home | Back to MDZS/CQL | Chapter Thirty-Two



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-Three

Wei Wuxian wakes to find himself pinned to the bed. Lan Zhan’s legs, deceptively powerful, bracket Wei Wuxian’s thighs, while his hands hold Wei Wuxian’s wrists against his pillow. He’d anticipated—or maybe had hoped—for something like this, and had spent half the night awake in anticipation while Lan Zhan tried to order him to sleep. He failed, probably because he couldn’t sleep much either. “Time ’sit?”

“Early,” Lan Zhan says. “I didn’t want to wait any longer.”

Months of waiting, only for it to arrive on a routine day, the sort of day Wei Wuxian has started to learn he can take for granted now. When he tries to sit up, he remains locked in place. Just like he wants to be. “I suppose you’ll have to do with me as you will.”

Lan Zhan stares at him for a few seconds, then pulls Wei Wuxian to his feet.

What follows is a whirlwind of decisions being taken from him. Lan Zhan puts him in the bath, washes his hair, then dries it thoroughly before pulling it back into a short ponytail. Lan Zhan dresses him, feeds him—by hand, because Wei Wuxian has grown spoiled and decadent and Lan Zhan is too doting—and piles him into the car for the hours’ long trip back to the registration office where Madam Yang first took ownership of his contract.

Lan Zhan apparently intends to leave nothing to chance, not even the possibility that a branch office will somehow file Wei Wuxian’s paperwork incorrectly.


Wei Wuxian frowns at the tiny sheet of paper crumpled up in his palm, a ticket with a high number indicating his place in line behind myriad others needing assistance of some sort or other.

“This isn’t what I meant when I said you should do with me as you will.” Though they’ve only been here an hour, time passes at a crawl. “We don’t need paperwork to prove anything, you know?”

Lan Zhan casts him a sidelong glance.

“Or we could have saved this for tomorrow. Celebrate first, you know?”

This time, Lan Zhan doesn’t dignify him with even a glance, sidelong or otherwise.

Wei Wuxian is still pouting when his number is called. The clerk looks through the paperwork Lan Zhan meticulously completed online, typing and clicking his mouse and reviewing his screen incessantly, until suddenly he tells Wei Wuxian his contract has been filed as complete. He’s free to all the rights afforded to any non-contracted individual.

It is, Wei Wuxian has to admit, something of an anti-climax.

The clerk hands over a thick folder of papers and brochures and wishes Wei Wuxian a nice day. His smile is bland. A check from Madam Yang has been tucked in among it all, everything she owed him and more, thanks to the interest that accrued.

Wei Wuxian walks out of the office in a daze. Bureaucracies are a hell of a thing.

“Are you alright?” Lan Zhan asks as Lan Zhan opens the car door for Wei Wuxian, guides him up with a gentlemanly hand on Wei Wuxian’s elbow.

“All that shit I went through,” Wei Wuxian says, distant from himself, “fixed by a low-level civil servant. I don’t even know that guy’s name, and he’s already forgotten I exist.” He looks at Lan Zhan, who reaches up to brush the moisture from his cheek. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it, for things to end this way? All he can do is laugh. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

Though Wei Wuxian is ready to go home, Lan Zhan insists he open a bank account. What he’s earned is enough to start something, to create something.

It doesn’t make up for the time that was taken from him. Nothing can do that.

But as far as compensation goes, it’s something.


Brilliant afternoon golds and pinks illuminate the mountain road leading home. Bureaucracy is such a slow, tedious beast. Wei Wuxian could sleep for a week and not feel rested. When they reach the residence, Lan Zhan bundles him inside and forces dinner on him. That helps some.

A lot, really.

