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Leaving The Past Behind

Chapter Text

From the moment the other one opened his eyes after the sudden fever, he knew, it wasn't his Shen Qingqiu. He knew him for too long to not notice this. He just overlooked it.

Shen Qingqiu was alive. Shen Qingqiu was back again.

It was all that mattered.

Grieving for so long, he buried his regrets in his heart a second time. There was no need to talk about this with the person right in front of him. He knew, the Shen Qingqiu here didn't know how to react would he confess everything.

He wanted to when the other one woke up, but... he missed the chance.

So he decided to watch over the new Shen Qingqiu. Watch how he would react to the new environment, to the people here.

To the little disciple his ShenQingqiu despised so much.

Surprisingly, the new Shen Qingqiu seemed to know almost everything here. He found himself a place quite soon, and the other people living here began to become fond of him. He was smart, courteous and charismatic. The beautiful face that so often was distorted with hatred became soft and seemed to glow from the inside.

He was the only one missing the man from before. Everyone else was glad to have such a pleasant person with them right now. It was understandable; who wanted a bitter and ill willed person around all the time? One who bullied a small child without a reason? Well, no one.

Except him.

They had a past together, they were bond by a promise he couldn't fulfill.

He lit up some incence for the lost person, sure to never see him again.

-

„Shixiong?“

Shen Qingqiu was standing in front of him. They had spoken about some strategies regarding the upcoming Immortal Alliance Conference. Shen Qingqiu didn't seem to feel that comfortable about the event, and he tried to soothe him.

„Don't worry, everything will be fine. We are planning this for quite some time now, so there is no need to be concerned.“

It wasn't his Shen Qingqiu, it would never be. But he still was a very nice person, someone who was worthy being protected. He had sworn to himself, that he would give his life for the new Shen Qingqiu, if it would be necessary. He was part of the family-like relationship the Peak Lords had with each other, after all.

If he wasnt able to protect the original, maybe he could repent for his sins like this. Only a little bit would be fine.

-

Three years went by, since Shen Qingqiu had changed. The Immortal Alliance Conference took place, and he had pushed his disciple, whom he learned to favor, into the abyss which had opened there. Now he was grieving about the loss, and he buried the broken sword of his disciple behind his bamboo hut.

He didn't know what exactly happened there, but it pained him to see the other one like this. Even if he wasn't his Shen Qingqiu, he didn't deserve this.

He wanted to be there for him, to give him strength to overcome the loss, but who was he to think about this?

So he watched over Shen Qingqiu from afar, just how he did the whole time.

-

Another three years later, Shen Qingqiu self-destructed.

This left him bewildered.

He knew, Shen Qingqiu valued this disciple so much, and when he appeared again after being pushed into the abyss, it shook him to the bone. But to go to this length...especially when his reputation was almost destroyed and he was imprisoned because of this...

It broke his heart.

An they didn't even had the chance to retrieve the body.

Liu Qingge tried again and again to fight the Demon Lord residing in Huan Hua Palace, but he lost every time. There was no chance to see Shen Qingqiu ever again.

He mourned. He mourned for himself, showing no emotions regarding this on the outside. No one knew how hard this hit him inside.

No one should ever know, but it teared him almost apart.

He lost his Shen Qingqiu, now he lost another one. And there was nothing he could have done against it. He felt guilty, he thought time and time again if he could have done at least the slightest bit.

But there was nothing, and that made it even more painful.

There was no choice, he needed to go on. Cang Qiong Mountain needed him, and he wanted to move on. For the two Shen Qingqiu's, too.

-

Three bitter years, another three years... but he torture still wasn't over.

Five years later a person appeared. At first it was unbelievable, but then he understood.

This really was Shen Qingqiu. He came back.

He didn't know what to feel. Did everything turn to a good ending? Was he now possible to do anything for Shen Qingqiu? Had some deity given him another chance?

But before he was able to act, everything went upside down. They barely met when Shen Qingqiu disappeared again. He wasn't able to hold him within his reach.

How often did heavens want to punish him? Wasn't it enough? How much did he have to endure?

He was on the verge of breaking down. He couldn't go on! He couldn't!

But before he was able to give up, so much happened. The whole world was turned upside down, and finally Shen Qingqiu relied on him. Trusted him. He was able to risk his life for him.

He was ready to die. It didn't matter, as long as Shen Qingqiu survived.

Go! Go and live on!

But Shen Qingqiu insisted on saving him. It was the wrong way around!

They both made it out alive, they both survived.

The world was in shambles. His world already was it for a long time, and now the real world had caught up. It was Shen Qingqiu who saved them all, but it also was Shen Qingqiu who denied him his last request and the possibility to find his peace.

He let him go with the Demon Lord. He never had seen Shen Qingqiu looking like this before than when he was with the other one. So bright and beautiful. He was happy for him, but his heart was torn part again at the same time.

He was alone again.

-

„It's good, that the Sect Master of Cang Qiong Mountain is here.“

„Yes, the damage is still huge, they need to send more help to rebuild this city.“

Yue Qingyuan was overhearing a conversation from some townspeople. It was true, that they still needed more time to remove the ruins all over the land. The merging had wrecked havoc but gladly, most of the people survived. And now the people of Cang Qiong Mountain were helping with the reconstruction wherever they could.

Today, he was visiting a city who was almost destroyed entirely. The reparations were going smoothly, but as the Sect Master he had to be present from time to time.

He nodded at some people crossing his way, They all here were open-minded and grateful for every help they received. The city itself had a good and healthy environment; if Yue Qingyuan wanted a child to grow up at a good place, it would be here.

He wanted to inspect another place, when suddenly someone tugged on his sleeve. He turned around to see a maid standing there. She bowed deeply, before raising her voice.

„Sect Master, I'm sorry to bother you. This maid is unworthy, but-“

„Don't mind it.“ Yue Qingyuan smiled warmly. „You have a request, so please tell me, what can I do for you?“

The maid hesitated for a moment. „My young Master... he...“ She bowed again. „Please follow me!“

-

She led him through some streets. „Since he lost his parents two years ago, he began talking nonsense from time to time. That he was a cultivator once and such. He must have inherited a great potential, so his uncle wanted to introduce him to your sect. But recently, he... he was demanding to see the Sect Master.“

She explained hastily and so her speech was a bit confused. Yue Qingyuan's face showed concern. What did this mean? How could a child know him, and even more, wanted to meet him? He wanted to know more, but for this, he had to go and see the child.

