RSH Stratagem 6: Boiling the Frog in … Scalding Hot Water? (1)

Qiu Ling had no idea what his beloved was going on about but if he wanted him to … “Well, in that case, I’d love to paint something for you. If you want to, I could even paint something for you every day.”

Jing He smiled wryly. “That won’t be necessary. Just getting one painting as a present will make it much more precious to me, won’t it?”

Qiu Ling nodded eagerly. “Of course! Then I’ll paint a really nice one for you. Is there something you’d like?”

Jing He glanced up before lowering his gaze again. How come Longjun looked so eager discussing this? Wasn’t it just a painting? He wouldn’t be really serious about going after him, would he? But it sure seemed that way. Coming here every day, bringing him things and even taking his opinion into consideration …

In light of that, he shouldn’t reject him too harshly. No, maybe he shouldn’t just not reject him. Maybe he should do what his mother had told him and actually consider him. Taking some time to get to know him wouldn’t be too bad. Even if it turned out in the end that marriage was out of the question between them, it would still have made the relationship between their races stronger. That was what he should do as the crown prince of the Nine Heavens.

Jing He turned to the side and motioned to the table. “It seems I’m a bad host. How about sitting down first, Longjun?”

Qiu Ling perked up. Was this his beloved opening up to him?! Ah, how great! Well, he had known that this would happen sooner or later. It was good that it was this soon though. He had already been fearing he might have to wait more than a week.

He happily nodded and sat down at the table, waiting for Jing He to sit opposite him. His beloved turned away though and went over to a cupboard at the side. Qiu Ling’s happy expression deflated. Why wasn’t his beloved sitting with him? Didn’t he like to be in his company?

Jing He only went to pluck some tea leaves though and immediately returned afterward. “Would Longjun care for a cup of tea?”

“Tea?” Qiu Ling blinked and looked at the golden leaves in Jing He’s hands. Mn, this looked really nice …

Jing He lightly raised his brows. “Ah, right, these are the leaves of the Summer Sun Trees. They are sometimes used in the Nine Heavens to brew tea. Maybe Longjun would like to try it? If this tea isn’t to your taste, I also have some other leaves here.”

Qiu Ling looked from Jing He’s hands back to the leaves and then up at his beloved’s face. He didn’t really care about tea but … “Do you like this tea?”

Jing He nodded. “Yes, I do. I always felt it had a special taste quite unlike anything else I have tasted.”

“Then I’d like to drink it.”

“Mn. Alright.” Jing He silently brewed the tea and then placed the cup down in front of Qiu Ling.

“Thank you.” Qiu Ling happily took the cup. Ah, suddenly, he felt he understood what his beloved had meant when he said he wanted him to dedicate some of his time to paint for him. It was really nice to watch his beloved brew some tea especially for him. Ah, he wanted to see it again!

Qiu Ling lifted the cup and downed the content, not really tasting anything. He still pushed the cup back to Jing He with a happy smile. “You’re right. It’s really great! Could I have another cup?”

Jing He stared at the cup and then looked up at Qiu Ling’s face, for a moment forgetting that he wasn’t supposed to look into anyone’s eyes like this. His gaze searched for any sign of discomfort in Qiu Ling but he couldn’t find any. Instead, the dragon king seemed … excited?

“This … Longjun, wasn’t it a little hot?”

Qiu Ling blinked and then looked at the cup in his hands before glancing at the one in front of Jing He. The latter was still emitting a steady flow of steam that wafted into the air. Ah! It seemed he wasn’t supposed to drink the tea this fast?

“Uh … A little.”

Jing He still hadn’t recovered from the shock and continued to look at Qiu Ling. Seeing his gaze, Qiu Ling fell silent. Ah, if only his beloved could look at him like this forever …

He carefully let go of the cup and retracted his hands, folding them in front of him on the table. He certainly couldn’t reach over now and touch him, even though he would have liked to do so very much. Instead, he only quietly requited his gaze.

The two of them looked at each other, both of them submerged in their own thoughts.

Finally, Jing He caught himself staring at his guest. His cheeks flushed a pale shade of pink and he hurriedly looked away. “My apologies. I didn’t mean to —”

Before he could finish, a claw shot over the table and wrapped around his hand. “Don’t.” Qiu Ling’s gaze turned even gentler. “I like it very much when you look at me. Your eyes are beautiful. I would like to see them more often.”

Jing He lowered his gaze even further. The warmth transmitted from that hand to his skin felt scalding hot. Just why was Longjun doing this? Hadn’t they already talked about this? He tried to take his hand back but Qiu Ling was holding onto it securely.

Jing He could only frown and utter his discomfort directly. “Longjun, your hand …”

Qiu Ling looked down and let go of Jing He with regret. “I’m sorry. I just … You don’t have to apologize. I really like it when you look at me. Actually, I also like it when we’re just spending some time together.” He also looked down, fiddling with his hands.

Ah, that Fu Min had said he should be talking about things of importance with him but he didn’t know what that was. Even if he found a subject, he’d very likely not have to say anything about that. He also knew he wasn’t very educated. So, maybe it was better if he didn’t say too much?

He smiled wryly and looked back at Jing He. “I’m sorry. I’m not really good at this. But I really meant what I said. You’re really beautiful. I like looking at you. And I like it when you look at me. So …”

Jing He got up and walked over to the window. His heart was beating wildly. When had someone dared to say things like this to him? Especially this directly? Shouldn’t he try to sugar-coat his words a bit at least? Now, how was he supposed to react?

Qiu Ling looked at his beloved and hurried after him. “Uh, I know you don’t like it when I’m being direct. I just felt like it just now. Don’t blame me, alright?”

Jing He turned back and glanced up at Qiu Ling’s face. The sad expression in his eyes made the worry in his heart disperse. He sighed and turned back to the window. “Longjun doesn’t need to worry. I do understand that the dragons are different from us gods. Seeing how hard Longjun tries to accommodate me, means a lot to me already. But how could I expect something from you and not make any concessions myself? I don’t want Longjun to not behave according to his nature. So … please be your usual self but allow me to point out if something crosses a line that isn’t acceptable for my race.”

“Oh. Alright.” Qiu Ling nodded hurriedly. Did this mean his beloved was alright with him staying with him for longer and not only bringing up intelligent stuff? That sounded good! He should better make sure though. “Well, then … Can I stay for today?”

Jing He’s gaze flickered. “Stay?”

“Mn. What are you doing on a normal day? Just let me accompany you! I’d really like to see how you live.”

Jing He looked back at the table where his filled cup and Qiu Ling’s empty cup stood. There were still a lot of things he didn’t understand about the dragon race just like how Longjun probably didn’t understand too much about the gods. Letting him accompany him for a few hours might help with that problem.

“Well, if it won’t bore Longjun too much. My days are rather quiet.”

“I like quiet!” He certainly couldn’t let his beloved think that he was against any aspect of his life!

Jing He didn’t know how to react once again. How could he exclaim this loudly that he liked it quiet? Ah, he really failed to understand this man! He had to learn more about the dragon race. Meeting up with that Scholar An Bai was probably the best he could do. That didn’t mean he could put off meeting Longjun until then though. After all, if he indeed married somebody from the dragon race to further the relationship between them, the only one that could be considered was Longjun.

“Very well. Then let’s follow Longjun’s suggestion.”

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