With Shen QingQiu ready for bed, Luo BingHe released himself to the pursuit of joining him, efficiently tidying everything for the coming morning.
They'd had a normal day of leisure and errands, but the wind had disturbed Luo BingHe's hair beyond its usual artful dishevelment. He was usually a vision of dangerous elegance, and maintained a neat appearance, so Shen QingQiu couldn't help but be extra charmed seeing him so mussed up.
He loved that hair, he thought to himself as he let his eyes follow Luo BingHe around the little house. Thick, coarse, good for grabbing and petting. So voluminous and plentiful that when he put his arms around Luo BingHe's neck, it would reshape like clay, spilling over his arms like a dark waterfall. Pulling straight and springing back into robust waves. Impossible to tame, but bending to the gentlest touch, just like the man himself.
To Shen QingQiu's embarrassment, Luo BingHe noticed his husband's gaze following him from their bed. But Shen QingQiu was sleepy and soft, comfortable in the indulgent pile of blankets, and didn't want to turn away; he forced himself to look, and keep looking, until Luo BingHe's self-satisfied smirk gave way to rosy cheeks and a shy, giddy smile.
Shen QingQiu was trying. It was easiest in these quiet moments, when the quiet, shared air of their home settled into the rumple of his nightclothes, the seam of Luo BingHe's smile, made everything feel so sweet and safe and comfortable that Shen QingQiu could let go, for a moment, of self-consciousness.
With no small amount of humor, Shen QingQiu watched as his husband’s eyes glazed over, watched as Luo BingHe began visibly calculating how to turn Shen QingQiu’s attention into a night of intimacy. He was so easy to read, once Shen QingQiu learned to look. Look, instead of assume.
Shen QingQiu felt warmer for the anticipation, for how Luo BingHe rushed that bit more through his self-imposed nightly chores. By the time he was ready to get in bed himself, he did nothing more ceremonious to his hair than snap the tie and shake out his mane with a scrub of his fingers at the roots before springing towards the bed.
Luo BingHe slid one hand hard against the feather blankets piled beneath Shen QingQiu, scooping his husband into his arms with barely a jostle. Shen QingQiu saved one hand from being pinned so that he could press a single finger to Luo BingHe's lips.
“What has you so impatient?”
He kept his voice carefully scolding. Luo BingHe always indulged him whenever he played at being strict, seemed to like it even. His husband's arms were warm and strong, and Shen QingQiu was already tired enough to nod off, if not engage in other pre-sleep activities so he could be exhausted more thoroughly—it improved the quality of his sleep, if not the quantity, so he liked to tell himself—but he wanted to do this too.
“Do you think I can let you into our bed like this? Up, bring me your hairbrush.”
Luo BingHe hesitated in conflict for a moment. He had already made himself comfortable, and had nefarious plans besides, but he could never turn down the promise of being spoiled. Besides, they could do those things later. They had time; they had forever.
Shen QingQiu knew it too, or else he’d never let Luo BingHe leave his arms. When did he get so sticky…?
Unwilling to part just yet, Luo BingHe kissed the finger still pressed to his mouth, eyes bright, arms winding around him more surely. “We’ll cuddle later?”
Cuddle. Like he really meant cuddling! Shen QingQiu could feel that hand slipping up his thigh! That warm breath against Shen QingQiu's palm heated his blood, and he thought—well, they both knew what he really meant. So why not fill BingHe’s head with it?
He bit back his amusement, finally retracting his hand to press a firm kiss to Luo BingHe’s mouth in its place. Pulled away just as Luo BingHe parted his lips for him. The anticipation bubbled through him even though they were deciding to wait—perhaps because they were deciding to wait.
“Cuddle,” he repeated, letting himself grin and brushing back his husband’s hair. The hand on Shen QingQiu’s thigh reached his waist, slipped to his back, wandered purposefully downward. He intercepted it, brought it forward to kiss the knuckles as he kept eye contact. “Mm. If you're very good for me.”
The dizzy look he was met with made Shen QingQiu giddy, even as he worried for a moment that he ruined the game and was about to get pounced, but somehow turning the prospect of their love-making into a reward to be earned lit up that part of Luo BingHe’s brain which craved being useful and obedient and appreciated for it, the sticky disciple in him that wanted to be praised for good behavior.
He really was the spoiled one, Shen QingQiu thought fondly, letting Luo BingHe extricate himself and retrieve the hairbrush where it had been carefully placed on the vanity. His soft white robes swept behind him as he went, his dark hair swaying against it in lovely contrast.
When he was presented with the brush and a vial of perfume oil he'd forgotten to request, Shen QingQiu sighed, pleased. He set aside both for the moment and indicated Luo BingHe should sit on the floor in front of him. He did so, settling between his legs, which would have been perfectly serviceable had Luo BingHe been facing away instead of looking up into his face with faux innocence, a hand on either of Shen QingQiu's knees. “I'm ready, Shizun.”
What a menace! Give this man a chi, and he'd take a thousand li! “Turn around, you ridiculous child.”
