As soon as they had returned home, Zhen Zhu couldn’t help but start firing off all the questions that the other phoenixes had brought up. “Say, what about my role in the house?”
Zhu Hong raised his brows, not quite sure what to make of his little spouse’s spirited inquiries. “What kind of role do you mean?”
Being asked like this, Zhen Zhu wasn’t quite sure how to explain. How had the other phoenixes managed to make it sound so simple? “Well …” He searched for the right words but they didn’t quite want to come to mind.
Zhu Hong continued to wait patiently, not hurrying him up. In any case, he had a faint guess in mind but he also didn’t want to assume too much. This kind of thing, it was better to let Zhen Zhu explain clearly.
“Well, I mean what exactly am I supposed to do? You said you will go out to do missions in the future. So what about me? You don’t intend to take me along, do you?”
Zhu Hong’s lips suddenly twitched when he heard that question. “Dong Ling wouldn’t have given you some kind of idea, would he?”
Zhen Zhu tilted his head, surprised that Zhu Hong would immediately think of that phoenix. “Why would you think so?” He clearly didn’t understand the other phoenixes that well yet.
Zhu Hong smiled wryly but then cleared his throat and still explained. “Well, let’s just say that Dong Ling and his husband are quite infamous in the valley. Back then, his husband, Yin, was definitely one of the most gifted hunters in our clan. He really prided himself in it. I have to admit that I looked up to him quite a bit.”
“He must be really awesome!” In Zhen Zhu’s mind, his husband was wise and knowledgeable. If he looked up to another man, that person had to be brilliant.
Zhu Hong nodded. In any case, he had thought the same. “Well, Yin always said that he couldn’t wait to get married. To have a gentle wife that would wait for him at home, showering him with kisses and affection when he returned in glory. As a result, when the egg he had picked out finally hatched and Dong Ling had stayed with him for a few days, things did not turn out like he had imagined.
“When Yin wanted to bid farewell to him before leaving for his first mission since the day they had gotten married, Dong Ling wasn’t happy at all. Not because he didn’t want his husband to leave like most other phoenixes would. No, rather than that Dong Ling himself didn’t want to stay at home either. He wanted to accompany him on the mission.
“Well, he got his will. In all these years since getting married, he never had to stay home. Not even once. When the dragons go hunting, Dong Ling will always accompany them. No matter who it is, whether his husband is in that group or not, he will always be there, and usually at the forefront. This guy … I’m afraid that whether it is among the phoenixes or the dragons, he is fiercer than all of them. It has given Yin quite the blow.”
Zhen Zhu’s eyes had turned round. He really couldn’t make up his mind about what he thought about this. “So the phoenixes can actually go hunting as well.” It hadn’t really occurred to him before. If this was possible …
Zhu Hong’s expression immediately twisted. “That … While it is generally possible, I really wouldn’t advise you to do so.” He really didn’t want to tell him what to do but there was a difference between phoenixes and dragons. The reason why Dong Ling’s husband wasn’t thrilled at him coming along was that phoenixes were usually more fragile. Even though Dong Ling was clearly able to carry himself, if he ever did get hurt, the result might be disastrous.
On the other hand, with their hard scales, there really weren’t many things out there that would be able to hurt a dragon. Thus, the likelihood of something happening to them was actually quite low. There was still the chance that something might go wrong if an enemy somehow managed to attack precisely the spot where their reverse scale had grown or managed to injure their eyes but those cases were exceedingly rare. And usually, if there weren’t any outside reasons, then nothing would happen.
But, well, that wouldn’t keep a phoenix like Dong Ling from following along. Since he wanted to do it, he would do it. That was the kind of attitude he had. If his husband tried to say no … Well, it would probably end in their divorce. And no matter what, Yin actually loved the guy to bits.
So even though he worried him sick every time they went out to hunt, Yin just quietly endured, and at most grumbled to himself a little. People were joking that he was afraid of Dong Ling but it was probably just that he was afraid for his sake. He didn’t want him to get hurt. And that, clearly, was because he loved him so much.
Putting himself in Yin’s shoes, Zhu Hong really wasn’t sure if he could match up. If he was able to keep Zhen Zhu from trying something like this himself, he would definitely do so. He didn’t want to forbid him from anything but to have to worry like this … he wasn’t sure if he had the mental fortitude to do so.
Zhen Zhu looked up and seeing Zhu Hong’s expression, he immediately stopped the thought. In any case, it wasn’t that he was really interested in hunting. He didn’t know too much about it but there was a faint memory of the bloody body of a dragon hidden in the memories of his clan. It was probably something that the ancestors hadn’t even intended to pass down but that had made so much impact on the phoenix married to that dragon that it had inadvertently found its way into them.
Just thinking that hunting would be this scary … Zhen Zhu wanted no part in it. On the other hand … Zhen Zhu inched closer to Zhu Hong and reached out to grab his arm. “When you go out to hunt in the future, you must be very careful, alright?”
