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“You have a hair here,” Yan Zhengming says, reaching out to pluck an errant strand of hair clinging to the base of Cheng Qian’s neck. He flicks it away, and his fingers return to brush over the spot in search for further impurities. 

Taken by surprise, Cheng Qian lets out a few discordant but genuine notes of laughter, evidently ticklish. Scrunching up a shoulder to shield his neck, Cheng Qian dislodges Yan Zhengming’s wandering hand.

The sound is so startling in its rarity that Yan Zhengming’s thoughts are abruptly extinguished, all but seeping out through his ears and swirling before his eyes like the smoke of incense. If he were to be asked, Yan Zhengming doesn’t think he’d even know how to pronounce his own name right then. 

Do it again, he urges Cheng Qian inwardly, inexplicably desperate. For me, do it again. 

Patience is a skill he has had no choice but to master, but in the moment his sword-calloused hands seem to revert back into those of a spoiled young master, and greedily dart out to grant his own desire. Elegant fingers flit across the cool skin of Cheng Qian’s nape once again, and the result is even more spectacular than the last.

“Shixiong!” Cheng Qian’s laughter slips out, sparkling like light on the sea. 

Why can’t I ever seem to get enough of him? Yan Zhengming has just enough time to wonder before Cheng Qian inadvertently slams an elbow into the side of his rib cage.