He argued Shen QingQiu could reach all his hair just fine like this, and then whined about not being able to see his husband's face, but eventually, Shen QingQiu got him turned around properly, catching the mischievous glint in Luo BingHe's eyes as he went.
He didn't hate it when Luo BingHe acted this way. It was getting easier to admit, at least in the privacy of his own mind, that he found it a little fun, and that the banter felt good whether or not he got his way in the end. It wasn't as if he was truly bothered by some tangles, after all. As Shen QingQiu buried his hands into the thick, dark cloud of hair with a bitten-back sigh of satisfaction, Luo BingHe hummed in pleasure, already basking in the special attention. It made Shen QingQiu want to treat him to it more often.
“You're so troublesome,” he scolded instead, ironing the fondness he felt out of his voice.
Luo BingHe hummed in agreement, turning his head just enough that Shen QingQiu could see the corner of his smile and long eyelashes. “Please discipline me, Shizun.”
His hands jolted. Urgh, why did he always have to… to say things like…! And in that voice!
No shame at all!!
But if Shen QingQiu’s face was red, at least no one else could see it. He swatted Luo BingHe’s head anyway.
Shen QingQiu resigned himself to the flutter in his chest as Luo BingHe laughed and sweetly bumped his hand. Well, he could be shameless. Shen QingQiu had enough shame for both of them, probably.
Section by section, Shen QingQiu tugged his fingers carefully through the hair in front of him, gently dislodging tangle after tangle. It was slow work, but methodical; he'd draw his fingers through sections of thick dark hair, working his fingers into snags and wiggling against them until they came loose in his hands. He repeated these motions until he could comb his fingers through the full length of it, from root to tip.
Thus, the offensive mess of it was slowly tamed into its tidiest state. Shen QingQiu parted it into two sections, over one shoulder and the other, exposing the base of his husband's neck, the bumps at the top of his spine. Luo BingHe's head was bowed forward, back to Shen QingQiu, trusting and relaxed. Like this, Shen QingQiu was allowed to do as he pleased for who knew how long, his husband uncharacteristically still and silent, basking in the warmth like a flower for as long as it lasted.
And Shen QingQiu wanted it to last. He looked guiltily at the hairbrush, which he hadn't touched at all yet in an effort to draw this out. This sort of thing had a limit, didn't it? It had already been quite some time, the hair was detangled, there was no reason they couldn't move onto other things, right?
As his touched faltered and slowed, his thoughts taking over, Luo BingHe raised his head, turning to him with a warm, sweet smile of thanks. And that was definitely a hand on Shen QingQiu’s calf, sliding north fast. Letting him have his way would have been nice too, probably, but…
Before Luo BingHe could say anything, and before Shen QingQiu could think better of it, he gently guided Luo BingHe's face away again. "I'm not finished. Be patient."
The wandering hand halted, the fingers curling in retreat. "Yes, Shizun." The surprise in his voice made Shen QingQiu sulk a little. Yes, he was being ridiculous, he wanted to keep playing with BingHe’s hair for no reason, so what!
While he huffed at himself, Shen QingQiu tipped the vial of perfumed oil into his hand. The scent burst into the air between them as he rubbed it between his palms, warm and resinous, dark and sweet. He rubbed his fingers into the ends of Luo BingHe's hair, tugging lightly to coat. He worked in sections, alternately threading his fingers through, massaging the locks, redistributing the oil on his palms by rubbing his fingers into the planes where the oil pooled and clung.
Luo BingHe had picked a scent Shen QingQiu hardly touched, selecting the vial most full on the assumption its contents would be least missed. In truth, it was Shen QingQiu’s favorite, used infrequently for the fact he'd long forgotten its origins and had no idea where to buy more. It was just as well; as it radiated off the man beneath his hands, warm and alive, he knew he would never wear it again. BingHe would have to wear it nonstop until they ran out, non-negotiable. The desire to shove his face into his husband's neck and drink it in, lick it off of him before he buried his face into Luo BingHe's wild hair and lost himself, it seized him powerfully.
His massaging fingers eventually reached Luo BingHe's scalp. He was restraining himself, as Shen QingQiu had instructed, but the effort it took was obvious. Still, Shen QingQiu couldn't leave well enough alone. He scratched teasing fingers just behind his husband's ears, down his neck, at the knot of his spine, and delighted as Luo BingHe tensed and forced himself to relax in turns. He was so caught up in the motions and his own enjoyment that it didn't register just how much Luo BingHe was actually squirming until he felt a hand grip his bare ankle, the message clear.
But Shen QingQiu was feeling calm, centered, and powerful, drugged into a trance by such a simple activity. With only the barest hint of pressure, he reached out and placed his hands on Luo BingHe's shoulders as he made to turn. "BingHe."
He was almost surprised when Luo BingHe actually paused, neither settling back nor pushing forward. Even Luo BingHe looked surprised at himself, and then conflicted, and then confused at his own indecision. "Shizun—"
"Be good," he reminded, voice hard. Luo BingHe's mouth snapped shut. His eyes went wide and dark, and he straightened his posture as if he'd just been scolded on his martial form.
