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You are the ace up my sleeve

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Getting together with Shen Qingqiu was something that Liu Qingge never expected to happen.

At first, of course, he never would have guessed that he would ever fall in love with him either. His young self would definitely stab you with no hesitation if you implied anything of that sort. How could he ever imagine the scum villain Shen Jiu to suddenly change so drastically one day?

Then, after Shen Qingqiu’s change of heart and Liu Qingge’s unfortunate realization of his feelings for his Shixiong, the idea of them becoming a couple still seemed impossible. Or, at least, Liu Qingge had convinced himself that Shen Qingqiu would never feel the same way about him. Thankfully, he was very wrong about that.

It’s been almost a month since Liu Qingge’s accidental confession that led to them getting together when he realizes that there’s something serious that he should have probably talked about with him before they started their relationship. 

Liu Qingge had initially thought that things would magically change when he started dating Shen Qingqiu and he wouldn’t feel this way anymore, but once again, he was wrong.

Even if it seems difficult and he’s afraid it might ruin their relationship, Liu Qingge has decided that the only solution is to talk to his partner about it.

So here he is now, sitting across from the man he loves on the table, waiting for him to pour them both tea.

“So what did you want to talk about, Shidi?” Shen Qingqiu asks, putting the teapot aside.

“I think there might be something wrong with me,” Liu Qingge says bluntly, deciding to get straight to the point. He’s never been good with being subtle after all. 

“What?” Shen Qingqiu blurts out, almost dropping the cup of tea he was about to drink from. “Did you get injured? Poisoned? Did you go to Mu-Shidi about it?!” The worry and concern are so obvious in his partner’s voice that Liu Qingge regrets starting with that sentence, even if it seemed appropriate for his situation.

“No, I’m alright, this is not a life or death situation, I promise,” he reassures him, reaching out to hold his hand on top of the table. “I mean… I do think there’s something wrong with me but not in that way…” Liu Qingge really doesn’t know how to continue his sentence. He’s about to take his hand away, feeling awkward, when Shen Qingqiu turns his hand around to hold Liu Qingge’s properly and gives it a little squeeze.

“Tell me about it then. If it’s not a health problem I’m sure we can solve it together.” 

Liu Qingge takes a deep breath, trying to find the right words. His partner has been so good and patient with him ever since they got together, he’s seriously contemplating if he should really bring this up. But he doesn’t want to lie or pretend either, so he has to tell him. Maybe it’ll hurt less if they end this early on. 

“When I was still a disciple, I realized that I had no interest in women,” he decides to say, avoiding eye contact. “I didn’t really think about it much because I had decided that I wanted to focus on my cultivation and training anyway, so I ignored all the guys around me talking about which girls they found attractive.” He dares to steal a glance at Shen Qingqiu after he says this since it’s not something really shocking. He is in a relationship with a man after all, not liking women isn’t that surprising. 

“Go on,” Shen Qingqiu tells him, nodding encouragingly. He has started rubbing patterns on his hand with his thumb.

“I later realized that I liked men. I still ignored it though because I wasn’t interested in getting into a relationship, nor did I really feel the need to. Well, until I…  fell in love… with you…” Liu Qingge mumbles the last part, a bit embarrassed to say it outloud even if it’s not the first time.

Shen Qingqiu tries to hide his amused smile behind his cup of tea but Liu Qingge has gotten really good at reading his expressions lately. Realizing that his partner has stopped attempting to hide them from him using his fan more and more nowadays has been a blessing. Shen Qingqiu always has his damn fan with him of course, but he now laughs freely, not caring about keeping up appearances in front of Liu Qingge.

“I really wanted this,” he says, gesturing between them with his free hand. “I didn’t really think that I would get to call you my partner in this lifetime, but somehow it happened. And I’m very happy but…”

Shen Qingqiu’s hand freezes under his on the table, his expression not amused anymore. 

“You are not breaking up with me, are you?” he asks, letting out an awkward laugh.

Liu Qingge tilts his head in confusion, narrowing his eyes, until he realizes why the older man came to that conclusion. 

“Of course not,” he says firmly. 

He’s really bad at this, he thinks. Even though he’s usually very direct with what he wants to say, this time fear is holding him back.

"Then please never say anything like that again Shidi," Shen Qingqiu sighs, shaking his head. "This Shixiong got scared." 

Liu Qingge opens his mouth to apologize but his partner stops him. 

"Eh please continue, it's my fault for jumping to conclusions and interrupting you," Shen Qingqiu says, giving him a small smile. 

Liu Qingge wants to argue that it was his fault for making his speech sound so ominous but decides to hold back this time, not wanting the subject to change. He's already feeling his confidence leaving him. 

"Ahem, as I was saying," he tries again, trying to stop his voice from shaking. "I'm really happy to be with you, but I'm afraid I might not be able to be the partner you deserve." Liu Qingge lowers his head, looking at his untouched cup of tea like it hides the answers he's looking for. 

"What do you mean?" Shen Qingqiu questions, confusion obvious in his face. "You’re wonderful. You are the partner I want." 

Liu Qingge’s heart tugs a little at that, but he can't let himself relax before he finishes what he wants to say. 

