RSH Stratagem 48: Don’t Tread Water for too Long! (3)

Jing He felt moved but he didn’t know what to say. This kind of situation, it would be too suitable to state his own feelings as well. But trying to think of words to express his love for Qiu Ling … well, even if he could, he didn’t think he’d have the guts to say them out loud.

Jing He lowered his head and only focused on the flower in his hands and the hand that was still holding onto the pot together with him. He really … really hoped to somehow convey to the owner of that hand how much he cherished him as well. If he could take this hand for a moment or maybe just brush against it to show his appreciation, wouldn’t that be great?

Unfortunately, even though he wanted to do it and even though he doubted that Qiu Ling would mind, he didn’t dare to do so. Inwardly, he simply couldn’t help but worry. What if his words or gestures were too forthright and Qiu Ling felt put off after all? Then he might never see him again! Just imagining such a time made his heart squeeze in pain.

No, this risk was too big. He didn’t dare take it. He still knew that he couldn’t leave such a gift unanswered though. No matter how, some reaction had to be given. In this case, it seemed that there was a ready-made response waiting in his study?

Jing He carefully looked up, meeting Qiu Ling’s deep gaze that was focused on him as if there was nothing else in the world that was important. Such attention … it could really make one dream.

Jing He hurriedly lowered his gaze again, afraid of what it would do to him to look into those eyes. “That was a very thoughtful idea. I am sure the flower will grow well in the future. I … should put it in a safe spot.”

“Mn.” Qiu Ling didn’t say more and finally retracted his hand from the flowerpot. It seemed his gift had indeed been well-received?

Jing He tightly held the pot and turned around, walking into his study. Most of his plants were outside in the garden or on the window sill next to the door where they would have enough sunlight to grow.

Even the flowerpot Qiu Ling had made couldn’t change the flower’s need for sunlight so that was likely the place where it should go as well. He wanted to show Qiu Ling the painting left on his desk though. Thus, the flower had to go to the study first.

Jing He bent down and put the flowerpot right next to the painting. “Every flower has different requirements of where it will grow well. I’ll have to think about it for a while more with this one. For now though, it’ll be safe here.”

Qiu Ling had followed him into the room, his gaze naturally attracted to the painting and staying on the lines of words at the side: Together for a lifetime are two hearts joined in bliss, fate will lead toward each other what is meant to be.

Mn … how beautiful! His beloved’s indirect confessions were really getting more … straightforward? His brows twitched when the thought crossed his mind. There really was nothing straightforward about the way Jing He expressed his feelings but considering his usual behavior, this was indeed a lot more direct than anything he could get out of his mouth.

It really would have been nice to get a verbal acknowledgment of his beloved’s feelings at least once. Or, well, he’d also take something tangible like a kiss or even a hug that Jing He took the initiative on. Not that he thought that it would happen in this lifetime. Not at the rate they were going.

Jing He got back up and turned around, only to stop dead in his tracks. Qiu Ling had followed him in and leaned forward to see the painting past his figure so now, they were incredibly close. Just half a step more and it would have seemed as if he was trying to attach himself to the other man’s body.

Qiu Ling was pulled out of his thoughts when his beloved approached and his brows raised slightly. Naturally, he was aware that this had been an accident just now but it really made one dream. And, well, it really was such a suitable opportunity …

His gaze slipped down to his lips and he lightly cleared his throat. “It’s a good gift, isn’t it?”

Jing He was still in a daze and could only faintly hum in response. This close, he was afraid to do something that would only embarrass himself. Still, he couldn’t help but look at Qiu Ling’s face, wishing that this moment would never pass.

Getting his agreement, Qiu Ling’s eyes narrowed faintly. “How about a kiss as a reward?” He’d prefer Jing He offer one up of his own accord but since that was impossible, he’d also take his approval to give one himself. Either way, he could use it as an excuse to kiss his beloved which was never the wrong thing to do no matter the situation.

Jing He’s cheeks flushed. A kiss? That … well, he had thought of some gestures to express his feelings before but his mind had been on touching Qiu Ling’s hand for a moment. Touching his lips wouldn’t even have crossed his mind. Although … doing so would certainly feel nice.

Jing He diverted his gaze in shame, hoping that his guilty conscience for having that thought wouldn’t show on his face. But then, maybe even if it didn’t, he would give himself away. After all, right now, his heart was beating so fast, there was no way for Qiu Ling not to hear it, right?

Qiu Ling might indeed have heard but his focus was currently elsewhere. With Jing He turning to the side … well, his slightly reddened cheek came into full view which really was a nice sight. Not as nice as his lips maybe but after ten years, he had perfected the art of finding solace in the short, blissful moments that could be described as better than nothing. Right now, this was definitely one of them.

He leaned forward, his lips brushing Jing He’s cheek in a familiar manner. He didn’t pull back immediately either. Instead, he remained close to his beloved, his gaze deep. “Thank you. Although I had something slightly different in mind …”

Jing He’s face had been slightly flushed. Now, the color deepened further. Had he … had he seemed like he was offering himself up? He didn’t think so but … well, Qiu Ling’s words indicated that it had looked like that from the other side.

He would have fretted about it but right now, his mind was blank. Qiu Ling stood only half a step away from him and right now, he had even leaned closer. His breath was spraying on his cheek where he still seemed to feel the touch of his lips. His whole body seemed to be on fire and he was unable to extricate himself from this feeling.

While Jing He was rooted to the spot, Qiu Ling faintly tilted his head to look at him. Ten years … it really was a long time. He had made progress in an excruciatingly slow way but there had been progress. In the last four years though, while he was certain that Jing He requited his feelings, it seemed as if he was treading water.

Right now, only one step remained: Jing He had to admit his feelings out loud so that they could promise each other the rest of their lives and finally fulfill his original wish of getting married. To get him to confess though … he wasn’t sure how to do it. He only knew that it couldn’t go on like this any longer. No, he had to somehow take a step forward. Otherwise, the situation would never allow for his beloved to become his. And that was simply unacceptable.

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