Zhu Hong wasn’t quite sure where that came from but he immediately nodded. “Of course. In any case, it’s my own life that will depend on this. And now, I am even married so you’ll depend on me. How could I carelessly throw away my life? I will pay a lot of attention to my safety. Don’t worry.”
Zhen Zhu nodded, happy with that promise. He didn’t think about the hunting any longer and instead got back to the questions he wanted to ask. “I saw a phoenix with wavy hair over there. Do you think we could do something like that with my hair as well?” He picked up one of the white strands, feeling that it was a bit boring that it was just hanging down straight.
Zhu Hong also reached over, picking up a strand of pretty much the same thickness on the other side. “Actually, I do like it this way but if it’s something that you want to have, then we can look into how to do it. You can also try some other things if you like them.” Thinking for a moment, his eyes twinkled. “Right. There’s a big city close by. After you’ve gotten to know the valley a bit, I could bring you over. You can take a look at the people there and any of the stores. If you see something that you like, just tell me. I will get it for you.” He reached up and affectionately rubbed Zhen Zhu’s head, thinking that he would probably be looking quite adorable when going through the city. He could already imagine his bright look when they got there. Ah, he really couldn’t wait to spoil him a bit.
As if to give his husband a preview of what he was about to see once they got to that day, Zhen Zhu’s eyes immediately lit up, and he inched closer, grabbing onto his thigh. “Really?!” Most of the memories that had been passed down from his clan were of either the phoenixes’ forest or the dragons’ valley. He didn’t remember much else. So to be able to go there and have a look, that was definitely something that he was happy about. “Then when can we go?”
Zhu Hong laughed and reached out, wrapping his arms around Zhen Zhu’s waist, and pulling him onto his lap. Holding him securely, he gave him a long look. This little spouse of his was always so excited. It really was refreshing to see. “Well, I guess we can go whenever you want to. There are quite a few things you haven’t seen in the valley yet though. Don’t you want to first take a look around here? After all, this is the place where you will be living in the future.”
Zhen Zhu pursed his lips. He had to admit that his husband was indeed right. It would probably be better to first take a look at the valley and familiarize himself with everything here. That way, he wouldn’t have to worry in the future about getting lost. That really would be too embarrassing.
Also, it wasn’t like he could only do one or the other. Zhu Hong had already promised to take him there. So, it was only a question of time as to when it would happen. So they could look at the valley for now and then still go to the town. In any case, it wasn’t like there was nothing else to do. “But while we’re here, we’re already going to try some new things, right?”
Zhu Hong reached up and wrapped a strand of hair around his finger again, his lips curving up in an indulgent smile. “Like that wavy hair you mentioned?”
Zhen Zhu very adorably shook his head. His husband really understood him too well!
Zhu Hong chuckled and then nodded. “If it means so much to you, I will try to find out out how it is done.” In any case, right now, he had no idea at all. But there should be a way, right? Although … he remembered a few phoenixes with wavy hair and from what he knew, this wasn’t something that they did deliberately. Instead, this was just the way their hair naturally looked. It seemed that he would have to go and ask around a bit. Well, for his spouse, nothing was too difficult. If this was what Zhen Zhu wanted, then that was what would happen.
“Alright, what else is there?” He could already see that Zhen Zhu had about a million different questions so he was prepared to patiently answer every single one of them.
Zhen Zhu indeed didn’t miss a beat before he continued to ask. “Then, what else do you know about the house of the phoenixes you brought me to? I heard from sister Yu Sui that there are many other rooms than the one that we were in today. What kind of things are those?”
Zhu Hong gave a faint hum and tried to remember the few things that he had heard about it. In fact, he wasn’t too sure. He had never set foot into the building and from what he knew, after it had been erected back then, the same was true for any other dragon as well. This truly was just a place for phoenixes. “There should be some rooms to play in. Although I can’t say what exactly those are and how they are used. And then there should also be some places where you can go to rest.”
Zhen Zhu was quite interested in the former but couldn’t see what was so good about the latter. “If you’re tired, wouldn’t it be better to just go home?” Anyway, he had slept quite comfortably next to Zhu Hong last night. He couldn’t imagine missing out on that.
Zhu Hong smiled and rubbed his head, pondering his next words for a moment. “I’m not exactly sure what’s so special about them but I guess they will be specifically made for the needs of the phoenixes. So it could be that they are different from a normal bed in a room. I guess you’ll have to go and take a look yourself. Unfortunately, I really don’t know much about it.”
Zhen Zhu nodded. In any case, he also understood that this was probably the case. After all, that building for the phoenixes didn’t seem to have a single dragon. “Do the phoenixes stay alone often?” He felt that it was a bit strange. If he could, he definitely wouldn’t spend even a minute apart from Zhu Hong. But the others had actually stayed over there for so long. Wasn’t that strange?
