Warning: We got some depictions of [internalized] homophobia in this chapter, and it might be triggering to some.
This was a kiss.
Yu Qiu stupidly stuck out his tongue and licked his lips, as if wanting to taste the remnant flavor. It wasn’t as strong as he had imagined. It was very clear and mild, like the wild flowers and tender grasses covering everything in spring. Yet it also seemed to have a kind of deep-rooted sweetness, like the crystal clear springs in the mountains.
But Yu Qiu realized in an instant that this wasn’t a lady’s kiss.
This was a kiss from a young man.
Xiao Chunmian was a man. He was a young and tender man, and he gave his kiss to Yu Qiu, who was also a man.
Before Yu Qiu could fully understand what this meant, hair all over his body had already stood on end.
His brain was buzzing, more chaotic than when he had just discovered that Xiao Chunmian was a man. Xiao Chunmian was a man, and Xiao Chunmian kissed him. For Yu Qiu, it was because he had misunderstood Xiao Chunmian to be a woman that he had developed those abnormal feelings for him. However, Xiao Chunmian was fully aware that he was a man, and yet he still kissed him…
Xiao Chunmian, on the other hand, saw only Yu Qiu’s cheeks being cutely shone upon by the fire. He couldn’t help but lean forward again, wanting to press another kiss on his lips.
Yu Qiu suddenly pushed him, like a frightened rabbit jumping far away.
Yu Qiu wiped his mouth vigorously with the back of his hand, as if trying to wipe away all the feeling left on it. His eyes were full of panic.
For a moment, Xiao Chunmian was stunned by his obvious resistance. Then he lowered his eyes, revealing a bit of self-deprecation. “Sorry… Was that too much?”
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“No…” Yu Qiu answered with a trembling voice.
Yu Qiu finally realized that the consequences brought about by his big misunderstanding were not just him having fantasies of his love reciprocated. That misunderstanding seemed to have brought the biggest harm to Xiao Chunmian.
That atmosphere of love between the two before was, after all, not just Yu Qiu’s wishful thinking, nor was it one-sided. Xiao Chunmian felt the same for him.
But the huge weight in Yu Qiu’s heart didn’t settle because of this. On the contrary, he became more confused and panicked.
He suddenly realized that, after all was said and done, Xiao Chunmian fell in love with him. and whether he was a man or a woman didn’t matter.
… But how could it not matter? How can a man, to another man, produce such feelings between men and women? Even after thinking about it over and over again, Yu Qiu still couldn’t understand. For years on end, the bolt frozen for many years was still firmly locking the door. Even at this moment, it was blocking Yu Qiu away from the world outside that door.
Yu Qiu only knew that this kind of thing was abnormal. Even though it was abnormal, it was happening right now. And even if it was happening right now, it was still abnormal.
“Chunmian…” Yu Qiu tried to make other person realize how abnormal this kind of thing was and why it shouldn’t happen, “You are a man.”
Xiao Chunmian frowned slightly. Yu Qiu’s abrupt statement finally let him realize that something was wrong. “Yes.”
“I am also a man,” said Yu Qiu.
Xiao Chunmian looked at him in surprise. “So what?”
… So what? This lightly asked question stunned Yu Qiu. What do you mean so what!
“Xiao Qiu.” Xiao Chunmian looked at him with a bitter smile. “Things have already reached this point, how come you’re still saying this? Do you still care about this kind of thing?”
Yu Qiu asked in a daze, “Why shouldn’t I care?”
Xiao Chunmian was taken aback.
“I… I…” Yu Qiu knew that his words and deeds must have dropped the wrong hints to the other person, but those words and deeds were all because of a misunderstanding. All of this was wrong. “Chunmian…I’m sorry…but this… this kind of thing won’t work… We can’t…”
“Xiao Qiu, what are you talking about? What won’t work? A man and a man?” Xiao Chunmian finally put away his soft and harmless tone, and anger burst in his eyes. “Things have reached this stage, and now you’re telling me that a man and a man can’t do it?”
Before these short, three words could finish, Xiao Chunmian suddenly rushed from beside the bonfire, tore open Yu Qiu’s collar, and mercilessly slammed him against the tree trunk beside them. “Yu Qiu! Are you playing with me?”
