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It’s not a new fact that Mobei Jun is notoriously hard to read. Now that they’ve freshly entered a romantic entanglement after a stilted kiss but a passionate confession, Shang Qinghua thinks he’ll have a better understanding of what Mobei Jun’s minutely varied expressions mean. And so far for the most part he seems to understand when Mobei Jun is happy, sad, tired, and the many degrees of anger he has for whatever the situation calls for. That last one, Shang Qinghua is all too aware of.

He can tell when Mobei Jun is merely annoyed with someone, or is on the verge of maiming or killing them. And within that he can tell whether Mobei Jun plans to tortur them, skewer them with his ice swords, or tear them apart with his bare hands. Shang Qinghua can tell when Mobei Jun is annoyed at him too, a lot easier than he could before. Mobei Jun, for all his stern countenance, is a man who experiences a spectrum of emotions, some of which make it onto his face. Ah, well mostly the negative looks. And the angry ones. 

There’s one in particular that seems to be reserved exclusively for Shang Qinghua though, that’s new and inexplicable. 

Mobei Jun has many ways to intimidate friend and foe alike, but he seems to have developed a brand new way to stare down Shang Qinghua when he suggests something particularly dangerous. Or when they’re travelling together off to one quest or another, and Shang Qinghua is rambling about the beasts they’ll find and what kind of enemy they’re facing.

And Shang Qinghua doesn’t know why. Mobei Jun better be thankful for the type of intel he’s receiving! It’s a lot of hard work remembering the ins and outs of something you wrote over two decades ago! 

Mobei Jun gives him the same stare at random parts of their regular day as well. His dark brows furrow, and his mouth ticks down. There’s a clench to his sharp jaw too sometimes and Shang Qinghua can’t quite pinpoint when. He’ll be doing something as innocuous as adjusting the pin through his crown during a council meeting and suddenly Mobei Jun will be staring him down like a particularly incensed tiger. It’s rather strange, especially given that previously, when they were in that strange inbetween, any sort of angry-without-reason expression. Mobei Jun wore made him look like a wronged housecat.

...This turn of events is rather scary! What happened to the honeymoon phase!

Thankfully, it’s not all the time. Sometimes it disappears on its own, and sometimes — less frequently, but now that Shang Qinghua has implicit permission, he tries to build up the courage as many times as he can — Shang Qinghua can smother it under determined kiss. He’s not quite sure what he’s done to make his king look as angry as he does, but Mobei Jun is quick to reciprocate so he does his best to push the thought from his mind. He’s probably overthinking it anyways. 

(He fails.)

Shang Qinghua really starts to take note during a banquet thrown in honour of the Mobei Clan, may the heir live long and prosperous, may he conquer many battles, may he open a trade route in favour of the head of the house throwing the feast etcetera, etcetera. Mobei Jun is sitting at the head, sandwiched between two multi-headed demons that are trying to curry his favour, while Shang Qinghua sits nearby, watching. Mobei Jun had wanted him up there too but really, it wouldn’t have been proper, not yet anyways, and the lady of the house had fretted so much as to where to place the measly human advisor-verging-on-consort. 

So Shang Qinghua ends up at the table with a few amicable demons, one that seems particularly interested in his literary knowledge. Which— it’s been a long time since someone has wanted to talk about writing with him without wanting to spear him through his eyes, so Shang Qinghua accepts the companionship happily and chatters away, all while keeping an eye on his king.

He starts to sweat when he catches Mobei Jun giving him that angry glare again. Shang Qinghua guesses that he thinks that Shang Qinghua is freely divulging secrets from the north, so he tries to give him a half-grin that tells him look, everything’s ok, all we’re doing is talking about Liu Su Mian Hua’s most recent novel and a new one that has come out by an anonymous author, about an angry war-god and his overgrown-puppy-like disciple.

