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a thousand jars

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The first time Shen Qingqiu feels it, he thinks he’s experiencing some sort of minor qi deviation.

Well actually— the first few times he feels it, Shen Qingqiu doesn’t realize what it is. He brushes it off as indigestion, too focused on completing the story and saving his own life. But the first time Shen Qingqiu actually acknowledges it, he doesn’t know if he’s more displeased at the situation or at himself.

It normally goes the other way with his hot-headed and well meaning husband. It’s usually Shen Qingqiu that floats around oblivious and needs to be told what suffering his partner is going through. It’ll be resolved with a laugh and a scolding from Shen Qingqiu and if it falls on every third day, the bed nearly breaking from the amount of frustration and enthusiasm Luo Binghe puts in to working out his feelings.

There is no question about the amount of devotion that his sticky husband has for him, so it’s not normally a concern.

But sometimes, things tend to slip through the cracks and drop on Shen Qingqiu like an anvil. Things that verge on being petty. Things that Shen Qingqiu really should be above by now.

Things like being jealous and possessive over Luo Binghe.

 


 

The axis around which all his problems spring from and start to rotate around is a wedding they are invited to. It’s a grand thing spanning many days, held between two of the oldest incubi clans in the demonic realm. 

Luo Binghe has been invited to the estate as a guest of honour. Shen Qingqiu comes along, mostly because he’s extremely curious about the estate and also because he’s interested in seeing how well Shang Qinghua can write a party. He vaguely remembers reading something about this wedding, but he’s sure it was sordid and boring and something he completely skimmed over.

And also, Luo Binghe had gifted him an extremely intricate folding fan and given him his best beseeching look when asking him to come along. Shen Qingqiu has grown increasingly lazy when it comes to hiding just how easy that look gets him.

Their welcome along with the other guests of honour, is grand.  Luo Binghe is intimidating, large and regal, while Shen Qingqiu is a cold and distant beauty beside him. Shen Qingqiu’s aloofness comes somewhat from vanity, but mostly from being too busy scraping the inside of his brain to remember the details of this chapter to see if there was any trouble forthcoming. After all, so many demons in one place could spell nothing but trouble.

The room they are presented for their stay is purely luxurious. Shen Qingqiu doesn’t mind the curious looks they get from the Lady of the household when they tell her that a second room would not be needed. She shrugs and sends them on their way with a gaggle of enthusiastic servants while she mutters something about being lucky to find couples who sample goods together.

The servants are chatty, moreso than Shen Qingqiu has seen before. They exalt the greatness of the palace and when they open the doors to the room, they’re insistent on helping Luo Binghe and Shen Qingqiu…

...Well, Shen Qingqiu’s not quite sure what they’re helping him with. He’s distracted by the ornate furniture and the patterned curtains and the overall splendour of the room, but not distracted enough to realize some of the servants have lowered their voice when they talk to Luo Binghe. There’s a melodic uptick to some of their words as they defer to him and Shen Qingqiu supposes that’s just Luo Binghe’s effect.

The servants are dismissed, and one of them also lowers their voice as he tells Shen Qingqiu not to hesitate at all, that they are at their service for whatever they need. Shen Qingqiu feels a little smug when he feels Luo Binghe glowering. But while they still have company, he touches Luo Binghe’s hand and reminds him of what Shen Qingqiu had essentially drilled into him prior to the wedding. That they were travelling to the palace of an incubi clan, and certain behaviours would be more than common. And that Luo Binghe acting like a total brute would probably not be the best thing, even though he would completely get away with it.

However in all this preparation, Shen Qingqiu had made one grave oversight— he had not considered his own feelings.

 


 

They are barely a day in when Luo Binghe gets a formal request for a marriage alliance during one of many celebratory engagement meals in a grand banquet hall. He coldly tells the interested party that he has a spouse while Shen Qingqiu hides an amused smile behind his fan. The smile freezes when they tell Luo Binghe that they know, but their niece would make a lovely second wife. 

To his credit, Luo Binghe seems to have listened to Shen Qingqiu’s lectures because he rejects the offer gracefully.

But. 

Their food must have had something weird in it because Shen Qingqiu’s stomach starts to twist as Luo Binghe throws in a stilted comment about how the party may not have that much trouble finding a suitable partner for such a great beauty. It definitely can’t be the situation at hand; though, if Shen Qingqiu really thinks about it, it’s been a while since he’s had to be a direct witness to someone shameless approaching Luo Binghe. 

He nudges Luo Binghe and wiggles his eyebrows and Luo Binghe lets out a soft and complaining “Shizun” that quells whatever strange thing he was feeling. He decides to store it away in the same place he stores most of his uncomfortable feelings, the emotional equivalent of a trash bin, and lets it rest.

 


 

Those feelings emerge again when he sees three young men show up at their chambers in the early morning, all stern looking beauties with an armful of silks. Shen Qingqiu blinks in the doorway before Luo Binghe beckons them in. Apparently they’re here at his request, since Luo Binghe had packed the best for Shen Qingqiu and absolutely nothing for himself.

The tailors get to work immediately without word. At first, Shen Qingqiu brushes off how handsy they are as they’re just doing their job. Shen Qingqiu gives Luo Binghe a light scolding about being too careless with money as he reclines on a divan and watches the flurry of activity. Occasionally, he’ll shoot Luo Binghe a warm look so that he doesn’t end up hassling the tailors for one reason or another. 

It’s pleasant enough till Shen Qingqiu catches the way one of three faces relax as the tailor presses a palm against Luo Binghe’s chest. Another one brightens as he drapes silk across broad shoulders, and the third one looks markedly more cheerful than he had when Shen Qingqiu had opened the door. 

He’s had his fair share of tailors in this life, has had a cheap suit refitted in his previous one, and doesn’t ever recall anyone acting like this. Shen Qingqiu doesn’t quite know what purpose gripping Luo Binghe’s bicep serves and narrows his eyes at the tailor in question.

Faintly, his mind shoves an unbidden thought of three heavenly sisters in front of his eyes. For a brief moment, as the sun shining through the window shifts, Shen Qingqiu can clearly imagine three nuns dutifully attending to Luo Binghe, their austerity melting away the more they acquaint themselves with his body.

He shoos away the unbecoming thought as soon as it comes. Shen Qingqiu blinks and sees as one of the tailors actually smiles up at Luo Binghe from where they are kneeling. 

Luo Binghe simply nods back but Shen Qingqiu still swears he can hear the ghost of the System laugh in the distance.

 


 

(It’s not that Shen Qingqiu isn’t used to people’s eyes wandering towards Luo Binghe. There’s a lot to look at and appreciate, what with the beautiful face and immense power. He can’t blame anyone. He’s also used to people thinking that they can get away with shoving their children or cousins or siblings or other relatives at Luo Binghe.

They don’t know that the love that was originally supposed to be originally divided amongst six hundred women has now been redirected solely to Shen Qingqiu, resulting in Luo Binghe not bothering to register when people are throwing themselves at him. That’s fine though. Shen Qingqiu is there to deflect any coquettish attempts.

But here in the manor, it seems that people are a lot bolder than normal. It must be something in the wine that flows freely throughout the entire estate and the influence of staying in a house of old and powerful lust-driven magic that’s making people’s courage grow stronger and faces grow thinner.

And that’s the excuse Shen Qingqiu uses for himself as well, when his stomach clenches a little when he sees someone looking at Luo Binghe for a moment too long.)

 


 

This is, Shen Qingqiu tells himself, a normal reaction.

Someone offers in plain daylight to be one of Luo Binghe’s concubines and Shen Qingqiu almost loses his mind. Especially since the person in question doesn’t ask Luo Binghe— they approach him.

“Who raised you to be so bold?” Shen Qingqiu snaps, mood ruined. He had found a quiet place in a small courtyard where he could laze around and not be bothered while he got some fresh air. Or, as fresh as one could get in the demonic realm.

A distant relative of one of the grooms’ families had approached him, after lingering in the corner and twiddling their thumbs til he told them that he could see them and they might as well just come out. For such a shy creature, they had no compunctions in blurting out why they were looking for him.

The demon in question looks up at him from under their thick, gorgeous lashes. Their eyes are a stunning shade of blue that could rival the summer sky. They are currently bowing to Shen Qingqiu, and haven’t bothered straightening up. Their full, plush lips curve downward in a beseeching way and—

Shen Qingqiu shoves out any sort of positive thought out of his head with his foot as he stares down the succubus. He doesn’t know if they’re exercising their allurement over him to convince them to get near his husband, but Shen Qingqiu won’t give in to this grimy little demon. This grimy little demon that has luminous skin and smells like fresh lilies and a pleasant spring day...

“I thought it would be best to ask your permission first,” the demon says, voice so melodic and sweet that it almost acts like a balm to Shen Qingqiu’s annoyance—

No! He’s not going to get swayed by some lust-driven creature, much less one that was written by a shitty author with too much time on his hands.

“Are you normally this submissive?” Shen Qingqiu asks, still looking stern. He wants to commend them on not being underhanded and trying to go straight for the prize, but he doesn’t want to give them any ideas.

“If it would please you... and the lord,” the demon bows deeper, and Shen Qingqiu feels himself flush.

“That’s not what I meant!” he rushes out, and he gets another doe-eyed glance.

