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lonely little heartbeat

Chapter Text

Shen Yuan wakes with his face wet. The room is still dark—they didn’t sleep long—but the moonlight through the blinds illuminates Luo Binghe’s beautiful face as he stirs into consciousness. Shen Yuan squeezes hard where their hands are still interlaced.

“Binghe,” he says. Mortifyingly, his voice cracks, and he can feel more tears bubbling up in his throat. “I’m so sorry.”

Luo Binghe looks at him, wide-eyed and unsure. Tears spill from his eyes as well. “Yuan-ge has nothing to apologize for. I—I thought it might make you feel better to see—that I missed you too.”

Shen Yuan’s chest clenches over and over. “I didn’t want you to miss me. I wish I had been there. Oh, Binghe.” He pulls him closer, close enough that he can hear Luo Binghe’s breath shaking in his ear.

It won’t do for his pretty face to be covered in tears. Shen Yuan wipes them away, then leans in and kisses Luo Binghe’s forehead. That makes Luo Binghe choke, so Shen Yuan does it again, one hand caught up in his hair.

“Yuan-ge,” Luo Binghe gasps. “I did miss you. I needed you. I didn’t know how to grow up without you and I don’t think I did it well on my own.”

“Binghe, don’t say that. You’re—perfect.”

Luo Binghe makes a noise like he's been gutted. “Yuan-ge thinks I'm perfect?”

Of course, what could possibly be wrong with him? Shen Yuan’s always admired Luo Binghe. His perseverance and courage. His beauty, more striking than any pop idol. His ingenuity. His natural aptitude for most things, and his willingness to work on the few he doesn’t master at once. And most of all, he’s perfect in Shen Yuan’s life, a bright spark whose absence made living unbearably dull.

“You must know you are,” he says, trying for reproachful, but his voice is still embarrassingly weak. “Who could be better than you?”

Luo Binghe falls apart completely, sobbing into Shen Yuan’s shirt collar. Just the same as his younger self in the woodshed.

“Yuan-ge,” he sobs, “do you know I never cry over anything but you?”

Shen Yuan’s chest squeezes so tight he can barely breathe. He makes a tch sound with his tongue.

“I don’t want you to cry over me.”

“Yuan-ge!”

Shen Yuan pulls back so he can take Luo Binghe’s face in his hands. He meant to wipe his tears again, but the sight of him, red-eyed and wild, strikes something in him that he didn’t know existed. He leans in to plant kisses on Luo Binghe’s cheeks instead, hands cupping his face, stroking just under his ears.

Luo Binghe surges forward and presses his mouth to Shen Yuan’s. Shen Yuan’s mouth falls open in surprise and Luo Binghe kisses him harder, smearing tears all over his face.

Shen Yuan can’t think, his whole body shivering with heat. Luo Binghe is too worked up for finesse. He kisses Shen Yuan like he can do it hard enough to erase the last seven years. Shen Yuan lets him.

He knows how deep the well of Luo Binghe’s desire goes. He knows Luo Binghe has had to fight for everything he has, sometimes nearly at the cost of his life, the odds always stacked against him. He knows Luo Binghe was rejected by his shizun, disrespected by the other disciples, underestimated, and pushed into hell. He doesn’t want Luo Binghe to have to fight for him too. He’s scared of everything Luo Binghe wants from him, but at least he can give him this.

“Binghe,” he says. “Do you want—um—do you want to—”

He can’t say it. He doesn’t even know exactly what he’s asking, but he knows Luo Binghe wants him. He couldn’t be there when Luo Binghe needed him. Isn’t it the least he can do, to give him what he wants now?

“Yes,” Luo Binghe groans. “Yuan-ge, I really want it. I’ve never—I’ve never wanted it so much.” He attacks Shen Yuan’s mouth again, pushing his tongue in. Shen Yuan slides his hands around the back of Luo Binghe’s neck and holds on tight.

He hopes Luo Binghe knows what to do from here, because he has no idea. But Luo Binghe has a whole harem. If there’s one thing he knows how to do, it must be pushing down a willing body and having his way. Shen Yuan shudders, goosebumps rising on his arms.

The way all those women cried out for him. Shen Yuan skimmed the sex scenes, but he saw enough. It was always “fuck me” and “I need it” and “Luo Binghe’s massive cock bringing her overwhelming waves of pleasure” and so on. That can’t really be what it’s like, can it? Shen Yuan is giddy, the heat of Luo Binghe’s mouth pushing him right up to the verge of insanity.

“Please,” he tries. Let Luo Binghe interpret that however he wants. Shen Yuan is incapable of contributing any more to the situation.

Luo Binghe whimpers, pushing the blankets down with one hand and shoving the other up Shen Yuan’s shirt. His hand rests on the soft curve of Shen Yuan’s hip. He grips hard, moaning like he’s the one being touched. Fuck, fuck, why is Luo Binghe so into this?