It doesn’t work. Shang Qinghua spends most of that evening in a nervous sweat under Mobei Jun’s freakishly surveillant gaze, until a servant comes from the head table to beckon him. Shang Qinghua is then planted squarely beside Mobei Jun for the rest of the banquet; Shang Qinghua feels put out for all of five minutes before he starts talking to the other table guests. Mobei Jun’s expression still doesn’t leave, even though he’s within earshot this time!

Later that night, Mobei Jun takes Shang Qinghua to bed. They’ve messed around here and there, but they haven’t been intimate to this degree yet. As soon as the servants are dismissed, Mobei Jun pulls Shang Qinghua onto his lap and tugs at the tie of his robe. He’s wearing the same angry sort of look again though, wears it as they proceed with their night, which is the only explanation for why it fucking hurts ten moves and not enough oil later, when instead of writhing around in pleasure, Shang Qinghua is shouting in pain and swinging his fists on reflex and Mobei Jun is...well…

All thoughts of interpreting what that angry look means flies out that window, as Shang Qinghua is too bruised and indignant to figure out what it means. The look melts off Mobei Jun’s face anyways, and is replaced by one cold and carefully blank one that Shang Qinghua knows exists to hide a hurt ego. Shang Qinghua forgets about it for a while after, determined instead to tackle a larger problem at hand (both metaphorically and quite literally).

But then he sees that look again a couple of weeks later when Shang Qinghua’s rattling off orders to subordinates in the courtyard. They’re a little better at listening to him now, now that he has the looming spectre of the great Mobei Jun hovering behind him, and it’s a little easier to resolve whatever minor quarrels are there. Shang Qinghua watches as they bow and march off, and turns to Mobei Jun to ask something. He falters when he sees that same angry look, even though Mobei Jun doesn’t seem inclined to act on it.

Shang Qinghua can’t figure out what it means but….. it’s still rather terrifying.






That expression rears its head again after a fire-spewing spider demon lures Mobei Jun out for a challenge. Sort of.

Okay, so it doesn’t pose as much of a challenge as it does an annoyance for Mobei Jun and absolutely wicked entertainment for Shang Qinghua. Mobei Jun is fierce when he fights, but with demons who will be quick work for him despite the fact that they’ve brutalized entire factions of cultivators, he sometimes wears a bored expression as he eviscerates them.

It’s hot. Shang Qinghua can’t be judged for it— these fights are meant to send maiden hearts fluttering, and since there are no maidens there to get fluttered, the burden rests upon Shang Qinghua. After Mobei Jun bloodily dispatches the demon, he stares at Shang Qinghua from across the cave, where Shang Qinghua had hidden in a nook the moment things went south. 

“My king!” Shang Qinghua cries out, before rushing out with all the praise in the world. The look Mobei Jun has on his face is one that’s smug, lips ticking up as Shang Qinghua reaches out to wipe the blood off his chin with his sleeve. In the back of his head, Shang Qinghua wonders if Mobei Jun had been a little showier than normal with his kill, but brushes off the thought as Mobei Jun swoops his cloak over both of them and takes them home.

Servants set up a bath for him and Mobei Jun dismisses them, barking at Shang Qinghua to attend to him instead. Shang Qinghua was hoping he’d be able to maybe sneak into the bath with Mobei Jun but this is fine too. There’s not a lot to complain about when you’re given free reign to run your hands over one of the most attractive demons in existence. 

He undresses Mobei Jun carefully, making sure he folds the clothes away neatly. Shang Qinghua looks at the scarred, muscular back and decides to sneak in a small kiss, right in between Mobei Jun’s shoulder blades. And then another. And then Shang Qinghua rocks forward onto the balls of his feet so that he can reach up and kiss the nape of his neck as well. Feeling daring, Shang Qinghua grazes his teeth over the knob of his spine and bites down ever so gently. Mobei Jun tenses for a moment and then relaxes and Shang Qinghua pulls away with a little xixixi before folding away Mobei Jun’s innermost robe. 

But when Mobei Jun turns around, Shang Qinghua startles with a little “bwahh” when he sees that familiar look of deep-set anger. 