He can’t really be too mean to this demon. They mean well. Well, as well as a demon can mean. Being a concubine would be a great job for a succubus that is too lazy to hunt, especially if it’s for an overpowered demon lord. Shen Qingqiu can’t fault them and their innocent, unusually adorable face too much.

But unfortunately for them, the overpowered demon lord in question is taken and only has eyes for his old master. Shen Qingqiu explains as much and sadness brims in the demon’s eyes before they bow again and take their leave respectfully. The illusion is broken once they’ve cleared the courtyard and Shen Qingqiu can hear them cursing in the far distance.

Later on at the dinner banquet that night, Shen Qingqiu sees the same demon take a seat within Luo Binghe’s line of sight. His husband hasn’t taken notice yet, but Shen Qingqiu watches them with a stern eye.

Momentarily, he gets distracted by the husky way one of the servants says “my lord” as they pour Luo Binghe more wine, standing much closer than is proper. In the far distance at one of the long tables, the family that offered up their niece keeps shooting looks in their direction. Five minutes later, someone approaches them to make small talk but completely ignores Shen Qingqiu. Shen Qingqiu has the burning need to glare at all of them.

Unfortunately he only has two eyes so ultimately, he ends up staring down his husband instead. His expression must be something fierce, because after the visitor is dismissed, Luo Binghe looks at him with some concern.

“Shizun,” Luo Binghe asks quietly. “Are you okay?”

“Am I not allowed to look at my husband?” Shen Qingqiu asks, doing his best not to get snippy. After all he’s a Peak Lord, a powerful cultivator, a man that has cheated death. There’s no reason for him to act like a needy spouse. 

“My lord,” the servant leans down again with their voice practically purring as they refill a cup that’s only a quarter empty. It catches Luo Binghe’s attention, interrupting the beaming look he had been about to shoot towards Shen Qingqiu. 

Despite the fact that Luo Binghe looks more bemused than entranced, Shen Qingqiu feels the porcelain cup in his own hand crack.

If he lets Luo Binghe take him to bed easily that night, if he pins his husband down by the hips and swallows him down whole while a mine mine mine chants in his head that he dare not voice out, well.

Shen Qingqiu is also only human.

 


 

The next morning, Shen Qingqiu catches a nervous looking imp attempting to side step him on purpose as he walks down the hall near their quarters. The little green demon clutches an envelope to their chest and Shen Qingqiu almost lets them go until he sees them hovering near his door, nose twitching.

He strides up to the unfortunate messenger, who splutters and tries to skitter away when they see Shen Qingqiu. With a pleasant look, Shen Qingqiu asks them if he can be of any assistance before plucking the envelope out of their hands. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s addressed to Luo Binghe and smells strongly of perfume.

Before he can do anything, the imp runs away like someone has set them on fire. When Shen Qingqiu opens the letter, the contents do not surprise him. What they do is vex him to no end. 

Especially when the author of the letter keeps mentioning that they have the utmost respect for Shen Qingqiu and will continue to do so if they are taken on as another spouse. They will maintain that respect even when Luo Binghe promotes them to being his First Spouse. 

As if. 

The name at the end of the letter is unfamiliar, but Shen Qingqiu adds it to his ever-growing hit list. He closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath to calm himself before he succumbs to any childish emotion. 

Shen Qingqiu ends up shredding the wedding proposal into little paper ribbons and uses it to stoke the fire for the tea kettle Luo Binghe sets for them later that day.

 


 

Shen Qingqiu tries to get used to it. Through the course of their stay, he hears people muttering about the beauties passing by for the wedding. His name is dropped once, but not as many times as Luo Binghe’s. 

People seem to take a deep interest in him though Shen Qingqiu would expect nothing less of the protagonist. Luo Binghe’s arresting good looks, intelligence, and appealingly intimidating disposition would bring many to their knees in more than one way.

In an effort to work out some of his restless energy and to also repress whatever weird things he’s feeling, Shen Qingqiu has rounded some fresh-faced students in the name of practicing with the sword. Luo Binghe has attached himself to Shen Qingqiu, and Shen Qingqiu initially preened a little at the stickiness. 

But yet for some reason, now he feels more sour than normal. If he was more emotionally open with himself, he may have found the answer a little earlier, but as it is Shen Qingqiu opts to sit and steam instead. He keeps his calm and cool exterior, while internally berating himself for feeling stupid feelings of…

Of…

Of whatever he’s feeling right now as he stands in the middle of the training yard, Xiu Ya in hand as one of the young masters gets up from the ground. The young man has introduced himself to Shen Qingqiu, but so had about thirty others, and he can’t be bothered to remember them all.

He wishes he remembered this young master’s name though. Because the first thing Luo Binghe had said upon seeing him was “that boy kind of reminds me of Shizun,”  and in Shen Qingqiu’s current state, his face had almost cracked.

The disciple’s face looks more like his face did when he was Shen Yuan, but there is a resemblance is there that Shen Qingqiu cannot deny. There is an innocent sort of beauty that wasn’t in Shen Qingqiu’s original form, and Shen Qingqiu tamps down whatever urge he has to tell Luo Binghe to look away.

“You did well,” Shen Qingqiu allows himself to say, not wanting to come off too unjustly cold. And the young master had done well— he had met each of Shen Qingqiu’s strikes with a quickly calculated block and while he hadn’t landed any in return, he had come close.

Praise will be given where it is due, even if the shy smile given in response is directed more to Shen Qingqiu’s left, where Luo Binghe is standing. Shen Qingqiu racks his brains for the name, but comes up empty.

“This disciple is humbled to be in the presence of such skilled masters,” the young man says, as the others circled around them chime in agreement. The worst part is that Luo Binghe looks at the disciple and then smiles.

No, scratch that.

The worst part is later on, when the young master and a couple of other eager disciples clamour around Luo Binghe with no shame. Shen Qingqiu wants to remind them who was actually teaching them, but it’d be lost words amongst a sea of brainless gremlins.

The disciple that looks like him says something that has the whole group laughing, including Luo Binghe and a hot flare of possessiveness flares through Shen Qingqiu. It’s so strong that for a moment, he thinks he is deviating. 

Then Shen Qingqiu realizes what he’s actually feeling and somehow, he’d rather take a qi deviation.

 


 

“Shizun,” Luo Binghe says imploringly, but Shen Qingqiu is too busy glaring a hole into the offending wooden box that sits on their table. It’s got ornate carvings of flowers all over it, with gold leaf patterns along the edges. Inside sits three soft, round sweets that bring no little offense to Shen Qingqiu.

Along the edges of the box, a love poem between two strangers who fall in love upon first sight is carved. It’s a bold statement, one that Luo Binghe has completely missed.

Just the sight of it has smoke curling out of Shen Qingqiu’s ears. Luo Binghe had said it had been hand-delivered to him by one of the maids of a princess visiting for the wedding. The meaning of it seems to have been lost on Luo Binghe, who presented it to Shen Qingqiu when they had both retired for the night.

Normally, Shen Qingqiu would commend anyone thick enough to think they had a fighting chance at attaching themselves to his single-minded husband and diverting his attention away from Shen Qingqiu. But the past few days have worn away at whatever maturity he has, leaving him wanting to stamp a big mark on Luo Binghe’s forehead that says Hands Off

He probably should have paid more attention to the lecture he had given Luo Binghe before they came here. 

“Husband,” Luo Binghe tries again, and that catches Shen Qingqiu’s attention. 

He’s picked up one of the sweets and holds it out towards Shen Qingqiu, eyes large and pleading. Shen Qingqiu gives him a glare, even though Luo Binghe can’t actually know what kind of gears are turning in his brain. Luo Binghe’s eyes glisten, and whatever rage Shen Qingqiu had been feeling at this princess gets diluted with some fondness. Internally, he sighs. 

It’s not Luo Binghe’s fault anyways that Shen Qingqiu currently has the emotional constitution of someone’s grade-school boyfriend. He leans in to take a bite of the sweet, and lets his lips brush against the tips of Luo Binghe’s fingers.

At least it’s not six hundred women. Little victories, Shen Qingqiu supposes.

 


 

To add salt to a wound that Shen Qingqiu absolutely does not want to acknowledge, Shang Qinghua makes a late arrival to the estate.

Initially when Shen Qingqiu hears a familiar voice call out his name, he feels some relief. It’s a distraction from the sight in front of him.

Originally, it had just been Luo Binghe and a couple of junior disciples who were too awestruck to actually learn anything. Shen Qingqiu had encouraged him to impart some teaching onto a newer generation while he would sit under the shade of a giant blackened tree, watching with appreciation as his husband moved across the training yard. And that’s what he did, till his (definitely less handsome) doppelganger showed up with a few of his friends and promptly commandeered Luo Binghe’s attention.

They had bowed as well to Shen Qingqiu from a distance, but that did nothing to soothe the irritation rising within him. It only got stronger once they declared they were there to learn, as well as get a few one-on-one demonstrations. At least with the re-introduction, Shen Qingqiu now knows his lookalike’s name is Lin Heng.

Luo Binghe, having taken Shen Qingqiu’s words that really were meant for the junior disciples to heart, has decided to oblige them.They’re in the middle of one of these said demonstrations when Shen Qingqiu hears his name in the distance. 

“Shang Qinghua,” Shen Qingqiu greets, shifting over on the bench where he sits. Shang Qinghua looks like he’s a little out of breath but otherwise well.