"Yes," he said at last, and righted himself, face set with the grim determination of a soldier marching off to die. Shen QingQiu wondered at his libido with fond resignation, then felt a little horrified for finding his husband's insatiability cute, and finally decided his husband was cute and his brain could just shut up.
(Shen QingQiu was trying this new thing where he barreled through embarrassing situations instead of getting flustered and crumpling. He could feel the heat in his cheeks. But so far it was… sort of working out?)
He’d been messing around for the past while, so there was no real reason to make them both wait any longer—but now that Luo BingHe was being obedient, he felt the need to push the limits of it.
The work was quicker this time, in part due to his own eagerness. Still, Shen QingQiu was unerringly gentle as he worked from tip to root, brushing through the length in sweeping motions to distribute the oil into a glossy sheen. He went back to coil the fluffed strands around his fingers, coaxing them back into their original, springy shape. The gentle tugging at the nape of his neck elicited the odd noise from Luo BingHe, but he was behaving; Shen QingQiu was more pleased with each passing minute, that he was doing as he liked, that Luo BingHe was actually holding himself back just because Shen QingQiu told him to.
Shen QingQiu gave a particularly firm tug to one reformed coil, and a sound like it had been bitten out of him made it through Luo BingHe's lips.
"Shizun," he said again, an apology and a plea.
"Almost done," he promised, placing a warm hand to his husband's neck, right beneath his jaw where he could feel it bob as he swallowed. "You're doing well. So well. Your shizun won't make you wait much longer."
He was halfway to giddy laughter, and it could be heard in his voice. This really was something, Shen QingQiu thought, as Luo BingHe let out a shuddering breath. He didn't know what could explain the odd tension in the air, the heat these simple actions were drawing out of him, but he didn't mind it. Not at all. He gently took hold of Luo BingHe's head, fingers brushing his ears and jaw, and tilted it back towards himself to kiss his husband's crown, lips curled into a helpless smile. Shen QingQiu drank in the scent pressed against his nose, and then tilted Luo BingHe's head forward and kissed the top of his spine, right at the knob between his tense shoulders. He wanted to melt right into him.
"Shizun…" Shen QingQiu could see from here how Luo BingHe's fingers twisted in his loose sleep pants, could feel the vibrations of his voice as they broke in his throat.
"I know, BingHe," he said into his husband's neck. "Your shizun knows. Turn around for me, now."
He did, tilting up to catch Shen QingQiu's mouth with a desperate enthusiasm before he had even finished the motion. Kneeling and being kissed, gripping Shen QingQiu's knees with shaking hands. Shen QingQiu wound his arms around Luo BingHe's neck, running his fingers through the newly sleek locks with one hand and pressing Luo BingHe more securely against his mouth with the other. Luo BingHe needed no such encouragement, but he liked holding Luo BingHe against himself all the same.
Luo BingHe called to him, again and again, against his mouth and then into his ear when Shen QingQiu moved to kiss him just at the angle of his jaw. For once, holding Luo BingHe so gently as he shuddered between Shen QingQiu's legs, he felt no embarrassment—only BingHe against him, his stuttering breaths, his reverence and submission, and all-encompassing happiness that felt equally incongruous and inevitable.
He pulled back, cupped Luo BingHe's flushed face and took in his dazed, open adoration, watched him lick his wet lips, syrupy slow.
Luo BingHe leaned into his hand as heavily as he could, as if the weight of the touch was the weight of Shen QingQiu's affection. It made him think of their early days together on Qing Jing Peak, his desire to protect and take care, his feelings of responsibility. How Luo BingHe had changed in so many ways, but had never stopped chasing Shen QingQiu’s gentle touches, his approval, his praise. How that was the root from which everything else grew.
He put his hand on Luo BingHe's head like he used to, petting him, just to give himself time to think. Luo BingHe closed his eyes, overcome for a moment by a full-body shudder. His cheeks had never been so red outside of a fever.
"Very good," Shen QingQiu repeated. A sound like air escaping a balloon whined out of Luo BingHe. It was a little funny. A little cute. "It makes your husband happy."
Somehow, right now, it was easier to admit things, to speak his feelings at all. He had all his clothes on, Luo BingHe wasn't making any smart comments, wasn't even actively trying to stick his legendary pillar anywhere, and wouldn't either, not until Shen QingQiu said so, even though the heat of his wanting was thick around them.
Luo BingHe had wrapped his hands around Shen QingQiu's waist, tugging him to the very edge of the bed, until Shen QingQiu was only half seated and his thighs were spread wide against Luo BingHe's broad chest. As usual, the collar of Luo BingHe's robes dipped low, and Shen QingQiu let himself be distracted by several things: his husband between his legs, the hot hands rubbing circles against the thin fabric of his robe, the reverent, hungry eyes staring up at him, the firm muscles pressing against his inner thighs.
Convincing himself it was normal to be attracted to his husband was an uphill battle sometimes, but Shen QingQiu was starting to realize—it wasn't any different from wanting to brush his hair, to hold and pet him, to tease him as he pleased. They belonged to each other. Luo BingHe was Shen QingQiu’s to want.
And wanting him was sweet.
He guided Luo BingHe into their bed and pushed him down.