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A Flitting Wren

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     “Binghe!” Ah… What could Shizun need? Binghe steps fully through the doorway to peer down at his husband, who is waiting in what can only be called a buzz of excitement. If his shizun were any more excited, he may just flash out of existence! Surely he doesn’t know, the demon figures as he comes over, or he’d immediately scramble to stop (or worse, flee.) He doesn’t seem as…. What’s the word? Coy could never quite encompass his shizun’s being, he was modest and distant for a reason yes, but also because that was just who he was. For someone who cared about propriety even when he was alone, his Shizun was showing a lot of emotion . It made him feel slightly uneasy and excited. 

     “Yes, shizun?” he replies as he kneels to sit with the man who is currently concealing some kind of brilliant expression behind his fan - Binghe is glad he had the years to learn to recognize the happy glimmer in his master’s eyes - which makes Binghe feel as though he is also buzzing with excitement. What could work his modest, demure, firm handed shizun into such a mood! Because he needed more of it! 

     “This master realizes it’s a touch late, it took awhile for him to complete this but…. He hopes Binghe will accept it.” He hopes Binghe will like it, this disciple knows his Shizun too well to not read into his words. A slim box - the exact size of which Binghe is intimately familiar with - is offered out by those oh so graceful hands, shizun’s wisteria white fingers curled gently around the edge so it does not slip out of his grip. The gentle engravings on the lid of the box don’t even compare to his shizun’s fingers! But he still accepts it graciously, running a thumb over the imaging. Such a small box…. 

     “Binghe.” his shizun chuckles - chuckles! Shizun is so gracious today! - as he watches; “Open it.” And who is he to deny his Shizun? The familiar rattle and size of the box already gave him an inkling to what it is, but the demon lord is still surprised when he lays eyes on the silk fan inside. Being delicate as he picks it up, he flicks it open with the familiarity only achieved by playing with his shizun’s fans when the other man wasn’t aware. Keen bamboo eyes watch his hands carefully before briefly glancing up at his face. 

     Then it strikes him. This… looks a lot like the fan shizun used when he was still a disciple, wasn’t it? The long sandalwood ribs give off a gentle fragrance as he waves it, the white silk painted with elegant green strokes of bamboo. It makes the chasm in Binghe ache… for what though? He doesn’t bother to identify it, instead choosing to shovel all the love and affection that his husband must feel for him to give him such a gift into that chasm to (unsuccessfully) attempt to fill it. As he inspects the bamboo, he finds that…. Well, it was clearly recently painted, so shizun must have prepared it today while he was finally out of the house. But, perched in the middle of the lonely bamboo grove was a small dot. A little black and red wren resting on a leaf, its tiny spindly legs  propping it up against the lush, strong bamboo leaf. 

     “Binghe?....” that familiar voice calls to him in a softer timbre than earlier. Tears will ruin the ink . He snaps the fan shut too quickly and tucks it back into the box, where it is much safer than in his own hands. Binghe can already feel his shizun’s eyes watching him, burrowing deep into whatever they can reach of his soul. When a soft green handkerchief is offered to him, he goes to take it before it disappears from his view. 

     Ah? Shizun, his husband, in all his mercy, wipes away his tears with that cool green cloth and cups his cheeks in his warm ink stained hands. Despite how gentle and thin they are, the cage of Shen Qingqiu’s fingers grounds him, studier than any metal or stone. Despite how uncertain they seem, his hands are still firm and reassuring. Despite how Shizun seems so far, gone sometimes, he’s still here. Beside me. 

     “.... Happy birthday, husband.” his shizun says, knowing full well what effect it will have.