Shen Qingqiu thought his friend was going to sit this one out when Mobei-Jun showed up without his attachment tittering about like an unsexy secretary. It turns out that Shang Qinghua was merely late due to some important business, or so he claims. Shen Qingqiu doesn’t prod too much into it.

“I have a rather pressing and private question,” Shen Qingqiu says after they’ve exchanged a couple of pleasantries. He’s hoping the tone in which he shrouds his words will hide how stupid it’s going to sound when he says it out loud. Shang Qinghua nods seriously. 

“Is there…” Shen Qingqiu trails off when he hears an exclamation from in front of them. Lin Heng is on his back in the dirt with Luo Binghe’s foot on his chest. And Lin Heng is laughing. Shen Qingqiu goes silent and has to open his fan to hide his frown.

“What is it?” Shang Qinghua asks, and Shen Qingqiu turns to look at him.

Shen Qingqiu has to steel himself and mentally prepare to slam his hand over Shang Qinghua’s mouth, just in case he starts laughing at Shen Qingqiu. “This palace… do you remember writing it? Along with the wedding?”

“I wrote so much,” Shang Qinghua replies sagely. “And a majority of it was trash, as you continue to remind me.”

“Well,” Shen Qingqiu licks his lips nervously. “Do you by any chance remember if there is anything special about this estate? Especially since it’s for an incubus clan?”

“What isn’t special?” Shang Qinghua says blithely, but Shen Qingqiu shakes his head. “What do you mean though?”

“Anything that would inspire any kind of...amorous feeling, but negative,” Shen Qingqiu tries to explain, but embarrassment has started to make the words heavy in his mouth.

Shang Qinghua replies with silence and a raised eyebrow. Shen Qingqiu tries not to burn.

“Any feeling,” he soldiers on, picking his words carefully in hopes that he doesn’t have to lay out exactly how he’s feeling. “That despite being born out of love, is still ugly.” 

It doesn’t work. Shang Qinghua gives him a blank look. A full five seconds pass.

“You know, we’re not at Cang Qiong Mountain right now,” Shang Qinghua says slowly. “Nor are we at a discussion conference. Or within earshot of anyone. Speak freely bro, I have no idea what the hell you’re saying right now.”

Shen Qingqiu lifts his fan to hide from everyone else that he’s giving Shang Qinghua the middle finger. Shang Qinghua rolls his eyes, and Shen Qingqiu lets out a long-suffering sigh.

“Fine,” Shen Qingqiu huffs and raises his fan again. Shang Qinghua leans in to listen. “Is there any sort of magic coursing through this estate that would make one burn with envy? Beyond what is normal? Say, over a sticky disciple of theirs that really does not have eyes for anyone else?”

Shang Qinghua blinks. Shen Qingqiu stares at him. In the distance, someone helps Lin Heng to his feet. Shang Qinghua looks out towards the training field. Shen Qingqiu follows his line of sight and sees Luo Binghe shoot him an indiscernible look. 

He doesn’t want to yell across the courtyard nor does he want Luo Binghe to become suspicious, so Shen Qingqiu lowers his fan to give him a smile. Binghe beams back before turning back on the others with the expression of a wicked teacher. Maybe Shen Qingqiu shouldn’t have given in to a bout of laziness and should have joined Luo Binghe into whipping these young men into shape. 

“Ah,” Shang Qinghua says, and Shen Qingqiu silently congratulates him for switching on the light in his brain. “That young master looks rather a lot like you, don’t you think?”

“I definitely think,” Shen Qingqiu replies icily. “It has been pointed out to me.”

Multiple times, by both the disciple’s friends and a few other passerbys. But still, nothing’s as bad as the one time Luo Binghe mentioned it.

“Is his name Lin Heng?” Shang Qinghua asks, narrowing his eyes and Shen Qingqiu nods.

“You’ve met him?” Shen Qingqiu asks. “Or do you just remember writing him?”

Shang Qinghua is silent again for a moment, lost in contemplation. 

“Promise you won’t kill me?” Shang Qinghua finally says and Shen Qingqiu nods, not bothering to point out Shang Qinghua’s mistake in not getting him to promise he won’t beat him either.

“That man,” Shang Qinghua starts, and then swallows. He inhales deeply, and leans away from Shen Qingqiu. Shen Qingqiu can feel one of his temples throbbing. “Was supposed to be Luo Binghe’s singular male love interest in the original work.”

“…”

“... Remember your promise,” Shang Qinghua says weakly. 

What—”

“I put him as one of Lord Luo’s retainers to see if the readers would pick up on the tension,” Shang Qinghua quickly explains. “But they didn’t really like him so eventually I soured his character and had Luo Binghe kill him for looking and acting too much like Shen Qingqiu. I think I only dedicated a paragraph to his death.”

It’s hard for Shen Qingqiu not to stare at Shang Qinghua, wearing the expression of a startled lizard. 

“So it’s not some sort of magic for sure?” Shen Qingqiu asks and narrows his eyes. Shang Qinghua looks nervous, but he speaks casually and boldly anyways.

“Nah,” he replies. “I just think you’re jealous.”

In all fairness, Shang Qinghua is correct. Shen Qingqiu is in fact jealous, but he wants to think he’s above such feelings, having burnt it out of the original goods a long time ago. He supposes they would have boomeranged back eventually.

However, Shang Qinghua is the unfortunate soul that has put it into words and Shen Qingqiu is not above hitting him around the head with his fan and asking why he would write such things. Shang Qinghua in turn curses and squawks that he let go of the wheel a long time ago, but Shen Qingqiu is really just doing this for his own health. 

It makes him feel better, but only by a bit.

 


 

It turns out that Shang Qinghua has not shown up simply to attend the wedding. There’s a small matter that needs both his and Shen Qingqiu’s attention. Originally it had only needed Shang Qinghua’s attention, but it may have spiralled just a little teensy tiny bit, according to the other Peak Lord. 

There’s a human village right outside of the demonic realm that needs some help. Originally, Shang Qinghua had gone to put down some corpses that had risen from the grave, as well as the cultivator that had summoned them to make a quick buck off terrified villagers. 

Unfortunately, while he was able to get rid of the cultivator, the ensuing fight had created a minor fracture between the realms that needs a little more manpower to fix. In the meanwhile, the corpses are still roaming around without much purpose beyond terrorizing, powered by the demonic energy seeping through the crack.

“It’ll be fun!” Shang Qinghua says brightly. “It’ll get your mind off things. Plus, you aren’t needed here anyways.”

“Thanks,” Shen Qingqiu says dryly, but thinks it’ll be a much needed distraction from floating around like a jealous househusband in the palace.

An immature part of him is secretly happy at how much Luo Binghe pouts and whines and generally gives watery eyes when Shen Qingqiu says he has to go away for a day or two, but he’ll be back in time for the main ceremony. Shen Qingqiu wants to take that pathetic face and parade it around the estate to show to everyone else that none of them could even dream of having Luo Binghe’s love like this.

But instead, he gets to go to a village with Shang Qinghua. At least now that it’s just the two of them, they don’t have to act with any sense of propriety until they reach the settlement.

Though the thought of leaving Binghe behind at that palace… Shen Qingqiu has no doubt in Luo Binghe’s faithfulness. He’s more concerned about the boldness of others, and the clear lack of respect for him that they have. How many times will Luo Binghe have to say “Thank you but no thank you, I already have a spouse”?

Jealousy twists in his gut, and Shen Qingqiu wonders if anyone will actually ever manage to sink their claws in. He thinks about Lin Heng, who looks like a more innocent version of him, but a version of him nonetheless. And he thinks of the purpose with which Shang Qinghua wrote him with.

“Are you okay?” Shang Qinghua asks, and Shen Qingqiu snaps back to reality. 

They’re sitting at a small table in the inn that they’re staying in for the night. The food is incredibly bland, but they’ve just spent the past four hours dispatching every walking corpse within a rather large radius, so Shen Qingqiu and Shang Qinghua have been tearing through meals. Tomorrow, they have an even more arduous task of using their spiritual energy to seal the rift.

“Do you think it’s possible I died again and transmigrated into the Resentment of Chunshan?” Shen Qingqiu asks idly, and Shang Qinghua chokes on his barley tea.

“I think it’s just called having feelings man,” Shang Qinghua says, voice scratchy. Shen Qingqiu doesn’t like this answer, but unfortunately there’s nothing about it that he can actually take out on Shang Qinghua.

To his credit, Shang Qinghua can tell that Shen Qingqiu isn’t exactly pleased. For all that they bicker, they are also kindred spirits and friends, and at the end of the day Shen Qingqiu isn’t actually mad at anyone but himself.

“I think Lord Luo would be inclined to feel friendly towards Lin Heng-” Shang Qinghua starts and Shen Qingqiu glares at him.

“That doesn’t make me feel better!” Shen Qingqiu exclaims, and Shang Qinghua patiently continues.

“But that’s all that it will be,” he says. “I don’t think that man’s love for you could be swayed, not even by some discount demon version of you. We’ve all seen how it worked out with the other lovers he was supposed to take.”

The words quell his mind the slightest, Shen Qingqiu has to admit. However, it doesn’t stop him from tossing and turning during the night while he’s trying to sleep. Doesn’t stop himself from mentally self-flagellating over being a jealous idiot either. 

