and the more I thought about it, the more I was like, well, what if she didn’t use that at all? She probably wouldn’t even have to do that and it would be okay. But wouldn’t it mean something about me if she didn’t use a cock? Anyway, it was a whole thing, but I kept having all these thought experiments about kissing you, ways I could do it that I could get away with — us both getting drunk, or a party dare, some other stupid set-up where it would be like, haha, oops! I guess we have to kiss now! But then I would have done it, I would have actually gotten to kiss you.

 

“But first,” Wei Ying says softly. She pulls back to look Lan Zhan in the eye with a startling gentleness, gliding a hand along her cheek. “Before any of that, it was just you. I thought you were so pretty, and smart, and cool, and I just wanted to be around you all the time. But then you started doing stuff like — like making me congee the way I like it in the morning, and reminding me when to stop eating ice cream before I get sick, and checking out books at the library you think I’d like, and — and I just — I thought everything would be right with the world if I could just platonically date you. And then the more time went on, the less platonic it felt because I started getting sick to my stomach thinking about you with other girls, and so combined with all the kissing and pegging stuff, I realized that maybe — yeah, I really do like you, in every way.”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says, emotion threatening to shake her voice.

 

To steady herself, she pauses, then says, “I can fuck you with a cock, if you wish.”

 

Wei Ying splutters an indignant laugh, smacking Lan Zhan’s chest. “All of that, Lan Zhan, and that’s all you have to say?!”

 

Lan Zhan tucks her own smile away and pulls Wei Ying against her side. Wei Ying’s limbs drape over her, their legs tangling together. “Wei Ying. I loved you on the day we met, and wanted you every day after. No one else has ever mattered.” There’s nothing more she can say, to convey the simple and staggering truth she’s lived by. She does not have the words Wei Ying does, only the raw sentiment.

 

Wei Ying’s eyes are moon-wide in her face as she pulls back to stare at Lan Zhan in disbelief.

 

“Not even that really hot butch girl from the gym?” she says in a small voice.

 

It surprises Lan Zhan into a huffed, soundless laugh. “Definitely not the hot butch girl from the gym.”

 

“Oh,” Wei Ying says, then burrows her face into Lan Zhan’s neck. Then she says, muffled, “Lan Zhan, I. I think you’ve got me hooked. All I’m thinking about is doing that again. I don’t think I’ll be able to think about anything else for the rest of my life.”

 

“Then don’t,” Lan Zhan suggests, and palms Wei Ying’s breast in a firm squeeze.

 

Wei Ying jolts against her with a shocked, breathless laugh. Her nipple hardens immediately against Lan Zhan’s palm. “Ah!! Fine, great, okay, twist my arm, and all that. Or twist my —”

 

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan murmurs, and kisses her again, and that’s the last thing spoken for a long time.