His concern was blown away, when they finally arrived at a mansion. It was destroyed partly, and there were a lot of people working on some walls. But Yue Qingyuan didn't see them.

His focus was on the child sitting on a bench at the courtard.

It was a young boy, barely twelve years old. His features were already delicate, showing, that he would grow up to be a very handsome man. His black hair was long, and someone took great care to comb it up into a traditional bun.

He was holding a fan, emitting a graceful aura, which seemed more fitting for an adult than a young boy like this.

Yue Qingyuan swallowed.

This boy reminded him so much of him.

Clenching his fists to hide his trembling, he stepped closer.

The boy lifted his gaze.

And there was only one word.

„Qi-ge.“

Chapter Text

Yue Qingyuan went white as a sheet.

What did the boy just say?

„You found me, Qi-ge.“

There it was again. The name only one person knew.

„...Xiao Jiu?“

The boy nodded and smiled. It was an innocent smile, something Yue Qingyuan missed for so long.

But how was this possible? He knew, that there was the possibility of reincarnation, but he never heard of something like this happening while the original body was still alive. And regarding the age of the boy, he had to be reincarnated when the change happened...

The change! Was it possible? Maybe another soul entered Shen Qingqiu's body, and the original fled and find a new host?

It had to be!

He kneeled down to inspect the child in front of him.

He was of average height for his age. His body still had to develop the features of an adult, being soft and almost a bit chubby right now. He seemed well fed and taken good care of. But he was very pretty and delicate, and seeing it from up close, his face really resembled that of the original Shen Qingqiu.

He wanted to embrace him, to feel, that this wasn't just a dream. But seeing the maid standing next to them, the construction workers nearby, it would give off the wrong impression. And so he only lifted up the boy's hand and placed two fingers on his pulse to feel the spiritual energy, which was already inside of the small body and just needed to awaken.

„He really has great talents hidden inside of him“, he said to the maid. „May I ask where his uncle is? I would like to take this boy with me to Cang Qiong Mountain, and I want to ask for permission first.“

The maid nodded. „I'll go fetch him.“ She bowed and hurried into the estate.

Still kneeling in front of the child, Yue Qingyuan's eyes were glued to the small person. „How“, he asked in a low voice. „How is this possible?“

The boy shrugged with his shoulders. „I don't know. I didn't even know who I was until I lost my parents.“ Calling them parents was something, the old Shen Qingqiu never would have done. „The shock of losing them must have unlocked my memories.“

Yue Qingyuan listened quietly. „But you look well. You must have had a good life until now? Not like... the last time?“

The boy wanted to answer, when the maid appeared with another man. He looked quite young but elegant, with a warm expression on his face. He greeted the Sect Master respectfully.

„The maid old me, you want to take Wei Jiu with you?“

Wei Jiu... he even had the same given name! Yue Qingyuan's heart was bursting from too many emotions, but he nodded as calmly as he could. „He has great talent. It would be a waste not letting him become a cultivator.“

The man smiled, but it seemed a bit lonely. „I thought so. I won't interefere. He is a good child, very ambitious and diligent. His mother almost miscarried, so it is a miracle that he was born and has grown into such a marvellous person. Please take good care of him.“

Ah, so Shen Qingqiu's original soul found a soulless body within his mother's womb. It made sense. So he had the chance to make this body his own.

He bent down and stroked the boy's hair. „I know this is your wish, too. Become a great cultivator, and when you're able to, hopefully you visit me and the grave of your parents.“

The boy nodded and showed a shy smile. „I will, uncle. Many thanks for your care.“ He bowed out of respect and then turned around to Yue Qingyuan. „May Sect Master come with me? I only have few things to pack up.“

He followed the boy into the mansion. „Your uncle loves you“, he said absentmindedly.

„They all are good people here“, the boy said. „My parents were, too. They raised me with love and care.“

So different to the past he had before. Yue Qingyuan smiled. „You deserved this. I am happy you found such a loving home. Are you sure you want to come with me?“

Without another word the boy took Yue Qingyuan's hand and pressed it gently. It was a strange feeling, the hand was so small yet so warm. And he understood and wrapped his large fingers around the smaller ones.

Wei Jiu.

Shen Jiu.

It didn't matter. It was the person he missed so dearly for such a long time. And now he came back to him.

-

There really were only a few things to pack, and with a small bundle, the boy was ready to depart. Yue Qingyuan took it from him – he would never let the delicate boy carry this!

His eyes never left the small body, still trying to understand the miracle happening before him.

What he found out was, that the boy still liked fans. The two fans he possessed were the first things he packed up, taking care that they wouldn't be damaged in any way. It seemed they had a special meaning to him.

Other than that he still knew how to move gracefully without wasting energy. That was one thing Yue Qingyuan admired the whole time when watching Shen Qingqiu.

Feeling stared at, the boy glanced at the Sect Master but said nothing. He knew, that the other one needed time. Time to understand and time to accept him. He had two years to understand his situation after all, so he didn't expect the Sect Master to cope with it right away. So he gave him time to think. He himself had so many thoughts crossing his mind right now. And a feeling of excitement rose up in his heart.

But there was one question burning deep inside of him.

„What happened to my body?“

Chapter Text

„Well... it is a long story...“

Yue Qingyuan didn't want to tell Shen Jiu right now what happened. First of all it would be too much at once, second... he wasn't sure the other one would like to hear about his body running away with the disciple he despised so much. Not a good combination. But he promised to tell him everything soon, only confirming right now, that his body was still alive.

While they traveled, he held the boy close in his arms. He didn't want Shen Jiu to fall down from a flying sword and die, when they finally met again!

„You look tired“, the boy suddenly said. „Was it very hard for you?“

Shen Jiu's perception was really good. „Well, a lot happened... and with the damage everywhere we need to work harder than ever before. But it's fine. We are making progress.“

He smiled softly, and the boy nodded. „I understand.“ He looked in the direction where they were heading. „Will you tell anyone about this?“

Yuen Qingyuan knew what the boy meant, and he shook his head. „I believe the other Peak Lords would accept it after some time, but I think it would do more harm than it could do any good. After all, they believed for twelve years that it was still you, and I think they would feel tricked and misused.“

„Did you believe it?“

The boy's eyes were deep pools, showing an earnest expression. He needed to know the truth.