Luo Binghe breaks off the kiss and pushes his face against Shen Yuan’s neck. Shen Yuan shivers involuntarily, thinking Luo Binghe is going to kiss him there, but he only breathes raggedly and lets his hand wander up Shen Yuan’s side.

“Yuan-ge,” he pants. He gets his other hand under Shen Yuan’s shirt and rests it on his stomach—humiliating, because Shen Yuan’s stomach clenches hard when Luo Binghe thumbs his nipple. What the hell? Binghe’s really treating him like a wife!

And why is he so good at it? He’s barely done anything, why is Shen Yuan’s body aching with desire? Even for a stallion protagonist, it’s too much!

Luo Binghe swings a knee over to straddle Shen Yuan's hips and pushes him onto his back with the hand on his stomach. He leans down to kiss Shen Yuan again, mumbling into the kiss.

“Yuan-ge, it’s really okay?”

Come on, this is what Luo Binghe does! All the time! Does he really have to ask?

Shen Yuan chooses to turn his face up into the kiss in lieu of answering. It should be perfectly clear what he means.

Luo Binghe swallows, an audible wet sound. Then he crawls downward, pressing his face into Shen Yuan’s stomach, smearing his mouth against the softness there. Shen Yuan squeezes his eyes shut, too embarrassed by his own body’s reactions to look.

But... if he does that, he can’t see Luo Binghe. He opens his eyes again to look at his favorite character, the person he most likes to read about, who is looking back up at him.

Luo Binghe’s face is flushed, his hair mussed from Shen Yuan’s hands. Despite his wide range of experience, the look on his face is hesitant. He blinks too hard when Shen Yuan’s eyes meet his, almost a wince. Like he’s afraid.

Luo Binghe should never be afraid of him. Shen Yuan reaches down to pat his head, messing his hair up more.

“It’s okay, Binghe,” he says. “Do what you want.” Luo Binghe turns his head into Shen Yuan’s hand, his breath coming fast.

“I want to make Yuan-ge feel good.”

Shen Yuan squirms with embarrassment. Why does he have to say everything so directly? A line like that should be a joke, something Shen Yuan would laugh at for being over-the-top in a stupid novel.

It’s not funny. Sweat prickles at the back of his neck.

“Please,” Luo Binghe says. “I want to—Yuan-ge, please. I used to think about—I—”

“Shh,” Shen Yuan says desperately. “Just—okay. Okay.” He really can’t handle Luo Binghe, sex god that he is, too worked up over Shen Yuan to even beg properly. Fuck. Oh, fuck.

Luo Binghe tugs down the waistband of his pajama pants. Shen Yuan closes his eyes, bracing himself for a touch in a place he can barely acknowledge even to himself.

Instead, he feels Luo Binghe’s tongue lick all the way up his dick.

Shen Yuan jerks in surprise, which only presses Luo Binghe’s mouth harder against him. His eyes fly open.

“What are you—?”

Luo Binghe wraps his hand around Shen Yuan’s dick and holds it close enough to his mouth that Shen Yuan can feel his damp breath.

“Yuan-ge is so aroused,” he says. “You really—” He moans again. Shen Yuan’s face is burning. Does he have to draw attention to it? Then Luo Binghe licks the tip, and he stops being able to think.

For a while, that’s all Luo Binghe does, just licking the head over and over, seemingly enjoying it too much to stop. Then he tightens his grip and lowers his mouth onto Shen Yuan's dick.

Immediately, there’s a scrape of teeth against Shen Yuan’s slit where he’s most sensitive. He seizes up with a yelp of pain. Luo Binghe freezes, then practically spits Shen Yuan’s dick out of his mouth. His hand tightens, squeezing too hard.

“Ah!” Shen Yuan yelps. “That hurts!”

Luo Binghe drops him, eyes wide. “I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s—it’s okay, just be careful,” Shen Yuan manages. Luo Binghe dips his head again and slowly takes Shen Yuan back into his mouth, flattening his tongue against the head. Ah, it feels good, Luo Binghe’s mouth so hot and yielding. Shen Yuan is right back in, sparks flaring down his spine.

Luo Binghe’s teeth drag against him again. He can’t help but flinch, his hips jerking, and Luo Binghe pulls off with a gag as Shen Yuan’s dick jabs into the roof of his mouth.

Shen Yuan stares at the ceiling. The air is cold on the slickness of his dick. Luo Binghe coughs a few times.

“Binghe,” he says, “are you okay?”

Luo Binghe makes an upset noise. “I’ll do better.”

“You’re doing fine, it’s just—um.” When it comes down to it, Shen Yuan has no idea what he’s doing wrong. How are you supposed to keep your teeth out of the way of something in your mouth? Why don’t novels go into more detail about this? “It’s fine,” he says again, resolving not to interrupt Luo Binghe anymore. What’s a little pain? He can endure it.

Luo Binghe redoubles his efforts. His tongue perks up Shen Yuan’s flagging erection instantly, and Shen Yuan lets himself relax. But now Luo Binghe seems too scared to put his hand on Shen Yuan’s dick, even to hold it in place. Without any leverage, all he can really manage to do is mouth at the tip. It feels good, but it’s nowhere near enough stimulation.

