Having nothing to occupy himself with, Xia Xun found a piece of wood to carve. He refused to let it go during breakfast. He drank porridge absent-mindedly, leaving one hand free to stroke the lump of wood from time to time.
Qi Yan asked curiously: “Where did you find the wood?”
Xia Xun said carelessly:
“I took down the memorial tablet you set for me and cut it from it.”
Seeing Qi Yan’s chopsticks stop in mid-air, he added:
“That thing looks inauspicious and it’s made of fine cypress wood. It was a pity to throw it away, so I thought I might as well use it.”
Qi Yan had a lot to say but swallowed his words in the end.
“…as long as you enjoy it, you can do whatever you want.”
He glanced at the wood twice and then complimented:
“Your hands are still so clever. The puppy looks so vivid.”
Xia Xun paused and said, “I’m carving a camel.”
Qi Yan was startled but reacted quickly, pointed to the corner of the piece of wood and corrected himself:
“I was really shocked and my eyes were confused. It’s clearly the camel’s tail, how could I make a mistake like this.”
It took a while for Xia Xun to speak.
“—That’s the camel’s leg.”
Qi Yan’s smile froze on his face.
Xia Xun drank all the porridge in the bowl until there was not even a grain of rice left. Putting down the bowl, he said to Qi Yan:
“If you can’t think of a compliment, you’d better stop talking, so that you don’t slap yourself in the face with every sentence.”
Qi Yan was taken aback for a moment, but immediately thought of a way to solve the dilemma. He held Xia Xun’s hand and smiled at him with the most affectionate smile.
“Having said that, why did you suddenly think of carving a camel?”
Xia Xun didn’t hear what he was asking at all. When Qi Yan smiled, all his attention was focused on Qi Yan’s face.
He saw Qi Yan’s curving eyes, his long eyelashes and the mole at the corner of his eye. Below Qi Yan’s tall nose, there were thin lips, very light in colour and looking extremely soft. Somehow he couldn’t help but want to reach out and touch.
With his mind in turmoil, Xia Xun had already forgotten what Qi Yan had just said. He suddenly retracted his gaze and replied, “It’s nothing.”
Taking note of this incident, Qi Yan stood up with satisfaction. It was time for him to go to court.
Xia Xun cursed himself for being useless and always falling for this kind of trick, thinking: the misfortune of beauty is not just an empty phrase.
Before leaving, Qi Yan told him:
“If you want to go out, remember to wear a hood.”
Xia Xun asked rhetorically: “How do you know that I am going out?”
Qi Yan blinked: “Who ran outside every day a few days ago?”
Xia Xun stood his ground.
“Since you have said so, wouldn’t it be very ungrateful of me not to go out?”
He picked up the hood that was placed aside, put it on his head haphazardly, bypassed Qi Yan and rushed out of the mansion before him.
Qi Yan was right. He did always run out these days, otherwise he wouldn’t think of carving camels.
As soon as he went out yesterday, he saw a Hu man holding a camel standing on the opposite side of the road. There were many camel footprints on the ground, showing that he had been waiting there for a long time.
Xia Xun glanced at him twice, didn’t take him to heart and continued to walk. As soon as he passed the corner of the street, the man with a camel followed him and stopped behind him.
Xia Xun turned his head to look; the Hu man took out a dagger from his arms and insisted on giving it to him.
Xia Xun refused: “I don’t need this thing, you can sell it to others.”
The Hu man didn’t speak the official language, so he waved his hand at him, reached into his sleeve and searched there for a long time, then took out a black crow feather and pushed it to Xia Xun’s chest together with a dagger.
Xia Xun took these two things instinctively; the man let go, smiled at him and led the camel away.
Xia Xun stood on the spot for a long time.
He picked up the dagger and took a closer look. The short scabbard was studded with various colourful gems, with the largest ruby fixed at the top of the handle.
Xia Xun felt that this style of bells and whistles was impractical, but the more he looked at it, the more familiar it seemed. When he thought of the crow feather, he suddenly understood.
This was probably sent by Fumeng Tancha. He must have returned to Shanshan and, thinking of Xia Xun’s life-saving grace, sent a gift to him all the way to the capital.