He sits across from Wei Wuxian, watching, always watching. He’s watching worriedly and hungrily and Wei Wuxian wants nothing more than for him to do something, but perhaps in this he has to take the first step. “My safeword is inferno,” he offers, though he has little question in his mind that he won’t need it with Lan Zhan, may well wish to forgo it entirely in the future. As he looks at the table between them, he hopes this is how these overtures still go. It’s what he learned back at Cloud Recesses anyway, the polite way to start these conversations. “If you’ve put me under or gotten me close to that point, I’d ask you not to pull me out of it prematurely. You can deny me anything else. You can do anything else to me. I’ll like it. I…”

Lan Zhan stretches his arm across the table, takes Wei Wuxian’s wrist in his, squeezes comfortingly. “Let me take it from here, Wei Ying.”


At some point during the night, Lan Zhan took care of the playroom. Though everything looks the same mostly, it feels different. The table is gone. The mirror has become the focal point of the room. It reflects everything back, especially Wei Wuxian, and Lan Zhan standing behind him. Lan Zhan has had more lights installed, tasteful and unobtrusive, perhaps done while he and Lan Zhan were away to handle the paperwork. Maybe that’s when the mirror was installed, too.

As soon as Lan Zhan begins undressing him, kissing the back of his neck as he unbuttons Wei Wuxian’s shirt, it no longer matters. The fact is it’s done, and Lan Zhan has handled it. Lan Zhan has taken it from here.

His shirt falls away, exposing first his shoulders, then everything else. Lan Zhan catches his eye in the mirror, and then very deliberately, very painfully bite down on the muscle where his neck and shoulders meet.

Wei Wuxian hisses as the pain registers, then finds it immediately soothed by Lan Zhan’s tongue. After a minute, an hour, an eternity, he finds another stretch of skin to mark, not very far away from the first, the indentations of Lan Zhan’s teeth overlapping one another. As he bites and pinches and sucks marks into Wei Wuxian’s body, Wei Wuxian responds.

Lan Zhan is everywhere. His hands, his mouth, his warmth. It envelops Wei Wuxian. And even better, Wei Wuxian can watch him work, see how dedicated he is to leaving impressions of himself on Wei Wuxian’s body. This is mine, he has said without saying.

Wei Wuxian is transfixed.

Lan Zhan has treated him well over these last few weeks, of course, has gotten him off, has loved him and made love to him, but the care Lan Zhan has shown him has never been as sharp as it is right now. He’s never felt as good, his neck warm and throbbing, as he does right now, or as safe to experience the things that used to hurt and humiliate him.

Lan Zhan expertly looses the tie that holds Wei Wuxian’s skirt closed, letting it fall to the floor, too. His fingers dig into Wei Wuxian’s hips, press expertly just over the ridge of bone. His touch will leave smears of purple and broken capillaries in their wake. Wei Wuxian will wake up tomorrow with proof.

Even just from this, Wei Wuxian is already half hard.

“Don’t move,” Lan Zhan orders. “Don’t take your eyes off yourself.”

He doesn’t want to, but even if he did, he couldn’t. Can’t. Wouldn’t. Not when Lan Zhan has ordered otherwise.

“Don’t speak unless you need to give me your safeword or I ask you a question. You will not distract yourself or me from what’s happening with frivolous words. Understand?”

“Yes,” he says, the last thing he’s capable of saying.

Lan Zhan steps away and crouches before one of the cabinets, retrieving the posture collar he’s had made—wooden, of course, two finicky pieces held together on a hinge.

“You could stop thinking quite so hard.” Lan Zhan speaks gently, not an order, but an acknowledgment that Wei Wuxian’s mind can be a tricky beast. As he fits Wei Wuxian’s chin into place and carefully secures the latches that unobtrusively run up the seam down one side, he kisses Wei Wuxian’s lips.

It fits perfectly. Of course. Lan Zhan doesn’t even bother asking.

While Wei Wuxian acclimatizes himself to the collar, glancing this way and that in the mirror, twisting his upper body to see what he can and can’t do, Lan Zhan retrieves a pair of cuffs from a drawer. They’re made of the same wood, sturdy, elegant pieces that make Wei Wuxian’s heart ache. When did he do this? They certainly didn’t discuss cuffs at the store.

