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Yan Xiaohan held innumerable words within him, but it was like his throat was clogged up with a ball of cotton. He used so much strength in his arms, he nearly cut off the airflow of the man in his embrace. His soul flown off to who-knew-where and body wholly numb, awareness only came back to him in increments after a long while. He could feel Fu Shen gently comforting him along his back.
In the wake of sensing the rhythm of his pats and caresses, his heartbeat slowed down, bit by bit. There was a voice that broke out from the bottom of his heart, and he complied with his feelings, saying the phrase aloud automatically.
“I really missed you.”
That ball of cotton dislodged at last. He was once again in control of his throat, but he might yet have been unpracticed at it, as his voice was terribly rough. “It’s been an entire year, from when we parted at Jing until now…”
“I know.” Pain sprouted throughout all of Fu Shen’s heart, his eyes burning at the edges, and he had a feeling that he might be losing face today. “…I counted the days.”
“We were only married for half a year…” Yan Xiaohan lightly relaxed his tone, not daring to use strength, as if he had finally fought free of the nightmare and escaped the pain, taking caution as he bore the lingering fear. “This year was so long. It was almost longer than my whole life. I couldn’t wait for you to recover the capital and stabilize the realm, so I came to look for you myself. Even if I can only act as a horse before your carriage in the future, Marquis—”
He grit his teeth like he was swallowing down all the sufferings he’d had during those long, sleepless nights, enunciating with a pause between words. “I will never part even half a step away from you again.”
Fu Shen, who was stuffed into his neck, laughed lowly, and ended it with an utterly open-minded statement. “Okay. You won’t be a cun apart from me, so when this Marquis goes to fight later on, you can just sit on my lap and watch the battle. How about that?”
Can’t he let someone feel sentimental for even one second?!
If he was able to open his mouth and make words, that was proof that his period of peak excitement had since passed, and that he had turned into a normal person with a clear mind. Fu Shen loosened up a tad, peered at the other’s face, then reached out to wipe water droplets off his lashes, suddenly grinning. “You’ve been hugging me so long. Why haven’t you called my name at all?”
Yan Xiaohan startled.
He didn’t dare to.
He dreaded that everything in front of him was like those countless times he’d dreamed in the middle of the night, the tenderness unending, but he would abruptly startle awake as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, left only with a room full of quiet, a solitary shadow, and cold sheets.
Fu Shen smiled slightly. “Hm?”
The one before his eyes was real, warm and lively, his beloved that could move and scold him.
Yan Xiaohan closed his eyes. A bead of water soon slid down from above the tip of his brow, the sound seeming to invoke all of his courage.
Fu Shen tugged at his hand, pressing hard on the acupoint at its web as he replied. “Mhm.”
That sound, along with the sharp stabbing pain on the back of his hand, went straight to the crown of Yan Xiaohan’s head, sobering him. He quivered from the pinch and quickly opened his eyes wide.
The dream was over.
He’s still there.
Fu Shen withdrew his hand like he was an unconcerned party, talking as if all was fine. “You good? Let’s go, then. Are your people still on the other shore? Go–“
Yan Xiaohan swiftly grabbed him, lowering his voice. “Marquis, can you have your people step back a bit?”
“Hm? What are you doing?”
“I want to kiss you. Right now. I can’t wait.”
“…Open your eyes and look around. Would that be appropriate?”
“You said yourself that whatever I wanted, you would give. I want to kiss you,” Yan Xiaohan replied bluntly.
That display of unrestrained emotions just now was already going too far, and each of the accompanying soldiers regretted that they weren’t able extend their necks out eight chi and stand some rabbit ears up. If he allowed him to kiss him at this moment, Fu Shen’s prestige was bound to hit rock bottom. He gave a dry cough, though he involuntarily lowered his imposingness by half. “I’ll owe you, I’ll owe you. You’re so sensible; don’t get arrogant from the pampering.”
Yan Xiaohan’s eyes curved up when he heard this, and in a split second, it was like all the spring brilliance in the world flourished within that smile. Even Fu Shen, whose heart and soul were solid as iron and stone, was in some turmoil. “You… whatever. How many people are on the other side? Who’s leading the troops?”
