Qiu Ling really, really wanted to mess up to have an excuse to stay with Jing He a while longer. Unfortunately, he also didn’t want to look like an idiot. Thus, he succeeded in cutting off the upper part on the first try.
Jing He sat up straighter and examined the two parts. “This looks …” He shook his head, actually a bit stunned. “I didn’t know you were so good at this kind of thing.”
“It’s nothing, it’s nothing.” Qiu Ling tried to look modest but it fizzled. The corners of his lips had turned up until his eyes curved into little crescents and the way he sat there with his chest puffed in pride rendered any attempt on showing humility useless.
Jing He chose to pretend he wasn’t just deaf but blind, too, and cupped Qiu Ling’s cheek. He gave him a quick kiss on the other cheek before he turned back to the pumpkin. He really hoped that his father wasn’t there yet.
Unfortunately, that was wishful thinking. Not far from them in the garden opposite the window crouched two figures. One of them looked sideways at the other. “Brother-in-law, is this really necessary? I feel a bit bad spying on them like this. Don’t you trust your son?”
“Of course I trust him! But I don’t trust that despicable dandy! Ah! Look at that!” The Heavenly Emperor clutched his brother-in-law’s arm and pointed at the open door with a pale face. The couple was in full view from their hiding place. “That bastard actually coerced him into kissing his cheek! How shameless!”
“Isn’t it just his cheek?” Qiang Yan mumbled unconvinced. He honestly didn’t know how he, as the mighty God of War, had come to crouch in the Crown Prince’s garden.
“What just his cheek? That’s Jing He’s silky lips we’re talking about here! How is that bastard worthy of my precious son’s affections?!”
“Mn. I see.” Qiang Yan returned to look at the scene inside, his thoughts wandering off. He started to think that he had found the real reason why he was still single after all this time: It was because his brother-in-law always asked for his company when doing this crazy stuff.
Meanwhile, the two inside didn’t know anything about their two guests. They were perfectly happy flirting … ah, no, carving the pumpkin. Well, first of all, the thing needed to be hollowed out. Since that task didn’t seem to require as much finesse Jing He volunteered to do it. He got the dagger from Qiu Ling but before he could actually start slicing it was already taken back once more.
Jing He turned to look at Qiu Ling. “This doesn’t seem too dangerous.”
“That … That’s true.” Qiu Ling held the weapon in a death grip. “But … doing it will be troublesome. You might get yourself dirty. How could I allow that?”
Jing He repressed a sigh. “Alright then.” He stood up at Qiu Ling’s cue and watched him gouge the pumpkin.
Soon enough an empty pumpkin sat on the table in front of them with a heap of pulp next to it. Jing He tightened his lips. Qiu Ling hadn’t been wrong it was quite the dirty task. Maybe they should have prepared a little better?
Qiu Ling gulped. Someone as orderly as Jing He probably wouldn’t like this kind of mess. Damn. He hadn’t really thought this through. Now, there was only one thing he could do! Divert his beloved’s attention!
“Mn, the next step is carving the face.” He flicked the dagger to get the residual pumpkin juice off and sat down again, spreading his arms for his beloved to sit down on his lap again.
Jing He looked at the table, then at Qiu Ling and finally did what his lover wanted. Forget it, he could still clean that later.
Outside in the gardens, the God of War hurriedly stood up to escape the fingers of his brother-in-law that were already trying to grasp his arm again. “I’ll go and get a servant to clean up that mess.”
Before the Heavenly Emperor could complain his brother-in-law had already run off. Thus he could only continue to squat between the flowers and grumble about that dandy who dared to touch his son. Ugh! He’d pay him back later!
Inside the palace, Qiu Ling and Jing He once again arrived at the same problematic point. “Carving is dangerous, too?” Jing He didn’t actually expect an answer but he still got one.
After a moment of deliberating, Qiu Ling nodded gravely. This time he hadn’t even handed the dagger to Jing He. “It’s very dangerous. Look, what if you slip? It’s not as easy as it looks.”