"I'm just… not sure if I'll be able to fulfill my duty as your husband in case we marry." His voice is definitely trembling at this point, but there's no way to stop it. 

"What duty? Qingge, you don't have any duty towards me," Shen Qingqiu says, pursing his lips. "We are partners because we both want to. We'll get married because we'll want to. There's no obligation for you to do anything you don't want." 

"I know you would never force me to do anything I don't want but still… there are certain things that are expected between a couple," Liu Qingge tries. He attempts to take his hand away, not wanting his partner to realize his shaking, but Shen Qingqiu stops him. 

"There aren't any rules as far as I'm aware. As long as you promise that you'll love me, we'll be fine." 

Liu Qingge is surprised about how confident Shen Qingqiu sounds. It's not like he doesn't trust his partner, but the older man has always been shy about talking explicitly about his feelings, choosing to show his affection in other ways. Him talking so directly about it makes Liu Qingge a little braver. 

"I don't know if I want to be intimate with you," he blurts out. 

Okay, that was probably a bit too brave. When Liu Qingge tries to take away his hand now, Shen Qingqiu doesn’t stop him. 

"That's… what do you mean by that?" 

His partner's expression is a mix of confusion and hurt. Liu Qingge really wants to take everything back and never talk about this again. It's probably too late now. 

"I… I'm not sure if I want to have sex with you," he clarifies, trying to control his breathing. When did it get so erratic? 

"Qingge, breathe," Shen Qingqiu says, his voice sounding close. How did the other man get so close without him realizing? 

"It's okay, we'll figure it out, just breathe now please." 

Liu Qingge slowly starts breathing normally again, still feeling like he could lose control any moment now, his chest hurting. His partner is kneeling next to him on the floor, close but not touching him, still trying to reassure him. 

"A'Yuan," he says, his voice hoarse. "I don't know what's wrong with me." 

Liu Qingge can't help the tears running down his checks. This is the first time he has allowed himself to cry in front of someone else in many years.

"Can I hug you?" Shen Qingqiu asks softly, expression open. Liu Qingge nods and before the older man has the chance to move, the Bai Zhan Peak Lord throws himself on his partner’s lap, both of them now sitting tangled on the floor. He probably hasn't done anything like that ever since he was a child. 

"There's nothing wrong with you," Shen Qingqiu comforts him, holding him close. Liu Qingge lets himself cry a little harder at that. 

"I love you," he says desperately, not wanting his lover to ever doubt that. 

"I know," the older man replies immediately, sounding sure. "You haven't done anything to make me doubt that." 

Liu Qingge knows that he has tried his best even though this is his first relationship and he has always been awkward with dealing with feelings. He's just afraid that his best isn't good enough. 

Shen Qingqiu deserves a partner that can offer him everything he needs. He deserves someone that won't want to pull away everytime a kiss gets too intense, someone who won't hesitate to make him feel good in all the ways that a partner should. 

Shen Qingqiu definitely doesn't deserve to be with someone like him. A person who loves someone so much but still feels weird about getting intimate with them, touching them, pleasuring them. A person who feels sick about his lack of sexual desire to the point where he can't even enjoy kissing anymore.

"Whatever you are thinking about, stop it," Shen Qingqiu whispers, interrupting his thoughts. "I'm not sure I understand what exactly is going on but I can assure you that I love you and nothing is going to change that." 

Liu Qingge’s breathing is back to normal now and only a few traitorous tears are still sliding down his face. He doesn’t really want to move from there; doesn’t want to face Shen Qingqiu and see what his expression looks like. He knows that he’s probably being unreasonable, but he can’t stop his chest from hurting.

Shen Qingqiu lets him stay there for a few minutes, softly stroking his back, before he says, “Correct me if I didn’t understand this correctly, but what you mean to say is that… you don’t experience sexual attraction in general?”

Liu Qingge considers his words for a moment, the terms sounding foreign to him. Shen Qingqiu must realize his problem because he speaks again.

“I mean, you don’t really feel like you want to have sex with someone? Ugh, this is complicated, I don’t know how to explain this properly.” Liu Qingge can feel his partner’s frustrating sign on the top of his head. 

“Like, you… love me,” Shen Qingqiu continues, a little shy. “But you don’t really look at me and you know… want to bed me? Or anyone else?”

Liu Qingge would normally laugh at how awkward the older man is saying this considering that he is supposed to be the scholar out of the two of them, but right now he just wants to disappear.

“Yes,” he whispers, slowly detaching himself from Shen Qingqiu’s body in order to be able to look at him. “It’s not just you, I never felt that way about anyone.” Making eye contact is hard but he can’t keep hiding like a coward. 

Shen Qingqiu hums thoughtfully before he says, “Okay, I think I get it now. This is something that some people experience.”

“Is it curable?” Liu Qingge can’t help but ask. If he isn’t the only one who has experienced this, maybe there is a way to fix it.

“What do you mean curable? Cure what? It’s not something to—" Shen Qingqiu interrupts himself, his expression going from confusion to a sad understanding.

“Oh Qingge,” the older man sighs, reaching out to hold both of his hands. “There is nothing to cure here because there is nothing wrong with you. This is just the way you are, it’s not as uncommon as you think.” 