„Do you think I believed this?“

Shen Jiu stared at the other one a bit longer, but then he closed his eyes. „No. You knew me for such a long time after all. And you knew who I am right when you saw me in the estate.“

Yue Qingyuan smiled. „You are right. 'Your' personality changed too much, so there was no way I would believe it was you.“

Shen Jiu seemed to think for a while. „Are you...happy to see me again?“, he asked. For the first time his voice wasn't firm but sounded more like the child he was, scared to be abandoned anytime soon.

This hurt Yue Qingyuan so much, he held the child a bit tighter. „It was my only wish I had in my whole life“, he whispered. „How could you think I didnt want to see you again?“

The child didn't answer. Instead, he buried his head on Yue Qingyuan's shoulder. He thought he heard a faint sobbing sound, but he wasn't sure, and so he only stroke the small back soothingly.

-

They arrived at Cang Qiong Mountain after some time. Yue Qingyuan took the boy to his bamboo hut, taking care of not be seen by anyone. When they entered, the boy looked around, scanning the interior equipment.

„It's been a long time since I was here“, Shen Jiu said while taking a book which was laying on the table. „But it didn't change a bit.“

„I didn't change, either, so why should my home space change?“ Yue Qingyuan sat down on the bed, watching the young boy moving in the room like he was at home. „I'll prepare the small hut in the back for you. I know it's not as comfortable as your peak or your new home, but I have to disguise you as a disciple, so I hope you can bear with it.“

Shen Jiu laid the book down. „As long as I can stay close to you, it's fine.“

Yue Qingyuan sighed. He sure had changed. The former Shen Jiu had a bad temper and was throwing tantrums how he saw it fit. But this child was calm and clear in mind. Just like...

Just like before they came to the Qiu estate.

Maybe the heavens gave them a new chance?

This would be too good to be true!

When the child looked at him, he waved him over. There was an urge he needed to fulfill. And when the other one was standing in front of him, he finally hugged the boy.

„Welcome back, Xiao Jiu!“

The boy instantly returned the hug. „I'm back, Qi-ge“, he whispered.

-

Yue Qingyuan sent a messenger to the logistics department in need of some new furnitures and clothes. The hut was empty for quite some time, and so it needed to be cleaned and arranged anew. And the boy needed the uniform of his peak.

Having a kitchen of their own, Yue Qingyuan decided to cook for the both of them. While he was preparing things, Shen Jiu was watching while sitting on a chest.

„You still cook for yourself?“, he asked. „I thought as the Sect Master you wouldn't do this anymore.“

„That shows that you didn't care“, Yue Qingyuan said calmly. „I don't have the time often, but when it is possible, I cook for myself.“ He mixed some vegetables with each other. „The dishes here are plain and... well, sometimes tasteless? And it is like meditation to me, so I enjoy doing this.“

Shen Jiu laughed. It was a wonderful sound, so clear and innocent. „Well, that's true. I despised the food here, and I don't think that changed.“

„Then you should learn how to cook.“ Yue Qingyuan tried to tease the other one. He knew, Shen Jiu wouldn't do manual labor. But to his surprise, the boy seemed interested. „Maybe I will. It would be a new experience to eat things that actually taste good up here.“

This time it was Yue Qingyuan who laughed. „That's true. I hope, that I will be the one to make this miracle come true.“

„You will.“ The voice of the boy was sincere. „Back then, the things you cooked were the most delicious ones to me.“

Back then. That meant the time when they were living on the streets, sometimes barely alive.

He felt a stinging in his eyes, and he averted his gaze. „These are old stories. I hope I have improved until now.“

„I'm sure of it“, the boy said. „You are a dependable adult. It doesn't need much to impress a child.“

If you were a pure innocent child, maybe that would be true. But you are a grown adult in the body of a child, so that might be difficult.

Nonetheless, bickering with Shen Jiu like this made him happy. He just hoped, that this wasn't just a dream. And if this was a dream, he never wanted to wake up.

-

They ate in silence, but Yue Qingyuan saw, that the boy liked his food. It was habit to only eat one portion and leave a rest on the plate, but he ate it all. So Yue Qingyuan brought another portion over, and the eyes of the boy were sparkling with joy.

„You sure enjoy eating“, Yue Qingyuan remarked, and the boy looked up.

„I'm still growing“, he defended himself. „And I'm far away from being an immortal who doesn't need to eat. Besides...“, he said with a smile. „It somehow tastes nostalgic.“

It warmed Yue Qingyuan's heart to hear these words.

„You will reach the state of an immortal soon enough“, he said. „I know you began cultivating in the estate. You know how to do it, after all.“

Shen Jiu nodded. „This body is amazing. It's so easy to cultivate with it, and being able to begin in such an early state...“ he grew quiet. They both knew it was something he couldn't do in his old body. Something he regretted his whole life.

„Xiao Jiu...“, Yue Qingyuan began speaking, but the child smiled again. „Let us talk about other things.“

Yue Qingyuan understood.

It wasn't the time to speak about the things that happened back then. Not now. But there would be a chance for it someday. And then Yue Qingyuan wanted to tell him everything. Everything he hid in his heart for so long.

Chapter Text

„Would you like to take a walk with me?“

They had finished their meal, and it was still time until the sun would go down. The ordered goods wouldn't arrive either, so this was a good opportunity for sightseeing. And Shen Jiu seemed to be interested, so they went out and strolled around the territory. The boy sucked in all the impressions, looking everywhere with a nostalgic expression.

„It really didn't change much here“, he said, and Yue Qingyuan smiled. „It's good as it is, so why should I change it? Just like my hut.“

Shen Jiu nodded. „You are right.“

Yue Qingyuan was watching the child from above. How delicate he was! How precious! He felt like a older brother once again and barely resisted the urge to hold the small hand. But there was no need to. It was Shen Jiu who was reaching out, and so they walked hand in hand for quite some time.