Normally Shen Qingqiu is on the other side of the equation, with Luo Binghe making barely any effort to conceal his jealousy. He thinks about how much he scolds Luo Binghe for his stickiness and then how he’s left him behind in a palace full of beauties. If Luo Binghe feels even a tenth of what Shen Qingqiu is feeling right now, no wonder he is crying all the time!

But mostly, all this just makes Shen Qingqiu miss Luo Binghe. He sighs into the darkness of his room and then lets out a long stream of curses directed towards everyone and everything, but mostly just himself for letting jealousy twist in his gut like a knife.

 


 

The task takes a lot more energy and time than either of them anticipated. It takes a full day to seal the rift, that’s more a gaping break than the simple fracture that Shang Qinghua had made it out to be.

“You did tell me to be more subdued in my language,” Shang Qinghua points out while sweat beads at their temples, the strain of sealing the rift with their spiritual energy taking a toll. If he wasn’t pre-occupied, Shen Qingqiu would have kicked him. As it is, he swears and shoots out multiple insults at Shang Qinghua, which earns him a laugh in return.

They had intended to go back first thing the next morning, but their stay is prolonged when it seems that they have missed a couple of roaming corpses who had decided to join in on the fun. They dutifully take down the dead and the village thanks them the best they can, with a small but earnest feast before they leave the next day. 

By the time Shen Qingqiu has reached back to the palace, washed off the grime, and changed into something more presentable, the wedding has long passed the resplendent banquet stage. The grooms have married and the whole thing has delved straight into the bawdy affair most demon wedding celebrations are.

Shen Qingqiu has a feeling that this is because Shang Qinghua has never been to a wedding in his past life, nor was he ever in the running for one like he is now. So while writing, he had just lazily thrown together a bunch of excuses to party and sneak away with maidens and called it a day.

“I took my world building seriously,” Shang Qinghua sniffs, but he’s unable to keep a straight face through the lie. Shen Qingqiu snorts and rolls his eyes but settles his expression into something neutral before they enter the raucous main hall.

There’s no semblance of order except for amongst the servants who artfully weave around the drunken revellers. The newlyweds raise their goblets everytime someone calls out a praise, which seems to happen every two minutes or so. One of the grooms has gone so brilliantly red that he blends in with his wedding finery.

A brawl has broken out in one corner, while people attempt to dance in another. It’s a direct contrast to the refined, restrained and lustrous banquets that the estate had been holding leading up to the wedding. Guests spill in and out, not bothering to be secretive with what they’ve done or plan to do, and Shen Qingqiu snaps open his fan to avoid having to make eye contact with anyone.

“Very seriously, I can tell,” Shen Qingqiu says. Shang Qinghua grins faintly, already scanning the crowd.

It’s hard to miss Mobei-Jun, what with the large dark fur slung around his shoulders, even in this heated hall. It’s even harder to miss Luo Binghe, regal in blacks and reds and deep greys, robes embroidered with the story of whatever last impressive beast he had managed to slaughter.

And yes, the two men are sitting at the table for the guests of honour so Shen Qingqiu and Shang Qinghua shouldn’t have any trouble spotting them anyways. But Shen Qingqiu feels like their combined IQ always drops when the two Peak Lords get together.

Light from one of the lanterns flicker across Luo Binghe in a flattering manner, throwing the intricate design of his arm braces into sharp relief. Shen Qingqiu doesn’t know why he’s so focused on them but in a split second he realizes he’s more focused on the strong forearms they’re wrapped around.

It’s the only thing stopping him from drowning in his own foolishness as he suddenly sees the scene as a whole.

“Oh man,” Shang Qinghua mutters under his breath. “I see what you mean, bro. I’m kind of feeling it too.”

“Don’t be so casual in public,” Shen Qingqiu snaps half-heartedly, too distracted by the sight.

Luo Binghe and Mobei-Jun are leaning forward, Luo Binghe looking amused while Mobei-Jun has the faintest hint of a smile on his face. In front of them, Lin Heng and the succubus from before sit, flushed and red and delivering in tandem what looks to be undoubtedly an exciting story.

“Is my king smiling?” Shang Qinghua sounds kind of pained and starts to step forward. Shen Qingqiu grabs him by the sleeve and tugs him back.

“His face must be twitching,” Shen Qingqiu says sourly. “Unlike a certain disciple of mine.”

So maybe they’re both overreacting— the men are seated too far down the grand hall for anyone to really decipher the expressions they’re wearing. It’s more that the company they have has been a constant thorn in Shen Qingqiu’s side in a way he’d rather die than verbalize.

Shen Qingqiu knows what he feels about people who have enough confidence to parade around in front of his husband like they have a standing chance. It’s the same feeling he used to scoff at when reading this cursed novel in his old life.

He looks over to Shang Qinghua, who seems to be going on quite the internal journey himself from the look on his face. Serves him right.

“Purely your doing,” Shen Qingqiu says, just to rub a little salt into the wound. Shang Qinghua scratches the side of his nose with his middle finger and Shen Qingqiu scoffs into his fan.

It’s unspoken between them that they’re kind of pissed that their men haven’t immediately honed in on their entrance, despite how crowded and loud the entire hall is. Shen Qingqiu really will have to go into seclusion after this so that he can learn to not  behave like a petulant child asked to share a toy.

Shen Qingqiu is not going to be affected, he tells himself.

(Visibly, he amends.)

He focuses on his husband, hoping his glare will pierce across the hall and through the back of his husband’s thick head. There’s no such luck, and Shen Qingqiu lets out a heavy sigh. In reality, not even two minutes have passed, but the whole week has been tough on him.

“How exactly did you plan to have Luo Binghe and Lin Heng fall together?” Shen Qingqiu asks, and Shang Qinghua makes a face. They both step apart, letting a couple of partygoers barrel through.

“A threesome with him and one of Lord Luo’s wives,” Shang Qinghua says and winces under the glare Shen Qingqiu shoots him. Truly shameless! Truly the world’s worst author! “Though I doubt you’d— wait a second.”

“What?”

“If it’s not Luo Binghe that’s going to do it then it means...my king…”

Several things click in Shang Qinghua’s brain quite audibly as they both realize that if one demonic sovereign wouldn’t work, the next best target would be his incredibly powerful right-hand man. 

There’s a loud clatter and shattering sound behind them and they look over their shoulders. Someone has sent a series of undoubtedly expensive porcelain cups scattering over the floor while declaring their intent to…

To…

...Shen Qingqiu and Shang Qinghua both go as red as that someone’s companion tries to get them to sit back down. Shen Qingqiu wants to scrub the vulgarities from his ears and sends a dirty look to Shang Qinghua again.

When they turn their gaze back to the table, only Mobei-Jun remains. 

Shen Qingqiu’s fan snaps shut of its own accord.

“That’s my cue to go,” Shang Qinghua rushes out and Shen Qingqiu doesn’t stop him from hurrying over. He feels some panic at the lack of Luo Binghe and their hanger-ons at the table. 

As Shang Qinghua scurries away, Shen Qingqiu scans the hall for Luo Binghe. He sees some of the more rambunctious partygoers, as well as timid ones slinking into the shadows, but he can’t find his husband anywhere. He finally picks up his feet and starts to walk, trying to hone in on the powerful presence.

The sourness in him abates when he sees the succubus entertaining another group of people who are practically drooling. That still leaves Lin Heng and Luo Binghe unaccounted for, and Shen Qingqiu starts to get antsy as he steps around wasted demons.

Shang Qinghua is already by Mobei-Jun’s side, waving his arms and saying something with a lot of fervour. Shen Qingqiu thinks about going to join them, but decides to leave them alone. Instead he pays his respects to the newly-married couple, who at this point are too drunk to even properly knock back the wine. 

He can’t help but feel increasingly bitter as he strides back down the hall, walking along the walls so that no one catches him. If he can’t find Luo Binghe, he figures it might be better to just go be a dark cloud in the comfort of their chambers.

“Binghe…” Shen Qingqiu mutters under his breath, displeased he’s managed to stoop so low. 

He turns a corner and swears as he sees the dead end. Shen Qingqiu presses his fan to his forehead and counts backwards from five as he feels his temples throb. He opens it, fans himself and inhales before turning around and walking straight into a solid wall of muscle.

“Shizun,” Luo Binghe says politely, but it’s clear that his eyes are glimmering at the sight of his old master. His hair is tied up, and the headpiece he wears is one that Shen Qingqiu particularly likes. It’s not as regal as his crown, but the bamboo leaves engraved at the base evokes fondness within Shen Qingqiu.

“Lord Luo,” Shen Qingqiu lets the words drip off his tongue and for a fleeting moment, his sour feelings are replaced with the general warmth he feels when he sees this favourite face of his.

“I was wondering where Master had gone,” Luo Binghe says, stepping closer. An arm snakes around Shen Qingqiu’s waist, discreetly giving a gentle tug to the ends of his hair.

“You know where I was,” Shen Qingqiu replies. “I had to clean before I came here.”

Luo Binghe hums and leans down for a kiss, but Shen Qingqiu stops it with his fan.

“Where were you?” he asks, trying not to sound like he was complaining. Too much.  