Lan Zhan unscrews the closure that holds them closed, another hinged piece, shaped to fit Wei Wuxian’s wrists with thin strips between them in place of locking rings or chains. Cool and smooth, they wrap comfortably around Wei Wuxian’s wrists.

“Hold your arms over your head,” Lan Zhan says.

Wei Wuxian can only obey.

Before Wei Wuxian knows it, he’s on his toes, body stretched almost as far as it will go. It feels awful, and it feels perfect. It’s everything Wei Wuxian could have hoped to want with Lan Zhan already.

Wei Wuxian has been exposed in so many ways at so many different times in his life, but this might be the first time that he hasn’t been afraid of that exposure since he was fifteen and fearless. Lan Zhan is good and safe.

Lan Zhan returns one last time with a thin, flexible cane. He traces Wei Wuxian’s body with the tip, a promise of future pain, welcome and already beloved. He leaves no part of Wei Wuxian untouched by it, smooths its cool length over his back and buttocks, his chest, between his legs. His focus is sharp, set to cut, and Wei Wuxian would welcome that, too, if he’s being honest. He would take anything Lan Zhan wants to give him.

And yet, he trembles with nervousness all at the same time. Because this is the first time that matters, the one that truly proves if what he has always felt is real, if what he wants, craves, dreams about, and has pursued all the way to the end, is really what he wants, that one perfect thing that makes them perfect for one another. Free of the Wens’ influence, free of the need for profound release, is this still what he wants?

It’s a question he thinks he might always have to ask himself, but because it’s a worthy one, he will do it. To get what he wants for himself and for Lan Zhan, he’ll confront whatever he must, however many times it must happen.

The first strike falls across his ass, blooming bright with incandescent pain, scouring his mind of every thought. A panicked burst of adrenaline releases within him, bumping his heart rate, bringing sweat to the surface of his skin. He is afraid. Of course, he’s afraid. But Lan Zhan is here and his fingers are gentle as he strokes Wei Wuxian’s side after that first hit. He takes it slow. He looks and looks again at Wei Wuxian’s face in the mirror. He treats this moment as though it’s something precious, removes the sting from Wei Wuxian’s fear as he kisses the spot behind Wei Wuxian’s ear that always makes him shiver.

Wei Wuxian needn’t worry or think, because Lan Zhan is there to be his focus.

Another strike falls, higher than the last, pushing a grunt out of his mouth as he rocks forward with the blow. He’s more braced for the pain this time, the delicious, white, hot burst of it melding with the lingering agony of the first. He doesn’t feel the way he did the last time Lan Zhan hit him, felled by a single stroke, lost to bodily needs he hadn’t tended to in so long he’d forgotten what it was like to feel normal, every stop gap a useless plug in a sinking ship.

Lan Zhan is beautifully relentless once he gets going, charismatic and dedicated. This is the only thing Wei Wuxian’s greed has ever wanted it.

The pain morphs, mutates, grows and becomes something new, something more akin to pleasure, and then it is pleasure, the purest flavor of pleasure he’s ever known. This pleasure balances on a knife’s edge, sharpening it until it could slice through the most precious metals on earth.

When Lan Zhan is finally satisfied, Wei Wuxian’s back and ass and thighs have felt the kiss of Lan Zhan’s cane, and Wei Wuxian can only moan, his mind an ecstatic jumble of sensations. Lan Zhan strokes his hair back. He murmurs pleased words into Wei Wuxian’s ears, more gentle sound than true speech. He’s happy with Wei Wuxian. That’s what counts.

“Open your eyes, Wei Ying.”

The posture collar has ensured Wei Wuxian can’t look anywhere except the mirror, and so he sees himself, a snotty, tear-stained mess, and Lan Zhan, his eyes bright and keen.