His heart felt so warm and fuzzy, it was undescribable. Even when they were together as Peak Lord and Sect Master, he never felt like this. Maybe it was because he got his little brother back, or maybe it was, because Shen Jiu seemed to have the good childhood he deserved and was emitting a more peaceful aura. Who knew, but it didn't matter anyway.

They were here. Together.

Yue Qingyuan was in a daze, when suddenly he felt the small hand being pulled back. Irritated, he looked up, just to see Mu Qingfang coming their way.

Ah. How cautious.

„Greetings, Sect Master.“

Mu Qingfang bowed respectfully before looking at the child by his side. „Who might this young one be?“

Yue Qingyuan crossed his hands behind his back. „He is a new disciple I will take in. His name is Wei Jiu.“

The boy bowed deeply, and Mu Qingfang nodded. „Seems promising, but there was no official ceremony, wasn't there?“

„No, you're right.“ Yue Qingyuan smiled a bit guilty. „I take full responsibility, but he has extraordinary talent. And since the repair works need more time, who knows when we will be able to look for new disciples. It would be a waste to not give him a chance.“

This sounded reasonable, so Mu Qingfang nodded slightly. „I trust in your judgement, Sect Master“, he said, before kneeling down and inspecting the boy closely. „I am Mu Qingfang, Peak Lord of Qian Cao Peak. If you'll ever be in need of medical treatment, feel free to come over.“

The boy listened intensely. He then showed a shy but pure smile before bowing again. „This disciple will do. Many thanks, Peak Lord Mu!“

Satisfied, the other one stood up again. „Very well, I will take my leave then.“

They said goodbye, and Mu Qingfang was barely out of sight when Yue Qingyuan chuckled. „You got into the role very fast. I didn't know you could lie so shamelessly.“

„I lied my whole life. I never unlearned it.“ The boy looked up to the Sect Master. „And it is necessary right now, isn't it?“

That was true. It really was the best way pretending to have a new disciple. Even if it was rare for the Sect Master to take one in, with this explanation he was able let Shen Jiu stay close. There was no way he would let him go again!

This time it was him who took the small hand in his, and they went on exploring the surrounding area.

-

Night was falling when they returned to Yue Qingyuan's home. As expected, the logistic department wasn't able to deliver the needed goods until now, so he decided, that Shen Jiu had to stay with him for the night. It wasn't a problem, since his bed was big enough to hold even two grown up people. He just wasn't used to have such a guest. And it was such a long time ago when they slept together on the streets.

His heart pounded a bit faster when they laid down. Moonlight were seeping through the window, illuminating their faces. Shen Jiu was laying beside him, examining the expression Yue Qingyuan was making. Without another word he grabbed the arm of the elder one just to cuddle close, when he had watched him enough.

Yuen Qingyuan was overwhelmed. A bit helpless he gazed at the boy, meeting his eyes.

„Qi-ge, am I not allowed to sleep here? Just like in the past?“

He heard his heart pounding in his ears.

„Of course you are.“ Who else would be allowed to do so? But it was a strange feeling, and it stirred up an emotion which he buried long time ago together with his guilt in his heart.

„That's fine then“, the boy said and closed his eyes. For him there was nothing more to say.

It didn't take long, and Yue Qingyuan heard the steady breathing of a sleeping person beside him. So many things had happened today, so of course the boy was tired. He himself felt drowsy, too.

Before he drifted off to sleep himself, he formed the wish in his heart, that all of this wasn't just a dream.

-

When he woke up, something was resting on his chest. He smelled the faint scent of milk and sunshine, and when he opened his eyes, he saw messy black hair spreaded out on him. Shen Jiu must have climbed on top of him during the night and was now sleeping peacefully there. This was so cute, it made Yue Qingyuan blush.

Carefully, he stroked the small head, earning a mumble and a Shen Jiu clinging to him like a little monkey. It really was like in the past, and it brought tears to his eyes. He was happy. There was nothing more he could wish for.

At the beginning, Shen Jiu wasn't a morning person. But the circumstances made him wary, and so he began waking up early and going to sleep late at night. Laying here like this meant, he felt at ease and safe. And that made Yue Qingyuan even more happy.

Only slowly the boy woke up. Still half asleep he looked arount disoriented, tucking some strands of hair behind his ear.

„Good morning, Xiao Jiu“, the elder one said with a warm smile.

„G'morning, Qi-ge“, he mumbled, before crawling a bit upwards and giving the elder one a kiss on the cheek.

„...!!“

Chapter Text

Yue Qingyuan stared at the youth with wide eyes. Did he just... kiss him...?

Shen Jiu rubbed his eyes and looked down at the other one questioningly. Only then did he realize what happened right now.

„...“

A moment later he buried his head on Yue Qingyuan's chest, his face beet red.

„I'm sorry, it was on a whim...!“

The other one stayed quiet for a moment. Then he chuckled and stroked the back of the boy. „It's reassuring to know, that you aren't a grown up in the body of a child, but still behave like a child sometimes, too.“

Shen Jiu didn't look up, hearing these words. Behave like a child? He stopped giving his brother kisses when he was six, he wouldn't do this anymore. So why...? But the warm hand on his back let him relax, and so he laid there, savouring this feeling. „Don't you have things to attend to?“, he mumbled, still not looking up.

„You are way more important than any other matter“, Yue Qingyuan said with his warm voice. „So don't worry.“

The tip of his ears turned pink again, and Shen Jiu sighed. „But it would be suspicious if you missed a meeting or something like this. You are the most diligent person I know, you would never neglect your duties.“

The other one sat up a bit, so he could see the boy on his chest better. „Then let me tell you: I don't have an urgent meeting right now. I have to leave in the afternoon, but it's not time yet. Besides, Mu Qingfang will tell the other Peak Lords about my new disciple, so they know I have to arrange things for you.“ He hugged the boy gently. „So let us stay like this a bit longer...? Please?“

Only reluctantly did Shen Jiu lift his head a bit. „I didn't know you still were so clingy“, he mumbled against the broad chest, but his eyes sparkled in joy saying this.

„Sorry, sorry“, Yue Qingyuan said with a smile. „I'm an old man, I need some cuddling from time to time.“

„Shouldn't the younger one here say something like this? You are way too old - or way too young - for demanding this!“ He pouted and laid back down again, not willing to move. The chuckling let Yue Qingyuan's chest move up and down in a relaxing manner, and the familiar scent let Shen Jiu feel at ease.