Jing He nodded. “Then you do it.”
“Are you sure?” Qiu Ling began feeling nervous, too. He had wanted to spend the whole day with Jing He but now their pumpkin was almost carved. What should he do after that?
Jing He nodded and grabbed onto Qiu Ling’s shoulders. He watched Qiu Ling take measure and start to carve. Somehow, it seemed as if the dagger was moving much, much slower than before.
Jing He looked into his lover’s face. That kind of concentration … Was it really that difficult? Maybe it was good that he hadn’t tried his hand at it then. He wouldn’t have wanted to ruin this day for Qiu Ling after he had prepared so much. He should just leave it to him.
At least he believed so for the first five minutes. After that, even he felt that Qiu Ling was acting a bit too much.
He gently hugged his lover’s neck and nestled against him, completely breaking the concentration Qiu Ling had tried to display. “Qiu Ling … Do the humans really just carve one pumpkin all day?”
“Ah?” Qiu Ling really had trouble coming up with any intelligent answer right now. His beloved’s hair was tickling his cheek and running down his back. His fingers seemed to burn on his skin and those lovely curves pressed up against his body.
Uh … What had he just been doing?
He let go of the dagger and hugged Jing He, burying his head in the nape of his neck. “Jing He, my Jing He …”
Jing He slid his fingers into Qiu Ling’s hair, too. “Are you done now?”
“Done?” Qiu Ling looked up, his expression dazed. Was this really the day when they would celebrate their love? He gulped and gently rubbed Jing He’s back. “Don’t you worry. I’ll be gentle.” He pursed his lips but inexplicably Jing He retracted when he moved closer. His lips missed by not even an inch.
“I’m talking about the pumpkin.”
“Pumpkin?” What’s a pumpkin?
Jing He pointed at the golden plant on the table. Only half of the face had been carved by now. If he let Qiu Ling continue on like this, they’d probably sit here until late at night without having done anything else than carving one pumpkin.
Qiu Ling gulped. Oh. “Ah … More or less.” He picked up the dagger again and hurriedly carved the rest of the face. Spending as much time as he could with his beloved was important but he didn’t want to anger him. Well, not that Jing He had ever gotten angry at him.
Soon enough the pumpkin was finished. Qiu Ling put the dagger down once again but refused to let go of Jing He. He finally had some alone time with his beloved! How could he just pass this opportunity up?
Jing He didn’t hurry to scramble out of Qiu Ling’s embrace either. It was obvious his lover wanted to spend time with him. Why should he make it difficult for him? Jing He examined the pumpkin and couldn’t help but smile. Even though Qiu Ling had expended a lot of energy into acting he had still managed to carve it beautifully.
“So, do the humans only carve one pumpkin?”
Qiu Ling perked up. Only one? “No! Why would they? Don’t worry, my love. I’m well prepared! I actually brought a few along. You see the humans will decorate their whole house with them. Your palace is so big, we’ll need a lot of pumpkins.”
“Then … we should better start carving now.”
“Mn!” Qiu Ling stood up and reluctantly let Jing He out of his arms before hurrying outside. Soon enough the room was filled with glittering, golden pumpkins.
Jing He looked at them and then looked at Qiu Ling and started to worry a bit. His lover wouldn’t carve all of them as slow as the first one, would he?
Qiu Ling looked up at him with a smile and gently took him back into his arms. “What is it, my love?”
“You … You’ve done that first pumpkin really beautifully even though it was the first. You’re probably much more experienced now, right?”
“Uh … Of course!” Didn’t his beloved like mature and experienced men? He definitely was one of those!
“That’s good then. After all, when they’re carved someone still has to make something out of all that pumpkin pulp.”
Qiu Ling nodded hurriedly before sitting down with his beloved in his arms again. Ah, the opportunities to spend more time with him just presented themselves! He really was the happiest man in all realms!