Binghe had not been able to sleep for the past week, his worries and fears keeping him awake. He would spend the night gazing at his lover and sighing at how beautiful he looked when asleep.
His hands would play with his beloved Shizun’s dark locks or would caress his fair cheeks until the night melted into day. Other times he would scoot downwards so he could rest his head against his Shizun’s chest. Like that, he would listen to the steady beat of his lover’s heart, even managing to doze off for a couple of hours.
When morning would come, Binghe would wake and make breakfast, though a part of him always wanted to remain entangled with his Shizun in the sheets. It was why Binghe always rushed making breakfast, just so he could be there when Shizun opened his eyes lazily.
So Binghe would be the first one he saw.
But, this was not to happen for three nights and four days. It was because his Shizun was to go on a trip to settle some official matters and Binghe could not follow. It was the first time they will be separated since Binghe recovered from his child form. And Binghe was not ready for the separation to occur.
It felt too unbearable.
So when he woke on the morning of the departure, he did not want to raise from the bed. He only wanted to stay there forever, his lover tucked safely within his arms. But Binghe knew it was not possible, nor did he want to restrain his Shizun.
With a sigh, he left the sheets to make breakfast.
When he returned with the tray of food in his hands, he was surprised to see his Shizun sitting in bed, a small parcel in his hands. Even more surprising was the faint blush and shy smile adorning his features.
Like that, bathed in the gentle light of dawn, he looked more enchanting than the dewy cup of a mellow lotus floating on tranquil waters.
Binghe sighed at the image, his deeply-affected heart quivering helplessly.
He put the tray on a table and walked as if caught in a spell towards his Shizun. When he reached the bed, he simply threw his arms around his lover’s willowy waist and buried his head against the cushy tummy. His legs were still on the floor where he kneeled, so only his upper part of his body enjoyed the softness and warmth of his Shizun.
With an exasperated sigh, his Shizun instructed him to come stay on the bed. Binghe, of course, complied obediently and pushed his Shizun down so he could lie on top of him.
Another sigh later, his lover gave up and cradled Binghe’s head to his chest, playing with his fluffy curls while he talked.
‘This master will be absent for a few days. I am aware Binghe might have a difficult time, which is why I prepared a gift I hope will help you while I am away.’
Binghe raised his head and looked at his Shizun’s eyes with curiosity. The sudden attention made his lover blush again.
He blushed even more when he gave Binghe the parcel he held earlier.
Excited and touched, Binghe got up and carefully opened the wrapping until he could hold the gift. It was a little hand-made plushie toy. It looked exactly like his Shizun.
Binghe could not believe it but his teeth hurt from the sweetness. His Shizun … made this for him … his Shizun … was actually this cute … his Shizun ...
His lover tried to tell him about the plushie, but he did not even get one word out as Binghe wolfed at his lips greedily. The kiss was first deep and overwhelming, but it soon took a sweet and tender note.
The whole time the plushie was squeezed between the two of them.
Slowly, a third heartbeat was sensed by Binghe. It was one that matched his Shizun … quick and fluttering like the wings of a butterfly drunk on nectar. Dazed, he interrupted the languid kiss to take a closer look at the plushie. Touching its soft and chubby body, Binghe felt a heart beating within.
Shizun explained that the plushie, called A-Yuan (for which he offered no further information), had a small pebble inside that once warmed and close to one’s Golden Core, it would pick up the heartbeat its twin stone felt. The twin was hanging on a golden thread around Shizun’s neck.
For when Binghe slept or felt uncertain, Shizun explained.
They made a plan to both sleep at midnight. Binghe also gave his Shizun three letters he would have to read before he slept. His Shizun agreed bashfully, the blush he supported since waking only deepening. At that, Binghe immediately hugged the plushy, the erratic rhythm he felt telling him all.
Shizun frowned at him while he turned into a tomato. He briskly got up and left the sheets with an annoyed sweep of his sleeves.
Binghe, of course, chased after him to apologize. And to ask for some kissies. And maybe some more ...
The first letter was a cute memory from when Binghe was still a disciple. When Shizun read it at midnight, his heartbeat picked up just slightly, staying sweet and calm. A-Yuan spent the night glued to Binghe's chest. And the day hidden within his robes, resting right against Binghe's heart.
The second letter was a chapter of a yet-to-be-written story called Bamboo Leaves Swaying Upon Luo River. The author was named Red Lotus. It was Binghe’s take on Resentment of Chunshan, a chapter he wrote only for his Shizun’s eyes.
The heartbeat became erratic and quick, not settling for a while. Binghe laughed a lot that night and made sure to plant a couple of kissies onto A-Yuan.
The third letter was an ardent love confession full of poetic adoration, one that made Shizun’s heart throb heavily for many hours after midnight. Binghe slept with A-Yuan pushed against his cheek.
Binghe woke the morning of the final day to the sound of a quivering heartbeat. He opened his eyes gently to realise that he no longer was alone in the bamboo house. His lover looked at him from the side of the bed, a fond smile on his face.
Binghe spared no time in dragging him in his arms, plushie squeezed between them. After a kiss, two, three, they finally settled to fall back asleep.