Translated with: Jia<3
There was clearly only a little distance between them. Xiao Chiye watched Shen Zechuan attentively, his gaze sliding from his brow to his lips as he said in a hoarse voice, “Oh, how I love you so.”
Shen Zechuan felt a shiver rise through him—that was a tremble of defeat. He was like the captured night in the dim light, a pervading darkness that would still entwine Xiao Chiye. The grip on him was too tight, so much so that all that lay in his eyes was fully bared to Xiao Chiye.
Xiao Chiye inched closer in a confrontation that was almost a kiss. He murmured, maliciously and wickedly, “I love you so much.”
Shen Zechuan felt like he was about to be driven astray by Xiao Chiye’s words; this line ended him over and over again. He could not keep up an ounce of pretense, and what remained of “Shen Zechuan” lay fully exposed before Xiao Chiye. This was a side of him that Shen Zechuan himself could not bring himself to face. All that had to do with hypocrisy, deceit, and hostility was swept up into the tidal waves of desire.
Shen Zechuan was panting.
The word ‘love’ signified holding nothing back.
Xiao Chiye made Shen Zechuan’s eyes wet. That feeling of being filled surged through Shen Zechuan’s body while he was pressed against the edge of the table, causing him to cry out softly as he clung on to Xiao Chiye’s warmth without reservations.
Xiao Chiye restrained both of Shen Zechuan’s wrists. Leading up from the curve of his waist was a crescent moon. He seized on the opportunity his height afforded him to press against this lustrous smoothness, thrusting in and out with overwhelming force. It was as though he wanted to nail the words “I love you so much” into Shen Zechuan’s body, and then brand it deep into his bones and blood.
The jade earring was polished until it gleamed with a watery shine.
There were still the sounds of the patrol squad on their rounds outside the military tent, of someone chatting a short distance away, and of the soughing of the wind as it roamed. But all of that belonged to another universe; none of them belonged to Shen Zechuan. He could only hear the table being bumped out of place, the climax of their union, and Xiao Chiye’s heartbeat.
Every single thrust spelled “I love you so much.”
This was too much to bear for Shen Zechuan; he was about to come undone, be it his voice or another part of him. He trembled, unable to stand firm on his feet, and as his cries unraveled, he extended a finger on his restrained hands to hook it on the hem of Xiao Chiye’s clothes.
This one hook melted Xiao Chiye’s heart into a puddle of mush.
Xiao Chiye kissed Shen Zechuan on his nape, as though he was holding him in his mouth. He was clearly so fierce, and yet he was also this tender. Shen Zechuan leaned back against Xiao Chiye, intimately joined in unison from the cavity of their chests to every single part of them.
A beautiful line extended from the small of his back, accentuating it.
Xiao Chiye undid the restraints, but Shen Zechuan gave up reaching for the edge of the table. Nothing in this world could be relied on, nothing except Xiao Chiye. Xiao Chiye murmured something into Shen Zechuan’s ear; it was as if he was egging him on, and at the same time, showering him with praises.
Shen Zechuan was the jade.
Xiao Chiye kissed him.
Water droplets fell from the corners of Shen Zechuan’s eyes; he closed his eyes, damp with tears, and with all the self-restraint he could muster, he called out in a soft, trembling voice, “A-Ye.”
Xiao Chiye buried his face in the side of Shen Zechuan’s neck; he was intoxicated, taunted all day by this evil man who called his name as he pleased, his every word an invitation. He dawdled, as if he had woken up from a nap, and naturally responded, “Hm?”
“Ce’an,” Shen Zechuan turned his head to face Xiao Chiye, their breaths intertwining. In a show of near innocence, he called out, like a toddler learning to speak, “oh, how I, love, you, so.”
Xiao Chiye lost his hold on Shen Zechuan’s waist. His mouth was parched as he pulled out with difficulty. He quickly picked his Lanzhou off the ground and took a few steps to the edge of the couch, where he turned him over.
Xiao Chiye pulled up Shen Zechuan’s hands and kissed him deeply. They had to do it face-to-face so that they could take in all the worst and the best of each other’s expressions into their eyes. Xiao Chiye pushed aside Shen Zechuan’s damp hair. Even their imperfections were congruent with one another. All that was abominable, eccentric, and even ruthless of them could leave no chasm between them.
