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When making a first impression on a god, you best do it as ridiculous as you can lest you be another fleeting moment in their long life.

That said, you don’t do so in a way that it would offend them, at the very least. Or rest assured, that god would not forget you. That god will hunt you at every opportunity they can to remind you of what you’ve done. When Xiao Zhan hears the chime of the bells of his palace, signaling the arrival of a divinity, and the telling shouts of “Zhan-ge!”, Xiao Zhan wished he knew all these before he met the god, Wang Yibo.

Xiao Zhan let out a sigh as he tried to put all of the documents and scrolls on his desk back to the shelves around his office. He’s sure he won’t get any work done with his fellow god coming to visit, so he only hopes to prevent clutter in case Yibo decides lounging on his desk instead of a chair is more comfortable.

Xiao Zhan lets out a sigh again.

The deity of spring, arts, and fleeting beauty, was not really a deity. Sure, Xiao Zhan was an immortal, but he has no place in the heavenly court. While he has achieved immortality through his cultivation, he simply refused to ascend; thus, he continued to walk the earth with the mortals. He was not even meant to be revered in the first place, meant to walk amongst the mortals pretending to be one as well. But the cultivation methods he uses, Nine Petal Lotus Seizure, meant that his swordsmanship, talismanship, his very presence brought with it a gust of lotus petals for him to control. A rather unnecessarily extravagant display of his power materialized. Thus he was proclaimed as the deity of spring. One top of all that, Xiao Zhan has been, first and foremost, an appreciator of the art. Whether it be the stitching on a silk screen or the flutter of a dancer’s play, he will look at it, appreciate it, and give insights he gained from his long life. It had led to people calling him the deity of art but since that led to unappreciated art getting the recognition it deserves, Xiao Zhan ends up letting the title be.

The immortal had also been told that people think him a deity because of his otherworldly beauty, but the person who told him so was one of his many had-been suitors for power, so he took that with a grain of salt. Flattery gets you everywhere, but certainly not in Xiao Zhan’s marriage bed. His suitor-turned-friend laughed and said he expected as much.

As for the reason he was called “the Deity of Fleeting Beauty”? It was simply because his longs legs meant none could walk or run to catch up to him. He was there and then he was gone with only the image of his beauty and his long legs taking three steps in one, left in the minds of those who saw him. There was even a poem revering those very same legs. The owner of the bookstore Xiao Zhan frequents, never lets him live it down.

Despite how ridiculous it is to stay in the mortal realm, Xiao Zhan prefers this rather idyllic life than a revered life as a true deity. While some have been rubbed wrong when temples for Xiao Zhan had been erected, in the end, Xiao Zhan didn’t really have any followers, so he was left alone by those arrogant gods. Truly, no matter how revered, Xiao Zhan will throw hands if anyone asked him to spend more than an incense with those arrogant gods.

He is satisfied in his tiny haven of a marsh surrounded by the lotuses associated with his name, living the life of a hermit who occasionally goes out to appreciate art and have a drink or two with mortals he befriends. Which is why Xiao Zhan is ready to throw hands with the officials from heaven who came knocking down his door and asking (read: demanding) a favor.

Apparently, one of the esteemed dragon gods descended to the mortal realm and decided to stay. When asked why, the god would simply reply that the lotuses in the heavenly realm are too ostentatious. They much prefer the lotuses in the mortal realm.

Gods would often walk amongst mortals as they please, but to actually descend and stay there? On top of that, the god in question is a harbinger of prosperity. Unless someone could replace them, they can’t simply descend.

The favor that the gods ask of him is that he use his powers to bloom earthly lotuses in heaven for the god to return. Anything touched by divinity becomes another divine, so they can’t just transplant a few lotuses back to heaven and be done with it. The air in heaven would also make sure that those lotuses would turn into heavenly lotuses. That is where Xiao Zhan comes in, being someone who is immortal but not divine. Best of all, even if the lotuses turn into heavenly lotuses, he can simply produce more like a livestock. Truly, Xiao Zhan hates these ridiculous gods. Unfortunately, Xiao Zhan isn’t given a choice before being whisked away to the dwellings of the descended god, his powers bound to transfer him more easily. The sword through one of the guards and the destroyed family jewels of another speaks of how hard it would be otherwise. But hey, they’re immortal and Xiao Zhan didn’t imbue any spiritual power into his hits. They’ll live.