Shen Yuan groans, which Luo Binghe seems to take as encouragement. He wraps his fingers loosely around Shen Yuan’s dick and takes him into his mouth properly again. Ah, fuck, that’s right—Luo Binghe may be new at this, but he’s a fast learner. No teeth this time, just a slick warmth that quickly becomes overwhelming as Luo Binghe sucks hard. Shen Yuan tosses his head back, his thigh muscles clenching. He won’t last long, his body already wound up nearly to the tipping point. Luo Binghe’s so good, so sweet—

There’s a wet, convulsive noise. Shen Yuan looks down to see Luo Binghe’s lashes lowered, his face awash with tears. One slides down Shen Yuan’s shaft, making him spasm. Luo Binghe struggles to breathe through his nose, sniffling and half-choking on Shen Yuan’s length.

“Binghe!" Shen Yuan slaps at his shoulder. “Stop, stop, stop!”

Luo Binghe pulls off him, wiping snot on the back of his wrist. Shen Yuan tugs him up into a hug. Luo Binghe falls into his arms with all the weight of his big, muscled body.

“I’m sorry,” he chokes out.

“What—no! You’re—Binghe, I was scared that you couldn’t breathe!”

Luo Binghe opens his mouth to speak again, but Shen Yuan silences him by pushing his head deeper into the hug. They can talk after Luo Binghe calms down. He drops a kiss onto the top of his head.

“It’s okay,” he says. “No one is good at things the first time.”

Luo Binghe shoves him back, his face twisting in disgust. It startles Shen Yuan, until he realizes it’s directed at Luo Binghe himself.

“I’m good at it,” he says viciously, his eyes dark. “I should be able to please you.”

Please him? What nonsense. This was all for Binghe!

“You don’t have to,” Shen Yuan says, but Luo Binghe only looks more upset.

“If I can’t bring you pleasure, then what good was all of it?”

“All of—what we were just doing?”

“No! I—Yuan-ge, you know about the women I was with.”

Shen Yuan nods, baffled.

“I wished every one of them was you,” Luo Binghe says. “I didn't want them. But I thought if I practiced with them, I could make you look at me with the admiration they did. Sometimes I hated them for not being you.”

Since he’s arrived, Luo Binghe has said and done so many things that have upended Shen Yuan’s ideas about him. But this sends him spinning out, all familiar ground obliterated.

“But,” he says. “But you liked those women.”

“I didn’t. I told you I never did! I’m just good at sex, Yuan-ge, and people want it—you want it, too. You know what I am. It’s a porn novel.”

Shen Yuan has heard as much many times from the denizens of Zhongdian. It stuns him to hear that dismissive sentiment from the protagonist himself.

“Do you think I don’t know what it is I’m good for?” Luo Binghe says bitterly. “You know it yourself. You won’t say yes to marrying me, but you say I can do what I want to your body. So if I can’t please you, what use would you have for me?”

Shen Yuan has always wanted Luo Binghe to be happy. This evidence of something broken far deeper than he can fix right now cuts him deep.

“That’s not true,” he says.

“Which part? Yuan-ge, I’ve seen how you look at me. You’ve let me make advances on you. But you don’t—” Luo Binghe’s breath catches. “You don’t want all of me.”

Shen Yuan presses his mouth shut. That hurts, the sting of it hitting right behind his eyes. All at once, it makes him angry. Don’t want all of him? He has Luo Binghe in his bed with his dick out. What more is he supposed to do?

“I don’t want all of you?” he says. “Then who is more qualified to? Who knows you better than I do, Binghe? After all the months we lived together, all the time I’ve spent thinking about you and reading about you, all the meta I’ve written—how can you say I don’t want you? That I only like part of you?” Honestly, after all the money he’s sunk into that novel! Shen Yuan would dare Luo Binghe to try to find someone who likes him more!

Luo Binghe gazes at him, thunderstruck. “Yuan-ge...”

“Stop that!” Don’t look at him like that! Luo Binghe is forcing him to say these things, and now he has the nerve to act surprised about it? As if Shen Yuan would just sit here and let him talk about himself that way? Shen Yuan is so pissed off. “And don’t ever talk about what use I could have for you. What a stupid fucking thing to say. Why would I need you to do anything? You’re Luo Binghe, you’re—just—the best. The best ever.”

Luo Binghe makes half a noise and throws himself back into Shen Yuan’s arms, effectively shutting him up. Thank god.

“No one’s ever said anything like that about me,” he says, his voice muffled against Shen Yuan’s chest.

That’s not true. Shen Yuan’s said it about a million times, to anyone who would listen.

“Then they’re stupid. Everyone likes you so much, Binghe. That’s why all those women slept with you.”

Luo Binghe actually laughs, in a weird, choked way. “Yuan-ge, you’re wrong, but thank you.” Shen Yuan pats his back.