“I brought about a dozen people to scout the way beforehand. Most of the army is still behind, and the leader is General Zhao Xicheng.” Yan Xiaohan overturn all his private matters for him without the slightest hesitation.
“General Zhao. That’s easy to work with.” Fu Shen suddenly realized something. “Hm? Why did you go with them, then?”
Yan Xiaohan touched his nose. “I’m not skilled in military things. I brazenly begged the Emperor to do this, and he just unearthed a Military Supervisor position,” he answered, embarrassed.
Fu Shen laughed, not giving him a whole lot of face. “You can’t avoid what’s coming. Just accept your fate.”
Yan Xiaohan looked at him helplessly yet fondly. Fu Shen motioned a soldier over, handing him his own waist-nameplate. “Go to the other shore and give this to General Zhao. Inform him that the Iron Cavalry is garrisoned at Callery Pear and that I subdued the Military Supervisor for him, so he can pass a few days of his life in happiness.”
“Hey, I heard you.” Fu Shen held his hand with no qualms, turning his head to the side to talk to the wide-eyed, dumbstruck soldier. “Welcome General Zhao to come over here and sit down when he has the time, and we’ll talk over how to handle Chang’an City.”
He and Yan Xiaohan shared a steed and dashed quick as lightning back to Callery Pear. Returning to the private residence the Northern Yan Army was temporarily stationed at, Fu Shen kicked the door of a room open and shoved Yan Xiaohan inside, giving an order to the personal troops behind him. “Fetch a basin of hot water.”
This was Fu Shen’s space. It was exceptionally simple, with only one heated kang and one worn-out table. A jumbled pile of paper, brushes, and other things were on top of the latter. Placed in the corner was a wooden wheelchair.
Yan Xiaohan took notice of that. His pupils shrunk slightly, but he didn’t say anything. Fu Shen walked in at this moment, then rummaged a piece of fabric off the kang. “Take off your wet clothes, don’t get cold. First, put on my makeshift–“
He didn’t get to finish when a hug abruptly plastered to him from behind. “Can I kiss you now, Marquis?” Yan Xiaohan sullenly asked into his ear.
Fu Shen made use of his skill and strength to efficiently flip him over and press him onto the kang, grasping his chin with evil intent. “You’re so eager for it?”
The door of the room was blown wide open with a bang. Yu Qiaoting impatiently burst in, shouting unhappily and noisily. “General, I heard you fished out a beauty from the river…”
Fu Shen: “……”
Their position was completely indecent, blinding both of General Yu’s eyes. The “beauty”, who was pushed down onto the bed by the Marquis of Jing Ning and not resisting that at all, narrowed his eyes, his gaze like a knife and his murderous aura flowing out in every direction. Fu Shen straightened out his lower back a bit. “What did you just say, Qingheng?” he questioned in a quiet voice.
General Yu deserved to be called someone who had seen the greater workings of the world, and he answered with a solemn countenance. “General, I heard you fished out a wife from the river. Do continue, this insignificant general will just take a hike.”
Saying so, he sped off like his ass was on fire, tail tucked between his legs as he went too fast to even leave a dust cloud behind.
“That dumbass…” Fu Shen shook his head and sneered. His collar suddenly tightened, and he had no choice but to bend over at the waist as he returned to the present. “What’s wrong?”
Yan Xiaohan was like an infuriated pufferfish, hairs sticking up in anger. “Why didn’t he knock on the door when he entered your room?”
He didn’t have time to claim that he’d been wronged before Yan Xiaohan was firmly blocking up his mouth.
Those lips that had steeped in the river water were a bit cold and very soft, but they soon became vicious, bearing the vigor of being right about to devour someone. Fu Shen repeatedly tried to draw back, but his lower waist and back of head were unforgivingly detained. The arm that he had propped up beside Yan Xiaohan’s ear eventually got a cramp from the awkward position, his legs faltering. He fell down onto Yan Xiaohan’s chest, finally forcing their lips and teeth to separate, promptly after which Yan Xiaohan embraced him and rolled over in a half-circle to the bed’s side. They were flipped over so that he was now the one pushing down, and his lips pressed to his once more.
