“Shizun?” Luo Binghe calls out. He’d gotten distracted for only a moment, talking politics with some minor demon lord from the east, and his husband has already wandered off somewhere – a human shouldn’t just wander off in the demon realm! Even if said human was an immortal cultivator. And even if every demon there knew that if a single hair on this human’s hair was harmed, they would suffer a fate far worse than death.
But then again, Shen Qingqiu had seemed mildly nervous, if the way he accepted every single demonic concoction that was handed to him was anything to go by. Maybe mildly nervous was an understatement. It was probably unnoticeable to any eyes save the attentive ones of his half-demon husband, but being surrounded by hundreds of very powerful demons who were not fond of you would be enough to set anyone off. So, Luo Binghe wants to make sure he’s fine.
It’s quieter outside, away from the crowds. He probably won’t be missed for a few minutes, and quite frankly he doesn’t care if he is.
“Shizun?” He calls out again, and is replied with an unhelpful grunt from nearby. “Shizun?” He repeats, a little more worried this time.
“Over here.” Shen Qingqiu calls out from Luo Binghe’s left. The courtyard is dark, and even his heightened senses can’t make out a figure in the gloom. He feels for his blood and is reassured that at the very least his husband is nearby. Even if he is invisible –
“Down.” Luo Binghe hears slurred from beneath at the same time he feels a tug on the bottom of his robes and he’s too surprised to move, for a moment.
“Shizun? Are you alright?” He crouches beside Shen Qingqiu, panic beginning to lace itself into his voice.
“M fine..” Shen Qingqiu mumbles. He’s stretched out on the ground, chin propped up on one of his arms as he trails his fingers through one of the ornamental ponds that decorate the grounds. “Look, Binghe, aren’t the fish pretty?”
“The fish. Are carnivorous.” Luo Binghe says, voice noticeably higher than normal. Shen Qingqiu quickly rescinds his hand and stares at it intently, as if checking to see if all his fingers are still attached. “Did you drink something weird?” He asks, gently grabbing Shen Qingqiu’s wrist to check his meridians. They don’t seem damaged, at least, and his blood parasites don’t detect anything dangerous, but he’s taking Shen Qingqiu back to their bamboo house, just to be safe, and tells him as such.
He pulls Shen Qingqiu up from the ground and goes to leave, but Shen Qingqiu grips onto his biceps tightly and stays standing where he is. He has a look of utter concentration on his face as he stares at Luo Binghe’s chest.
“Shizun….?” He says gently, after prolonged silence.
“You.” Shen Qingqiu states.
“You… are so fucking hot.” Shen Qingqiu announces. Luo Binghe stares at him. Shen Qingqiu stares back, completely straight faced.
Luo Binghe doesn’t recall ever having heard his shizun swear before.
He blushes and buries his face into Shen Qingqiu’s shoulder. “Shizun…” He whines.
Shen Qingqiu grabs his face, pinching his cheeks a little too roughly, but Luo Binghe doesn’t mind if it’s his shizun doing it. He does take this opportunity to wrap his arms around Shen Qingqiu’s waist and pull their bodies flush together.
“My husband is the most beautiful person in the world.” Shen Qingqiu says in an awed voice, and Luo Binghe can feel his blush getting worse. Shen Qingqiu doesn’t dish out affection often, preferring to show it with little gestures throughout the day rather than stating outright. It’s the way he gently combs Luo Binghe’s hair every morning and night, the way he places choice pieces of meat into Luo Binghe’s bowl, the way he kisses Luo Binghe’s face ever so gently when he thinks the other has fallen asleep. He is far more confident in his shizun’s love for him than he used to be, but verbal reminders never fail to make his heart clench.
“I have to respectfully disagree –“ He tries to respond, but Shen Qingqiu muffles his mouth with his hand and glares at him.
“Are you saying that I’m wrong?” He retorts, words slurring ever so slightly together, eyebrow arched, as if daring Luo Binghe to challenge him.
“I must disagree on this one count, Shizun is not infallible and has made the oversight that it is my husband who is the most beautiful.” He says after moving Shen Qingqiu’s hand from his mouth and pouts, knowing he is usually weak to it, but Shen Qingqiu just rolls his eyes (oh, this evening is bringing so many new things with it).