„Being so small is bothersome“, he suddenly said. „I can't hug you back like this.“ he spread out his arms but couldn't wrap them fully around Yue Qingyuan.

„Soon. You will grow up soon enough. And then you will be the handsome man you used to be. Just even more powerful.“

Shen Jiu sighed. „Whatever you see as handsome...“

You. You were always handsome and alluring. You just didn't know it.

But this was something Yue Qingyuan didn't dare to say.

-

Afternoon came, and Yue Qingyuan had to leave for a meeting. He was only gone for a short time, when the logistic department delivered the ordered goods. Shen Jiu was glad, that the people delivering them helped arranging and cleaning the things in the hut, since he was too small to be of help. And so he waited until they were done before inspecting his room.

It was way smaller than his new home or his bamboo hut on Qing Jing Peak. But it didn't matter to him. His former self would have thrown a tantrum not getting what he deserved, but for ten years he was a loved child who was raised to respect what was given to him, even if he could live in more luxury than others. It was quite the opposite to his previous life where he was an orphan and had to fight for every bit of food. And even if he gained his memories back two years ago, his childhood was still present inside of him.

It was a new reality. And it calmed down a lot of ugly feelings inside of him.

And now this room meant to be reunited with his orphan brother, being close again. Even if the whole room was arranged anew, it still reflected the taste and the care of Yue Qingyuan. He wanted to pamper his Xiao Jiu, to make him feel at ease. And he was successful.

A package was residing on the small table. Slowly he unwrapped it. Inside was a uniform. Since Yue Qingyuan was the Sect Master, he didn't had a special uniform for the people surrounding him. There were several people from all of the peaks on duty here, taking turns with each other. But the clothes which were brought over reminded him of the clothes the Sect Master wore. Only that they were more white than black.

So his brother remembered, that he liked light colors. It made him feel warm inside.

He dressed himself with utmost care, and when he finished, the Sect Master returned in time. With a knock he entered the room and stood still by seeing the young boy.

„Xiao Jiu...“, he whispered.

The boy turned around, showing himself with a hint of shyness on his face. „Does it...suit me?“, he asked, and Yue Qingyuan could only nod.

This was another proof, that they were together again.

Bashfully, Shen Jiu smiled. „Many thanks for all of this. It really makes me happy.“

„That's good then“, the Sect Master said and extended his hand. „Will you come with me? I have a present for you.“

The boy took the hand and together they entered Yue Qingyuan's hut. The elder one searched a trunk for a moment before he lifted up a small package, delicately wrapped in fine cloth. He then held it out to Shen Jiu.

The boy took it and carefully unwrapped it. There was a wooden box, and inside there laid a fan. With trembling fingers the boy touched it before looking at his brother.

„...it was never the right time to give it to you“, Yue Qingyuan said with a sad smile. „I hope you will accept it now.“

On the outside there was a carving of small flowers and bamboo. It was beautifully crafted and arranged delicately.

As if it would break only by touching it, Shen Jiu lifted the fan out of the box with utmost care and opened it. On the fabric was a painting as beautiful and delicate as the carving. It showed a sunrise over a bamboo forest. A small tassel with colorful beads was attached at its end, swaying lightly with every move.

„You finished it“, Shen Jiu said hoarsely.

It was a present, Yue Qingyuan began when they were in the Qiu estate. It carried their promise with it:

„I will become a cultivator. And then I come and get you. And when we both are safe, I will give this fan to you as a sign of freedom.“

Yue Qingyuan only nodded.

A moment later, the child flung himself into his arms, and both of their tears were flowing freely.

Chapter Text

„Why?“

The boy was laying in his arms, sobbing loudly. „Why didn't you come and get me back then? You promised!“

All of the frustration, pent up over so many years was breaking free right now. Both of them weren't able to hold it in any longer, and so they both cried their hearts out.

„I'm sorry, Xiao Jiu, I'm so sorry!“ Yue Qingyuan's own cheeks were wet from tears, his voice shaking. But it didn't matter. Xiao Jiu was the only one to see his weak side. And now was the time to tell his Xiao Jiu everything. No more lies, no more secrets!

„I don't know if you can ever forgive me, but I couldn't.“

He told him everything. About the Qi deviation and the aftereffects. About how he was locked away for one year. Everything.

„I was too eager to reach a certain point of cultivation before returning to you. I wanted to be strong and reliable, being able to protect you. But I failed. Instead I was locked away, never being able to reach you.“

He let go of the boy only reluctantly. „And when I found you again you changed so much. I thought you didnt want to hear my excuses, and so I never told you this, thinking, it would be for the best.“

A whacking sound was heard, when the small hand met his cheek, slapping him with all of the small force the boy could muster up.

„Why didn't you talk to me?! Why didn't you trust me?!“

The boy clenched his fists. „This was important to me, I trusted you, so why didn't you trust me back?!“

„I couldn't. To see you changing so much, I... it broke my heart.“ Dejected, Yue Qingyuan was kneeling on the ground, looking down. „It was my fault you became like this-“

Yue Qingyuan was interrupted, when small arms wrapped themselves around his neck. „You big dummy“, the boy whispered while new tears were flowing. „You always shouldered things yourself. If I only knew...“

The Sect Master was frozen on the spot, but then he laid his arms around the child. „You are right. I'm sorry, Xiao Jiu.“

They held each other for quite some time until the tears finally dried up. „We now have another chance“, the boy said. „We should make use of it.“

Yue Qingyuan nodded. „If you need anything, please tell me. I will make everything possible.“

The boy blushed slightly. „Right now... I only need Qi-ge by my side.“ He averted his gaze, embarrassed to admit something like this, but Yue Qingyuan smiled warmly. „I will spend as much time with you as possible!“

He sat on his bed, and before he could react, the boy climbed on his lap. „Then this is the night of the truth. Tell me... what happened since I were gone?

-

At first, Yue Qingyuan was reluctant to tell the truth. But Shen Jiu needed to know anyway, so he started with how 'Shen Qingqiu' changed and began to get along well with everyone here.