Xia Xun thought that Fumeng Tancha did not send it to Lingnan, but instead sent it to Qi Yan’s mansion. It seemed that as early as on the day of their parting in Qingzhou, he guessed that Xia Xun would not leave.
Xia Xun shook his head.
“…This man is really cunning.”
He took the dagger back to the mansion and threw it deep in the cabinet.
Inspired by this meeting, he thought of carving a camel.
Of course there was no Hu people waiting for him outside the door today. Wearing a hood, he rode a light carriage.
Familiar with the road, he went all the way to the destination of his trip — Ruiji Guan.
The old man’s memory was great; not only did he remember Xia Xun, but also remembered his illness.
“Is it you? How is it? Changed your mind? Didn’t you plan to just take some lung-nourishing medicine? Are you ready to treat it properly?”
Xia Xun said ”en”.
The doctor asked, puzzled: “How come you suddenly figured it out?”
Xia Xun replied lightly:
“Before, I thought it was boring to live.”
The doctor looked up at him: “What about now?”
Xia Xun thought for a while and said, “It’s not bad.”
The doctor chuckled softly but did not expose his pretence.
“Your illness is caused by an old injury. You can’t just take medicine. Wait for the old man to take care of it. If you come in a few days, the old man will give you a few needles!”
Xia Xun nodded and asked: “You… do you have any ointment for removing scars?”
The doctor asked in surprise: “Yo, you have changed a lot. Not only do you want to live well, but you also want to get rid of your old scars?”
Xia Xun said vaguely: “Something like that.”
The doctor said, “The old man can give it to you, but this medicine is not very effective for old injuries. It works for the new ones, though. Do you still want it?”
Xia Xun took out his purse.
“Just say how much it costs.”
When Qi Yan returned to the mansion, it was already dark, but there was light in the room. Xia Xun was waiting for him.
Xia Xun was lying on the bed, fiddling with the carved camel in his hand.
On the table, there was a huge medicine box of a weird shape. Qi Yan couldn’t look away when he saw it.
“What is this thing?”
Xia Xun’ hand stopped as he looked up at him.
“It’s a scar removal medicine.”
Qi Yan said in a low voice: “Yes, yes… Finally, you have the heart to take care of yourself. I have long wanted to ask the doctor to look at the wounds on your back—”
Xia Xun interrupted him: “I bought it for you.”
“For me?” Qi Yan did not expect it.
Xia Xun sat up and dropped one succinct word: “Strip.”
Qi Yan’s chest was covered with scars of different shapes, all of them caused by Xia Xun.
The man who once had pointed the knife at him, now scooped a large portion of brown ointment and rubbed it on his scars.
At first it was cold and refreshing, but as the ointment took effect, Qi Yan gradually felt a hot tingling sensation.
This kind of pain was not bad and Qi Yan had no time to pay attention to it right now.
He stared at Xia Xun who was close to him, illuminated by the faint candlelight that enveloped his whole body in a fine soft halo. Whenever he leaned closer to Qi Yan to apply medicine, his warm breath would brush over Qi Yan’s neck.
“Alright.” After treating the last scar, Xia Xun straightened up: “The doctor said that it will hurt a little bit just after applying it, so bear with me.”
Qi Yan said with a smile:
“In order to thank you for your hard work, I must do something to repay you.”
Xia Xun became vigilant: “What are you going to do?”
Qi Yan remained silent, held up Xia Xun’s other hand that was not stained with ointment and brought Xia Xun’s fingers to his lips.
“Touch, didn’t you want to touch in the morning?”
As he spoke, his lips opened and closed, rubbing over Xia Xun’s fingers constantly.
Xia Xun suddenly felt his cheeks flush, but Qi Yan still didn’t have enough. He licked Xia Xun’s fingers lightly and then looked at him with a smile.
“Well? Does it feel as you imagined?”
Even the tips of Xia Xun’s ears turned red. He quickly withdrew his hand: “Who wants to touch you?!”
He made a move to stand up and leave. Then Qi Yan pulled him, Xia Xun’s body tilted and fell onto him.
Qi Yan opened his arms, hugged Xia Xun neatly and chuckled softly against his ear:
“Aren’t you pretty active today?”