He thought Mobei Jun liked that! He took that method of bathtime seduction straight from that popular pamphlet by the three heavenly sisters!

Shang Qinghua opens his mouth to apologize but Mobei Jun pulls at the tie for his own pants. They drop to the ground and Shang Qinghua’s brain power gets funnelled on instinct into not staring at Mobei Jun’s gifts. 

“My lord…” Shang Qinghua trails off, his eyes not quite knowing where to go. If he looks below the waist, his throat might get too dry, and if he looks above the neck, his soul might get frightened to death. Instead, he settles his gaze on a broad chest. It’s not ideal, but it’s deferential enough without his gaze dropping too low. “What scent do you wish for today?”

Mobei Jun is silent for a moment before he huffs and steps into the wooden tub, lowering himself. Shang Qinghua picks up a small jar of oil that smells like a particularly refreshing winter flower  and pulls back his sleeves, dropping down on his knees behind the tub. He’s dead set on getting Mobei Jun to relax and hopefully wipe that expression off of his face. 

He gets as far as running the oil through Mobei Jun’s hair when Mobei Jun tips his head back to look at him with that ethereal and handsome face. He’s still got that dark-eyed furrow-browed expression that makes Shang Qinghua really nervous. 

“My king?” Shang Qinghua offers, but Mobei Jun remains unmoved. 

Please tell this poor servant what he did wrong, my king!

At least Shang Qinghua has one solution up his sleeve, sort of. He leans down and presses a gentle kiss against Mobei Jun’s mouth, one that he hopes tempers him. And another, just to be safe. And one more before Mobei Jun is pressing back. Shang Qinghua shifts around the rim of the tub so that he can angle his kiss better. He reaches forward to settle his hand on Mobei Jun’s chest and a few moments later, finds himself getting tugged into the tub. 

“My king— I still have my clothes on— ahhh!”

Mobei Jun solves that problem soon enough by tearing them off and throwing them carelessly to the side. Shang Qinghua is really going to have to talk to him about not being so rough with his clothes just because he can afford to lose them, but his brain goes offline as soon as Mobei Jun grabs him by the ass and brings their lower halves together. 

The tub creaks this way and that until it cracks and water spills out, and it’s only on Shang Qinghua’s insistence that Mobei Jun takes their still-soaking bodies to the daybed  nearby. With the one remaining dreg for foresight left in him, Shang Qinghua grabs the bottle of the scented bath oil, and they proceed to exhibit how thoroughly they’ve demolished the learning curve. 

When they finally retire to their bed, Mobei Jun no longer has that look on his face. His expression is calm instead as he sleeps, and Shang Qinghua forces himself to stay awake through his exhaustion just to admire it. He’s still not sure what brings on that stern look on his king’s face, or in which way he’s displeasing him or lacking. 

Ah, well… Shang Qinghua will have to find out eventually, but for now, he’ll just appreciate this rare but precious look of serenity. 

 


 

Now that Shang Qinghua is eager to find out what that particular face means, he notices he sees it more often than he had previously thought. Mobei Jun glares at him at random, and Shang Qinghua spends many an idle minute fretting about what the hell happened. Mobei Jun doesn’t show any other sign of displeasure, which makes it more complicated. Maybe Mobei Jun is reining it in now that they’re together, regulating any unhappiness to just his face. 

Not that Shang Qinghua should be complaining— he’s had an uptick in clothes and delicious dinners and gifts from his king, and Mobei Jun likes to pull him on his lap in the evenings and listen to him read or make Shang Qinghua feed him sweets like he’s some sort of spoiled cat. Sometimes when Shang Qinghua goes back to An Ding peak alone, his tiny cot feels too large and empty without a second body there. It’s safe to say that overall, things are going well.

Just, this expression… communication is healthy! But Mobei Jun isn’t communicating! And Shang Qinghua doesn’t want to barge in and ask without enough intel! It makes him sort of uneasy, so he tries to take stock of what he’s doing when he sees it, but there seems to be no pattern. 