“Looking for you,” Luo Binghe replies simply. “I had seen you enter, but the guests in this palace are very persistent. It took some time to get rid of the ones at our table alone. This disciple apologizes.”

Shen Qingqiu hears his inner voice purring at this. He smacks it to shut it up, but feels something stir within him anyways. 

“I hope this master didn’t trouble Binghe too much, leaving him with his duties at this palace,” Shen Qingqiu says, and Luo Binghe makes an indifferent sound. “Have you been enjoying the festivities?”

“I have only one duty,” Luo Binghe squeezes the strong forearm around Shen Qingqiu, and gently uses a finger to lower Shen Qingqiu’s fan. “He stands before me.”

Luo Binghe truly will be the death of him. Shen Qingqiu manages to keep a cool face even though on the inside he’s sputtering and begging Luo Binghe to just lean down and close the distance.

A loud clatter nearby causes Shen Qingqiu to startle out of Luo Binghe’s arms, and Luo Binghe frowns. He turns to see where the commotion is coming from, and they see a group of disciples fight over a jug of wine a few feet away. Amongst them is a familiar face.

This party truly goes against all sense of propriety. 

“Shizun must be tired,” Luo Binghe says, and Shen Qingqiu shuts his fan. He nods and as Luo Binghe starts to tug them out of the banquet hall, he tries not to cast a smug look over his shoulder at Lin Heng.

 


 

They make their way quietly back to their guest quarters. As soon as they cross the courtyards and the stragglers thin out, Luo Binghe’s hand is on Shen Qingqiu’s back, gently guiding him. Luo Binghe lets go of Shen Qingqiu as soon as they step into their chambers. A row of lamps line the walk and Luo Binghe gets to work lighting each one of them till they bathe the dark walls of their ornate room in a deep golden light. 

Shen Qingqiu watches as Luo Binghe slides off his boots, unpins his small crown, and takes down his ponytail. He sets it down neatly on a table before combing his hair out with his fingers, and Shen Qingqiu desperately wants to reach out and run his hands through it.

It’s a testament to how downhill the situation has gone when Shen Qingqiu mourns the lack of touch. It’s only been a few seconds and Luo Binghe will undoubtedly return to him, but he’s feeling more needy than normal. Most of the time Luo Binghe takes care of Shen Qingqiu first but if the day has been long, he strips down first so that he can attend to his master comfortably.

Shen Qingqiu doesn’t want either of these things— he wants to be pressed into the wall as Luo Binghe kisses him, hungry after their show of restraint in the hall. He stands by the door and watches pathetically as his husband takes off his sash and starts to peel off his robes. One by one they fall off broad shoulders and get folded away. 

Watching him is hypnotic, the flex of his back in the lamplight mesmerizing. When Luo Binghe is down to his last layer, a thin black silken thing, he pauses. Belatedly Shen Qingqiu realizes that it is because of a sound that he made while he was busy gawking at his husband.

Luo Binghe turns around and looks at him in question, his shirt half open at the front. Shen Qingqiu gulps. He’s still hot under the collar, general lust starting to mix in with whatever sort of bitterness he had been feeling earlier. If Shen Qingqiu cannot control it then it’ll start rolling off of him in waves.

“Shizun?”

Maybe it’s because he feels a little touch-starved. And jealous. And a bit annoyed at how many people he had to deflect during their stay here. All of this has amalgamated into Shen Qingqiu wanting Luo Binghe to just—

“This master once had someone who would help him undress,” Shen Qingqiu says loftily. Or so he hopes. “Should he be lucky enough, he may find one again.”

It takes so much from him to keep his arms crossed in front of him and to not snap open his fan to take shelter from his own petulance. Shen Qingqiu wants to evaporate when he hears the sorry state of his own voice.

Deep golden light flickers across Luo Binghe’s eyes, making them look a rich red. Luo Binghe faithfully closes the distance between the two of them, the put-upon look he wears poorly disguising the predatory gleam in his eyes.

Good, Shen Qingqiu thinks as he feels large hands place themselves gently on his lower back. They fiddle with the ties on his embroidered sash and some sort of pride stirs within him at being the only one who Luo Binghe looks at like he wants to consume.

The silk falls to the ground. Luo Binghe starts to tug him to the side so that when he pulls out Shen Qingqiu’s ornate headpiece, he can set it down on the table. Shen Qingqiu lets out a small sigh of relief as his scalp relaxes and his hair falls in a loose curtain around his face.

Luo Binghe leans in and doesn’t quite bury his face in the crook of Shen Qingqiu’s shoulder. Instead he comes close enough that Shen Qingqiu can feel the ghost of his words against his neck.

“Forgive my delay,” Binghe says as he starts to pull apart Shen Qingqiu’s light green robes. “Shizun will want for no one else while he has Binghe.”

He places a butterfly-light kiss against the corner of Shen Qingqiu’s jaw, the words sounding like an adoration as much as a statement. Luo Binghe has a tendency to make every answer like a declaration, something Shen Qingqiu appreciates now more than ever.

But, he cannot help himself.

“And Binghe?” Shen Qingqiu cringes inwardly at how he sounds. It’s aloof and spoiled. He sounds like a brat and he hates it. Sort of. Maybe. 

Luo Binghe freezes against him. Shen Qingqiu braces, even though he knows his husband would never tease him. Not like that anyways.

“Binghe does not need nor want any other,” Luo Binghe sounds bemused on the surface but Shen Qingqiu hears a knowing undercurrent to his voice. He tries not to pout but he feels his lower lip push out and his brows furrow when Luo Binghe draws back to look at him.

“Shizun,” Luo Binghe murmurs, raising a hand against Shen Qingqiu’s chest. It plays with the lapel of his remaining silk undershirt as its master searches Shen Qingqiu’s face. “Shizun, is something wrong? Please tell me.”

Ever the ardent servant, Luo Binghe peels away the last of Shen Qingqiu’s  robes. A shiver runs through Shen Qingqiu as his skin is warmed by Luo Binghe’s touch. Deft fingers trail over his sternum, up past his collar bones to eventually rest around his neck.

“It’s nothing,” Shen Qingqiu tries to brush it off. It’s not going to work and it’s clear by the way that Luo Binghe’s eyes start growing wide. Real concern starts to paint his face and Shen Qingqiu feels some satisfaction seeing this expression. 

Shizun…” The whine creeps into Luo Binghe’s voice, and Shen Qingqiu bites his lower lip. 

He’s almost tempted to tell Luo Binghe the truth, that he’s been quietly suffering all week. That he’s normally entertained by those who get brave enough to try and woo Luo Binghe but this time, it stung. That sometimes he wonders if it’s not too late for Luo Binghe to suddenly want to build a harem.

Instead, he says this.

“This disciple is only mine,” Shen Qingqiu reaches up to fiddle with Luo Binghe’s robe. 

It’s really indecent is what it is, even though they’re in the privacy of their own chambers. Luo Binghe’s chest looks too inviting under the silk, and Shen Qingqiu wants to touch it and taste it and dig his nails in it till he’s marking it. 

Oh, Shen Qingqiu is such a weak man.

“Tell me you’re only mine, Binghe,” Shen Qingqiu demands quietly, too embarrassed to meet Luo Binghe’s eyes. “And that you have eyes for no one else.”

Luo Binghe blinks down at him. A full ten seconds of silence pass. Shen Qingqiu wants to evaporate on the spot.  Since when did he become such a fickle lover? He’s not going to hear the end of this ever. 

“Husband was jealous?” Luo Binghe asks in a gentle voice as his other arm loops around Shen Qingqiu’s hips and rests indecently low on the small of his back. Shen Qingqiu realizes that Luo Binghe has flipped from calling him shizun to husband and hasn’t even needed any prompting.

Damn it! Shen Qingqiu curses on the inside.

If this was a few years ago, Luo Binghe would be reassuring Shen Qingqiu with tears in his eyes that there would be no one but him. If this was a few days ago even. But there’s something about this situation that Shen Qingqiu can’t seem to identify, that has Luo Binghe seeming amused more than anything else.

“Do not say stupid things,” Shen Qingqiu grumbles, and the arm around him tightens. Luo Binghe leans in again, his warm breath fanning over Shen Qingqiu’s ear.

“I will never be with anyone that is not you,” Luo Binghe says in a low voice. “Nor will I want to. You have long had my word on this.”

“I know!” Shen Qingqiu rushes out, colour rising to his cheeks. “I know, I just…”

God, he wonders which simpering wife was originally in this situation. But then he realizes that this situation is unique to him just as many others have been for years. If it wasn’t, the jealousy would just be stoked further.

“This one just missed his husband and is overreacting,” Shen Qingqiu sighs out of his nose and splays his palm on Luo Binghe’s chest to feel the steadiness of his heartbeat. “So many people gave Binghe attention this week.”

“So did Shizun,” the corners of Luo Binghe’s mouth are curling up. “He was very good to this husband.”

“You know what I mean,” Shen Qingqiu curves his palm around Luo Binghe’s pectoral and gives it a gentle squeeze. “Others were rather bold with their attentions. It was hard to miss, especially when one of them looks a lot like me.”

“Who?” Luo Binghe frowns, and Shen Qingqiu looks at him incredulously.

“You were sitting with him at the banquet!” he exclaims, prodding Luo Binghe.  “Lin Heng!”