They stay like that for a while, with Shen Yuan stroking Luo Binghe’s back and Luo Binghe breathing deeply into his shirt. It’s long enough for Shen Yuan to start feeling awkward about his dick hanging out. He reaches between them and tucks himself back in. The poor thing has long since given up the ghost anyway.

Luo Binghe’s wrong about another thing, too. Shen Yuan didn’t say no. He said he’d think about it.

“Binghe,” he says. “Does Xin Mo wipe you out like that every time you use it?”

Luo Binghe shifts in his arms to look up at him. Ah, together they’ve made such a mess of the protagonist, his face stained with tears and his eyes and mouth all red.

“Not every time. It was unusually exhausting to go between worlds.”

“But eventually?”

Luo Binghe shakes his head. “I can use it safely as long as I dual cultivate regularly. To balance my spiritual and demonic qi. Or,” he adds hesitantly, “I suppose I could drain a human cultivator’s qi without dual cultivating, but... it would destroy their meridians, likely permanently.”

Well, that’s no good. Shen Yuan’s not going to let him go around doing that.

“So. If we... what you asked. You would take me with you?”

Luo Binghe jerks to attention, his gaze tightening. “If you agree to marry me?”

Shen Yuan covers his face. Don’t just say it! They’re not talking about it! He just wants to know some logistics!

“Yuan-ge.” Oh god, Luo Binghe’s voice is lethally sincere. “I have plans in my world that will soon bear fruit. I’m close to gaining full control over the northern demon realm, and now that I have access to the human realm, there are people in place to assist me there, too. I will kill Shen Qingqiu and begin my campaign to gain power over the major sects. If you come with me, we will rule over both realms together. You’ll lack for nothing, I swear it.”

He’s not... against the idea. He really likes xianxia, okay? Who wouldn’t want to be at the right hand of the emperor, sharing in the spoils of his conquests? Luo Binghe would look so right on a throne, his eyes blazing, subjugating all who come before him.

It would be really fucking cool. But.

“But I’m not a cultivator. So if you used Xin Mo for all that, you’d need a harem, right? You’d need strong dual cultivation partners.”

Wouldn’t that make Shen Yuan... part of the harem? And not an especially valued member, with no cultivation. A useless non-spiritual human. Even if Luo Binghe liked him and wanted to spend time with him, he couldn’t. He would need to spend most of his time with other cultivators.

Luo Binghe looks distraught. “Then I won’t use Xin Mo. I’ll shatter it to pieces. If you’re with me, I won’t need it. I only mastered it to find you, anyway.”

Wait, what? No, Shen Yuan can’t process that right now. One thing at a time.

“Then wouldn’t we not be able to come back?”

“Yuan-ge.” Luo Binghe’s voice is thick, the consonants getting caught in his throat. “Would you want me to... stay here with you?”

It wouldn’t be fair. Luo Binghe has spent so long working towards everything. In his world he has political connections, allies, incipient power. Shen Yuan’s life is boring. It wouldn’t mean as much to give it up. If Shen Yuan leaves, he’ll only lose his family and a handful of friends. If Luo Binghe stays here, he’ll lose two kingdoms.

“You can’t,” he says.

Luo Binghe’s face falls. Shen Yuan panics. “No, no, that’s not what I meant! Of course you can—Binghe, I want you here—it’s just—I can’t offer you what you offered me. It’d be dull.”

Luo Binghe puts a trembling hand on Shen Yuan’s face. “But you want me to stay?”

The atmosphere in here is too stuffy with feelings. Can someone open a window?

He can’t meet Luo Binghe’s eyes. “I liked it when you lived here.”

“I’ve never been happier in my life,” Luo Binghe says.

That can’t be right. It’s Shen Yuan whose life is so tedious that half a year spent in proximity to Luo Binghe is still his dearest memory. It’s Shen Yuan who was lucky just to be able to touch Luo Binghe’s life, no matter how briefly. And it took five months for Shen Yuan to make Luo Binghe happy at all, according to the System. Surely that can’t have been the happiest Luo Binghe has been? With all the battles Luo Binghe has won and the rewards he’s reaped, can the high point of his life really have been lying close to a dazed and medicated Shen Yuan in a dingy hospital bed?

“But, Binghe,” he says, “I can’t ask you to give everything up for me. When you’ve worked so hard.”

Luo Binghe shakes his head fervently. “Yuan-ge, everything I’ve done has been to position myself to ask for your hand in marriage. I searched for Xin Mo so I could return to this world, and I pursued strength and influence so it wouldn’t shame me to present myself to you. If I am enough for you, I don’t need anything more.”

There’s an entire book about all the things Luo Binghe has done in the last seven years. It was really... all for him?

“But what about all of those women you promised yourself to? And what about Shen Qingqiu?” If PIDW was clear about anything, it was Luo Binghe’s intention to take revenge on Shen Qingqiu. That was always meant to be his first task after escaping the Abyss. Although... Luo Binghe escaped the Abyss, and he came here instead.