When Xiao Zhan, still bound, gets set down in a rather humble looking temple quite close to a village known for their dancing, he wonders how a much esteemed god can stand to stay in a humble abode when they are surely used to a lavish palace in heaven. The guards bow and announce their presence with much respect that Xiao Zhan wants to bite their heads off. He wasn’t gagged so he was truly considering it.

The doors of the temple slam open with a bang, and out first comes a frankly suffocating aura or fury, followed by a young man with looks to match. The young man was tall and rather gorgeous, but the power he exudes convinces no one of his mortal disguise. This man is definitely the dragon god they seek, Wang Yibo.

Wang Yibo looks furious that the two guards and the official sent to him are shaking. And then said god abruptly makes a sound of surprise as he blinks at the one person who is not trembling at the sight of him as well as the only one bound. “Xiao Zhan”?

It was Xiao Zhan’s turn to utter a sound of confusion. “Do I know you?”

“A-ah, no. I’ve simply heard of you.” Which is weird that Wang Yibo can recognize him at a glance, but Xiao Zhan isn’t about to comment. “Anyways, why is the deity, Xiao Zhan, bound like this?”

The official seems to have gathered his wits as he bows once more. “This one was sent to retrieve a deity who can provide your Highness with earthly lotuses so you may return to the heavenly realm.”

“ ‘Retrieve’?” There was a hint of danger to his tone but the official continues, obliviously.

“Yes, we have bound a deity with the ability to procure the flowers his Highness desires, and offer them to you. The Heavenly realm has been in chaos since you descended and decided to stay, you Highness.”

“Shut the hell up.” The proud smile of the official abruptly got wiped off and he is left pale and trembling once more. “You are talking like the deity you’ve brought does not have a will of their own. This arrogance… is it from living too long in the Heavenly Realm? Shall I smite you where you stand to know humility?”

“No! Please forgive me, your Highness!” The official was now groveling along with the soldiers. The arrogance in which he demanded Xiao Zhan to follow his orders now nowhere to be seen.

“If you had even an inkling of respect, for yourself and for others, you would know that the immortal known as Xiao Zhan, is older than even I. Definitely much more powerful than a simple junior official.”

“Forgive us, your Highness!” They were probably sobbing now from how terrified they were.

“Am I the one you should apologize to?”

The official and the guards still on their knees turned to Xiao Zhan before pressing their forehead to the ground once more. “Please forgive us, venerated immortal Xiao Zhan!”

Such a ride this is. From being kidnapped to being asked for forgiveness, Xiao Zhan knows none of these people. He doesn’t know how Wang Yibo knows how old he is, neither does he care. What he wants is these spirit binding ropes off. “Does this mean I can go now?” Xiao Zhan is tired now.

The official raises his head to protest, but the growl from the dragon god holds his tongue. Taking that as good as permission as any, Xiao Zhan breaks off the ropes with but a flick of his finger. The retinue who had been sent to kidnap him all gape at how easily he’d broken the spirit binding ropes. Surely, they did not think he could be bound by such things? Did they not know that not only is he immortal, but he has the right to ascend?

“If you could remove the bindings on your own, why did you not do so in the first place?” Wang Yibo was looking rather curiously at him.

“I figured there would be more hassle should I prove to be unwilling to bend to Heaven’s will. Perhaps a simply courtesy like tying a twine to a noble’s hands instead of ropes to prevent injury. I did not think they really thought I cannot break off those spirit binding ropes.” Xiao Zhan shrugs as he feels the breeze carrying lotus petals return to him. “For helping me deal with these rude fellows” Xiao Zhan points a rather rude finger at the retinue still at their knees, “And for being angry for my sake, I’ll offer you a few of the earthly lotus flowers you so adore.” And with a snap of his fingers, Xiao Zhan buried the whole area in lotus flowers, until waist-deep. The fellows who were kneeling disappeared among the lotuses while the dragon god was left sputtering as lotuses descended from who knows where and decorated the temple pink.

“Now if you will excuse me.” Xiao Zhan offered a courteous bow before summoning his sword and flying back home, leaving a rather flabbergasted dragon god and drowning officials in his wake.

Perhaps Xiao Zhan should’ve considered his behavior a bit more when he dealt with those rude scum. Or maybe letting the dragon be in the area of effect of his flower shower was bad. Either way, Xiao Zhan regrets not doing something even if he doesn’t know what that something is, to prevent this very scenario. Said scenario is currently his Shidi, Wang Zhuocheng, telling him what he did bad, and his Shijie, Xuan Lu, looking at him with worry.