They entangled intimately in secret, indulging to their hearts’ content.
Sweating in never-ending torrents amidst the howling winds on the battlefield.
◈ ◈ ◈
At the third quarter of the hour of mao, Xiao Chiye carried Shen Zechuan on his back and made his way to the frost-covered grasslands.
“It’s taking so long.” Shen Zechuan gathered the fur collar around him and buried himself into Xiao Chiye’s back. He said in a muffled voice, “Start running.”
“Exhausting me to death?” Xiao Chiye jolted him once.
Shen Zechuan grasped the little braid concealed under Xiao Chiye’s collar with his fingers and said, “I’m already exhausted to death.”
The day was still early, and the eastern mountain ranges blocked some of the views in their field of visions. Both men were covered under the same cloak under the strong wind. Before the day broke, they had already walked out of Shayi camp. There was a small watchtower to the north that had already fallen into disuse, and it was here that Xiao Chiye was heading to.
Both men huddled under the cloak together and sat atop the old watchtower, facing the east as they waited for sunrise.
“I thought you came to propose marriage.” Xiao Chiye moved Shen Zechuan’s inclined head onto his own shoulder. “I’m getting old from all this waiting.”
Shen Zechuan was sensitive to the cold, and the wind was strong. He stretched out half a finger to lift up the overcoat and burrowed his way inside, wanting so much to bury all of himself into Xiao Chiye’s bosom to seek refuge from the wind.
“I’ll come again when you’re eighty.” Shen Zechuan said. “By then, your father won’t be able to hack me.”
Xiao Chiye planted his chin on top of Shen Zechuan’s head with the overcoat between them. “At the very least, you’re the prefectural lord, so you still ought to possess the audacity to elope.” He thought about it, then continued, “The old man does admire you so.”
Was the reason Shen Zechuan wanted a light cavalry of assassins truly to place them along the Chashi River? A squad like that required inhuman self-restraint, because they were simply too good to utilize. How long of a preparation time would Shen Zechuan need to put together such a squad? If he went to all the efforts and succeeded, the problem would bring them back to square one—could this squad continue to be placed along the Chashi River? Did Shen Zechuan truly only want to deploy them along the Chashi River? This was a blade that would kill without restraint. It had a darkness that mirrored another side of Shen Zechuan.
If he did not have Xiao Chiye.
Xiao Chiye pulled the cloak down a little to reveal Shen Zechuan and said, “Here it comes.”
With his eyes peeking out, Shen Zechuan looked towards the east. Xiao Chiye lifted him directly by the chin.
Thick clouds rolled on the horizon, while the wind ran rampant amidst the dim world. Shortly afterward, golden rays of light broke through the gaps, like countless arrows of light piercing through the layers of clouds. The sun, which seemed to bear the load of immense weight, launched out from the waves of clouds, pulverizing the floating clouds into foam as it rose magnificently in all its majesty. The vast expanse of grasslands was instantaneously illuminated, igniting the thin frost such that they sparkled as they paved the earth. Withered grass roared to life, its billowy surge in the wind clear and distinct to the ears.
“Xiao Ce’an.” Shen Zechuan inexplicably called out.
Xiao Chiye poked him in the cheek.
Shen Zechuan grabbed hold of his finger, revealing the redness between his wrists. He seemed to be considering something.
Golden waves of brilliant rays rippled out of the sky, and in no time, blue spread out like ink on a piece of rice paper1 to paint the entire canvas of sky over their head. The vast white snow-capped peaks of Hongyan Mountains stood against the summit of the clouds, where falcons cried out as they hovered. A golden hue washed over Shen Zechuan and Xiao Chiye in the wind.
The deluge of wind was so swift that Shen Zechuan had the illusion he was about to be blown away.
But Xiao Chiye was like a steady rock shielding him from the back as he gradually moved to grasp his hands in return.
“You can do as your heart desires.” Xiao Chiye whispered into his ear. “With me here, you will never fall.”
Credits: Many thanks to Tea for proofreading!
- 宣纸 Xuan paper, or rice paper, is a kind of paper originating in ancient China used for writing and painting. It is renowned for being soft and fine-textured, suitable for conveying the artistic expression of both Chinese calligraphy and painting. Anyway, useless piece of trivia here don’t mind me lol.