“I want to stay here,” Luo Binghe insists. “Yuan-ge, the last time I was here, I hurt you. And when I went back, I wanted to be better, so nothing like that would happen again. But I’ve only gotten worse. And you know that. You’ve read the book.”

“Not worse—” Shen Yuan protests, but Luo Binghe’s not finished.

“I’m not a good person, so wanting to stay with you is selfish. If I were better, maybe I would want you to be with someone whose insecurities never hurt you, who could stand to be apart from you sometimes. But I can’t live without you near me. I’m cruel enough to want to inflict myself on you permanently.”

Luo Binghe feels everything so intensely. All his passion is concentrated into a ray of light that threatens to fry Shen Yuan like an ant.

If Luo Binghe stays here, that’s a different matter than Shen Yuan moving to PIDW. In this country, they can’t, legally, get married. Unless they went somewhere else—but Shen Yuan can put that to the back of his mind for now.

What Luo Binghe wants, basically, is to be with him. Living in his apartment. Making his food. Sleeping in his bed. Maybe—practicing. At what he was trying to do before.

If Shen Yuan can have all that... wouldn’t he be incredibly lucky?

“If Binghe wants to stay here,” he says slowly, “and he claims he can’t live without me, then how could I possibly let him leave?”

“Yuan-ge!’ Luo Binghe bursts into tears. He brings Shen Yuan’s hand to his mouth, turns it over, and kisses his palm—ah, his scar. "Really?"

Shen Yuan hums affirmatively. "Stay."

"I will," Luo Binghe says fervently. "Yuan-ge, I'll stay with you as long as you'll have me. I'll be a good wife, I'll take care of my husband."

Shen Yuan’s heart slams in his chest. A what? A good what? Take care of who?? Shen Yuan kisses him to make him stop talking.

Luo Binghe may have things to learn in the bedroom, but he is an excellent kisser. His tongue flicks into Shen Yuan’s mouth, just enough to tease before he pulls back and sucks on Shen Yuan’s bottom lip. He holds Shen Yuan’s face in his hands, softly stroking his cheekbones as he kisses him dizzy.

So this is how Proud Immortal Demon Way is going to end? Not with any bloody revenge or violent conquest. Just with Luo Binghe leaving to live with him instead.

It should be disappointing, but Shen Yuan... doesn’t really mind. Luo Binghe is hot against him, the warmth spilling all through his body.

It’s actually a really good ending.

Luo Binghe breaks off and dips his head to kiss Shen Yuan’s neck, not sucking or biting, just soft, wet kisses. Shen Yuan moves against him involuntarily, drawing out a heated breath. Luo Binghe grabs his hands and places them on his chest, right under his nipples.

Shen Yuan can't move. Luo Binghe's skin is taut over his tight muscles, his chest heaving as he breathes hard against Shen Yuan's throat.

"Please touch me," he whispers.

Shen Yuan wants to listen to him without thinking about it. He's tired of thinking. He wants Luo Binghe to do what he wants and tell Shen Yuan what to do to him in return.

But Luo Binghe has told him several times now that he didn't like being with any of his wives. The book made him seem happy to do it every time. He's been acting like he's trying to seduce Shen Yuan all day, but then he said all that awful stuff about what he was good for.

Shen Yuan slides his hands around to Luo Binghe's sides, holding him in place. He draws back just a touch from Luo Binghe's mouth, making Luo Binghe pull back to meet his gaze.

"We don't have to," Shen Yuan says. "You can stay no matter what."

Luo Binghe's eyes water. "You told me something like that before," he says. "That you'd—that—you said you'd take care of me forever."

Shen Yuan winces. Did he really say something that cheesy? Luo Binghe makes him so stupid.

"Yeah," he says, enduring a wave of self-consciousness.

Luo Binghe's expression is fragile, awe shining behind his eyes.

"I want to," he says.

Shen Yuan swallows back the sound that almost pushes its way out.

He doesn't want to say the next part. It's going to be so embarrassing. But Luo Binghe is a novel character, so it must be okay to use the cringiest, most cliché novel lines on him. "Then... you don't have to hold back."

Luo Binghe jumps him. He's all over Shen Yuan, clambering on top of him and straddling him, knees squeezing his hips. He pushes his tongue into Shen Yuan's mouth, hands shoving Shen Yuan's shirt up to cup his chest again—he's too used to being with women, what the hell. It's humiliating beyond belief to be groped like that, and even worse that Shen Yuan lets out a helpless little mm when Luo Binghe palms his nipples. He's really going to be treated like one of Bing-ge's wives, pushed down and pawed at and made to take Luo Binghe's legendary dick until he can't take anymore. He squirms under Luo Binghe, panting uncontrollably.

"Yuan-ge," Luo Binghe moans against his mouth. "Ah, Yuan-ge, take me."

Shen Yuan tenses under him, his muscles locking up. Luo Binghe nips under his jaw, making him gasp before he can gather the lucidity to push Luo Binghe's face away.

"Binghe! What did you say?"