„Even with Liu-Shidi?!“

Yue Qingyuan nodded. „Yes. He saved him from qi deviation, and after this, they became friends over time.“

„Mhm.“ Shen Jiu said while thinking. „So he was able to achieve something like this.“

It wasn't really clear why Shen Jiu and Liu Qingge were on bad terms all the time. It started quite soon after they first met, and somehow the animosity between both of them grew until there was no turning back. At least for Shen Jiu. The other Shen Qingqiu was able to fix it.

„And... what's more...“, Yue Qingyuan went on and told Shen Jiu what happened with Luo Binghe and the world and how 'Shen Qingqiu' and he finally became a pair and left Cang Qiong Mountain.

Shen Jiu was speechless.

„So... he uses my body to do... things... with this brat?!“ For the first time since they met again, Shen Jiu was enraged. „How could this be?! And knowing that he's a halfbreed, too...“

Softly, Yue Qingyuan stroked the small head. „Calm down. I know this must be unsettling for you. But can't you just forget Luo Binghe? I won't ask you to forgive him, even if i don't really know why you hate him so much...“

Shen Jiu clenched his fists. „Because he had everything! Even if he is an orphan like us, he has such a great talent and was able to cultivate way earlier than-“

He stopped. Then looked up to Yue Qingyuan.

„Isn't it the same for you right now?“ The warm smile on the Sect Master's lips was gentle and soothing. „No, you have a better standing. You were loved by your parents, you grew up in a healthy environment. Even now you have family waiting for your return. Things he doesn't have.“

„...“

Shen Jiu looked away.

„And I am your family, too. I'm here. So don't build up anger again, okay? Enjoy the new life that was given to you, the benefits you gained with it. It's yours to decide how to live, and it shouldn't be in hatred and anger.“

The boy pouted. „To be lectured by you...it doesn't feel right.“

Yue Qingyuan laughed. „There will be a time when you are the one lecturing me, so don't be mad at me.“ He hugged the child gently. „There is no way you won't see your old body again. Or Luo Binghe. But just... just don't hate them. They're part of a different past now.“

„Qi-ge is right.“ The boy leaned against the broad chest, smelling the familiar scent of the other one. „But I think I will need some time to get over it.“

„Of course.“ Yue Qingyuan stroked the boy again. „Take all the time you need. And if you want to scream, cry or work yourself up, I will be there to comfort you.“

„Mn.“ Thinking, the boy inhaled deeply. „Mark your words for the times to come.“ He then looked up again. „Will you fulfill me one wish? It's just a tiny one.“

Yue Qingyuan tilted his head slightly. „If I am able to fulfill it, of course. What do you wish for?“

Shen Jiu smiled slightly before he closed his eyes. „Let me stay here for another night.“

Chapter Text

Yue Qingyuan was holding the boy in his arm again. Shen Jiu was already sleeping, holding the the hem of Yue Qingyuan's robe. He seemed to feel save and secure by his side, and even if this still was strange for the Sect Master, he couldn't deny that this made him happy.

The face of the child was illuminated by the moonlight, and seeing this, he found, that Shen Jiu resembled his old self a lot. But he was way more soft and more social than before, and these traits showed themselves on the little face. It was a good thing.

Gently, Yue Qingyuan tucked a strand of hair behind the child's ear, earning a soft smile. „Qi-Ge“, Shen Jiu mumbled, and his heart melted away like snow in spring.

He was happy. But something was still amiss. He closed his eyes and felt inside of him to find out what it was.

Being like an elder brother was fine. But it wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to be more.

Scared of himself he opened his eyes again. No, that wasn't possible. He had locked away that feeling the moment he had understood, that Shen Jiu had changed in the past. That this feeling was able to well up again – this shouldn't be. He needed to seal it away once more.

The boy in his arms shifted slighty so that Yue Qingyuan could only see a mess of hair and feel the breath on his chest. He smiled.

„I will protect you, Xiao Jiu“, he whispered and gently placed a kiss on the head of the child before closing his eyes.

What he couldn't see was the beet red face of Shen Jiu, who was wide awake and stared into thin air, listening to his heart beating wildly and hoping, that the other one wouldn't notice.

-

With the beginning of the next day, Shen Jiu started cultivating earnestly under the supervision of Yue Qingyuan. It was not that he needed the help of the Sect Master, it was just that Yue Qingyuan was watching the process and the growth of Shen Jiu's spiritual energy. And it was amazing! This child was so talented, he could become more powerful than the most known cultivators!

Feeling proud, Yue Qingyuan wasn't one to be stingy with compliments and everytime he praised him, Shen Jiu reacted proud and happy. With this talent he got hold on one of his innermost desires he had to give up the last time.

But the other thing was, that Shen Jiu never slept alone. On the first night he came over, telling he had a bad dream, on the second he just slipped in and Yue Qingyuan woke up the next day having a clingy child sleeping beside him. The next night Shen Jiu said as excuse he was sleepwalking... and so on. It gave Yue Qingyuan a slight headache.

„Xiao Jiu... you should stop sneaking over“, he said when they ate breakfast.

Shen Jiu looked up from his rice bowl and pouted. „But I like it here.“

Yue Qingyuan sighed. „I'm glad to hear that, but-“

He heard a rustling sound, and a moment later the boy was kneeling in front of him and looking up with big puppy eyes. „Qi-Ge... you don't like being with me?“

With a light knock on the head he scolded Shen Jiu in a warm manner. „Don't you dare playing the child when it's convenient for you.“

Smiling, Shen Jiu returned to his place and began eating again. But after a while he peeked over, feeling a bit guilty. „...is it inconvenient for you?“

Irritated, Yue Qingyuan looked up. „What do you mean?“

Playing with his chopsticks, the boy nervously answered. „Do I disturb you in your sleep? Or am I a... burden in any way?“

This time it was Yue Qingyuan who moved over. He gently placed his arm around the slim shoulders. „You could never be a burden to me. And you never were. I'm the happiest man having you here with me.“

„Then why do you send me away at night?“

A bit helpless Yue Qingyuan tried to explain. „I don't want to damage your reputation. When anyone sees you sleeping here with me and being favored...“

„Wouldn't it be your reputation which would be damaged? Having a young boy around you all the time.“ Shen Jiu leaned against the other one. „If it harms you, I should better stop.“

„No.“ Yue Qingyuan's tone was firm. „I won't lose anything. So don't ever think about something like this.“

„So you want me to sleep with you again?“

Yue Qingyuan sighed. „Just... do what you want, okay?“ He didn't want to argue. He felt way too comfortable, having his Xiao Jiu cuddling with him. It reminded him constantly that this was real.