Luo Binghe’s eyes go vacant for a moment. Shen Qingqiu is speechless. “Don’t tell me you forgot him! The young master you trained with— you were the one who pointed out we look alike!”

He really was going to destroy Luo Binghe one of these days. Luo Binghe’s eyes suddenly flash with recognition, and Shen Qingqiu remembers that Luo Binghe would probably get around to destroying him first. Inadvertently.

“Ah,” Luo Binghe says thoughtfully. Ah. Ah?

“Ah?” Shen Qingqiu parrots back, and Luo Binghe smiles at him. It’s a small but earnest thing.

“Seeing him only makes me like my husband more,” Luo Binghe explains. “Being faced with a pale imitation is a good reminder of how lucky I am to get someone incomparable like Shizun.”

Well...Well. Shen Qingqiu feels his face get set ablaze with the compliment. He needs to act quick before Luo Binghe gets a good look at it.

“Stop being so unnecessary with your praise,” Shen Qingqiu says and before his face melts further from the heat, he twines his fingers through Luo Binghe’s hair and tugs.

It’s their first kiss of the night, one that Shen Qingqiu has been dying for. The first kiss in a while really, since Shen Qingqiu had been gone for a couple of days and before that, they had not really had the chance to mess around.

They’ve been parted for longer before but the distance this time felt like a chasm. Shen Qingqiu would rather not verbalize his feelings though. Instead, he presses his lips against his husband’s and feels the delighted curve of a smile against his own mouth. Shen Qingqiu can taste the wine that still sits on Luo Binghe’s lips as he gives a small swipe of his tongue. 

He knows just how much Luo Binghe likes it when he initiates the touch so Shen Qingqiu holds on, not wanting to give Luo Binghe a chance to talk. Not yet anyways. 

Luo Binghe seems more than happy to oblige, tipping his head to the side. Shen Qingqiu bites his lower lip, earning a pleased noise. He’s glad Luo Binghe has always been a fast learner, because he kisses like a dream, moreso now than ever. Luo Binghe presses in hard with his lips before peppering softer, quicker kisses that have Shen Qingqiu’s mouth parting. 

His other hand starts to tug at Luo Binghe’s shirt, eager to get the last of his clothing off and feel his bare body. A heavy tongue presses in, and the taste of wine grows stronger. Luo Binghe starts to walk Shen Qingqiu backwards and there’s a slight struggle as Shen Qingqiu tries to direct them to the bed. But he’s weak to his husband right now, so it’s no surprise when he feels the wall hit his back.

Luo Binghe lets go of the kiss, trailing his lips down Shen Qingqiu’s jaw. He bites when he reaches the corner, bites Shen Qingqiu’s earlobe gently.

“Tell me you were jealous,” Luo Binghe says. His voice is quiet but commanding in a way that he hasn’t used on Shen Qingqiu in a while. It makes his knees feel like they’re about to buckle. “Tell me how much.”

“Not at all,” Shen Qingqiu replies, pulling Luo Binghe closer. The feeling of Luo Binghe’s bare chest against his has his toes curling.

“If I do not know the extent of it,” Luo Binghe presses wet lips along the line of his neck, sucking the skin right above where Shen Qingqiu’s collar normally sits. “How will I make sure I’ve proved thoroughly that my husband has no need for it?”

Shen Qingqiu’s knees really do give out, but between the wall and Luo Binghe’s hold, there’s nowhere for him to go.

“Or,” Luo Binghe draws back and licks his lips when Shen Qingqiu looks up at him. “Maybe this Lord should assume that his husband was jealous beyond compare and act accordingly.”

A thumb presses against Shen Qingqiu’s lower lip before pushing in. It tickles the tip of his tongue, and Shen Qingqiu feels his jaw go slack. 

“After all, is this Lord not your most attentive servant?” 

Shen Qingqiu is going to die. He’s going to combust on the spot with this husband of his, and he’s going to transmigrate straight into the Resentment of Chunshan Mountain where he’ll have to do this all over again. No one can survive the raw desire in Luo Binghe’s eyes, let alone do it twice. 

“You…” Shen Qingqiu starts, but there’s not much he can say. He’s been outed for his jealousy but he’s still stubborn in not voicing it out loud, not telling Luo Binghe that he’s starved for his attention. Even though he wants to. Badly. 

“Let this husband put your jealousy to rest,” Luo Binghe says. Before Shen Qingqiu can protest and tell him that no, he’s not jealous, even though he absolutely is, Luo Binghe is closing their mouths together again.

It’s rougher this time, and Luo Binghe takes command almost immediately. Their teeth click together and Shen Qingqiu bites Luo Binghe’s lip in warning. All that earns him is a wicked grin against his mouth that’s nothing but trouble.

Immediately, two hands grab at his thighs and hoist him up. Shen Qingqiu immediately wraps his legs around Luo Binghe as he gets pressed into the wall. Luo Binghe kisses him so intensely that Shen Qingqiu feels like he’s going to melt into the building itself.

“Binghe- ah,” Shen Qingqiu tries to get a word in, but Luo Binghe is content in lavishing him with attention. 

Luo Binghe learning how to be a good lover is both the best and the worst thing that’s happened to Shen Qingqiu, and he feels it now more than ever. The thought of someone else even imagining they can have this flares something fierce in Shen Qingqiu, and he digs his fingers into Luo Binghe’s scalp.

He rolls his hips in this position, trying to egg Luo Binghe on. Into doing what exactly, Shen Qingqiu doesn’t know, but he’s willing to put his body through the ringer tonight so that he can lay claim on his husband. He’s a simple man with simple needs.

Luo Binghe reciprocates and the friction has Shen Qingqiu going cross-eyed. He moans as Luo Binghe shifts his hips up, letting Shen Qingqiu feel his interest poke into his backside.

“Yes?” Luo Binghe finally replies, and Shen Qingqiu has to gasp to catch his breath. Luo Binghe is flushed, but it has nothing on how pink Shen Qingqiu has gone. 

“Say you’re mine,” Shen Qingqiu repeats his order, quickly losing all face. It’s fine if Luo Binghe sees him like this, he tells himself. 

“Who else would I belong to?” Luo Binghe says, and steps back. He pulls them off the wall and finally starts walking slowly towards the bed. “I’m yours. Only yours, just like you are only mine.”

Shen Qingqiu is a wretch for the amount of self-satisfaction that brings, but he can’t help it. Luo Binghe lays him gently on the bed but Shen Qingqiu yanks him down, desperate to get his husband’s body to blanket over his. 

He shoves at their pants till they’re touching skin on skin and draws Luo Binghe as close to him as possible. Shen Qingqiu feels his legs get pushed apart as his husband settles between them; the action is too casual, too controlled for Shen Qingqiu’s liking.

“You like this,” he says in an accusatory tone as Luo Binghe scrapes his teeth over the bob in his throat. 

“Like what?” Luo Binghe peers up at him, innocently through his eyelashes. “Giving my husband attention?”

Shen Qingqiu is about to tell him you like me being jealous, when he realizes that it would mean conceding and voicing out his feelings to Luo Binghe. His husband didn’t need it spelled out, just wanted it so that he could build his ego.

“Shameless!” Shen Qingqiu says instead, and Luo Binghe’s expression turns rakish. Shen Qingqiu can’t help it; whatever cool façade he had out on the night has completely evaporated, run away from home, disappeared into the night. He really truly has been spending too much time with Luo Binghe (not enough, his stupid brain corrects) because he starts to stick his lower lip out again and frown. 

At least he’s not crying. Little mercies. 

It’s the right thing to do. Whatever minimal suaveness Luo Binghe has managed to cultivate disappears in favour of something a lot more animal. The hungry look Luo Binghe shoots him sends a shiver down Shen Qingqiu, one that curls around him and whispers mine

He can’t bear it without feeling like he’s caught on fire, so he closes his eyes and tugs Luo Binghe back into a kiss. Shen Qingqiu cants his hips up, grinding them together. They’re both incredibly hard and for once, Shen Qingqiu doesn’t have a few seconds of panic over how exactly he’s going to fit it in.  All he knows is that he wants it, wants it bad, wants to claw and bite and bruise Luo Binghe so that no one will approach him.

Which would all be rather unseemly of him so instead, he licks his palm and reaches between them both. Shen Qingqiu manages to grab a hold of both of them and he strokes, earning him a low moan from above.

“Sh...Shi—Husband,” Luo Binghe amends once Shen Qingqiu shoots him a sharp look. He grabs one of Shen Qingqiu’s calves, kneading the muscle there as if to anchor himself. “Husband, husband.”

Shen Qingqiu lets go of himself and focuses purely on stroking his husband, thumbing the head and spreading the wetness. Luo Binghe thrusts forward into his hand and Shen Qingqiu tightens his grip, earning another groan. He jerks faster, enjoying the way Luo Binghe’s cheeks go flush with heat. 

Luo Binghe comes with a bitten back moan, spilling hot on Shen Qingqiu’s stomach. Shen Qingqiu strokes him through it, pulls Luo Binghe close enough that he can whisper his name into his ear. 

Being who he is, Luo Binghe is still half hard in his hands. All the better because Shen Qingqiu isn’t done yet. There’s a fire that threatens to consume him, and he wants his husband to do it first. And for once, Shen Qingqiu is thankful for Luo Binghe’s stamina because it means he doesn’t have to hem and haw and wait around before his husband works up enough energy to go again.

