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Some people, on the surface, looked to be commanding and sharp as a cutting edge, but when kissed, their lips were as soft as a freshly-steamed bun in the morning.
Fu Shen was elegant-looking indeed, but due to his personality, he was serious and stern most the time. On top of that, he had a knack for ridiculing people. Yan Xiaohan frequently felt that he had a ‘bladed mouth’ in several definitions of the phrase, and one light tap against it would give one a mouthful of blood.
Yet, at this moment, Fu Shen was leaning again the headboard, head tilted slightly up, the imposing aura that coated him vanishing completely; like some kind of tamed, lazy beast, he even had one hand hooked around Yan Xiaohan’s neck.
He had just finishing bathing, his lips a bit dry from the heated steam, and the way he kissed was warm and velvety.
Yan Xiaohan was still restraining himself, patrolling the creases on the surface of those two parched lips, and gently pursing against their softness. He felt like he was trying to get a feel for the edge of a cliff, one half of him repeatedly mentally warning himself not to jump down, the other half unable to keep from wanting to stick his head out to peek at the bottom. He ultimately wasn’t able to overcome his instinct to lure him in, the tip of his tongue softly and quickly catching against Fu Shen’s upper lip…
The hand at his nape instantly exerted a force that could strangle a man to death.
As expected, he was still being too impatient. He reined in his impassioned state of mind, closed his eyes, and thought about how he had had a bit too many instances of being unable to control his emotions tonight.
The shock subsiding, Fu Shen loosened his hand in shame, massaging the area he had clamped down on. “…That was embarrassing.”
Yan Xiaohan chuckled lightly. “Mn, it sure was.”
Yan Xiaohan bowed his head and smooched him on the tip of his nose. “I’m going to get the medicine. Calm down a bit before then. With that sort of hand strength… how am I going to turn a little into a lot in the future?”
Fu Shen raised a hand, then pushed him off the bed. “What the hell are you talking about, ‘turning a little into a lot’? I’m thinking that if I go three days without beating you, you’ll go and be a little shit.”
In the middle of the night, there was the sound of faintly-rolling thunder. Yan Xiaohan woke from his state of dreaming, and hadn’t yet opened his eyes before getting a whiff of the scent of rainwater coming in from outside the windows.
Immediately afterwards, he heard fine rain striking the roof above.
The first shower of spring days had finally come. Yan Xiaohan was still half-asleep as he rolled over and closed his eyes, feeling for the other side of the bed. His palm landed upon the lump in the quilt next to him. He patted it twice.
Fu Shen hadn’t been sleeping deeply, the overcast and rainy day causing an ache within the cracks in his bones, and waking him repeatedly from the pain. Sensing Yan Xiaohan’s actions, he gave a dazed, “Mn?”
“Do your legs hurt?” The one beside him languidly wrapped his arms around his waist, his voice carrying a low, soft, nasally tone to it from having just woken up. “It’s raining outside.”
Fu Shen hummed softly. “Yep… they hurt real bad…”
Yan Xiaohan propped himself up into a sitting position. “I’m going to go find a foot-warmer.”
“No need for that.” Fu Shen reached out to pull him back, only to grab the long hair that had come loose across his shoulders, the silken strands smoothly winding ‘round his fingers. “Don’t move around so much. Just keep sleeping.”
Yan Xiaohan was tugged slightly backwards by him, thus obliged to lay back down. He shook open the blanket, draped it over Fu Shen, then forcefully invaded his bedcover. Fu Shen was likely not really fully awake, as he didn’t react poorly, merely giving him a light nudge on the shoulder. “What are you doing?”
“Come a little bit over to my side.” Yan Xiaohan opened up his arms and embraced him, his two long, warmed-up legs fitting snug against Fu Shen’s own ice-cold calves, and they held each other in an overly-intimate manner. “Alright. Sleep, now.”
After a burst of rustling noises, that body heat passed through the freezing bedding and pillow to gradually come encircle him. Fu Shen hated this terribly restrictive position and constantly wanted to move his arms and legs, but the inexplicable renewed serenity of the mellow night’s glow urged him into a muddled drowsiness. The areas he ached at still ached, but his perception seemed to be separated from it by a gentle barrier.
He pressed up against Yan Xiaohan’s neck, falling into a heavy slumber.
At dawn the next day, the mountain’s drizzle had still not ceased its pattering. Fu Shen, effected by the influence his months of recuperation had had on him, woke up late in the morning. It was yet another dreary, rainy day outside, and he was unable to open his eyes, ever the more dizzy.
The bed was empty next to him, dim daylight coming in from beyond the curtain. The room was damp and cold, but the interior of the sheets was dry and toasty. He shifted his legs, knocking against the thermal little foot-warmer placed near them.