And so it was decided, that Shen Jiu was sleeping in one bed with Yue Qingyuan.

-

The prodigy boy didn't stay unnoticed for too long. Soon the other Peak Lords paid a visit, and while Shen Jiu played the obedient disciple, Yue Qingyuan introduced him with patience. Even when Liu Qingge visited them, Shen Jiu's face was that of a young child who knew how to pay respect. Liu Qingge didn't say much; he showed some interest and asked about Shen Jiu's combat abilities. But nothing more. When he left, Shen Jiu took a deep breath.

„He didn't recognize me.“

„Of course.“ Yue Qingyuan patted the small head. „You really are good at acting, and he isn't a bad person. I think the both of you only had a bad start back then.“

„Maybe“, Shen Jiu said absentmindedly. Seeing the other Peak Lords from the perspective of an innocent child let him feel strange. And so he suddenly hugged Yue Qingyuan and buried his face on his chest.

The reaction of the boy startled him a little. „Xiao Jiu?“, he asked. „Is something wrong?“

„I know the other Peak Lords didn't like me“, a muffled voice was heard. „But seeing them acting so different towards me now... it hurts.“

Shen Jiu knew, that it was his own behaviour which made the other Peak Lords dislike him. That didn't make this any better. If only he would have been able to hold in his grudge, his envy, everything could have turned out differently.

But it was too late. Things that happend were in the past. It was now the time to change things.

„Maybe... it will be better if they never learn the truth“, Shen Jiu said and held on even tighter.

Soothingly, Yue Qingyuan stroked the boy. „We will see how this will turn out. We have time, we don't need to rush things.“

„Qi-Ge is right.“ Slowly, Shen Jiu stepped back and smiled again. „But as long as I can stay with you, it's fine the way it is.“ He took Yue Qingyuan's hand and pressed it gently.

A tickling sensation was climbing up Yue Qingyuan's arm, and instinctively he returned the gesture. A thought crossed his mind, and he hated himself for it, but it was there and didn't want to go away.

Sooner or later, Shen Jiu would grow up again. And then maybe they were able to share some feelings. More than just being like brothers.

He closed his eyes in frustration for a moment. He didn't want this. He was afraid, that his Xiao Jiu would hate him for thinking like this. But being so close all the time, even if this was a child's body – the mind was that of an adult. And Yue Qingyuan hoped, Shen Jiu knew what it meant behaving like this.

Chapter Text

Since Yue Qingyuan had to manage many things, Shen Jiu was training alone most of the time. But as promised, the Sect Master was spending as much time as possible with the young boy. And Shen Jiu enjoyed the attention and tried to make these moments as pleasant as possible.

They talked a lot, and Yue Qingyuan took the young boy out into the city when he had to go out. Shen Jiu wasn't someone who wanted much people around, but visiting the market, checking the goods and being able to buy whatever he wanted pleased him very much. And so he began collecting some souvenirs; it were only small things, but he wanted something everytime. Being it a small shiny bead or a ribbon, he collected them and stored them away as his treasures. It wasn't forbidden to have personal belongings at Cang Qiong Mountain, but most of the disciples couldn't afford them or weren't interested. But Yue Qingyuan bought whatever his Xiao Jiu wanted, and seeing the happy face every time, it gave him so much joy, too.

Today he bought another headband. It was white with delicate embroidery of clouds and bamboo. Shen Jiu still loved the color green and the bamboo growing on his former peak, and so this caught his attention quite soon.
Looking at it with shiny eyes, Shen Jiu was inspecting it with utmost care.

„Why don't you wear it?“

Shen Jiu looked up as if Yue Qingyuan had told some kind of joke. „No way. I don't want to stain it in any way.“

„But why? Isn't it for use?“ If Shen Jiu didn't want to wear it, then this was fine. But Yue Qingyuan was quite curious why Shen Jiu was acting like this.

„It is for remembering.“ Lovingly, Shen Jiu stroked the fine fabric. „Every present from you will let me remember the time we spent together.“

Yue Qingyuan didn't expect such an answer. Instantly he blushed. „Xiao Jiu...“

Seeing how the other one reacted, Shen Jiu blushed slightly, too. „I-I mean...we lost so much time. I never want to forget anything.“

Suddenly he felt picked up and hugged. „That's fine. Thank you, Xiao Jiu.“

„I didn't do anything“, the child said, but still was hugging the other one back.

„You did more than you know to make this old man happy.“ Yue Qingyuan smiled warmly, and it now deepened the blush on Shen Jiu's cheeks. „Do-don't mind it“, he mumbled.

-

Time went by, and so did Shen Jiu's birthday. Being twelve years now, his body began to show first signs of maturing. He grew a bit, and the chubbiness of being a child disappeared. Now it clearly showed how handsome he would become when fully grown up. Shen Jiu himself was watching his face in the mirror, touching here and there, smiling and making faces.

Yue Qingyuan was watching him from the side while doing some paperwork. „Are you not satisfied with your appearance?“, he asked.

Shen Jiu shook his head. „No. It's just a bit strange. Since I was born like this, this face is familiar, but since I regained my memories, it's partly that of a stranger, too. But it's not bad.“

He stopped inspecting himself and sat down beside Yue Qingyuan. „Do you like this face?“

Yue Qingyuan looked up again. „I like you, no matter the face. Does this count, too?“

Shen Jiu blushed before he pouted. „That's cheating! You are dodging the question!“ He puffed out his cheeks and looked like a little child again. Yue Qingyuan laughed and patted the head.

„You are beautiful. This face has a different charm, but this definitely is you. Your soul has influenced the look quite a bit, and I don't think it was a bad thing.“

Shen Jiu seemed satisfied. „Then wait until I grow up! I will be the most stunning man all around the world!“

Again, Yue Qingyuan laughed. „I have no doubt, that this will be the case“, he said and suddenly felt hugged.