"Take me," Luo Binghe says again, just as shameless as before. As if it makes sense. He pushes his hips down against Shen Yuan's, his eyelids fluttering. "I want to feel you inside me."

That kills any possible ambiguity. Shen Yuan reels, the universe breaking around him for the dozenth time today.

"Wh—What?"

"Please..." Luo Binghe grabs Shen Yuan's hands again and puts them on his own hips, pressing hard so Shen Yuan is forced to squeeze. He won't give Shen Yuan a single moment to take things in. Luo Binghe ducks his head to the side and attacks Shen Yuan's ear, scraping his teeth against the shell of it before mouthing his earlobe.

"Binghe! Fuck—hang on a second, slow down! Ah," he breathes as Luo Binghe kisses the soft skin right behind his ear, and then presses his tongue to the side of Shen Yuan's throat.

"Don't want to," Luo Binghe says indistinctly.

"Binghe, wait, wait. Shouldn't we—um—" The semi-disastrous blowjob is fresh in his mind. "Don't you think we should start with—something you're used to?"

Luo Binghe sits back, resting his weight on Shen Yuan's stomach. He hooks a finger in the neck of Shen Yuan's T-shirt and pulls it down idly, his eyes locked on the patch of skin it exposes.

"I don't want to do what I'm used to." He licks his lips, his gaze sliding down Shen Yuan's chest. "When I was here before—" His eyes snap back to Shen Yuan's face, so abruptly it hits Shen Yuan like a slap. "You were taller than me."

What the fuck does that have to do with anything? The confusion must show on his face. Luo Binghe's expression gentles. He cups Shen Yuan's cheek with his palm, looking at him with soft, sweet eyes, like he's worth more than the pouch of jewels.

"I always thought you would take me," he says in a low voice. "It was just that—it ended up being different, what I did with—other people. I thought I wanted to be good at it for you, but—if it's okay—I want..."

Luo Binghe keeps taking him apart, his words hooking right into Shen Yuan and unraveling his guts.

"It's okay," Shen Yuan says in a rush. "If you... really want it. But I've never..."

"I know." Luo Binghe strokes just under his bottom lip with his thumb, smiling. Then he leans down and kisses the spot he just touched. Shen Yuan moves his head to meet Luo Binghe's mouth with his own.

Luo Binghe maneuvers them so Shen Yuan is on top, and slides his big hands up Shen Yuan's body to pull his shirt off. Shen Yuan lets him take the lead. They kiss long and slow in between everything else, leisurely taking off clothes or tying back hair as needed before diving back into each other. Shen Yuan has never felt so much of another person's skin. When Luo Binghe slips off Shen Yuan's ill-fitting track pants, he's shockingly big, hard, and so beautiful it leaves Shen Yuan speechless.

The late hour and the yellow city light through the windows lends everything a dreamlike quality. It's hard to believe that the world outside still exists, with its traffic and smog; that his life of commuting, work and drudgery still awaits him in the daytime. There's nothing in his head or heart but Luo Binghe's body pressed to his, Luo Binghe's voice in his ear whispering his name, barely audible, like he's saying it for himself.

Shen Yuan tries to get up to get—something—he'll have to excavate his bathroom cabinet again, for a very different reason this time—but Luo Binghe stops him by pulling out a small clay pot from somewhere unknown. Shen Yuan is first startled, then embarrassed by his own surprise. Of course Luo Binghe is prepared for... that. He's been pressed into action in all kinds of strange circumstances.

"Um," he says. "Have you ever..."

"I don't often seek my own pleasure," Luo Binghe says.

Well, of course he wouldn't need to. The decadent, lazy kissing and touching has dampened Shen Yuan's anxiety up to this point, but now it's climbing to a high pitch. Doing this scares him more than what he thought they'd be doing. It's one thing to mindlessly acquiesce and endure whatever comes of it. But Luo Binghe expects him to play an active role. He has no idea what he's doing; he hasn't even read or watched much porn of this specific thing. And if he does it wrong, he could really hurt Luo Binghe.

"Don't worry, Yuan-ge," Luo Binghe says, even though he didn't say anything. Luo Binghe presses the pad of his thumb between Shen Yuan's eyebrows, rubbing his forehead smooth. "I'm ready for it. Feel how ready I am."

He clasps Shen Yuan's hand and guides it between his legs. Shen Yuan is grateful—it would have taken him hours on his own to work up the nerve to touch there. With Luo Binghe's hand over his, he presses two fingers up against his entrance. Luo Binghe was right; he's so relaxed that the tips of Shen Yuan's fingers slip in involuntarily, even without the lube. He breathes in unsteadily. Luo Binghe touches his face affectionately, then pulls him down to kiss. It's an awkward angle, but Shen Yuan welcomes the distraction from the twitching heat around his fingertips.

When Luo Binghe breaks the kiss, he has the little pot open in his hand, offering it to Shen Yuan. Was he doing that with his hands while kissing Shen Yuan? Shen Yuan is overwhelmed by how out of his depth he is in comparison to this clever, handsome young man.