Once it happens when he sneaks down to the kitchens to cook something for the two of them, just on a whim. It’s not anything breathtakingly delicious, but if it had been serviceable enough to kiss up to that old fool— the previous An Ding peak lord —  it should be half-decent for a late night meal. When he returns to Mobei Jun’s chambers with the tray of food, Mobei Jun gets that look again, like he’s looking at something that needs to be punished. Shang Qinghua instantly apologizes, and repeatedly, but Mobei Jun huffs and pulls Shang Qinghua onto his lap. Shang Qinghua obediently feeds them both, hoping that it’ll ease the crease between Mobei Jun’s brow.

There’s also the time that Shang Qinghua decides to meditate for the lack of anything better to do, and opens his eyes to see Mobei Jun looking at him from where he lounges lazily on a chair. And the time Shang Qinghua accidentally ties one of Mobei Jun’s ribbons into his own hair before a meeting, and Mobei Jun spots the deep blue silk. Or the time when he trips into one of the perilous fish ponds in the palace courtyards while wearing nearly not enough layers to endure the cold, and is sopping wet when he’s dragged out by the collar.

Each time, Shang Qinghua laughs nervously before getting up from his meditation, pulling out the ribbon and returning it, or apologizing profusely before hightailing it back to his old chambers to change. The look eventually falls off Mobei Jun’s face, but Shang Qinghua still keeps a wary eye out for it, even when Mobei Jun shows no other sign of being unhappy.

And it happens again, when Shang Qinghua is practicing his calligraphy. Sort of. He’s copying out a particularly lecherous phrase from a book under the guise of arching but no one can tell from where he sits in the corner of the large study, let alone Mobei Jun.

Though, Shang Qinghua looks up once or twice to catch Mobei Jun looking at him from where he’s sitting with one of his other advisors. He looks angry, and Shang Qinghua can see the advisor sweating bloody droplets, and prays that Mobei Jun isn’t directing that face towards him. Yet even after the advisor has nervously hobbled off, leaving the two of them alone in the room, Shang Qinghua sees that Mobei Jun’s face is unchanged.

“My king…” Shang Qinghua calls out to Mobei Jun, setting down his brush. “Would you like something?”

“Carry on,” Mobei Jun says, and Shang Qinghua stares for a moment before he nods.

Could Mobei Jun tell that he was wasting time instead of doing work? Or had Shang Qinghua been thinking out loud again? Or had the advisor just left Mobei Jun in such a bad mood that it’s lingering after? Shang Qinghua is used to Mobei Jun watching him like a hawk, but this is just a little too unnerving!

Whatever internal conflict Mobei Jun is going through though, must get solved by the time Shang Qinghua finishes and replaced with a different kind of fire because by the time Shang Qinghua’s finished packing up his goods, Mobei Jun is suddenly at his side. Shang Qinghua is about to ask Mobei Jun something menial, like whether he should call for an early dinner, but gets cut off when Mobei Jun’s lips press against his own.

It doesn’t take long for Mobei Jun to hitch him up onto the table where Shang Qinghua was working and start sliding his pants off. Shang Qinghua goes easily— now that they’ve started to get a handle on how to have sex without either of their egos taking a critical blow, Shang Qinghua is totally fine having it multiple times a day, in as many positions as his body will bend and in as many locations as they can clear. He catches a glimpse of that angry look again but before he can act on it and ask Mobei Jun what happened, he’s getting flipped onto his belly and hitched up.

There’s a trail of cool kisses travelling down his spine and not much thinking to be done after that, and Shang Qinghua is allowed only a few moments of lucidity while Mobei Jun carries him back to their chambers to continue. In those moments, Shang Qinghua wonders what the hell could be causing his king to look so furiously at him, but that lucidity is quickly swallowed up.

