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Alternate Universe - Modern Setting, Alternate Universe - BDSM, Biologically Determined Dom/sub Roles, BDSM, Bad BDSM etiquette, Sadism, Masochism, Past Sexual Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Self-Harm, BDSM as a Form of Self-Harm, Minor Character Death(s), Arson, Shades of Black Widow Wei Wuxian, Extremely Dubious Consent, Rape/Non-Con Elements, Normalized Homosexuality and Bisexuality, Normalized Polyamory, Nonsexual BDSM, Slow Burn, Mutual Pining, Pining Wei Wuxian, Jealous Wei Wuxian, Touch-Starved Wei Wuxian, Professional Dominant Wei Wuxian, Sex Worker Wei Wuxian, Gentle Dom Lan Wangji, Mean Dom Lan Wangji, Oblivious Lan Wangji, Past Wen Chao/Wei Wuxian, Minor Jin Guangyao/Wei Wuxian, Mentioned Wei Wuxian/Others, Emotional Infidelity, Angst with a Happy Ending, Endgame Wangxian, Mo Xuanyu Also Gets a Happy Ending, the tags are scary but i promise there's some lightheartedness too, wangxian love one another so much, wei wuxian is healed by the power of nonsexual bdsm and friendship, and then gets bdsm'd quite sexually and happily by the love of his life, Additional Warnings In Author's Note

Chapter Thirty

The residence is quiet when they arrive and lacking in the warmth brought by Mo Xuanyu’s welcome when Wei Wuxian first came to stay. As Lan Zhan lets him into the main house, he wonders if they’ve made a mistake coming back here so soon. It must be hard on Lan Zhan, returning to this.

“Do you want some tea?” Wei Wuxian asks, lacking the insight to guess what might be preferred in this situation. How does one come back to a home that’s missing a family member, estranged though they might have become? “I think I’d like some tea.” More than that, he wants to give Lan Zhan a bit of privacy while he surveys the damage. “Why don’t I make some?”

“Thank you,” Lan Zhan says, distracted. His home has been changed while he was gone. Before Wei Wuxian can even reach the kitchen, Lan Zhan calls for him. When he turns around, Lan Zhan is looking at him somberly, too serious in his demeanor, but present for him, no longer as distracted. “Thank you, Wei Ying.”

Wei Wuxian laughs it off, tells him there’s nothing to thank him for here, that he should take his time and Wei Wuxian will be along shortly.


Though he drags it out as long as possible, he can only test the temperature of the water so many times before he finally has to pour a mug for Lan Zhan and himself, count down the moments until he’ll have to bring the mug to Lan Zhan. He walks down the hall, pleased with the sound of the fabric swishing around his slippers, and puts on a smile he hopes will comfort Lan Zhan.

“Lan Zhan,” he calls, poking his head into the play room. Though Lan Zhan isn’t here, he’s caught off guard by how much of the equipment has gone. Though perhaps he oughtn’t, he sets one of the mugs down and opens a few of the drawers. They’re far emptier, too. The only one still full is the one he’d chosen from that one time they got to be together here. “Huh.”

A floorboard creaks lightly as Lan Zhan steps into the room behind him.

“Did he…?” But even before he can lodge an accusation, he writes it off as laughable. Mo Xuanyu wouldn’t do that, but the only explanation that makes sense otherwise is those were all his toys, and that they were understood to be such by both of them, which would suggest to Wei Wuxian that they were things Lan Zhan didn’t love enough to own for himself. Before, he’d wondered, less than idly, about whether Lan Zhan and Mo Xuanyu were as compatible as they may have wanted to be. Looking proper evidence in the face, he can only feel sad for them, for Lan Zhan especially, who was never one to be fully open about such things out of propriety.

This isn’t a question he can ask.

But Lan Zhan is paying too much attention; he doesn’t let it go.

“Hmm?” Lan Zhan studies the room, gaze clear. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” Wei Wuxian says, because how can he ask? “Are you alright?”

“Everything is as I thought it would be when I came back,” Lan Zhan answers. “No need to worry.”


“I’m being truthful. And I would have…”

“Would have…?”