Before Wei Wuxian is ready—though will he ever truly be ready to let something like this go?—Lan Zhan comes around in front of him, their chests touching, and releases first the collar, which he places on the floor. Anticipating the need to keep Wei Wuxian steady, he wraps his arm around Wei Wuxian’s waist and slips one clothed thigh between Wei Wuxian’s legs before he unscrews the cuffs, leaving them to dangle from the ceiling as Wei Wuxian falls into his embrace.

Lan Zhan’s hardness is impossible to ignore. His own is present, but not urgent, softened by the more visceral pleasure already coursing through him. Whether he comes or not is immaterial, though he’d enjoy it if Lan Zhan sought and took release from him.

Lan Zhan is sweet and careful as he carries Wei Wuxian to the bedroom. “How are you feeling?” he says, voice low and comforting enough to curl up in.

“Mn,” Wei Wuxian answers, flirting with the submersion waiting for him, the under that is so close to taking him. His body is tired and his mind exhausted. It would be good if Lan Zhan simply took what would be freely given. That, Wei Wuxian thinks, would be very nice of him indeed.

“Good mn?”


“Words, Wei Ying.”

“Good mn,” he complies, words mumbled into Lan Zhan’s shoulder. “Could be better though.”

Lan Zhan huffs lightly and places him onto the bed, careful to avoid inflicting further injuries as he arranges Wei Wuxian on his stomach. He smooths cream over the welts he’s raised—a new, different kind of sting, one that comes with immediate relief—and kisses the bite marks he’d left earlier. He forces Wei Wuxian’s legs together and pushes his hand between. He asks, tentative, “This kind of better?”

“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian gasps. “Yeah, that’s good.”

Lan Zhan drapes himself across Wei Wuxian’s back, staining the fabric of his shirt and trousers with the cream he’s smeared on Wei Wuxian’s skin. The not quite rough material is agony against Wei Wuxian’s body. “Good,” Lan Zhan says. “Quiet for me again.”

Wei Wuxian hums in agreement.

His body thrills as Lan Zhan manipulates his limbs until he’s on his knees, face pressed to the pillow. He aches everywhere and sinks deeper, until he finally feels the point at which he will be most vulnerable, brought there in such a different way compared to before. He waits to be pulled back, but Lan Zhan lets him have this for himself.

“Tighter, Wei Ying,” he says. To punctuate his order, he slaps Wei Wuxian’s hip, pulling a cry from deep within him, the last that Wei Wuxian feels consciously.

He is there, and not there, feels and doesn’t feel as Lan Zhan uses his thighs to get off, as pain blooms and bursts and fades with every brutal thrust and mixes later with the pleasure of Lan Zhan’s hand around him, gentle, teasing strokes he can’t keep track of. In this place, he only knows that he is cared for, that Lan Zhan loves him, the proof far more profound than words could convey.

Lan Zhan has hurt him, but only in the way Wei Ying wants to be hurt. He is otherwise gentle and kind and deserving of everything Wei Wuxian can give to him in return.

He is Wei Wuxian’s most beloved person.

When he breaches the surface of his conscious self, sticky with Lan Zhan’s spend and his own, his body carefully arranged on its side, the first thing he sees is Lan Zhan staring back at him, their frames bracketing one another’s. Lan Zhan’s hand stretches across the distance between them and brushes his sweaty hair from his forehead.

At some point, Lan Zhan must have dissolved the compulsions he’d set for Wei Wuxian, because his voice is no longer hampered.

“You’re just going to let me be a mess in your bed, Lan Zhan?” he asks quietly.

“Yes,” Lan Zhan says frankly. “Always.”

“Was it good for you, too?”

“The best,” Lan Zhan replies, “as I knew it would be.”


Three Years Later, The Club

Stepping into Madam Yang’s club as a guest is a surreal an experience while wearing a collar, his hair as long finally as it was when he was young, towing behind him a Dominant who doesn’t look as though he’d be caught dead in such a place.