Luo Binghe frees himself from Shen Qingqiu’s grasp, his face still tinged with red. Shen Qingqiu wants to keep kissing him, wants to nip at his mouth and suck on his tongue, but he lets him go for long enough to retrieve a small tin of salve.

Shen Qingqiu has half a mind to prop himself up on his elbows and watch as Luo Binghe slides a finger in. He meets his husband’s loving gaze with something fierce and in a show that takes even Shen Qingqiu by surprise, he lifts his leg and hooks his calf onto Luo Binghe’s shoulder.

“You’re too far,” Shen Qingqiu demands and gently kicks Luo Binghe’s back with his heel. Luo Binghe lets out a small “Shizun!” but he’s leaning forward, bending Shen Qingqiu’s leg to his chest. 

As he stretches him, Luo Binghe peppers kisses all across Shen Qingqiu’s chest, biting and sucking skin between his teeth wherever he can. Shen Qingqiu arches underneath him, switching between cursing and praising and asking Luo Binghe for more as he is prepared.

More often than not, Luo Binghe will brush against where Shen Qingqiu is hard and wanting, and it feels like a small electrocution each time. Shen Qingqiu tries to calm his mind but it’s hard, especially when his husband is easing a third finger into him.

Shen Qingqiu’s mind spins as he rocks down onto Luo Binghe’s hand, completely shameless. Then it melts when his husband crooks his finger and presses, causing Shen Qingqiu to throw his head back.

It’s not dignified but Shen Qingqiu’s dignity died a painful death the moment he bumped into Luo Binghe in the banquet hall. He may find it again once the morning comes, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be in any good shape.

“Still too far,” Shen Qingqiu grits out, and he doesn’t need to say any more for Luo Binghe to understand him.

Shen Qingqiu feels his other leg get stretched as Luo Binghe ducks his head and looks in between them. He slings Shen Qingqiu’s other leg over his shoulder and takes himself in hand. Slowly, he eases in.

The initial press has Shen Qingqiu’s eyes rolling back in his head. The burn and stretch is familiar and Shen Qingqiu’s toes curl against Luo Binghe’s back. Luo Binghe is careful, has slicked himself up generously and is visibly straining to control himself and not push in all at once. 

When Luo Binghe bottoms out, Shen Qingqiu weaves his fingers through his husband’s thick hair. Luo Binghe is visibly concentrating on remaining gentle enough to let Shen Qingqiu adjust. 

Shen Qingqiu tries to hold onto his own patience as much as he can, breath quickening as Luo Binghe takes short, controlled thrusts. Shen Qingqiu knows that this way, his body will be thanking them a lot more in the morning, once the aftermath has settled in.

But.

They’ve gotten a lot better at this over the time, what with Luo Binghe being the world’s most attentive disciple, but Shen Qingqiu wants the edges to be rough this time. He wants to feel it through the rest of their stay, a not so gentle reminder of what he has.

Shen Qingqiu tugs not-so-gently on Luo Binghe’s hair and his husband follows, like he expected it.

“Does this master want for anything?” Luo Binghe asks sweetly, and Shen Qingqiu’s already heated face starts to turn red. He opens and closes his mouth, and the corners of Luo Binghe’s lips quirk up. There’s way, way too much satisfaction evident in that face of his.

Luo Binghe plants his hands on Shen Qingqiu’s hips and somehow, goes even slower. The deliberate and heavy drag within him makes Shen Qingqiu squirm and arch. He wishes he had his fan somewhere nearby because then he could use that instead of words to thwack Luo Binghe on the head and get him to do him properly.

“This master wants nothing but Binghe,” Shen Qingqiu says honestly, and he doesn’t even have to tack anything on at the end with the way Luo Binghe’s entire face brightens. “And I want to know that Binghe wants no one but me.”

Before he can be too embarrassed over his words, Shen Qingqiu’s lips are swooped up in a fierce kiss. Teeth dig into his bottom lip but there’s no room for pain with how quickly Luo Binghe’s tongue is pressing past the seam of his mouth. In this position, Shen Qingqiu’s legs get stretched further and he moans into the kiss.

Luo Binghe finally starts to move in earnest, drawing back halfway before thrusting forward, reaching as deep as he can.  Shen Qingqiu clutches onto him, digging further into his husband’s scalp. It makes the man on top of him snap his hips in harder; Shen Qingqiu is a mix of being overwhelmed by pleasure and pure relief.

No matter how many times they do this, Luo Binghe always feels like he’s on this side of being too big, too hard. This time Shen Qingqiu lavishes in it, welcomes it, lets it brand him. Shen Qingqiu makes noise after noise, keening and groaning as the lust threatens to engulf him.

Luo Binghe arches his back and presses just enough that on his next thrust, his stomach rubs against where Shen Qingqiu is hard and leaking. Shen Qingqiu’s thighs shake and his legs threaten to slide off and his husband keeps going, keeps fucking into him steady and hard. 

The bed creaks threateningly underneath them, and Shen Qingqiu can feel the bruises form on the back of his thighs. He really can’t hold back; he squeezes and lets out one shameless moan after another, most of them a blend of Luo Binghe’s name and Shen Qingqiu demanding more, faster, harder. 

Luo Binghe scoops his hands under his hips, curving him just enough that Shen Qingqiu feels sparks shoot up his spine with the next thrust. His hands fall away to clutch at the sheets as Luo Binghe digs his own knees into the mattress and works Shen Qingqiu for all he’s worth.

Shen Qingqiu’s vision spins. There’s no room for his usual complaints, not with the way Luo Binghe pins him and fucks him. His head feels light and before he can control himself, he feels a “Binghe, Binghe, I’m close— oh, oh-” slip out of his mouth. Luo Binghe reaches between them, and Shen Qingqiu immediately lets go of the sheets to slap his hand away.

“No!” Shen Qingqiu says a little too loudly, and Luo Binghe slows down, looking a little concerned. That’s the opposite of what Shen Qingqiu wants.  He doesn’t want to come, doesn’t want his husband making him come, not yet. 

There’s a brief pause where Luo Binghe gives him a questioning look. The room is filled with the sound of their panting and Shen Qingqiu realizes he needs to save face fast with the way Luo Binghe is staring down at him. So he does the first thing that comes to mind and surges forward, flipping them over.

Keeping them joined, Shen Qingqiu settles his thighs on either side of Luo Binghe’s hips, letting out a low sound as he sinks down fast on his husband. It feels like Luo Binghe is reaching even further like this, like Shen Qingqiu could feel him in his throat. Luo Binghe tries to sit up but Shen Qingqiu is immediately shoving him back down. 

Shen Qingqiu plants his hands on Luo Binghe’s chest, spanning his fingers over the pectorals. They’re soft and pliant below him and Shen Qingqiu rolls one of the peaks idly as he tries to catch his breath. It has Luo Binghe bucking up into him, and Shen Qingqiu gives him a warning pinch.

Luo Binghe looks feral below him, like an animal that’s finally caught his prey. His eyes are reverent and a strong flush creeps down his neck and across his chest. His lips are red and kiss-bitten, and he looks like he’s a fraction of a moment away from completely devouring Shen Qingqiu.

All for me, Shen Qingqiu thinks as he lifts himself up. He means to only rise a little, but he pulls off halfway. He wants both of them to feel it. 

Shen Qingqiu digs blunt nails into Luo Binghe’s chest at the same time that he drops down on him, gasping at how full it makes him feel. He repeats the motion, canting his hips and bouncing on Luo Binghe’s lap as he pulls angry red marks down his chest.

Luo Binghe’s hands immediately clasp onto Shen Qingqiu’s hips but he dare not grab them. Not yet— Shen Qingqiu knows this is one of Luo Binghe’s favourite positions because he likes the show. Shen Qingqiu normally needs to be convinced but he’s feeling no amount of shame right now, something Luo Binghe seems to have caught onto and wouldn’t dare compromise.

The thought that others have been after this man underneath him rips burning possessiveness through Shen Qingqiu and he rides Luo Binghe harder. Sweat plasters his hair to his temples and his thighs burn but Shen Qingqiu doesn’t register any of it. 

He feels the building pressure, feels his legs tremble, but he still refuses to touch himself. Shen Qingqiu knows the more he delays it, the more he’s barrelling towards something fierce. Luo Binghe moans and the sound is so sweet that it makes Shen Qingqiu arch. 

“Binghe,” Shen Qingqiu gasps, and drops his weight forward till his hands bracket Luo Binghe’s head. He still keeps himself propped up but he has more leverage with his knees this way. “Binghe, you’re mine and mine only, okay?”

Luo Binghe hisses a “yes” and he really has been caving in to every one of Shen Qingqiu’s petty demands this night. It’s only fair then that Shen Qingqiu acquiesces to one of his. 

“And this husband is jealous,” Shen Qingqiu scrunches his eyes shut, unable to look at his husband as he finally lets loose. “This husband had to watch others covet what’s his and had to leave in the middle. How could he not be jealous?”

The effect is instant.

Luo Binghe’s grip on him grows bruising, so hard that Shen Qingqiu has to bite down on his own tongue. There’s a low rumbling beneath him, and when Shen Qingqiu opens his eyes, Luo Binghe’s own have an unmistakable red swimming through them that matches the glowing mark on his forehead. There’s a furrow in his brow that’s dangerous, and Shen Qingqiu braces.