“You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, I suppose.”
“And you are entitled to yours.” Luo Binghe replies sweetly and tilts Shen Qingqiu’s chin to press a chaste kiss to his lips. “I need to find Mobei-jun so he can portal us back home.”
“You just want the last word.” Luo Binghe is about to retort when there’s a rustling behind them and a scrawny lizard demon appears from behind some bamboo.
“J-junshang!” They stutter upon seeing Luo Binghe – they’re dressed in fine clothes, so probably eminent aristocracy for some minor clan that he hasn’t bothered to learn the name of. “I wasn’t aware you were out here, many apologies-“
“Go find Mobei-jun and tell him Luo Binghe is looking for him.” Shen Qingqiu interrupts, glaring icily at the demon.
“Excuse me?” They reply, sounding mildly irritated at being spoken to so discourteously, but Luo Binghe levels him a cold glare and they shut up quickly.
“You heard my husband. Go find Mobei-jun.” He waves his hand dismissively, and the demon splutters an apology before bowing deeply and wisely running off. Then he turns back to Shen Qingqiu who looks deep in thought. Luo Binghe noses just below his ear trailing soft wet kisses down the column of his neck.
“I want to see the fish.” Shen Qingqiu announces after a dozen or so kisses.
“The fish?” Luo Binghe pauses. “The flesh-eating ones?” His husband has always had a strange fondness for monsters.
“Yes, the flesh-eating ones. Fool.” Shen Qingqiu extricates himself from Luo Binghe’s arms and squats back down by the pond. “What species are they, I haven’t seen them before.”
“Shizun….” Luo Binghe whines petulantly. There’s no answer. “They’re Silver Shard Tiger Fish.”
“Hmm, I’ve read about these. They’re known to prey on demons who swim in their waters, and even catch creatures flying above the water. However, their flesh is high in spiritual energy and said to taste quite good, so they’re highly prized in hunting. They were hunted so much their population became endangered apparently, and they’re practically extinct in the wild.” Shen Qingqiu sighs. “And you just have them in your garden.”
“Shizun is right, they are tasty. I’ve cooked with them before, didn’t you notice?”
“Everything Binghe cooks is so delicious, how am I supposed to tell when the ingredients are different?”
“Junshang was looking for me?” Mobei-jun’s low voice emerges from a path nearby, and Luo Binghe turns to him, noting his squirrelly pet cultivator scampering after him. Shang Qinghua flinches when he turns his gaze to him and hides behind Mobei-jun’s large frame. He’s dressed in the rich dark blues of the Mo clan – a clear sign of Mobei-jun’s favour. Luo Binghe doesn’t have any clue what Mobei-jun sees in him, nor does he understand why his own husband seems to get along with him so well, and he suspects it may always remain a mystery.
“Shang-shishu.” He greets civilly. “Mobei-jun, we need a portal back to Cang Qiong.” Mobei-jun’s only reaction to this is a slight clench of his jaw. Luo Binghe is aware that he hates having been relegated to a taxi service, but he also doesn’t care.
“Is Cu- is Shen-shixiong alright?” Shang Qinghua asks, as Shen Qingqiu hasn’t shifted at all from his position staring intently at the water.
“Mn. He seems to have drunk something he shouldn’t have. It’s not dangerous,” Luo Binghe reassures at Shang Qinghua’s panicked face, “But I’m taking him home.” Out of the corner of his eye he sees Shen Qingqiu reach out towards the water’s surface and grabs his hand in a panic. “Shizun, no. Don’t touch the fish.”
“Oh my god, he’s drunk, isn’t he?” Luo Binghe ignores Shang Qinghua’s comment and motions to Mobei-jun to go ahead with the portal, pulling Shen Qingqiu up afterwards. “Hey, what did you think of Sword Art Online?” Luo Binghe has no idea what that means but Shen Qingqiu grits his teeth and they both send such a harsh glare to Shang Qinghua that he ducks behind Mobei-jun. Mobei-jun just gives Luo Binghe a pleading look as he so often does whenever Shang Qinghua steps out of line (which is frequently) and opens the portal.