Familiar breath enveloping him, Fu Shen was addled by the kiss, his own breathing rushed. “You’re a vinegar monster…” he said, muffled.
A low laugh escaped Yan Xiaohan’s throat, quickly followed by him restraining his energy and no longer being domineering. He merely affectionately pecked the man on the surface of his lips. Right when he went to speak, a knock abruptly sounded from outside, and a soldier’s voice came through the door. “General, the hot water’s here!”
Fu Shen sat up, glanced at the bed that had been rolled around into a big mess by that vinegar jar he had taken out of the water, and poked him threateningly. He got up himself and went to open the door, accepting the big basin of hot water. Yan Xiaohan moved a small stool over in accordance.
Fu Shen rolled up his sleeves to test the water temperature. “Alright, come wash up. I’ll watch the door for you.”
Yan Xiaohan remained silent as he undid his belt and shed his wet clothes, revealing the corner of a white bandage on his shoulder. Fu Shen glimpsed it out of the corner of his eye and immediately reached out to grab him. “How’d that happen? Where’s the wound?”
“It’s nothing. I just wasn’t being careful and got a surface wound, it’s probably already scabbed over. The army medic made a big fuss over this little thing and insisted that I wrap it up.”
Fu Shen wasn’t at ease. “Turn around, let me take a look.”
Yan Xiaohan obediently sat down on the stool with his back to him, his upper body bare, and used a damp towel to wipe the water trails off of himself. Fu Shen conscientiously peeled the bandage off his shoulder, observing the smooth skin that had been horizontally sliced open by a sharp blade. Though the scarlet, more than three cun long cut had since closed up, the scab was only a very thin layer, and it seemed like it might split open at any time.
Fu Shen had been on campaigns all over the place; there had been injuries and sights far graver than this. If a wound like this befell him, he likely wouldn’t even furrow his brows, but when he looked at the gash placed across Yan Xiaohan’s shoulder, there was a tightness growing beat after beat in his heart.
Hushed for a moment, he used the dry pad of his finger to lightly the wound’s edge, its inflamed area not gone down yet. “Does it hurt?”
Yan Xiaohan smiled. “If I said it does, do you have candy to eat?”
Fu Shen “oh”ed with an unclear implication, abruptly lowering his head. Yan Xiaohan only felt a soft, warm touch stop atop the wound for a short moment. The new, tender flesh was extremely sensitive; that numb tickle was like a flame coming up against hot oil and dry firewood, an explosion of fervent desire engulfing his entire body. All of the muscles and bones of his limbs were on the brink of shuddering, his voice getting outrageously hoarse over the span of a second. “Jingyuan… what are you doing?”
“Take your bath.” Fu Shen straightened out his spine, raised up a hand, and softly slapped him on his naked back, chiding him as if nothing had happened. “It’s daring of you to jump in the river with a wound. You’ll be crying later if it gets blisters.”
Yan Xiaohan made to throw the cloth into the basin, fed up, but Fu Shen took it out of his hand. He soaked it in the hot water, then slowly swiped along the other’s nape. “Don’t move,” he ordered in a low voice.
If it wasn’t for him coming to find him, Yan Xiaohan’s status and identity in Jiangnan’s little Dynasty meant that the type of drudgery the frontlines had wasn’t his responsibility in any way.
This wound… was received for Fu Shen.
“Does your heart ache?” Yan Xiaohan gradually came to realize that if he had a tail behind him, it would probably be lifted up to the sky right now. “If this little cut could be exchanged for a kiss, then…”
“Are you really going to keep going in that direction?”
“I’m not, I’m not.” Yan Xiaohan turned his body to the side and fixed his eyes upon him, a smile in them. “I know that you’re distressed for this humble one, Marquis. I’ll certainly be more cautious in the future.”
Fu Shen looked back at him suspiciously, predicting what was going to come next.
Sure enough, Yan Xiaohan nimbly seized his wrist, bowed his head, and pecked him on the back of the hand, speaking in a warm tone as he lifted his eyes. “I hate to make your heart ache, too.”
The translator says: Props to whichever soldier(s) reported that their Commander found a hot guy. Good eyes, good eyes.