While the dragon god was reportedly amused, the rest of the heavenly officials weren’t. To flood a temple, the temple of one of their most revered gods no less, was considered disrespect of the highest regard, despite lacking any substantial damages since the flood was, well, flowers. Petty is what Xiao Zhan would call them, but he understands that politics involve dealing with people’s pettiness at their finest.

The condition was this; this disrespect would be overlooked as long as Xiao Zhan serves as the dragon god’s flower provider until the god’s whims turn to another. His duties also include convincing Wang Yibo to stay in heaven and knowing where he is at all times to prevent another descension like now. In return, he will be provided a place in Heaven’s court as well as his own palace. Which is decidedly something he doesn’t want and would probably be added to his list of “disrespectful acts” should he decline. From what Zhuocheng is telling him, it seems Wang Yibo was trying to tell the court not to bother him because 1) he wasn’t offended, 2) there were no damages to his temple. All of which flew out the other ear of the court despite Wang Yibo being the “victim”. There are also those who saw this as an opportunity to control Wang Yibo as the dragon god seemed inclined to him, if the way he is trying to keep Xiao Zhan out of this mess is any indication. It truly is a sad day for Xiao Zhan to know that the heavenly court no longer knows what common courtesy is.

Either way, Xiao Zhan can only abide by the court and serve Wang Yibo till he grows tired of lotuses, and pass his duties as a court official once it’s over. In Xiao Zhan’s thousands of years of living, this is probably the first time he prays for patience.

“Zhanzhan, will you be okay?” Xuan Lu shijie is as kind as ever. Even when all three of them were still mortal cultivators, she was the most benevolent. Sharing her resources and always being fair in distributing the pills she refines. It’s no wonder she would be a goddess of fair trade as soon as she ascended. It helps that she has both the kindness and severity it takes to ensure fairness of trade.

“If shixiong need be, we can always help you decline this. You have our support.” Zhuocheng said so earnestly that Xiao Zhan is glad his shidi is as adorable as he always has been.

Both of them relieve the stress from this situation that Xiao Zhan can only smile at them helplessly. “Don’t worry much, you too. I think I’ll accept the job.”

Both of them frown at that, knowing how unfair the situation truly is.

“I’ll be fine. I promise. While I hate politics like this, providing flowers and being Wang Yibo’s companion seems doable enough. Besides, other than the paperwork, I already do do duties of an official of my own volition. If I get paid on top of it, then I’ll take it.” And Xiao Zhan was, in a way, grateful for this temporary job. He may hate the politics being a heavenly official brings, but he already provides safety and cleanses the land of resentment, which is half of the duties of a heavenly official. To be paid for it means that he can support the artists that he finds better than simply a living advertisement.

He tells as much to the two, and they reluctantly leave, trusting Xiao Zhan’s words.

That went well. Hopefully, so will the following days to come.

He spoke too soon.

When Xiao Zhan is introduced (formally this time) to Wang Yibo, he finds out that Wang Yibo was a disciple of a neighboring sect, ergo why he knew Xiao Zhan was older than him. Their sects would often compete with the utmost intensity simply because Xiao Zhan’s sect focused on the beauty of technique while Wang Yibo’s sect focused on the rawness of power.

From how Wang Yibo grinned as he told of how he once watched Xiao Zhan compete, there at least doesn’t seem to be any bad blood between them.

“Xiao-laoshi was an idol even in my sect, you know? No one would ever admit it, but it was amazing how you would plunge or turn swiftly to gain the power you needed for your strikes. Not everyone can build up muscles for what our sect manuals require, after all.”

Xiao Zhan raised an eyebrow, “Surely, you jest?”

Yibo gave a wide grin, “Surely, I don’t! You were really cool, even back then, Zhan-ge!”

Wang Yibo himself is rather akin to a puppy, insisting on calling him “Zhan-ge” and offering the best hospitality one can get. The dragon god himself was no problem. The problem was only when Xiao Zhan needed to perform his “duties”.

First, when Xiao Zhan wanted to make a little pond in Yibo’s garden for the lotuses, he didn’t realize that the more spiritually saturated air of the Heavenly Realm would affect him so much; thus, Xiao Zhan accidentally turned the whole garden into something akin to a marsh. Wang Yibo himself lalmost died laughing, but his gardeners were screaming and crying. It was hard to revert it back to normal with Xiao Zhan’s spiritual energy being in abundance more so than usual, that only half the garden reverted back. While the gardeners still kind of glared at him, they also nodded in approval of the smaller marsh and admitted to its beauty. So that was okay, probably?