“Do not fucking test me, Shang Qinghua.” Shen Qingqiu grabs his fan from his waist and waves it in front of his scowl, narrowing his eyes at where Shang Qinghua is peeking from behind his husband’s large stature. With that, Luo Binghe smirks, slides his arm around Shen Qingqiu’s waist and pulls him through the portal.
On the other side, the background chatter of the partygoers abruptly vanishes, and they’re left in silence. They’re a little way from Qing Jing Peak, the wards around the sect don’t allow for Mobei-jun to portal directly in so they’ll have to fly in. When Luo Binghe steps onto his sword, Shen Qingqiu gets on behind him and hugs his waist like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
“Is Shizun not using his own sword?” He teases.
“Don’t want to.” Shen Qingqiu replies, voice muffled as he buries his face in the crook of Luo Binghe’s neck. After they start flying, he has to concentrate on not falling very, very hard as Shen Qingqiu places hot kisses on his neck through the cloth of his high-necked robe. He wobbles a bit when his earlobe is nipped but manages to land safely, hopping off and offering his hand out to help Shen Qingqiu down as well. As soon as his feet touch the ground, Luo Binghe pulls him close and tilts his chin up, Shen Qingqiu’s mouth meeting his own easily. Shen Qingqiu trails his hand up Luo Binghe’s chest and neck before tangling his fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck. Slowly, he licks at Luo Binghe’s bottom lip, sliding his tongue into Luo Binghe’s mouth, tugging his hair so they can be pressed ever closer together. His shizun isn’t normally one for initiating physical affection, so he’s certainly not going to take this opportunity for granted.
They stay like that for a few minutes, perfectly content in each other’s arms, until Luo Binghe notices a presence coming down the path towards their cottage. He sends a flare of demonic qi to make it exquisitely clear that they are to be left alone, which fortunately Shen Qingqiu doesn’t acknowledge in any way, but it doesn’t seem to deter the unwanted visitor either.
When the visitor stops a few paces away and clears their throat, Luo Binghe starts to break away from the kiss, only for Shen Qingqiu to tighten his grip in Luo Binghe’s hair and keep their mouths together. Luo Binghe smirks into the kiss and makes no further attempt to break away – public displays of affection like this have always been something his demonic side clamours for him to do but he holds back out of respect for his shizun’s preference for privacy. A preference which seems to be ignored today, after Shen Qingqiu finally pulls away, a half-lidded look in his eyes as he continues to blatantly ignore their visitor. There’s a trail of spit connecting their mouths still and Luo Binghe feels such a flare of possessiveness it’s hard not to just push Shen Qingqiu down and take him on the ground.
Shizun would hate him for that in the morning, though, so he turns and gives the visitor the most passive-aggressive smile he can muster.
“Liu-shishu.” He greets, as propriety dictates. Liu Qingge very pointedly looks at the ground, the flush of embarrassment obvious on his cheeks even in the faint light provided by the lanterns hanging from the side of their bamboo cottage. “What brings you to our home this evening?”
“Shen Qingqiu,” he starts, except Shen Qingqiu has yet to tear away his gaze from Luo Binghe’s face, and that possessive urge is not getting any easier to control. “You left your fan. Again.” Now this makes Shen Qingqiu slide his gaze over to Liu Qingge. He untangles his fingers from Luo Binghe’s hair, futilely attempts to straighten his robes into something more proper and walks over to Liu Qingge. When Liu Qingge flicks his gaze over to him, Luo Binghe makes sure to fix him with the most murderous glare he can, which only makes the man grit his teeth as he holds out the fan for Shen Qingqiu to take. Luo Binghe genuinely thinks Liu Qingge lives to piss him off. Shizun was kissing him. He was initiating! And Liu Qingge had the gall to interrupt, not even for the first time. Shizun is far too polite to ever ignore him, and he clearly has a soft spot for the man besides, but that doesn’t mean he’s allowed to disturb his and his husband’s precious time together so frequently.
“You know, Liu-shidi, you don’t have to keep stealing my fans. We’re friends, you can just come see me.” On second thoughts, the look of absolute mortification on Liu Qingge’s face is almost worth the interruption.