Shen Qingqiu’s voice is so soft yet so sure that Liu Qingge almost wants to believe him.

“But isn’t everyone expected to… want to have sex with the person they love?”

“Well, you could want to have sex with someone for various reasons. Some people have sex with someone they barely know just because they enjoy it. Others only want to have sex with people they have feelings for. And there are people who don’t experience sexual attraction, or at least not as much as most people, but still choose to have sex, whether it is because they like the closeness or want to plausure their partner.

“I’m sure there are many more reasons, but my point is that each person is different so it’s not like there is a specific way you should be or feel like. It’s alright if you aren’t attracted to me in that way and don’t want to have sex with me.”

“But,” Liu Qingge tries to protest. “Won’t you want to do more things with me one day?” Even if he accepts that this is just the way he is, it’s not guaranteed that his partner will be okay with it.

“What I want isn’t relevant. The most important thing in a relationship is to do things that we both desire and feel comfortable doing. If you never want to have sex with me, then we are never going to have sex, that’s it. I would never want anything more than what you are willing to give me. Just your love is more than enough anyway.”

Shen Qingqiu’s face is almost the same shade of red that it was the day that Liu Qingge confessed. The Bai Zhan Peak Lord didn’t think he would see him this flustered again. His chest feels a little lighter.

“I wouldn’t want to leave you unsatisfied though. I’m your partner but I may not be able to help you with… that,” he mumbles. He is a little embarrassed to just say it like this, but his mind can’t rest unless he is sure that they won’t have any problems in their relationship.

“Qingge, if I really need anything like that, I still have my hands you know,” Shen Qingqiu replies, looking away shyly. “But anyway, I’m not that intrested in sex myself if we are being honest.”

“You are not?” Liu Qingge hates how surprised he sounds, but the truth is that he never stopped to think that he might not be the only one. It’s true that Shen Qingqiu never actually attempted to do anything more than kiss him and hold him close, but he just read that as him wanting to go slow.

“Yeah, it has always been like that. I’m not really against having sex so I didn’t mention anything because I was willing to go along with whatever you suggested. Before you misunderstand this, I mean that I feel comfortable with you and I enjoy the closeness so I think I would enjoy it? I’m not sure, but I promise I wasn’t planning to force myself to do anything I didn’t want.”

Liu Qingge looks at his partner in awe, really not having expected this. The more he thinks about it, the more sense it makes. Shen Qingqiu mostly had been whining about wanting to cuddle in bed with him rather than try anything else even when Liu Qingge feared it might happen.

“So you will be fine with possibly never having sex?” he asks, just to be sure.

“Of course. We just have to discuss what your boundaries are so I won’t accidentally cross them,” Shen Qingqiu replies, giving him a soft smile.

“By boundaries, you mean…?” Liu Qingge looks at him in confusion, tilting his head. It’s definitely a relief that his partner seems to know what he’s talking about.

“I mean what you are comfortable to do with me. Like, you know, kissing, cuddling, that stuff,” the older man says. “I wouldn’t want to accidentally do something that makes you uncomfortable.”

Liu Qingge stares at him in silence for a few seconds, not having expected this conversation to go so well. Even though he knew that Shen Qingqiu wasn’t going to kick him out of his house or something extreme like that, he was still worried that it could possibly affect their relationship in a negative way. He feels a little guilty for having doubted his partner like this, but more than anything, he is filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

“I like kissing you,” he decides to say. “And being close to you in general. I like when we cuddle or just sit close to each other. I… also enjoyed that time you accidentally fell asleep in my bed last week. I’m not sure about other stuff.” 

The Bai Zhan Peak Lord is trying to be as honest as he can. He doesn’t think he would be comfortable doing this kind of stuff with someone else, but Shen Qingqiu is different. He makes him feel safe and being close to him always makes his heart feel warm. At least when he isn’t stressing about it.

“We haven’t done anything that I didn’t like,” Liu Qingge continues, wanting to make it clear. “But sometimes I was a bit too stressed about what could possibly happen next that I may have stopped you absurdly.” The incident that happened two days ago where he fell off the bed because he panicked when Shen Qingqiu accidentally kneed him in the crotch while they were making out is what made him realize that he really needed to talk about this with his partner.

“I’m sorry for not realizing that there was something more going on earlier,” Shen Qingqiu says, looking guilty. “I just assumed that you were shy about this since you told me that it's your first relationship. I promise I’ll pay more attention in the future.”

“Ahh it’s okay, you couldn't have known about it,” Liu Qingge hurries to reassure him, not wanting him to feel bad about something he had been trying to hide anyway.

His partner still seems to be overthinking it so Liu Qingge leans in and gives him a brief kiss on the lips. 

“We’ll be fine,” he is the one who says it now, feeling confident. With someone like Shen Qingqiu by his side, there is no way this isn’t going to work. 

Liu Qingge is sure that there are still going to be instances where he’ll feel insecure about it for a while, but right now, with Shen Qingqiu letting go of his hands only to wrap his arms around him in a warm hug, there isn’t a single doubt on his mind.