Even so, Madam Yang inclines her head toward Lan Zhan first, addressing him appropriately by society’s standards, while saying, “I wasn’t expecting to see you again, Wei Ying,” to Wei Wuxian.

She can have this petty power play if she wants it. Her sort of power won’t be relevant for much longer anyway if Wei Wuxian has his way.

“You did agree to the meeting,” Wei Wuxian answers. He gestures toward the private room she’s lead them toward. “Shall we?”

He can give her this much credit: she concedes with far more dignity than most Dominants in her position would. She has always been aware of how precarious her power really is. After all, if Wei Wuxian can buck a Dominant’s orders, walk among them without being beaten into submission by them, so can anyone else. He carries strength within him, but he isn’t superhuman, a specimen too unique to be replicated. Submissives like him have lived and died millions of times over the hundreds of thousands of years that they and their hominid ancestors have been alive to experience such things.

He’s just the first to do something about the side effects, the consequences. He’s the first to care enough to put time and effort into this path that will not make him rich and will not earn him love from the establishment. That’s fine with him. He doesn’t need money, and he doesn’t need society’s love.

Once they’re seated in Madam Yang’s office, he starts right in.

“I’m sure you’re aware of the data coming out of Wen Biotech.” Years and years of data, all of it honed into the biological and psychological roots of submissiveness. Data that Wei Wuxian has used to hone his own theories, has used to hire a team to do research into those theories while he completes his own post-secondary education.

“Who isn’t?” she says, feigning disinterest. “What does this have to do with me?” The sour expression on her face tells him that she knows it has a great deal to do with her. He can imagine there are more than a few individuals working here who would have and will seek out Wen Qing’s treatments. Probably, a lot of the highest spending customers, too, those who were most desperate, those who’d gone to Wei Wuxian himself.

Even Jin Guangyao ultimately went to Wen Qing, a fact that deeply affected Lan Xichen when he found out. Lan Zhan, too, had seemed a little shaken when he’d told Wei Wuxian, as though he saw a future for them there, one that’s unhappier than the one they’ve stolen from fate.

He suspects here are many more who would prefer milder alternatives, alternatives that would keep them from being bullied by Dominant bosses and coworkers and clients.

In truth though, she’s not wrong. There’s no real reason he has to come to her to discuss any of this, nothing beyond his personal experience here and his wish to make places such as this better. “I understand you’re bleeding money.”

“What does that have to do with you?”

“Nothing,” Wei Wuxian says, “except that I’ve done very well for myself, and I’ll concede you gave me everything you owed me and more. You could have been a worse employer than you were to me.”

“Get to the point.”

“I take the club off your hands. You get to go live your life however you want. We never see one another again.”

“And you’ll what? Take the club apart?”

“I didn’t realize you were sentimental.” Wei Wuxian taps his knuckles against Madam Yang’s desk a few times. “I know you only buy ironclad contracts. The club can stay open. Everyone here will get to choose what they do or don’t do, whether it’s here or as employees at Wei Research Group. I’ll continue to work with local cadre to make these contracts illegal in the city.” He shrugs, shows his hands. No tricks here. “Maybe one day they’ll be illegal everywhere. I’m sure you know how determined I can be. It might be sooner than you think. You’ll wind up bleeding even more money.”

She refrains from rolling her eyes at him. “If I say no?”

“If you want to be a rat on a sinking ship, that’s on you. I’m offering you a hand out of the boat.”

Madam Yang’s gaze flicks briefly in Lan Zhan’s direction. Whatever she’s expecting to find, she finds something that makes her gaze kiss the floor instead. “Can I think about it?”

“You can do what you want. I’m not a crime boss.” He rises to his feet, brushes at his blazer, takes Lan Zhan’s hand in his as he stands, too. He flicks a business card at her desk. She picks it up and stares at it.

Wei Wuxian counts his steps to the door.