Shen Qingqiu tries to keep moving but Luo Binghe’s got him in a stronghold now, holding him suspended halfway. 

“My husband has no reason to be jealous,” Luo Binghe’s voice comes out in a purr, one that Shen Qingqiu feels reverberate through his entire body. “Let this humble servant prove it.”

Before Shen Qingqiu can counter, Luo Binghe plants his feet on the mattress and bucks his hips up. At the same time he yanks Shen Qingqiu down on him, rough enough to have Shen Qingqiu going cross-eyed.

With each thrust, Luo Binghe is going faster and harder until their bed is shaking underneath them. He makes no effort to hide any of his strength as he takes Shen Qingqiu thoroughly, holding him up like he’s weightless. 

Shen Qingqiu’s body feels as if it’s jelly. As if it’s about to melt into a puddle of nothingness. As if it’s only purpose is to serve his sovereign like this, to be used till Luo Binghe’s satisfied. And that brings wicked satisfaction to Shen Qingqiu, because he knows that there will be no one else that could ever fill this role. Even if they tried, he’d tear them apart if it came down to it.

It’s unspoken that Shen Qingqiu isn’t allowed to move anymore. There’s nothing he can do aside from hold onto Luo Binghe’s forearms as he’s relentlessly worked into. Luo Binghe consumes him, fucks him so hard that cry after shameless cry is torn from Shen Qingqiu’s throat.

He fully collapses on Luo Binghe’s front as his husband keeps thrusting into him. Luo Binghe’s hands drop from his hips to his thighs, grabbing them almost painfully tight from behind and kneading. Shen Qingqiu barely registers pressing hasty kisses across wherever he can reach on Luo Binghe before grazing his teeth over the corded muscle of his shoulder. His eyes grow hazy, unable to focus on anything as he gets hit by wave after wave of pleasure. 

One of them finally takes over and hits him hard, sending him over the edge. Shen Qingqiu sinks his teeth into Luo Binghe hard enough to break skin as he comes untouched. Luo Binghe’s thrusts grow even faster, riding him out as he crests.

Shen Qingqiu makes an overstimulated sound and chants a “mine, mine, mine” into Luo Binghe’s ear and his husband stutters as he comes in him, making sure Shen Qingqiu gets every last bit. Luo Binghe gives a few more shallow thrusts as they both try to come down from the high.

His entire being aches, and Luo Binghe stays inside him, still giving short and abortive thrusts. Shen Qingqiu thinks there’s wetness pricking the corner of his eyes, but he’s too far gone to check or care. There’s only the sound of their heavy breathing in the room, and a stifling sort of heat. 

Shen Qingqiu’s head is still spinning dangerously. 

Normally, this would be where Shen Qingqiu would finally come back to his senses. He would gingerly lift himself off and allow himself to get scooped up by Luo Binghe and carried to a warm bath.

Luo Binghe would clean him and kiss him and run his fingers over him to inspect his hard work like Shen Qingqiu’s a trophy. Shen Qingqiu would fall asleep in the bath and wake up wrapped in warm blankets and a warmer husband wound around him tighter than an octopus.

Normally, that would be what would happen. However, there’s a fire that’s still stirring within Shen Qingqiu. 

(For some reason, Shen Qingqiu is slightly displeased that they didn’t actually manage to ruin the bed.)

His body may protest, but there’s no doubt in him that the surge of lust he has been feeling has yet to abate. The stickiness between them isn’t uncomfortable like it normally is— Shen Qingqiu feels like it’s not enough. He has so much more to give.

Shen Qingqiu lifts his head to look at Luo Binghe and from the glint in his eyes, he can tell that his husband is more than willing to take it.

 


 

The breakfast banquet the newlyweds have prepared for their guests thankfully doesn’t take place till the middle of the afternoon, presumably for everyone to sleep off the excitement and bloodshed of a demonic wedding. Even if they did place it at an ungodly early hour like humans do, Shen Qingqiu would not have gone. No one would say anything of it either, nor would they dare. 

He’d have stayed back to do what he’s doing now, which is yawning as he pets Luo Binghe’s hair in the quiet of the morning. Luo Binghe is currently fast asleep, head resting against Shen Qingqiu’s chest. Shen Qingqiu watches the steady rise and fall of his bare back and hums quietly to himself. 

Shen Qingqiu’s entire body is extremely sore. Normally whenever they sleep together, he starfishes near the end and lets Luo Binghe have his way with him till his demonic stamina runs out. But last night, Shen Qingqiu felt like he was all gunpowder and more than kept up with his overenthusiastic husband. 

Said husband makes a soft noise and burrows his face deeper against Shen Qingqiu’s chest, tilting up. Shen Qingqiu cards his fingers in through the hair and starts to gently scratch at Luo Binghe’s scalp. This elicits a low rumbling sound from the other in his sleep, one that sounds content and pleased.

From here, Shen Qingqiu can see the thick lashes that fan over his cheeks and a plush mouth that still looks kiss-bitten.  It’s so alluring, especially when he’s also got a good view of all the scratches and bite marks he’s littered over Luo Binghe. He feels incredibly smug for a moment, before he feels a little bit of shame at being so baseless. 

But he can’t help it— all this is his. He doesn’t have to share this sight with anyone else. People can be awed by Luo Binghe’s handsome face and proud and frankly terrifying stature, but they won’t ever be able to see Binghe sleeping, won’t have the solid weight of his body pressed against theirs. Luo Binghe with his features lax and cosseted is a sight solely for Shen Qingqiu. As is a Luo Binghe that looks on with hunger and want and immense desire. 

Shen Qingqiu shifts his thighs, squeezing them tighter around Luo Binghe’s body and ignoring the twinge between his legs. They hadn’t broken the bed completely due to Shen Qingqiu regaining a fourth of his sensibilities midway through the night, but they have splintered two of the canopy posts, each on a separate occasion. It’s something that brings Shen Qingqiu an immense amount of satisfaction.

They probably should get changed, or at least slip into sleeping robes for whenever their hosts get brave enough to send a servant in to check on them. Shen Qingqiu is often particular about this, but he can’t bring himself to care this time. He’s already succumbed to petty feelings, he doesn’t see the harm in one more.

It puts some strain on his neck from this angle but Shen Qingqiu presses a gentle kiss against the top of Luo Binghe’s head. For a fraction of a moment, Luo Binghe’s body tenses before it relaxes, but Shen Qingqiu’s alert enough to notice.

“Pretending to be asleep, Binghe?” Shen Qingqiu asks, amused. There’s no reply, just a pronounced sleepy exhale. Luo Binghe’s eyes remain firmly shut and Shen Qingqiu can’t help but smile. Luo Binghe looks too serene, too handsome like this. He pets his husband’s hair more, enjoying the silky strands against his fingers.

Then he knees Luo Binghe, just enough to get him grunting in protest.

“Shizun,” Luo Binghe complains with a raspy voice. Shen Qingqiu tugs on his hair till Luo Binghe is lifting his head and looking at him with still-sleepy eyes. It’s terribly endearing and makes Shen Qingqiu feel warm in all sorts of ways.

They’re a mess between their sheets, having been too worn out to bathe after they had finally exhausted each other. Shen Qingqiu spares a wince for whoever has to clean the sheets, but some petty part of him hopes it's one of the over-friendly servants.

Later on when they get ready, Shen Qingqiu will insist on helping Luo Binghe just so that he can steal a few more kisses before they have to go back out in public. Or to be more realistic, Shen Qingqiu will tease Luo Binghe till he’s pouting and asking his Shizun for more attention. Shen Qingqiu will pretend to be reticent for a few moments before he succumbs, and they’ll be late for the banquet.

And then when they get to the banquet, Shen Qingqiu is going to make sure that everyone is aware that Luo Binghe is off the table. He’s not quite sure how to do this without looking extremely sticky, but Shen Qingqiu is determined to find a way. After all, he’s made it this far in this life, and he’s going to flick away anyone who thinks they can take away his greatest reward.

“What are you thinking about?” Luo Binghe murmurs, dropping a kiss on Shen Qingqiu’s sternum. “I can feel Shizun’s thoughts from here.”

“That’s not good,” Shen Qingqiu chides. “That means you do not have enough of your own.”

Instead of a pout, Shen Qingqiu gets a second kiss, this time on the corner of his mouth. He swears he means to turn his head away, and the only reason they get enveloped in a genuine kiss is because Luo Binghe follows. His husband is in an extremely good mood, given how much he was allowed to indulge the night before. 

“Are you thinking about how much you like this servant of yours?” Luo Binghe says against Shen Qingqiu’s lips and really, this mixture of smugness and fake humility does funny things to Shen Qingqiu.

“You truly are too much!” It’s Shen Qingqiu’s turn to complain, but it gets swallowed up by a laugh and a deeper kiss. It’s not heated as much as it is low and simmering and a pleasant reminder of how much he likes this husband of his. Loves, even.

He voices something to a similar effect and Luo Binghe beams at him before rolling them over and scooping Shen Qingqiu into his arms.

So maybe Shen Qingqiu doesn’t have to wait till they’re getting ready to lavish his husband with attention again. Really, he doesn’t have to pick a time at all, as long as Luo Binghe is willing.

After all, they do belong to each other.