“I didn’t- I wasn’t. That’s not what-“ Shen Qingqiu hmphs and snatches his fan off Liu Qingge, tucking it into his sleeve, effectively silencing the other cultivator.
“Just tell us beforehand so you don’t walk into something you shouldn’t.” Luo Binghe snorts at this. “I enjoy your company; you’re welcome to visit any time you’d like.” Liu Qingge’s face is burning red as he stomps off, and Luo Binghe smirks as he sidles up to his husband who turns with a troubled look on his face. “He’s not going to come visit for a while, is he?” He says, after a moment.
“No, he is not.” Luo Binghe replies, far too delighted as he places a kiss on Shen Qingqiu’s hair.
“You don’t need to sound so smug about it.” His adorable husband pouts.
“What is there not to be happy about? Several blissful, Liu Qingge free days…” Shen Qingqiu smacks him on the arm for that, and then smacks him again when Luo Binghe laughs.
“I’m going to bed.” Shen Qingqiu announces and storms off in a huff.
“Shizun is so cute when he’s sulking.”
“I’m not sulking!” He yells from inside their house. When Luo Binghe steps inside, Shen Qingqiu is already unceremoniously stripping off his outer robes and dumping them on the floor.
“They’ll get creased and covered in cat hair if you do that.” Luo Binghe says fondly as he picks them up and folds them neatly.
“Who cares.” He replies, deadpan.
“You care.” Luo Binghe reminds him teasingly. He also tidies away Shen Qingqiu’s shoes too, after he kicks them halfway across the room. Then, he carefully grabs his husband’s wrist as he tangles his fingers trying to remove the elaborate headpiece, slowly releasing his silky hair and letting it flow free down his back. Luo Binghe grabs a jade comb from the desk and slowly works the tangles out of Shen Qingqiu’s hair, who practically melts into his arms like a self-contented cat. Their actual cat jumps in through the open window and meows hello at them, promptly curling itself up on Shen Qingqiu’s lap.
“Hello, Xiaobai, did you miss us?” He coos at the cat, scratching it gently behind the ear. Luo Binghe can’t say he’s overly fond of the animal, but Shen Qingqiu seems to adore it, and it is rather cute. Even if he has to clean up all the cat hair it sheds. When he’s finished combing, he ties off the end to prevent it getting messy when Shen Qingqiu sleeps and goes to comb his own hair too.
“What are you doing? Silly boy, let me do it.” He indicates to Luo Binghe to sit in front of him so he can comb his hair without having to move the cat off his lap. Luo Binghe obediently complies, closing his eyes and allowing his shizun to take out his headpiece and deftly comb out his curly hair. His hair takes a little longer to brush than Shen Qingqiu’s, but the repetitive movement makes him drowsy within moments. He doesn’t really notice when the movement stops, but he does notice when Shen Qingqiu wraps his arms around Luo Binghe’s torso and buries his face in his husband’s neck for the second time that evening.
“I really love you.” He mumbles fondly into Luo Binghe’s skin. “You’re my favourite person.”
“Mn. I know. I love you too.” Shen Qingqiu tightens his grip on Luo Binghe’s waist.
“Do you? I don’t say it enough.” He whispers, anxiety tinging his voice.
“Shizun doesn’t need to say it for me to know. I can see it in everything he does.”
“Good,” Shen Qingqiu replies. “Good.” After a few moments, he releases Luo Binghe, helping him out of his outer robes and treating the clothes with much more care than he’d shown his own. Then, he clambers far more inelegantly than usual into their bed – and he usually drops his dignified façade when it’s just the two of them anyway – and tugs Luo Binghe in with him. Luo Binghe falls into his embrace comfortably, easily, and allows his head to be tucked underneath Shen Qingqiu’s chin after a soft kiss is placed on his forehead. He smiles, desperately fondly, as his beloved husband murmurs goodnight into his hair and idly strokes his head. He feels their cat jump onto the end of the bed, curling up on their feet, and he doesn’t think he could possibly be any happier.
“Goodnight, husband.” He whispers back.