Second were the lotuses themselves. Xiao Zhan found out that the reason there is such a difference in lotuses between realms was because the spiritual energy they absorbed caused them to change pigments. A golden lotus from the heavenly realm, a pale pink lotus from the mortal realm, and a pure white lotus from the demon realm. All of which are of the same strain, yet varying in pigments. So Xiao Zhan found himself having to create a sigil that would filter the energy around the lotuses so they wouldn’t turn gold. While the creation process wasn’t that difficult, there was no way to mass produce the sigil other than copying by hand for each individual lotus. He’d tried teaching it to the gardeners, but the sigils themselves would turn gold simply because it has been a long time since the gardeners absorbed energy from the mortal realm.

When Xiao Zhan first accepted this job, he had expected to be at the palace of Wang Yibo as infrequently as possible. Now, he ended up coming every other day. The flowers that Xiao Zhan once conjured effortlessly started frustrating him. Once mere background to him turned into a responsibility and Xiao Zhan was now aware of every single lotus he unintentionally conjures. It has led to Xiao Zhan appreciating lotuses once more as he did when he was mortal, so while frustrated, Xiao Zhan found love in the effort. Bittersweet, a flavor he loves.

As an official, Xiao Zhan also had duties other than being Wang Yibo’s gardener. For one, he became part of the discussions about the cultural art trades around the mainland as provinces started interacting with each other more frequently. There was also about the foreigners who would come to sell their wares, often crafts of various forms of beauty. Metal engraving and plating methods are coming in from the West and the reaction among the council has been rather varied. Xiao Zhan himself would appreciate the evolution of art. Art has never been meant to be stagnant, and if the influence of a foreigner’s perspective opens the mainland to more forms of expression, then Xiao Zhan would bless such a future.

However, perhaps he should suggest to his fellow gods to record each province’s unique art. While art is not stagnant, the steps it took is just as important as the steps it will take. Maybe dreamwalk into their followers dreams about passing on methods of craft.

Xiao Zhan is still writing a draft of proposal when he gets startled by the bells all over his palace. The gods do have a sense of humor, to put shrine bells in another god’s palace like this was one of their temples to announce their arrival. Xiao Zhan could only stare at the blot of ink among the neat rows of lines. Well, to the trash bin that goes.

He cleaned up his desk and patted down his rather ostentatious robes to look at least presentable before heading for the sitting room to greet his guest. The few servants he has bow to him as walks by, and it still makes him uncomfortable having servants in the first place. When he gets to the sitting room, it’s to Wang Yibo confusedly looking around. The servant announces his presence and Yibo looks weirdly flushed when he turns to Xiao Zhan. Huh.

“Good day, Wang-laoshi. To what do I owe the pleasure?” Xiao Zhan took a seat as the servants presented green tea.

Wang Yibo kept eying the servants so Xiao Zhan waved a hand to dismiss them. “Uhh… I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this, Zhan-ge?”

And then Xiao Zhan promptly leans back and crosses his legs, “That’s because I’m not usually like this. However, I do understand the need for courtesy especially in the Heavenly Realm.”

Yibo raised an eyebrow in amusement, “Oh? Do I not need the courtesy then?”

“When you asked me about my behavior, I took that as permission to abandon said behavior.” Xiao Zhan raised a challenging eyebrow and smirked. Wang Yibo laughed in response. His eyes crinkling to crescents and his laugh almost akin to ugly wheezing. It was adorable. “And so? You still have not told me why you are here? Does the garden need fixing? I believe it should’ve still been fine for a few days more.”

“Nothing of the sort.” Yibo was wiping away a few stray tears as he reached into his robes to pull out what looked like letters. “There’s a new traveling troupe near Yunmeng Marsh. I’ve heard great things about their performances. Though the stories they perform spray a rather large amount of dog’s blood.”

Xiao Zhan leaned forward, wanting to hear more, “Oh? You have my interest.”

“I got these a few days ago from a fellow dragon, an invitation to celebrate the birthday of my shidi’s great grandson. They will be performing at the banquet, and I was free to take a plus one.” Yibo waved the letters lightly as he grinned wide “Will you come with me?”

When Xiao Zhan’s interest has been piqued, there is no stopping him from pursuing it. Of course he agrees. It has been awhile since he last went down to the mortal realm as well.

“Your shidi has rather… peculiar tastes.” Xiao Zhan is strolling the market with Yibo, both wearing a weimao and repressing their auras to walk amongst the mortals without hindrance.