He laughed happily, and the echo of his chest vibrating also spread to Xia Xun.
Their chests were pressed together. Xia Xun didn’t refuse but muttered with some dissatisfaction:
“…The medicine I just applied rubbed all over my clothes, it’s probably wiped off clean. Do you think this medicine is cheap…”
Qi Yan’s arms wrapped around him tightened slowly, his voice a little hoarse.
“I’m done applying mine, it’s your turn.”
His hand cautiously followed Xia Xun’s waist all the way up, slowly stroking the criss-crossing scars on his back.
Xia Xun knew that this was the thing that made Qi Yan brood the most.
These nights, Qi Yan always quietly observed his scars while he was asleep. He thought Xia Xun hadn’t noticed it, but in fact Xia Xun was pretending to be asleep.
Every time, after a long time, Xia Xun would always hear a heavy sigh, as if these scars were not left on his back, but carved in Qi Yan’s heart.
At this moment, Qi Yan’s hot palms were tightly pressed to his skin, rubbing back and forth on his protruding scars, as if these scars could be healed by his hands as long as he touched them a few more times.
Xia Xun sighed secretly.
He hugged Qi Yan back and murmured, “I don’t need it, the doctor said, I don’t need it.”
Qi Yan didn’t speak, but his hands kept on moving.
Xia Xun didn’t care about it, but he couldn’t make Qi Yan stop caring about it. In order to change the topic, he suddenly withdrew from Qi Yan’s arms.
“By the way, where are the gold bracelets I gave you? Why don’t you wear them?”
Qi Yan was taken aback by his sudden question and even stopped.
Xia Xun stretched out his hand, groped on the shelf at the head of the bed, took out two gold bracelets, placed them in Qi Yan’s hand and motioned for him to put them on for him to see.
Qi Yan said in amazement: “You… want me to wear them? But they are—”
Xia Xun righteously insisted:
“Didn’t you tell me to give them to the person married to me? You didn’t refuse when I gave them to you by the river, did you? Do you want to back off now?”
Qi Yan had nothing to say, so he bit the bullet, picked up a gold bracelet and reluctantly put it on his hand.
The bracelet was originally made for a woman, its diameter was not big, so when Qi Yan pushed it to the broadest part of his palm, it stuck.
He breathed a sigh of relief and said to Xia Xun:
“You see, it’s not that I don’t want to wear them, but I really can’t wear them.”
Xia Xun took the bracelets in his hand, weighed them twice, and the golden bracelets struck against each other, making a pleasant jingling sound.
He deliberately said: “Listen, what a nice sound of gold touching gold, it’s a pity not to use such a good material.”
When Qi Yan heard what he said, he suddenly raised his hand and put two gold bracelets on Xia Xun’s wrist.
After putting them on, he still had the audacity to face Xia Xun’s surprised gaze and say happily:
“I knew you could wear them.”
Xia Xun said unwillingly: “You are cheating!”
As soon as he moved, the bracelets made a gentle jingling sound.
Qi Yan puffed through his nose, leaned closer and asked softly:
“Do you like this sound?”
Xia Xun didn’t know what he meant and said, “Of course!”
Qi Yan held his hand, leaned forward and pushed him down on the couch. With his movements, the two gold bracelets kept jingling.
Xia Xun refused to forgive him and rebuked:
“You don’t keep your word!”
Qi Yan’s hand started from Xia Xun’s waist, skimmed over his chest and abdomen, stopped at his heart, and thrust his fingers into Xia Xun’s collar.
He leaned down, pressed his forehead against Xia Xun and said in a calm voice, “Where don’t I keep it? Didn’t you say you liked the sound? Since you like it, then I will reluctantly let you listen to it for a while…”
The crisp jingling sounded intermittently, and it took a long time before it stopped.
Xia Xun’s hair was sweaty, a few strands sticking to the side of his face. The corners of his eyes were red; his eyes were half closed and his eyelashes were moist.
He was so tired that he couldn’t open his eyes and he was about to fall asleep.
While half asleep and half awake, he vaguely heard Qi Yan say, “Tomorrow is the rest day, let’s go to the mountain hot spring.”
He thought it was a dream.
When they got in the carriage on the next day, he realized that it hadn’t been.