Still, Shang Qinghua really wants to know…




 

 

It gradually becomes Mobei Jun’s default face around Shang Qinghua, and Shang Qinghua is utterly perplexed. His self esteem wobbles, unsure whether or not to take a hit. Maybe he’s displeased his king, but Mobei Jun has never hidden it before when that’s happened. Sure, he hasn’t ever explained it before either, but this look, this exists somewhere in a weird in-between that makes Shang Qinghua feel kind of strange.

He’s not sure how to broach the topic though. Distracting Mobei Jun seems to be the best way to get rid of it, something that Shang Qinghua doesn’t have any complaints about, but he really wants to know. He can’t figure out heads nor tail of what he’s doing wrong and finally, one day, gives in and tries to bring it up in a roundabout way to Mobei Jun.

“Am I not pleasing you enough my lord?” Shang Qinghua blurts out during dinner once. It’s thankfully a meal that they’re sharing in their chambers, and Mobei Jun has long sent away their servants. Mobei Jun pauses, the piece of meat he picked halfway into his mouth, and stares.

Shang Qinghua feels his face heat, as Mobei Jun slowly sets his food down. There’s probably better ways he could have worded it, but he’s burning with curiosity. 

“Why would you say that?” Mobei Jun asks, the baritone of his voice giving away nothing. Shang Qinghua gulps.

“I— uh, that is to say, this humble one wants to make sure he is satisfying his king’s needs,” Shang Qinghua says in his most saccharine voice. It makes him sound like a dying rat, so he attempts something more sincere. “This one would hate for his king to be wanting for anything with him.”

After all, if there’s any part of Shang Qinghua’s behaviour that’s not up to par, he can always work towards improving it! That’s what people did in relationships, right? If he’s doing something wrong, if he’s misstepping anywhere, it’d be better to now know rather than to let any ill feelings fester. Shang Qinghua has tried to figure out what’s wrong on his own but at this point, it may be better to just ask.

“Hm,” Mobei Jun sets down his chopsticks and looks at Shang Qinghua thoughtfully. The corner of his mouth curls up and when he speaks, the lamplight glints off his fangs. “Would you like to make an attempt to please me more?”

It takes a moment for Shang Qinghua’s brain to light up like a particularly dull star and realize what Mobei Jun means. It’s quicker after that, for him to realize how his words sounded. Shang Qinghua goes red around his ears, trying to think of how to backtrack, but it’s too late. Shang Qinghua reaches for his wine in hopes that some alcohol will help him string together a coherent sentence to get out of this mess, but it’s too late. Mobei Jun’s eyes have already gotten a predatory glint and when he is lifting Shang Qinghua up by the collar and taking him back to bed, Shang Qinghua has given up on any attempt at a fruitful conversation, especially when he finds himself on his knees with his mouth quickly and wholly occupied.

Well, fruitful in the way he intended.

 

 


 

 

Understanding finally dawns upon Shang Qinghua one rather bloody day.

They’re ambushed in the middle of a hunt, turned on by one of the demons that were leading them into the woods. The ambush is violent and takes even Shang Qinghua by surprise— though to be fair, the fact that he’s remembered as many little plot details as he has over his lifetime is admirable. A swarm of demons overtake them in the middle of a forest, trying to overwhelm Mobei Jun’s faithful party.

Mobei Jun has no problem dispatching a majority of them, but the leader of the group is rather crafty and manages to hide away, waiting for a moment to spring. Shang Qinghua sees this from where he’s tried to hide from the carnage, sees the demon start to launch at Mobei Jun from the shadows. Without much thought, Shang Qinghua leaps as he draws out his sword and sends it flying with a whistle. It skewers the demon, which only serves to have it turn its attention towards Shang Qinghua. 

It’s a good thing that Shang Qinghua, despite his tendency to take the easiest route out, has a rather thorough idea of how to defend himself. The fight looks badass but really, Shang Qinghua is flying by the seat of his pants, fuelled sheerly by survival instinct and all the nights he and Cucumber-bro spend finding new ways to be foolish with their fighting skills when their demonic overlords are off somewhere. Undoubtedly, having seen how Shang Qinghua’s default defence is thigh-hugging, Mobei Jun knows this too. 