It was very likely that Yan Xiaohan had fetched it for him after he had gotten up in the morning. Fu Shen collected his mind; memories came back to him, following which he recalled last night’s ear-warming mess of emotions, as well as the one who had held him to sleep for half the night.
He silently smacked his lips with the feeling of the kiss, then rubbed his vaguely aching knees, woefully thinking to himself, I really am a Liuxia Hui.
Yan Xiaohan, who just happened to be pushing the door open to go in, suddenly got a chill up his spine.
He turned back to look on instinct, finding nothing out of the ordinary behind him. Repressing his misgivings, he went through the door, thus speaking to the big bed veiled with a thick curtain. “You should get up, Jingyuan.”
Fu Shen lazily pushed the curtain aside, signaling that he had already awoken.
Yan Xiaohan had to get up early to go to the palace every day for his shift, so it had become habit; even when he was on holiday, he didn’t sleep in, seeming much more energetic than Fu Shen, who was laying on the bed looking useless. He went and drew the curtain up by the hooks on either side, moving to sit on the bed’s edge. “The rain hasn’t let up yet. Are you feeling discomfort anywhere?”
Fu Shen sometimes got the sense that Yan Xiaohan was way too careful with him, as if he wasn’t a tough man with thick skin, but a porcelain doll that would break when the wind blew against it. He had stayed alive up until this day, and was no less susceptible to suffering from his injury; even Du Leng and Yu Qiaoting didn’t think that his leg fractures demanded special attention on a cloudy day. In their point of view, even death was a common matter — these were the mere side-effects of a wound, so why bring it up so much? Why worry over it?
However, with someone holding it in the palm of their hand, a stone would get warmed up.
Fu Shen said he was fine, then reached out to hook Yan Xiaohan around the middle, attempting to pull him back down and press him onto the bed. To his surprise, Yan Xiaohan was sitting particularly rigidly, and Fu Shen was instead made to roll from the inside of the bed to the outer side, limply leaning against his leg like a boneless cat. Yan Xiaohan treated this as if he had thrown himself at him, using a free arm to wrap around his shoulders. “Still not thinking of waking up all the way yet?” he asked with a smile.
“Too lazy, don’t want to move.” Fu Shen sighed like a weary elder. “It’s no good to fight against old age, man.”
“Don’t be so modest.” Yan Xiaohan drooped his head so he was right next to his ear, teasing him. “You’re a vigorous one, Marquis; you latched onto me last night and didn’t ever let go. Or did you forget?”
Fu Shen finally realized that something wasn’t right, here. Both of them had been lying down, cuddling, so why did the feeling of it in hindsight… seem like he was the still the only one suffering a crushing defeat?!
To hell with fucking Liuxia Hui! He should have dealt with this chump on the spot yesterday!
He squeezed Yan Xiaohan’s waist coltishly, putting on a fake smile. “Don’t worry. As long as you follow me with all your heart, you’ll have no limit to how much you can enjoy being protected by me… Yan Meng’gui!”
One of Yan Xiaohan’s hands had him by the shoulder, the other by the legs, and he lifted him out of the sheets with no prior warning. Fu Shen, suddenly suspended in mid-air, jolted in fright, then was placed onto Yan Xiaohan’s lap soon after, a coat coming down to cowl his head.
Across the barrier of soft silk, a fleeting kiss seemed to fall on his lips, so light, it was like an illusion.
“Of course you have all my heart, Marquis,” Yan Xiaohan replied.
Time passed unwittingly in the mountains. Yan Xiaohan followed the Marquis of Jing Ning early into his retirement from political life, indolently idling their time away for a good few days at the manor. Yu Qiaoting privately murmured to Xiao Xun; Fu Shen’s mood was more than a little better than it had been before, with no low spirits from knowing the gut-wrenching truth. On the contrary, he was mixing with that Yan guy every day, never apart from him; was that Envoy of the Flying Dragon Guard a thousand-year-old fox that had changed its form, or what?
It wasn’t only he who thought so, as the Flying Dragon Guards in the capital had the same question.
Where had a huli jing enticed Mister Envoy off to, and why could they not even find his shadow?
When Shen Yi’ce had received an order to come and examine Fu Shen, planning on relaying his colleague’s sentiments to Sir Yan while he was at it, the pair of honorable spouses happened to be in the manor’s courtyard, currently engrossed in… salting and pickling duck eggs.
Within the yard was a small stone table, a little basket of cleaned duck eggs at its side. The Yan-Fu couple sat opposite each other, one steeping the eggs in strong spirits, the other responsible for rolling them in a jar packed with salt.