“I would like you to make the decisions about how we are to fill this room,” Lan Zhan says. “These items would have been replaced anyway. Perhaps that is presumptuous, but—”

A band of emotion draws tight around Wei Wuxian’s neck, taking from him the ability to speak well or easily. “It’s not.” Even these two words are nearly impossible to spit out. He hasn’t let himself think often of what he would do if this space could be truly his, too. The experience of how he’d felt after Lan Zhan struck him is seared into his brain and the thought of revisiting it frightens him, but it’s something he aches for, too, now that it’s something he can have.

He simply has to be brave.

Even if he isn’t sure of much, he’s sure of this: he wants this room to be filled with the objects Lan Zhan wants to play with, every possible variation they can get their hands on. And if that’s not enough, it’s not like Wei Wuxian can’t build them something fun to play with.

Perhaps he’s already built them something fun to play with, he reminds himself, thinking about the device stuffed under his bed.

“So what do we do now?” Wei Wuxian asks.

Lan Zhan pulls him close, presses kiss to his temple, and says, “I’ll move my things into your bedroom. Then perhaps we can take a walk around the grounds. I’d like to check on the fish.”

“And then?” Wei Wuxian asks, feeling bold, bolder than he has in a long time.

“And then, we have time to figure out what else we might want.”


The afternoon fills itself with little chores to be done, items that delay the inevitable moment when they’ll fall into bed together and Wei Wuxian will have to decide what he wants, what he’s comfortable with, whether he can take things further today, now that they’re alone, truly alone. For hours, he turns it over in his head, but by the time the moment arrives, both of them dressed in crisp, line-dried pajamas and staring at one another across the bed, Wei Wuxian has no better understanding of his desires than before, except to say that he has them and wants to do something about them and thinks Lan Zhan is interested in an answer, too, whatever it turns out to be.

But Lan Zhan merely pulls him down onto the bed with him and wraps his arms around Wei Wuxian’s waist. “You were lovely today, Wei Ying,” he says, breathing the words directly into Wei Wuxian’s ear, painfully intimate, and sweet. They carry no demands upon Wei Wuxian’s mind or body. He has allowed himself to be calm and that makes Wei Wuxian calm, left to feel that things would be perfectly okay between them if they never progressed further than this. Lan Zhan wants to be here, so he will be here. Nothing else matters, and nothing can change it. It needn’t be anything more than that to be fulfilling.

He rolls over until he’s balanced atop Lan Zhan, chest to chest, and brushes his lips over Lan Zhan’s, still mulling it over in his mind. In the most ideal circumstances, how would he be Lan Zhan? What would they do? This, of course, is one of the answers, but what else?

“Lan Zhan, can I touch you?” he asks.

Lan Zhan nods.

His hand works its way between them, sneaking down their abdomens as Wei Wuxian moves to a more comfortable position. “Wherever I want?”

“Wherever you want.”

Like this, it would be impossible to miss the way Lan Zhan’s body is reacting. Shifting again so he’s only half on top of Lan Zhan, he slips his hand beneath the waistband of his pajamas. Lan Zhan’s skin blazes heat, but he’s too controlled to move, lets Wei Wuxian take the lead. With Lan Zhan, it doesn’t feel like he’s being forced to be in charge even though Lan Zhan isn’t ordering him to do anything. It’s okay like this, a little thrilling really.

He hesitates only for a moment, wanting to savor these last handful of seconds before he fulfills a dream so old, he can’t rightly recall when it started, which day of that long-beloved summer he realized he wanted to touch Lan Zhan this intimately. It wasn’t the first day, much to his shame. He ought to have known immediately that he wanted Lan Zhan this way. It was so obvious in retrospect. But it happened quickly enough that he became a terror nearly from the start.

He notices Lan Zhan’s body is trembling even before he’s properly touching Lan Zhan, that though his expression is calm, his body feels as though it’s ready to spring into action. The amount of control he has over himself, the mastery of his desires and needs, it intrigues Wei Wuxian, even though he has his own experience with such things, has had to behave in such a manner for more years than he wants to think about.

“Lan Zhan, how can you be so naughty, letting me do this to you,” he says as he wraps his hand around Lan Zhan, stroking lightly, foreskin pulling back easily. This touch is so, so easy.

“Mn,” Lan Zhan says agreeably, his ears going pink as he looks up at Wei Wuxian.

There’s something almost illicit about touching Lan Zhan this way, not even their bodies exposed, the motion obscured by the layer of fabric between them. He likes, just a little bit, that he can’t see what Lan Zhan looks like. There will be something more to look forward to as they slowly explore one another. He watches, transfixed, and has to keep reminding himself that this is real, they’re doing this, and that he can have more from Lan Zhan if he wants it.