Shang Qinghua notices with some pride that he manages to behead the demon on his own without his king stepping in. It’s a fearsome enough act that the other attackers get distracted by it, and Mobei Jun executes them with ease while Shang Qinghua steps back from the slumping demon. 

Ha! How’s that for evolution from cannon fodder! Where’s that stingy system to give him his well-earned bonus points!

But when he stands up, soaked in blood, Mobei Jun has that look again. That specific look, his brows pinched with a hard set to his jaw, that is particularly vexed. It’s funneled directly towards Sahng Qinghua to the point where some of the attendants catch on and step away. Shang Qinghua panics for a moment and thinks that he’s done something wrong, though he categorically hasn’t. 

Right?

Shang Qinghua is about to drop to his knees and beg for forgiveness anyways but before he can do that, he’s grabbed yet again by the collar of his clothes as this time, Mobei Jun tears open a portal.

“Are you hurt?” Mobei Jun grunts as they step out into the courtyard before their chambers, Shang Qinghua still reeling from suddenly jumping across a fold in space. 

“I’m okay,” Shang Qinghua wheezes, green around the gills as he looks up. 

“Good.”

Mobei Jun proceeds to look angrier and angrier as he herds Shang Qinghua past the doors and into their rooms. The hairs on the back of Shang Qinghua’s neck rise as Mobei Jun shuts them squarely, kicking out any overly helpful servant that tries to attend to them. A hand on Shang Qinghua’s shoulder yanks him around to face Mobei Jun but before Shang Qinghua can make his case and plead forgiveness for whatever crime he’s connected, Mobei Jun grabs his face and…

...kisses him?

“Mmph—?” Shang Qinghua makes a sound of surprise as Mobei Jun’s arms come around his waist, kissing him so hard that it feels like it’s bruising. Their teeth clack painfully together and Shang Qinghua tries to draw back to breathe and temper their lips. It works for a few moments, and then the gravity of his world shifts as Mobei Jun picks him up and presses him against the nearby wall.

He’s still kissing Shang Qinghua like he wants to eat him whole, and that message Shang Qinghua gets loud and clear. He clings onto Mobei Jun’s shoulders and wraps his legs tightly, like he’d be able to melt them together this way. Mobei Jun pulls back from the kiss and Shang Qinghua accidentally makes a pathetic little whine at the loss, one that he swallows back as Mobei Jun glares at him.

This is so fucking confusing!

Before Shang Qinghua can dwell on it any longer, Mobei Jun is turning on his heel and striding towards their bed, still holding up Shang Qinghua. Shang Qinghua feels the mattress against his back shortly after as Mobei Jun eclipses him with another ferocious kiss, yanking off his clothes and pawing at his bare body. Shang Qinghua calls to him once and when Mobei Jun looks up, Shang Qinghua can still see a spatter of blood across his neck and loses whatever fragment of thought that had been trying to claw its way from his brain to his mouth.

Half a shichen later, Shang Qinghua’s folded in half and wailing to the high heavens as Mobei Jun renders unto him a service that threatens to break the bed. Mobei Jun has already dragged him to one end via his mouth, one end via his fingers, and is determined to make sure he does Shang Qinghua so thoroughly that he’ll need to be carried around for the rest of the week.

Shang Qinghua had tried to muffle himself earlier on, but Mobei Jun has his wrists pinned now beside his head, giving him no quarter as he snaps his hips into him. Shang Qinghua does make a valiant effort to bite his lip but in the end, he can’t help but make one embarrassingly loud sound after the other.

Whatever adrenaline is left over from the fight must have turned into an aphrodisiac instead because Mobei Jun is ruthless in the way he moves. And Shang Qinghua enjoys it too, his body riding an incredibly hysteric high.