The hot spring Qi Yan took him to was in the middle of a bamboo forest. After nightfall, there was silence all around, apart from the occasional chirping of autumn cicadas.
Xia Xun soaked in the spring water, surrounded by the water vapour, and even his consciousness became wobbly.
Caught off guard, he realized a warm jug of wine was pressed to his cheek. Xia Xun looked up and saw Qi Yan holding the jug.
Qi Yan smiled and said, “Seeing your blurred eyes, I’m afraid you’re going to get drunk before you drink.”
He put the jug on a tray floating on the water, walked slowly into the spring on the steps, and came to Xia Xun’s side.
He poured the wine into the wine cups he had already prepared, picked up a cup and handed it to Xia Xun. Suddenly, he thought of something and stopped abruptly.
“No, I remembered, you can’t drink alcohol. Your alcohol intake is really too bad. With this one cup, I’m afraid you will be so drunk that you will be unconscious.”
Xia Xun didn’t say anything but looked straight at him.
Like Xia Xun, Qi Yan was wearing only a white undershirt. The thin fabric was soaked in water and clinging to his skin, outlining his well-defined chest.
Xia Xun couldn’t help but continue to move his gaze down, but unfortunately, Qi Yan’s abdomen and the rest were hidden in the water, so he couldn’t really see anything.
Xia Xun couldn’t help but “tsk”, showing his displeasure.
Qi Yan put down the wine cup and pretended to be angry:
“Young master, why is your expression so hot when you look there? If the humble me didn’t have this layer of clothing to cover myself, I’m afraid that the place you look at would have been burned a long time ago.” (hehe, role-playing :))
Xia Xun’s face did not change colour: “Let me ask you, does this hot spring have a name?”
Qi Yan looked at him up and down.
“Young master is so careless. When he came here today, didn’t he see the four big words ‘Spring Sun Hot Pond’ written on the mountain pass?”
Xia Xun said:
“It might have been called that before, but since you came here, from today on, it should be renamed ‘Beauty Pond’.”
Qi Yan laughed out loud.
“The humble me is grateful for the young master’s affection. Now let this beauty bring a pot of tea for the young master.”
After speaking, he was about to get up, but Xia Xun grabbed his sleeve.
Leaning against the wall of the pool, Xia Xun said with a smile:
“In such a romantic atmosphere, what is the point of abandoning wine and drinking tea?”
Qi Yan patted the back of his hand.
“In such a romantic atmosphere, if the young master doesn’t wake up once he’s drunk, he’ll miss the beauty of the moment.”
Xia Xun picked up the cup: “Who said I want to drink by myself.”
He drank a full cup of wine and then pressed Qi Yan down forcefully.
Qi Yan had no intention of resisting and was pressed against the edge of the spring exactly as Xia Xun wanted, not forgetting to hold his waist firmly.
Xia Xun covered his eyes, kissed his mouth vigorously and fed him all the spicy wine in his mouth.
After a kiss, he wiped off the wine oozing from his lips, sighed and said to Qi Yan, “How does it taste?”
Qi Yan replied, admonishing:
“This place is not like home, you have to be careful, don’t fall down.”
Xia Xun said “nagging” in a low voice, pressing him down and refusing to let go.
Qi Yan looked at him indulgently and asked:
“Young master has taken a great advantage of the humble me, don’t you want to say a few words to appease me?”
Xia Xun sneered: “Is this called a great advantage? I have to do more excessive things!”
He raised his hand and took out Qi Yan’s hairpin. Qi Yan’s black hair loosened and fell on his shoulders.
Xia Xun held his face and kissed it again.
Qi Yan let out a satisfied sigh, hugged Xia Xun tightly, and entwined his fingers into his hair, deepening the kiss.
The moonlight poured down, a breeze blew and the surface of the pool swayed with gentle waves.
Everything in the world was empty, only the night was endless.
Tonight, every wish of Qi Yan was fulfilled.
Translator’s note: That’s it! 🙂
Thank you very much to everyone who read it and commented, it meant a lot for me.
And special thanks to sadiewoods9!!! Your comments were my biggest joy and support throughout the whole process! I’m not sure I would be able to persist without you!
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