Luo Binghe takes his fingers so easily, Shen Yuan doesn't even have the chance to fret. As soon as he tries to put his fingers in, they're in, and Luo Binghe's beautiful body is wriggling under him. It's hardly any time at all before Shen Yuan is slicking up his dick, Luo Binghe pushing his hips forward to urge him on.

When Shen Yuan pushes in, Luo Binghe makes no sound. He holds Shen Yuan's gaze as though it would hurt him to look away, his eyes open, his only reaction the wild, erratic shaking of his breath. Shen Yuan shoves in at a glacially slow pace, terrified, pausing to add more lube whenever there's the slightest bit of resistance. Luo Binghe watches him silently the whole time, thighs trembling with the effort of staying relaxed.

Shen Yuan catches a glint in his eye, and thumbs the corner of it. His thumb comes away wet.

“Binghe?” he whispers, alarmed.

Luo Binghe shakes his head, taking a moment to find words.

“Really good,” he gets out. “Really—Yuan-ge—keep going. Please.”

When he's in, Luo Binghe wraps his arms around Shen Yuan and tucks his chin over his shoulder. They embrace, hot and slightly sticky, and Shen Yuan rocks his hips into Luo Binghe's. Luo Binghe moves with him. It's quiet, even with the low hum of cars outside on the street, so quiet that Shen Yuan can hear every sound of their bodies coming together. The intimacy is nearly unbearable. Luo Binghe is the only person he could bear it for.

Shen Yuan comes first, the pressure of Luo Binghe's body around him echoed by the pressure of his chest, building and building until it overwhelms him. For a precious second, he's entirely unable to think, at the mercy of the pleasure that crashes through him.

He tries to pull out, but Luo Binghe wraps his arms around him and pulls him so close that Shen Yuan can't move. He clenches around Shen Yuan's softening dick, making Shen Yuan gasp. Luo Binghe's dick is trapped against Shen Yuan's stomach. He ruts against Shen Yuan mercilessly, whimpering, leaking between them, until Shen Yuan is lightheaded with overstimulation. He tangles his fingers in Luo Binghe's hair and holds on tight while Luo Binghe jerks against him and spills all over his stomach.

Shen Yuan collapses on top of him, pressing kisses all over his face.

"Yuan-ge," Luo Binghe breathes, "was it good?"

Ah, he really won't stop asking Shen Yuan to say embarrassing things. Well, if it'll make him happy.

"Very good, Binghe." Shen Yuan pats his head. “Did... did you like it?”

He takes time to respond, every silent second making Shen Yuan’s worry rise like bile.

“I didn’t know I could like it so much,” he says. Shen Yuan exhales, too overcome to respond.

Luo Binghe won't let go of him, seemingly unbothered by the mess between them. They stay like that for a while, Shen Yuan catching his breath, Luo Binghe crying a little into his hair.

Eventually, Luo Binghe summons the energy to get out of bed, and returns with a glass of water for Shen Yuan and a damp cloth to wipe them both down. The protagonist stamina is no joke; Shen Yuan is absolutely down for the count. He barely moves when Luo Binghe crawls back into bed, letting Luo Binghe pick up his arms and put them around himself however he likes. Luo Binghe puts his head under Shen Yuan's chin with a pleased noise, drawing Shen Yuan's hand down to his head. Shen Yuan dutifully ruffles his hair.

✿❀✿

What might the world look like, with Luo Binghe gone forever? Escaped through a trap door no one else knows exists? His plans with his allies will fall through. The demon lord in the north who he's finally brought to heel will have to carry out his own rebellions if he wishes to gain the territory they deemed vulnerable.

He will have to release his claim on Shen Qingqiu's life. It was more properly Liu Mingyan's anyway. The man's death is not worth trading for Shen Yuan.

A number of women who expect some benefit from Luo Binghe's favor will go unfulfilled. No matter. It won't ruin any of them.

Other than that, who would miss him? Cang Qiong Mountain must already believe him dead. None of the people he's made trouble for will lament his absence. None of the women who professed to love him would ever have known his love in return, had he stayed.

Perhaps Meng Mo might like to return to their world and find a host who doesn't intend to live the rest of his life in quiet domesticity. Luo Binghe could send him back before he destroys Xin Mo, but for all the old demon complains about being Luo Binghe's companion, Luo Binghe doubts he'll bother leaving. Shifu is impossible to please, which means he is often content with displeasure.

And Xin Mo must be destroyed. It's already taken root too deep in Luo Binghe's mind. The sword is restless now, in counterpoint to Luo Binghe's drowsy state, its appetite whetted but not sated by what they did. Luo Binghe has long permitted it to make demands on him, but he won't let it make demands on Shen Yuan.

His whole world in trade for one man. Perhaps his willingness to make the trade speaks to the pointlessness of Luo Binghe's life, how meager and pathetic all his efforts have been, if what he's scraped and clawed together can be so easily abandoned. Or perhaps Shen Yuan's worth is simply beyond estimation.