“Look at me,” Mobei Jun says as he drives Shang Qinghua near delirious and helpless, Shang Qinghua does his best to wrench his eyes open. 

Through his haze he sees Mobei Jun’s face, the look of anger painted across it. It almost sobers Shang Qinghua up but then they lock their eyes and Shang Qinghua sees lust that burns as delirious as he feels. Shang Qinghua involuntarily tightens and that look grows deeper as Mobei Jun lets out a low groan.

Oh.

Oh.

So that’s what that look means. 

Shang Qinghua has to tuck that realization away for later though, because Mobei Jun wraps a large hand around him and his world quickly goes a searing white.

 


 

 

Thankfully, Mobei Jun has enough foresight to draw a bath  after, a bath that Shang Qinghua sleeps through in its entirety. He appreciates this more in the morning when he wakes up, sore and aching but free of any blood.

His throat is hoarse, his skin feels too tender, and his hips ache, but Shang Qinghua feels rather satiated as he extracts himself from Mobei Jun’s hold. The other man is still asleep, and had looked rather self-satisfied as Shang Qinghua dozed off last night. The memory of that sends a shiver through Shang Qinghua’s spine for a moment before his brain realigns and he remembers his realization from last night. 

It makes him laugh a little. Both at his own cluelessness and at the way that want and anger seem to be a blurred line when it comes to Mobei Jun’s face. But now that Shang Qinghua knows, he’s going to hold onto that knowledge for as long as he can and add it into his repertoire of all the little ways he knows his king. 

“What are you laughing at?” Mobei Jun grumbles, eyes still closed and voice half-slurred. Shang Qinghua chooses not to reply, and instead, gets an idea. 

Despite his whole body protesting, Shang Qinghua slides off the bed as gently as possible. He pads over to the small chest at the foot of the bed and quietly unlatches it, revealing the bed of silks that Mobei Jun typically wears at night. If he’s not completely preoccupied. Shang Qinghua picks out one that’s the same deep and rich cobalt blue as the Mobei clan colours. It’s incredibly soft, made of rare spider silk, and feels expensive when Shang Qinghua drapes it around his shoulders. He knows he can’t quite pull off the trembling maiden look, but knows he’s got a pathetic enough appearance at times that it can verge into the realm of being alluring. For Mobei Jun at least, which is all that Shang Qinghua really needs. 

“Where have you gone?” Mobei Jun’s voice sounds a bit clearer now and Shang Qinghua makes a non-committal sound. Mobei Jun’s next words come as a command. “Come back to bed.”

Shang Qinghua says nothing, just creeps back towards their bed, pulling the robe tightly around him. It’s oversized and part of it slips, leaving his collarbone exposed, but Shang Qinghua isn’t aiming for presentability. Mobei Jun lifts his head off the bed when he gets no reply but when he sees Shang Qinghua approaching in what is definitely not a poorly disguised waddle, he sits up fully.

This time it doesn’t terrify him when Mobei Jun’s expression darkens. Anticipation wells up in Shang Qinghua instead when he sees those bright blue eyes turn stormy the closer he gets. 

For a moment, Shang Qinghua’s instinct from over the years kicks in and the little rodent in the back of his brain tells him to run before Mobei Jun gets angry. But the larger part of his brain, the one that is giddy about unlocking this new level of knowledge, stomps that little rodent and kicks it out. 

And sure enough, as soon as he’s within reach, Mobei Jun is grabbing Shang Qinghua by the elbow to speed up his journey back into bed. Shang Qinghua yelps as he’s tugged onto Mobei Jun’s lap and a cool palm immediately slides under the robes to squeeze his already-abused rear. 

“My king,” Shang Qinghua says anyways, just to be a pain. “You look a little angry. Is something troubling you?”

Mobei Jun doesn’t reply— he simply tugs Shang Qinghua closer in a demanding manner that tells Shang Qinghua he’s right, and Shang Qinghua does a poor job of hiding his own smug face.