He thinks he wants it, despite the nervous flutter in his stomach that threatens to overwhelm him. He huffs in amusement. Wouldn’t it be something if he became too overwhelmed by a hand job? After all the things he’s done and seen and has had done to him, this is what fells him in the end, what becomes too much to bear, the contentment inside him too great to stand against?

“What is it?” Lan Zhan asks.

“You’re dear to me,” Wei Wuxian says, over the top as he presses his mouth to Lan Zhan’s, pushing his tongue between Lan Zhan’s teeth. He would invade Lan Zhan, take up space within him. As he touches and teases Lan Zhan, he grounds himself with Lan Zhan’s mouth. Every gasp and moan that Lan Zhan bestows upon him, he takes it into himself, loves it, longs for more of it.

He thinks he’ll never get enough of knowing he has the right to do these things with Lan Zhan, that he needn’t feel as though he’s taking anything from someone else, that no matter how strange his own tendencies might be, Lan Zhan is right there with him.


The Club, Approximately Seven Years Ago

It could be worse, Wei Wuxian supposes, as Madam Yang guides him into her club. Though it’s daytime, it’s early enough yet that her other employees—if they can be called that—are still up and about, winding down from the long, strenuous nights Wei Wuxian will soon partake of himself.

After his stay in the hospital, she put him up in a hotel, nicer than he might have expected, and private. “To give you a little more time to heal,” she says, more compassionate than he expects. Still, he can feel her Dominance, the greed that might easily turn to cruelty. She is not as strong as others’ he’s experienced, but she’s not someone worth fighting when she could go to the police and have him hauled back to have his contract transferred somewhere even more abhorrent. “And process.”

Wei Wuxian could only snort at that. What was there to process? Everything he needed to do was done already. There was no point processing what couldn’t be changed.

And now… this, this club where he would be expected to perform in the exact same way he’d performed before, except maybe with a few protections in place. Maybe. If he’s lucky.

“You will be paid, of course,” she tells him blithely as she gives him the tour he doesn’t want. “You won’t be able to access those funds without permission until your contract is completed, but it will be there for you. I won’t hold it above your head. If you need something I haven’t provided for you and you have the funds for it, it’s yours. At the end of your contract, you’ll be free to continue on with me or take your wages and go, assuming your work is satisfactory.”

“And if it’s not?”

“I’ll honor the contract,” she says, “and I’ll get my money’s worth out of you one way or the other. You needn’t concern yourself with that.”

He can’t find the energy to laugh, though her threat is laughable. What can she do that he’ll fear? Nothing in this world can be as difficult as what he’s already gone through.

She stares at him, considering, but whatever is going through her mind is interrupted by a commotion on the other side of the room. “Fuck’s sake,” she says under her breath. Her loathing turns the invective even more vulgar than it already is. She calls for someone, the manager as it turns out, who goes over to deal with the altercation taking place. Disgusted, she clicks her tongue. “There’s a reason most clubs don’t cater to submissives. Trying to keep Dominants on staff is a losing proposition.”

Wei Wuxian can’t say he feels much pity for her as she tells the manager to take the Dominant out and get him transferred out. “I’m tired of this.”

He feels even less sympathy when she looks at him, appraising. “You don’t act like any submissive I’ve ever seen.”

He says nothing to her in response. Unless she requires it, he doesn’t intend to speak, one tiny rebellion after everything he’s been through. He’ll only bow his head and avert his eyes if he’s told to. He’ll kneel only when it’s expected. He will do nothing to make this easier on her.

For the span of a minute or so, he feels satisfied with this, and then she crosses her arms and taps her fingertips against her bicep, saying, “You know, I have an idea.”

Though he’s curious about it the way he might be curious about any train wreck in the making, he restrains himself from asking the question she clearly wants him to ask.

When her manager finishes up with the Dominant that has been fired or shunted to another area, she calls him over. He rakes his gaze over Wei Wuxian’s form, assessing him in a way that somehow manages to feel brusque and professional rather than seedy. She says, imperious, “I need a Dominant I can control.” Her gaze slides in his direction. “To that end, I found a Dominant who will be suitable. See to it that he’s properly settled.”

The manager nods in acquiescence, seeing nothing wrong with this situation, perceiving nothing of his true orientation.