“You can call him ‘weird’, I won’t mind.”

“I don’t think that’s your decision to make, Yibo.” They shared a chuckle as they bought tanghulus and continued their stroll. “You were right. It was such a dramatic story. Who would’ve thought of a dragon kidnapping a princess and locking her up in a tower?”

“I don’t know. I think I’d kidnap a beauty that has captured my heart as well.” Yibo hummed thoughtfully, but the grin on his face gave away the joke.

“If we’re going by that story, then am I the princess?”

Yibo looked Xiao Zhan up and down before his grin turned into a smirk. “While Xiao-laoshi is indeed a beauty, the one who kidnapped him certainly wasn’t the dragon. Rather, the dragon was the one who saved him! By that, doesn’t that mean that the princess ends up with the dragon instead of the prince?” How shameless. Xiao Zhan smacks Yibo for the blatant flirting.

“If I remember correctly, the dragon was one of the reasons the princess was kidnapped in the first place.”

Yibo pouted at him, pausing their strolling to whine at him, “Unintentional does not mean guilty. The dragon was equally a victim! He just wanted to spend a bit of time on earth to admire the flowers, yet everyone does their own thing and makes a mess! The dragon is innocent!” Xiao Zhan lightly taps the dragon’s weimao to shut him up. It backfires and causes Yibo to whine harder. “Zhan-ge is bullying me.”

The immortal just rolls his eyes and continues walking, Yibo follows without further dramatics. They stroll in companionable silence until Xiao Zhan sniffs the air and smells something delectable. Something like Sichuan hotpot.

“Want to eat?” Yibo already makes a turn towards the establishment.

“Can you eat spicy?” Xiao Zhan knows for a fact that Yibo can’t eat spicy. Another of the differences in their sects was that Yibo’s sect normally ate vegetable without any spice. And yet the god only sniffs and enters the restaurant with defiance.

When they order a meal for two, Xiao Zhan can see the dragon’s defiance slowly turn to that of a puppy, hesitant yet still unwilling to back down. Xiao Zhan shakes his head and orders coriander and a few other things he knows will make the heat more bearable.

Needless to say, they left the establishment with Yibo looking rather red faced but with a happy full stomach.

“I’m only a half dragon.” Yibo says one day as Xiao Zhan tends to the god’s garden. The dragon was sitting on a stone chair with snacks and tea on the stone table in front of him; all the while watching the immortal fleet through the marsh side of the garden.

“Hm… Is that so?” The lotuses were blooming quite splendidly. They were a vibrant pink with a slight golden halo around them; Xiao Zhan’s sigil not fully filtering out the heavenly aura in the air.

“My mother was a human cultivator while my father was a cast away from the dragonkin.” Xiao Zhan hummed to show he was listening. “Dad was left by the pack because they considered him too soft. Too human. Mom, on the other hand, was a high-born lady. Even if Dad was an outcast, he was still a dragon, so they received the whole family’s blessing for their marriage.”

“It sounds like a fairytale love story.” Yibo sipped a bit of tea and sighed.

“It was.” Xiao Zhan stopped what he was doing and turned to Yibo, sensing the change in atmosphere. “Their hearts were intertwined so tightly that when mom passed, dad followed.”

Xiao Zhan didn’t say anything. He could tell that Yibo didn’t need any condolences so he waited. Yibo took another sip, let out another sigh.

“I was an adult when they passed and the family that remained with me loved me almost as much as my parents. It was sad, but it wasn’t that bad. I also gave back as much as I received. I hear the Wang household have raised a sect of their own and are doing quite well. Even if the dragonkin still detest me for being a halfling, the Wang household still welcomes me with open arms.”

Xiao Zhan sat on the other stone chair and took a sip of his own tea. It was lukewarm now.

“This might sound like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but of my human family, none of whom I’d grown up with remains.”

Xiao Zhan took another sip and waited for Yibo’s question.

“How is immortality compared to godhood? Aren’t they the same?” Don’t you lose people all the same? Why not stay here and be with people who have time as close to yours?

Another sip, then Xiao Zhan let out a sigh.

“Immortality is not as unflappable as godhood. I simply do not age and have more access to power than the common folk. I still get injured and if someone were to behead me, I would still die.”


“It means that what connects me to the people is not the flow of time, but the feelings we have towards life and death.” The immortal stares at his reflection on the cup of tea, yet not truly seeing it. “I fear death as any other. I live life because I fear of the day it is gone. Death is a very foreign concept for a god with access to eternal power and safety.”