“Wei Wuxian,” she calls, tapping her fingertips against the card. “What’s your offer?”

He offers a private smile to Lan Zhan before turning.

“Why don’t I tell you over tea?”


Contract—business only, the only kind of contract Wei Wuxian likes to deal with these days—in hand, Wei Wuxian returns with Lan Zhan to the car. As always, Lan Zhan opens the door for him and sweeps the hem of his skirt inside before closing the door. As always, Wei Wuxian finds himself even more endeared with Lan Zhan every time he does it.

As they drive back to the apartment Lan Zhan keeps when business calls him back to the city, Wei Wuxian stares out the window, pleased and pensive at the same time. Over the last few years, his life has fallen into place so well. He’s building a future he can be proud of. He has no complaints. It’s just strange to think the worst struggles might be over. Truly over.

“Hey, Lan Zhan,” he says, as rush hour traffic slows them to a crawl. At least these days Wei Wuxian can enjoy the daring fashions that walk down the street. “I think the courtesan did enjoy the pain she experienced.”

He wonders why he’s thinking of this story now.


“You asked me once if the courtesan enjoyed it.” He waits for understanding to dawn on Lan Zhan’s face. It comes in the form of pink ears and the quick roll of his throat as he swallows. “I think she did, and I think she took comfort in it, knowing that choice brought her closer to her loved one in the end.” He thinks this because he’s experienced its opposite, pain that served no purpose. He would always choose the pain he picked over any other. “I think she and the pirate were like us, and I bet the pirate spoiled her relentlessly.”

Though Lan Zhan continues to look embarrassed, the corner of his eyes and mouth both soften. At a stoplight, Lan Zhan looks over at him, expression warm, and takes hold of his hand, pressing a kiss to the back of it. “The pirate would have wished the courtesan didn’t have to scar herself at all.”

“The courtesan knew that, too, but if the alternative was doing nothing…” He is not the courtesan and Lan Zhan isn’t the pirate. Their stories are only superficially similar. And yet, he understands her, as he thinks Lan Zhan can understand the pirate, as they can understand the both of them and themselves better.

“I know,” Lan Zhan says. Though he oughtn’t drive like this, he continues to hold Wei Wuxian’s hand across the center console.

Wei Wuxian stares at their twined for a time, quiet. He’s never been good at real conversations. “Lan Zhan, I never thanked you for taking my contract.”

“Don’t thank me for that,” Lan Zhan answers, all the more endearing for the pouting edge to his voice. It’s easy to forget he’s not great at these conversations either. Wei Wuxian supposes they’re far past the point of needing such words with one another, but some things ought to be said at least once. “There’s no need for it.”

Wei Wuxian bites back a smile. “Alright.” He disentangles his hand from Lan Zhan’s and pats his knee. “I suppose we can simply be even then.” He leaves his hand there as he resumes looking out the window, comforted by the warmth of Lan Zhan’s thigh beneath his palm. “Complimentary.”

He rather likes the thought of that, being complimentary. They are, the two of them, a perfect unit, better together than apart, a soft landing place for one another’s loneliness and need.

“Hey, Lan Zhan,” he says, before he starts feeling too sentimental. There are things he wants to do. Maybe now is the time to do them. “Think you can get a hold of some of the robes like we used to wear.”


So I can talk to your uncle and brother, he doesn’t say. “We should go back to Cloud Recesses for a bit. I never got to creep on you in the hot springs as much as I wanted to.”

“You want to creep on me in the hot springs?”

“I want to creep on you everywhere.” And maybe I want a proper collaring ceremony. “But I think we’ve earned a little fun, haven’t we?”

Lan Zhan must agree, because he changes lanes and suggests that Wei Wuxian text Lan Xichen to let him know they’re coming. With the traffic, it’ll take them a couple of hours to get there, but they have the time, more than enough of it now.

A lifetime’s worth of time, and a partnership to go with it.

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