Jing Yi couldn’t help but bite his lower lip again. He had thought that if Qiu Ling had been attracted to Jing He’s appearance only, that maybe his feelings hadn’t been all that deep in the beginning. He had hoped that that meant that his own chances were better than he had dared to believe previously. But now it turned out that their relationship had actually been that profound from the very beginning.
Regardless of what attracted Qiu Ling, he had felt a deep connection with Jing He and it had meant even more to him. That was something he would never be able to best. Even if he was able to make Qiu Ling feel the same, he would still only ever be the second person. That first position had long been given to Jing He.
Qiu Ling didn’t see the change in Jing Yi’s expression. He just thought back to the beginning of his relationship with Jing He and happiness filled him. “I didn’t think about it. I just acted on instinct that day, proposing to him on the spot. He wasn’t very happy about it. I think his first impression of me was bad.
“Afterward, I went after him, trying to gain his attention, trying to acquire his affection, bit by bit taking over his heart. And while I did, I found out that there was much more to Jing He than I thought in the beginning. He wasn’t just what he showed the other gods. He was more than that. He was also somebody with his own secrets, his own fears. In a way, he was a lot like me. Maybe that was what made us perfect for each other. Even if I hadn’t known in the beginning, I might have subconsciously noticed and that was what made my soul stir at that moment.”
Jing Yi forced himself to nod. “It could very well be.”
Qiu Ling also nodded, squeezing Jing Yi’s hand with a smile as if he wasn’t just speaking of his love for somebody else.
“Then … Then I continued to try. For a whole ten years. Only then did he admit to his feelings and agreed to marry me. If not because I was a dragon and this was the person that I had already accepted as the one that was meant for me, I might have given up. But then again, the longer things went on, the less I was able to extricate myself.
“With Jing He … While I found out more about him, while I tried to woo him, I realized that the mask that I had put on to deceive those around me and pretend that I had nothing to do with the demons, this mask made it impossible to have Jing He fall in love with me. It wasn’t what he wanted or what he needed. Not in that way.
“I guess it wouldn’t be wrong if I said that Jing He was finally able to have me face myself. Bit by bit I had to tear down the mask and face my true self. It was difficult though. After all, there wasn’t just him and me in this world. While I tried to be more honest with him, I couldn’t suddenly start acting differently in front of everybody else.
“And, well, I had already pretended for a long time. It had been too many years, it was hard enough for me to find out who I actually was because I could hardly remember. And even in front of Jing He, I also slipped back into the role I had created for myself every now and then.”
Jing Yi furrowed his brows. That mask Qiu Ling was talking about, that falling back into pretending to be somebody else, what did he mean? Which part of him was the true Qiu Ling? How often had he actually seen this person?
When he thought about it, he did know that there were moments when Qiu Ling would be different. Most of the time, he was that clingy person that would never separate for more than three steps from him, crooning his name or ‘my love’ all of the time, asking his opinion on every little matter, trying to take his hand and hug him or hive him a kiss whenever he got the opportunity.
Then there would also be times when Qiu Ling was different. Right now was such a moment. He would be serious, the things he said spoke of his experience and the many years he had actually lived. He was able to think things through in a systematic way and come up with solutions for any problem.
So which of these two parts was the real him? And which one was the personality he pretended to be? Just how much of his time with Qiu Ling had actually been living a lie? He dreaded the answer to that.
Jing Yi raised his hand to his forehead. He was the one who had asked. He had been the one who wanted to know. He also had to live with the consequences. It was just … He had already fallen in love with this man. Even if he wasn’t able to take his response, he probably wouldn’t be able to walk away. He had already fallen too deep.
He looked up and gave a wry smile. From the very beginning, there probably hadn’t been any way for him to get around this. When Jing He had engraved his own soul, he had done so to make sure that he would continue to be in love with Qiu Ling, hadn’t he? So naturally, he had inevitably fallen in love with his men.
Now, he didn’t know what to do. On one hand, he was angry about this whole situation. He didn’t want his relationship to depend on what had happened in his previous life.
When he had thought that there was Tian whom he had given that promise to, it had seemed romantic. But now that he knew that this past life wasn’t even over — really over — he felt that it wasn’t romantic at all. It was just … a huge hindrance for him to be with Qiu Ling. If he could, he would’ve preferred it if Jing He was dead.