His thoughts were pretty much written on his face when he looked up at Zhu Hong, making his husband laugh again.
“Why? Did you miss me?”
Zhen Zhu pursed his lips and reached out, grabbing the lapel of his husband’s robe. “What? You didn’t miss me?”
Zhu Hong leaned in further, almost as if he wanted to merge Zhen Zhu into his body. “Of course, I missed you. You’ve truly brightened my life. So how couldn’t I miss you? In any case, I think it’s just a difference in perspective.
“For the two of us, we’ve only married yesterday. So right now, everything about each other is new. For you, this whole life is. So you probably feel that being with me is very exciting. But after we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, just being with me might also be a little boring.
“So maybe the others who have been married for a long time are the same. In any case, I think it can’t be wrong to have a change of pace every now and then. Since you have the chance to spend time with the others as well, you should do so. Same with Elder Bi’s family. They’re all very nice people, so why not go over every now and then?”
Zhen Zhu smiled and nuzzled the spot beneath Zhu Hong’s chin. “We could also just go together. In any case, it’s like visiting your family with you.”
Zhu Hong laughed and nodded. “Alright, then when it concerns Elder Bi’s family, we will definitely go there together. Also, when I need to hunt, then you can go there or to the other phoenixes on your own. You’re always welcome to do so.” Speaking of which … he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to bring it up already right now but then again Zhen Zhu had already asked about his role in the house so Zhu Hong also couldn’t help but feel that it might be for the best. “Well, speaking of which, Elder Bi asked me again if we would like to move in with him and his family.”
Zhen Zhu blinked his eyes in surprise, not quite sure what to think of it. This was so surprising! Although … Elder Bi had asked Zhu Hong before this as well. So maybe he was just repeating it now that he was also married so that Zhu Hong would know that even with this new family of his own, he would still be welcome in what was pretty much his old one. “If you want to, then I wouldn’t mind. If you don’t want to, I don’t mind either though.”
Zhu Hong leaned down and then kissed his lips. “Then if you were the one who could decide, would you do it or not?”
Zhen Zhu pondered for a moment, not quite sure how to answer that question. If it was him … But he would never be without his husband so that question was a little strange. If it was about wanting to move into another house with Zhu Hong … “I think I wouldn’t do it.”
Zhu Hong hadn’t really had any expectations either way so he kept a calm expression. “Why that?”
“Well, it’s the house of Elder Bi and his wife. Even though they’re basically like family, isn’t it also nice to have our own home that we can take care of? I feel like it would be better to have a home that we can shape in the way that we want to without having to think of anybody else.”
At that, Zhu Hong faintly raised his brows. This was actually something that he hadn’t quite expected. It was an interesting take on the situation. “Well, if that is what you think, then we’ll do it that way.
Zhen Zhu looked up and blinked his eyes, trying to figure out the situation. “Well, what about you?”
Zhu Hong smiled when he saw the worry in his gaze. “Don’t worry. In any case, didn’t I already reject his offer before? It’s not like I’m saying it now because you said no. From the very beginning, I felt that it might not be the best idea.
“I’ve been very much adopted by Elder Bi and his family. In fact, I do regard him as my family but, in the end, I’m still an outsider. In the future, imagine the two of us have children. If they were living in the house with us and there was trouble with the children of Elder Bi’s actual children, wouldn’t there be tension? I wouldn’t want to put him in that position.
“And also, even if there wasn’t a problem, wouldn’t we always feel like we were making trouble? I don’t want that to happen. I like to have this good relationship with them where I’m always welcome to come over but will never overstay my welcome. I guess it just gives me a sense of security that living there wouldn’t allow me to have.”
“Oh.” Zhen Zhu didn’t quite know what to say. He just felt that this sounded incredibly sad. It would be great if there was some kind of other way. But for the time being, he couldn’t think of anything and, well, this also coincided with what he wanted so there really wasn’t a reason for him to complain about it, right? Thus, he just snuggled up closer to his husband but didn’t say anything else.
Zhu Hong also fell quiet, just holding his spouse. In any case, he was happy enough. It was great to have Elder Bi and he didn’t want to miss the support and being able to talk with him and his family about just about anything. But it also wasn’t quite the same as having a family of his own. And because he knew that, he wanted to put Elder Bi even less in a situation where he would ever have to make that decision.
Maybe, it actually wouldn’t make a difference and he was thinking too much. But right now, this was something that he didn’t have the capacity to think through. In the future, if things didn’t change, they could still make another decision anyway, right? So, there was no reason to hurry up. They could just slowly think things through. And maybe, when they really had their first child together, things would have changed already anyway. By then, who knew what would be best for them and their family? Because one thing was for sure: He would always put Zhen Zhu’s needs first.