Yu Qiu looked at him, stupefied. The Xiao Chunmian before him had eyes full of fury, and the corners of them were turning red. His teeth were clenched, looking entirely like a raging, ferocious beast. That soft and gentle Xiao Chunmian that Yu Qiu knew completely became a different person.
Before, Yu Qiu never knew that Xiao Chunmian could be this angry.
“If you must reject me, why not find a better reason?” Xiao Chunmian raised the corners of his mouth, showing a barely visible sneer. “You’re telling me that a man and a man are impossible? What a big joke… You’re a cutsleeve; now come and tell me that it’s impossible between men!”
After a long while, Yu Qiu defended, “I am not a cutsleeve.”
These words momentarily stunned Xiao Chunmian, but very soon it evoked more explosive anger. “You are really playing me.”
“You say you’re not a cutsleeve?” Xiao Chunmian tightened his hold on Yu Qiu’s collar, lifting him up a little before slamming him against the tree trunk again. “You used to… You used to look at me like that…”
When he spoke of this, he seemed to be too embarrassed to talk about it. But afterwards, he poured out all he wanted to say in one breath, “You dare say you’ve never liked me? You dare say you’ve never thought about being with me? You dare say… you’ve never awaited my kiss? Never thought of me hugging you in my arms? Even more… never thought of peeling open the layers of my clothes, using your hand to gently stroke my body, letting us join together ever more deeply? Yu Qiu, do you dare say this!”
Xiao Chunmian was different from Yu Qiu. He could clearly see that Yu Qiu had feelings for him, never once doubting that it was merely his own wishful thinking.
He was very sure what kind of desire Yu Qiu would have of him, and he also had the same desire.
Yu Qiu was already blushing with what he said, and his whole body was shaking slightly.
Xiao Chunmian exhaled deeply and loosened the strength in his hands. Resting his hands on Yu Qiu’s shoulders, his whole person leaned forward and put his cheek on Yu Qiu’s neck. Gently sighing into his ear, he said, “Xiao Qiu, stop joking. Stop making this kind of joke. You like me, I know.”
After speaking, he opened his lips slightly, put Yu Qiu’s earlobe in his mouth, licked along the outline with the tip of his tongue, and lightly bit on it.
Yu Qiu suddenly trembled again, his hair tingling.
After that, he tried even harder to push Xiao Chunmian away, but Xiao Chunmian just kept firmly pressing him in his arms.
“Xiao Qiu.” Xiao Chunmian sighed helplessly. “What on earth are you being difficult for? You clearly like me… but you still say you’re not a cutsleeve… Oh, what a mess.”
Yu Qiu resolutely shook his head.
Yes, he truly liked Xiao Chunmian.
But he really wasn’t a cutsleeve.
In fact, if Xiao Chunmian hadn’t mentioned it, Yu Qiu wouldn’t even realize that there were cutsleeves in this world. Yu Qiu devoted his whole life to studying seals. Anything beyond the concept of seals, he had only the most orthodox and conventional ideas. This cutsleeve was such a deviant thing that was completely out of his understanding.
But were deviant things beyond his understanding something that shouldn’t be done?
Yu Qiu naturally knew that it wasn’t; he wasn’t so pedantic. Thinking about it now, he had just spoken wrongly to Xiao Chunmian. Saying that it was impossible between men was him choosing the wrong words in a panic. The reason why he was resisting was not because of what was wrong and what was impossible, but simply because Yu Qiu couldn’t accept being a cutsleeve.
“I thought you were a woman!” Yu Qiu finally yelled out this sentence.
This sentence finally made Xiao Chunmian stop his actions, slightly releasing him from his arms as he stared at Yu Qiu, stupefied.
“I’m not a cutsleeve!” Yu Qiu shouted, “I don’t like men! I used to like you, but it was just a misunderstanding! You… Because of what your mother did to you, I always thought you were a woman disguised as a man.”
Xiao Chunmian’s hands that were lightly resting on Yu Qiu’s shoulders suddenly tightened, fingers tightening one by one.