Yibo opens and closes his mouth before setting his cup down and fiddling with his thumbs.

The tea has gone cold.

Whenever Xuan Lu or Zhuocheng asks; Xiao Zhan always smiles and answers.

Xiao Zhan did ascend. Once. A long lifetime ago. He had ascended before Xuan Lu or Zhuocheng. He descended willingly before then as well.

The old immortal taught them both. He taught them where to get the materials they needed to improve their cultivation. He told them stories of the heavenly realm, how it works, what to expect, and what to prepare for.

When they ask why he descended, he tells them he missed them.

When they ask why he remains, he tells them that he is not like them.

Xuan Lu has always found her joy in the things she creates. Whether it be a new spiritual sword or a newly refined pill, she will be happy.

Wang Zhuocheng found joy in the art of combat. He loves to study the new techniques and forms. He loves the exertion on his body.

That is enough for both of them. They are strong people with their hearts complete.

What Xiao Zhan loves is life. He enjoys the pieces of the heart he exchanges with people he meets. He loves the flowers on the side of the road as he does a preciously cared-for garden. He thinks preciously of chubby cheeks as he does laugh lines. A cold golden throne has never been lovely to him. He’s too lonely to warm that throne by himself. So he seeks fire, flickering and fleeting. He seeks the spring, ever coming and going. It hurts when it’s gone, but the memory is enough for Xiao Zhan to wait and keep going. His shijie and shidi can walk the golden road and melt it with the warmth of their fingertips, he can’t. Maybe one day, when they find something or someone else to love will they step down. But for now…

As Xiao Zhan walks out of Wang Yibo’s palace, he looks back at the sparkle of the palace and wonders if Yibo can’t, too.

Xiao Zhan continues to walk.

“I hear your shidi is going to ascend soon.”

Yibo and Xiao Zhan are sipping tea in Xiao Zhan’s bedroom, looking out the balcony as they lounge in their inner robes. There’s a pleasant ache to Xiao Zhan’s hips, and his neck and lips still tingle leaving him giddy. Yibo looks like he feels the same if the low pleased rumbling in his chest is anything to go by. Xiao Zhan cuddles closer.

“He’s been in the mortal realm till the 13th birthday of his great grandkid, what changed?” Yibo wraps his arm around Xiao Zhan’s waist tighter and pulls him closer. Xiao Zhan puts down his tea in case it spills and takes Yibo’s as well. With both hands free, Yibo holds him even tighter.

“His daughter is at her deathbed.” Xiao Zhan stiffens before he relaxes and then hums.

“Is that so?”

“His daughter is the only attachment he has left in the mortal realm. He never had a partner and he’s already satisfied to see his grandkids as adults. The last thing he needs before he moves on is to watch his daughter rest in peace.”

They take a quiet moment to revel in the sunlight that streams in.

“You haven’t asked me to come and tend to the lotuses recently as well. Do you not like lotuses anymore?” Yibo kisses his temple before pinching him on the side. Xiao Zhan yelps and hits the culprit.

“It would be redundant to ask the reason I even like lotuses; spend his time on flowers that can be tended by others, instead of spending it with me.”

Xiao Zhan lets out an amused and slightly incredulous chuckle, “I was kinda expecting it when you told me you knew me from all those hundreds of years ago, but to hear it basically confirmed.”

“Hear what? The I fell for you at first sight and didn’t fall out of it even till now?”

“Wang Yibo, shut up!” Xiao Zhan hits Yibo on the thigh hard to cover his embarrassment. The dragon laughed loud and unrepentant.

“The weirdest things set you off, Zhan-ge.” The man in his arms hissed and tried to squirm out of his arms. “You are so adorable.” Xiao Zhan slapped his arm hard that Yibo let his hold loosen. But he didn’t let Xiao Zhan go and instead, turned him around so their eyes would meet. Warm ruby red met cool emerald green eyes. “Marry me?”

“Your shidi will kill you when he finds out you threw your responsibilities at him.”

“I know.”

“The heavenly realm won’t be quiet about this.

“I know.”

“They really will put me in their blacklist because of you.”

“Yet, here we are.”

In Xiao Zhan’s humble cottage in the middle of a marsh filled with lotus flowers. Red decorates the room and covers the skin they each want to see. Xiao Zhan on his back, swathed in beautiful reds and pinks of petals, Yibo just as handsome in red and gold.

“I love you, Wang Yibo.”

“I love you too, Xiao Zhan.”

Their kiss tastes of the first sweet wine they shared as a married couple.