The yard had a neatly-plowed garden bed planted with freshly-germinating spring onions and green vegetables, and to its side was a big constructed floral arbor holding wisterias, its flowers coming down like a waterfall. Chickens and ducks ran about underneath it, honking and clucking. They were busy with their tasks, lips flapping about unimportant things. Shen Yi’ce stared blankly on as a duck stepped on Mister Envoy’s foot while said man jeered at Fu Shen. “What the ancients said was damaging to the scenery… planting vegetables in a fruit orchard, having a flowering arbor and raising fowl under it — this garden of yours could be said to have been overtaken by it.”
Fu Shen shot back at him without lifting his head. “Then a crippled general ruins the scenery even more, and isn’t that what’s taken over you?”
Yan Xiaohan shut up immediately, though the corner of his mouth was raised suspiciously.
Doctor Shen, dumbstruck, thought to himself, I seem to be one person too many.
“Jizhi, you’re here.” Yan Xiaohan noticed him first, setting aside his work and getting up to greet him. His attitude was natural and easygoing, as if he didn’t feel that there was anything wrong with two major, incredibly powerful Court figures cheerfully pickling duck eggs together.
“Sir, Marquis.” Shen Yi’ce cupped his hands towards them, then couldn’t hold himself back from asking, “Are you…?”
Fu Shen smiled calmly. “A bit of a small hobby. Feel free to laugh, Mr. Shen.”
“How could I dare, how could I,” Shen Yi’ce quickly replied.
Were the rumors about the Marquis he had heard true, then? That his heart was broken, he had changed in personality, and was now planning on removing his armor to retire to civilian life?
Yan Xiaohan washed the salt off his hands, wiping them as he questioned Shen Yi’ce. “Is there anything new in the capital?”
“This subordinate came for precisely that reason,” Shen Yi’ce responded. “Another Golden Crow Guard has died. He expired at midnight in the east city sector’s Emerald Pavilion, and someone came to report it early today. This incident alarmed the Son of Heaven; His Majesty has ordered you to return to the capital as soon as possible. Full authority over the case has already been shifted over to the Flying Dragon Guard.”
Yan Xiaohan instinctively met Fu Shen’s glance, who made a very minute shake of his head, indicating that this had nothing to do with him.
Mumbling to himself a bit, Yan Xiaohan put on a not-very-sincere smile soon after. “Right, then. It’s quite odd; how has Golden Crow had such completely awful luck lately? Is it an ill-starred year for them?”
They had refused to let them get involved before, but this time, the load was so big, the Southern Office couldn’t carry it anymore, so it had to come back and ask for the Flying Dragon Guard. Shen Yi’ce thought that Yan Xiaohan was holding a flicker of fire in his heart, hence the particularly obvious ridicule. “Since that’s the case, I won’t keep you any longer,” Fu Shen said casually. “Be careful with everything.”
The two seemed to have something to talk about, and returned to their room together. Shen Yi’ce sat in the yard, absent-mindedly sweeping his eyes over the chickens and ducks that were everywhere. Suddenly, his ears picked up something, and he skeptically turned his head to look.
The bedroom window wasn’t firmly shut, merely uselessly covered up. He didn’t know whether it was only his misperception or what, but just now, he seemed to have heard a gentle, low-pitched, moan-like groan.
The author says:  Li Shangyin – Twelve Examples of Ruining the Scenery: “1. Shouting and screaming to interrupt the gentle rustling of the leaves (which people like to listen to), 2. crying while everyone’s trying to flowerview (taking everyone’s attention away from the viewing), 3. laying mats on top of moss and ruining the mood (moss is symbolic for happy feelings), 4. chopping off a poplar’s drooping branches (so no one else can pick them), 5. sun-drying one’s pants among blooming flowers (unsightly!), 6. bringing too many with you on a tour of spring (too many people = noise), 7. tying a harness to a stone pillar (no one wants to see your horse??), 8. setting up a fire and taking away from the moon’s light (which people like to gaze at wistfully and now you’re distracting them), 9. a general walking on the ground instead of riding on a horse (which he should always do; walking himself means he was defeated or shameless), 10. putting a building on a mountain ridge (your ugly house is destroying the natural view), 11. vegetables planted in a fruit orchard (vegetables don’t go there), 12. raising fowl under a floral arbor (livestock destroys nice gardens).”
The translator says: Those parentheses are me giving context, in case that wasn’t clear… because just leaving them as-is really makes dear Li Shangyin sound like a petty jerk.
 Liuxia Hui, AKA Zhan Huo, was a politician renowned for his chaste virtue, famously remaining unaffected even with a woman sitting in his lap. In other words, he was probably asexual, and Fu Shen is calling himself a big virgin.
[-] I need to share this: onomatopoeia for clucking is 咕咕, honking is 嘎嘎. Together, they are – I shit you not – goo goo ga ga.