Luo Binghe breathes in his smell, thinking of everything that's transpired between them. Tomorrow there will be more to see and do, new dishes to make, new wonders for Shen Yuan to show him. More ways to explore how their bodies might join.

"Yuan-ge," he says. "There's just one thing I still don't understand "

"Hm?"

"In your memories," Luo Binghe says. "In the dream. Why were you talking about Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky as if you don’t know him?”

Shen Yuan stirs, turning his head so his mouth isn't pressed to Luo Binghe's scalp. “What do you mean? I don’t know him.”

"But he knows you. He told me where to find you.”

Shen Yuan jerks awake. "Wh—? That's not possible."

“He did. I made a Zhongdian account and asked him for your address, and he gave it to me.”

Shen Yuan pulls back to gape at him. His eyes are so wide that even in the low light, Luo Binghe can see the whites.

"You're serious?"

Luo Binghe nods.

“Can I see the messages?”

Luo Binghe has to get up again to find his phone. He pulls up the Zhongdian page and passes the phone to Shen Yuan.

Shen Yuan scans the messages frantically, the disbelief on his face quickly turning to affront.

“Oh my god,” he whispers. “I’m going to kill him.”

✿❀✿

You little piece of shit smug fucking ASSHOLE 🥒

It's been SEVEN YEARS?? You've been writing PIDW for SEVEN YEARS???? 🥒

🍜 uh oh

UH OH IS RIGHT 🥒

I can't fucking believe you 🥒

YOU TOLD ME YOU DIDN'T EVEN KEEP UP WITH IT 🥒

🍜 well it seemed important to you to get to explain it to me

SEVEN YEARS. MY BEST FRIEND 🥒

🍜 aw bro...

DON'T AW BRO ME. I AM NOT BEING NICE. I'M GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS 🥒

You put Binghe through hell you worthless dumbfuck 🥒

You gave him a SWORD THAT EATS HIS BRAIN 🥒

And don't get me started on Shen Qingqiu. WHY EVEN MAKE THAT CHARACTER 🥒

🍜 it was just a story! i was just making it good

YOU LITERALLY DID NOT MAKE IT GOOD 🥒

🍜 okay listen. i know i should have told you. i really am sorry about that.

🍜 and i'm sorry about everything with binghe. after he went back, he just seemed like my fictional character again?

🍜 like, i was making up what happened and what he would do.

🍜 it didn’t feel like i was creating a world with my brain or some shit. i'm still not sure how that even works. i was just writing what i came up with.

🍜 and when the book took off (lol), i was kinda stuck with it

DON'T MAKE AN AIRPLANE JOKE. WE ARE NOT AT THE JOKES STAGE 🥒

🍜 i was making money off it. you know how broke i've always been, bro. i had to write what people would like. i don't even like the book myself.

You don't like Binghe's book?? 🥒

🍜 YOU don't like the book.

BECAUSE it doesn't handle Binghe well! You could have made it better! And you know that! I've told you exactly what I thought Airplane should do! 🥒

🍜 oh geez

🍜 listen, shen-bro

🍜 it kind of seemed like you needed to talk about that stuff.

🍜 not for me. for you?

🍜 it seemed like it made you feel better.

Feel better from WHAT 🥒

🍜 oh my god are we still pretending you weren't fucked up after binghe left

I was fine and that has nothing to do with this 🥒

🍜 well i mistakenly thought that you were really sad, and it seemed like the best thing to do was shut up and let you work through it, okay? i didn't think it would help to tell you that i'm. you know. your archnemesis or whatever

Don't fucking flatter yourself 🥒

🍜 okay well i really am sorry and i'm glad binghe's back and you got to suck his dick or whatever

I didn't suck his dick! 🥒

🍜 yet

Shut up fuck you I hate you 🥒

🍜 yeah yeah. well you better buy me noodles when i'm out on the street because my income's gone

Wait what do you mean 🥒

🍜 well i can't write about binghe when he's here. it’s like writer’s block

🍜 the last time it happened was so early, you were the only reader who would have cared about me taking a hiatus. but people are gonna start getting mad if I don't update PIDW

Good. You deserve it 🥒

🍜 lol peerless cucumber, i know

🍜 but really, if you keep binghe here, i'm fucked

Well 🥒

Um 🥒

He's not going anywhere 🥒

🍜 hahaha

🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪 🥒

🍜 so are we even? if you're gonna marry my livelihood

We are not even 🥒

I have not even begun to be pissed at you 🥒

🍜 you didn't dispute the marriage part

Don't talk to me ever again 🥒

🍜 haha

✿❀✿

It's a week later that Shang Qinghua gets a box in the mail. There's a Binghe sticker where the return address should be. Undoubtedly, Shen-bro is going to want him to cut that out and give it back. What a nerd.

There's no note inside the box either, just a little black pouch tied shut with red string. Shang Qinghua tugs open the drawstring and peers inside.

His mouth falls open.