Wei Wuxian opens his mouth to correct this oversight—at the bottom of the list of things he wants to do, dominating another person now firmly sits, a possibility he’s never considered—but he realizes that the very last thing he intends to accept is submission. He will never again put himself into the hands of someone he can’t trust. Even with someone he trusts, he cannot be certain he’ll be capable of it. He doesn’t know what trust is that doesn’t come at the cost of hurting someone.

He doesn’t want to hurt anyone that way, and he doesn’t want to be hurt like that in return.

So perhaps he walks into this arrangement thinking it may not be as bad as he imagines it will turn out.

The problem, he finds out, is not with pretending to be a Dominant.

It’s that nearly six and a half years is a long time to pretend to be something he’s not.

It’s that, after everything, Wei Wuxian still believed he was going to make it through anything unscathed; he believed, having experience the worst things he could imagine for as long as he did, that nothing could hurt him.


When Lan Zhan finishes, Wei Wuxian is content to wipe his hand and Lan Zhan’s body and press his ear to Lan Zhan’s chest. His heart thumps evenly, a comfort to Wei Wuxian. When Lan Zhan’s fingers card through Wei Wuxian’s hair, it’s even better. This relaxed and happy, he knows exactly what he wants now. “Lan Zhan, would you want to…?”

Wei Wuxian flushes in embarrassment, feeling shy for the first time in years, but he aches for more.


He can ask Lan Zhan for anything, he tells himself. “Would you like to play soon?”

Lan Zhan’s hand stills in his hair, his heart beat speeds up. He doesn’t answer, and keeps not answering. His touch slips down the back of his head and settles on the collar, fingertips catching on the edge. “Is that what you need?”

This isn’t the response Wei Wuxian expects, and he doesn’t know how to answer right away, but he turns over the question in his mind for a time. “No,” he admits. He doesn’t need it the way he needed it before, just the normal amount that anyone might require, easily put off for now. Perhaps he needs it less even than other people do, considering the fact that he managed as long as he did. “I don’t want you to feel obligated. It just sounded like a nice idea.”

Lan Zhan continues to say nothing.

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian pushes himself upright, fearful, and gestures at Lan Zhan’s lap. “Did you want this?”

Lan Zhan, too, sits upright and clasps his hands around Wei Wuxian’s wrists. “Of course I did, and I want to do the same to you. I just…”

Wei Wuxian refuses to let himself imagine the worst, and yet thoughts encroach that he doesn’t want to consider too closely.

“…there are things that we might do together that I would like to hold off on doing.”

“Until?” Wei Wuxian asks, though he has a good idea what Lan Zhan will say even before he’s said it.

That fucking contract.

“Your contract—”

“Is bullshit,” Wei Wuxian says before Lan Zhan can finish speaking. “It’s bullshit, Lan Zhan. Meaningless. If you want it and I want it, there’s no reason we can’t work up to doing whatever we want together. You order me around whenever I ask you to already.”

“That’s different.”

“How? Because if I ask for it, I must need it? You’re doing it for my benefit?”

“No, I just…” Lan Zhan draws in a breath, looks everywhere except Wei Wuxian’s face. “I don’t want to hurt you like that until the contract is through. I know you could tell me if it was too much or if you wanted to do something else and I would honor those wishes. It’s not rational, I know. It’s just how I feel about it. I would happily do everything else. Just not that. Not right now.”

Wei Wuxian’s first instinct is to argue, to balk, but he considers Lan Zhan’s point of view, thinks maybe he can see what Lan Zhan means and feels, refuses to let his first reaction be one of pain, of embarrassment, of cynical thoughts about Lan Zhan throwing himself upon a sword by playing. To say he’s not disappointed would be a lie, but at the same time, he can’t be mad. “Ah, Lan Zhan. You’re too gentle.” He kisses Lan Zhan’s forehead and ruffles his hair and suppresses everything that isn’t the love he feels for Lan Zhan. “I suppose I’ll have something to look forward to as long as you bully me in other ways until then, okay?”

Lan Zhan’s gaze finally lifts, the relief in his eyes so stark it nearly overwhelms Wei Wuxian. He quickly clasps his arms around Wei Wuxian’s neck and squeezes tightly. It’s good, worthwhile. He’d wait as long as he had to as long as Lan Zhan cares for him like this.

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