No matter what kind of urges there were, Jing He still had enough of his mind there to know that he couldn’t actually accept this. And yet, looking at Qiu Ling, he also didn’t want to disappoint this man.
From the time they had met, hadn’t he always done that? When Qiu Ling just wanted to hug him, he would say it was inappropriate, when he wanted to hold his hand, he would say that this was already going too far, even when he just wanted to call him by a sweet pet name, he also would look uncomfortable, wondering how to make it clear to him that this couldn’t be done.
Clearly, Qiu Ling was so good to him, trying to fulfill any of his wishes, being there when he needed him, coming up with the sweetest ideas to make his days interesting and his life more comfortable. And yet, he always rejected his good intentions. How could that be done?
Clenching the scroll of paper in his hands, Jing He forced himself to give a faint smile. “This … I’m afraid this is something that I can’t decide on the spur of the moment. How about giving me some time to think about it?”
Qiu Ling faintly raised his brows, wondering if this meant that him trying to make light of the situation just now had worked or not. Sometimes, it really was difficult to tell with Jing He.
He wished that he would be more open but he also knew that Jing He didn’t like to be too … well, direct. He liked to keep things vague. It was probably a way for him to not be held accountable. In his position, this was actually a good trait to have.
Even though in recent years, Qiu Ling was pushing all of his work onto his advisers and not lifting a finger if he didn’t absolutely have to, he had also reigned on his own for a long time before he roped the first of them in. He knew exactly how troublesome it could be if you didn’t pay attention to such things.
Even though the dragons were direct, there were some matters where you couldn’t be even in their race. For the gods, that was even more so the case because the cultural implications of making a definitive statement would be different.
He nodded and then motioned over to the door to the garden. “Well, you think it through slowly. If it’s not possible, I would also understand. In that case, we can just take a stroll through the Nine Heavens’ capital city or maybe have another picnic on the outskirts. I really liked that day. It’s something I love to think back to.”
Jing He’s smile turned much lighter when Qiu Ling mentioned that. Yes, he had also been very happy when Qiu Ling came up with that idea back then. That day, don’t mention being so close together and doing something that he usually wouldn’t, they had also talked about some things that made him feel close to him on a different level than just physical. Thinking of that, he couldn’t help but feel that he wanted to have that kind of day again.
Hesitating for a moment while he followed Qiu Ling out into the garden, he couldn’t help but finally speak up. “Actually, no matter what happens, I wouldn’t mind doing that again. I’m sure there are many beautiful spots close by. Maybe we really could …” He didn’t continue speaking but it was clear what he meant.
Qiu Ling looked at him, unable to believe his good luck. Was his beloved really this straightforward with him for once? It seemed his progress was much bigger than he had dared to assume recently.
He gave a hum and reached out, brushing Jing He’s back with his fingertips for just a moment. “You know, you saying this makes me already look forward to it so much. How about this? Tomorrow, we’ll go out and have a nice day in the vicinity. I will organize the dishes and everything else, and then I’ll take you somewhere nice. Just see it as me surprising you with the details even though you already know the general plan. How does that sound?”
Jing He looked up at him and nodded, not sure what else to say. Well, in his mind, everything this man said and did was spectacular. This was probably what it was like to be in love with someone: No matter how strange whatever they came up with might be, you would still feel like applauding it. And even if you thought it was a bit silly, you would still feel flattered because it was a silly thing they had come up with for your sake.
He himself surely was. Especially since, right now, the dragon king’s ideas were exceedingly normal. In fact, they were probably what a normal couple would also do.
Feeling sweet, he went to grab the jar that he usually used to water his plans and held it tightly.
A normal couple … if they were like that, then instead of holding onto something else, he would be free to cling to the arm of the man he loved, acting a bit coquettish. It was something he really would have liked to do for once. But most likely, even in the future after they had gotten married, he wouldn’t dare to do so. After all, he did not want his image to collapse in Qiu Ling’s mind.
Trying not to think of these things that he would have to miss out on, Jing He instead thought about the things that he could have. “If I remember correctly, then the last time, you also prepared everything. I’m feeling a bit bad for making you do all the work. Maybe there’s something I could do as well?”
Qiu Ling gave a low hum, looking at Jing He’s face. To be honest, he had that sudden urge to say ‘just be there and be pretty’. But then, he would come and pick his beloved up and Jing He was always the most beautiful, so this didn’t make much sense.
Also, while it might manage to make his beloved’s heart flutter, it really wasn’t what Jing He was asking about. And he knew that as somebody who was a bit more serious, Jing He would really like an honest answer to that question at least.
Thinking for a bit, he shook his head. “Actually, I like to do these things. You know, I’ve been trying to woo you for several years by now. At first, I made a few mistakes but I feel that I have gotten a good grasp of what you like and what not. So preparing something and having it work out just as well as expected is a huge boost to my pride.”
Jing He looked at him, once again at a loss for words. The dragon king … well, he was a proud man for sure but he wouldn’t have thought that he could say such a sentence with a straight face. And the problem was that he also couldn’t really respond to that. It just seemed too shameful to talk about the other person wooing him.
Qiu Ling didn’t need him to say anything either. He could see exactly what Jing He was thinking from his eyes. “Well, I can see why it might become tiring after a while to always have me do everything. As a proper person, you probably feel the need to reciprocate. I understand that.
“Hm, I’d love to make some outrageous requests like getting a kiss or holding you on my lap for an hour but I guess that’d put you in a difficult situation. So … how about just bringing some snacks or some tea? I’m not picky so you can choose anything.” On second thought … “Best pick something that you like.”
Qiu Ling was very much aware that with time, Jing He had changed the things that were available at his palace to the ones that he liked. And who knew if it had been his own favorites previously or if it had been the things his parents or uncle might like when they came over?
With Jing He, that was absolutely possible. But it wasn’t what he wanted. No, he wanted to get to know Jing He, the real him, the one that had been buried deep inside. Yes, thinking of that, Qiu Ling’s lips curled up in a faint smile and he leaned closer. “You know, just pick all your favorites. I absolutely wouldn’t mind indulging in that for a bit.”
Even though this was probably one of the sentences that Qiu Ling had held back with a little more, it still made Jing He’s face flush. Somehow, even though nothing outrageous had been said, he felt that the implications were still a bit … well, he couldn’t put that into words.
But then, no matter whether it was said directly or not, it still made him look forward to that time and for once, he couldn’t help but want to actually express those things. In any case, this much should not be a problem, right? No, for sure, this should be alright.