„But no matter how beautiful I am... I only need Qi-Ge to look at me“, the boy said in his ear, and Yue Qingyuan suddenly felt hot. „What are you saying, Xiao Jiu“, he mumbled and tried to hide his embarrassment. But the boy rubbed his cheek on his own, as if to provoke him. „Don't look away, even now“, he demanded, and Yue Qingyuan followed and turned his head to the young boy.

Looking each other in the eyes, Shen Jiu smiled brightly. „Yes, that's exactly what I want“, he said and then gave Yue Qingyuan a small peck on the lips.

„...“

The other one felt like his heart would burst out of his chest any minute. „Xiao Jiu, you...“, he began but didn't say anymore when he saw that happy face. That this child was able to smile so brightly right now was a gift from the heavens. He didn't want to spoil the mood, and so he stayed quiet while the boy still was clinging onto him. Sometimes it was hard for Yue Qingyuan to decide if Shen Jiu was only acting as a child or if the age of his body was letting him behave like one. But he didn't dare to ask. Too precious were these moments together.

A growling was heard, and Yue Qingyuan smiled. „Someone is hungry. Didn't you eat breakfast today?“

Shen Jiu hid his face on the other one's shoulder. „You weren't there, so I didn't want to.“

A sigh escaped Yue Qingyuan's lips. „Now you're really behaving like a child.“

„I am a child“, he got as an answer. „So just let me.“

Gently, Yue Qingyuan stroked the back of the child before standing up and lifting him up into his arms. „Then let's cook something. I have some time at hand, so we can make it here. How does this sound?“

The boy lifted his head before he nodded. „I'd like that.“

„Then let's do this.“ Yue Qingyuan carried the boy over to the kitchen. „Do you have a special wish?“

„Something sweet as dessert!“ The eyes of the boy were sparkling with excitement.

„You really got a sweet tooth recently“, the other one said with a smile. „Then I will decide for the main menu to be stew with dried fish.“

Shen Jiu sat down on the wooden box. „I don't know, I came to like your desserts very much. The other dishes, too, but your desserts are especially delicious.“

„Many thanks Xiao Jiu. I'm glad you like it.“ Yue Qingyuan began preparing while the boy was watching.

It was so peaceful. Yue Qingyuan was thankful for every moment he could spend like this with Shen Jiu. It took them so much time to achieve this, but this daily life made Yue Qingyuan happy from the bottom of his heart.

Chapter Text

„I don't want to! I'm not ready yet!“

Yue Qingyuan was standing in front of the bed, looking at the moving pile of sheets with a sigh. „Didn't we agree to do that?“, he asked.

„Yes, but...“ The pile moved again, and only after a while the face of the boy appeared. „To be honest, I'm scared.“

Yue Qingyuan kneeled in front the bed. Gently, he stroked the small head. „You don't have to. I'm here with you, you don't have to face this alone.“

„Easy for you to say.“ Slowly, the youth crawled out of the fabric. His hair was disshelved and the clothes were in disarray. „It's not your body coming today to visit us.“

„I know. But sooner or later you have to face him. And I think you won't feel better if it's later.“ Yue Qingyuan began combing the soft hair. „And remember, you agreed to it.“

Shen Jiu pouted a bit and let the Sect Master do his hair. But then he arranged his clothes properly. „You are right. I can only find peace if I get over this.“

It was hard for Shen Jiu, Yue Qingyuan knew this. And so he hugged the boy for a moment. „Later on we will take some time and visit the hot springs. Just the two of us. How does that sound?“

A smile appeared on the small face. „Sounds good“, he mumbled. „Very good.“

-

They both were sitting on the table, when a knock on the door was heard. Instantly, Shen Jiu tensed up, and Yue Qingyuan pressed the fists who were holding the special fan gently. „Everything will be fine.“ He then raised his voice. „Come in.“

Shen Qingqiu entered the hut, a fan in his hand. „Shixiong, you called for- oh.“ He began talking when his gaze fell upon the child sitting right beside the Sect Master. He blinked a few times to understand the familiar feeling he was getting by seeing the boy. „I heard you accepted a disciple yourself, so this is him?“

Yue Qingyuan nodded, but before he could say anything, the boy stood up. „Imposter!“

The adults stared at him in surprise.

Shen Jiu went over and walked around the other one, inspecting him from head to toe. „At least you took good care of it“, he said with a bitter tone.

Shen Qingqiu looked at the child in irritiation. „What's with him?“

„Xiao Jiu, please...“ Yue Qingyuan smiled out of frustration. „Come back here.“

„...Xiao Jiu?“, Shen Qingqiu repeated. But then his face turned ashen. „...“

The boy looked up in disdain, but then he obediently sat down next to the Sect Master again. Yue Qingyuan made an inviting gesture. „Shidi... please sit down. We need to talk.“

Slowly Shen Qingqiu followed the invitation, still looking at the child. And then his gaze turned to the Sect Master. „How...?“

„We don't know, either“, Yue Qingyuan said. „But its true. This is the soul that left your body twelve years ago.“

The boy stared intensely at Shen Qingqiu.

„I... that...“ Shen Qingqiu tried to keep his composure. „I didn't do it on purpose!“

„So you admit, that you aren't the original Shen Qingqiu?“ Yue Qingyuan was watching the other one with interest. He wasn't angered nor did he hate the other one. The actual Shen Qingqiu was a good man, that he knew.

And this man was lowering his gaze in guilt. „Yes“, he said quietly. „I'm sorry for deceiving you all.“

Shen Jiu humphed while Yue Qingyuan smiled. „You did a lot of good deeds and tried to fill the gap as good as possible.“ He then stood up. „I think the both of you need to clarify some things.“

Shen Jiu looked shocked. „Don't leave, Qi-Ge!“, he cried out, but the Sect Master just smiled. „I'm not far away, so don't worry. If anything happens, I'll be right there.“

When Yue Qingyuan had left, a heavy silence was falling over the room. It was Shen Qingqiu who broke it. „I'm sorry“, he said. „Truly, I'm sorry.“

Shen Jiu looked up again. „Why did this happen? And how?“

„That I don't know.“ Shen Qingqiu really looked guilty. „When I woke up I was here. I often thought about you and what happened to you. It eases my mind to see you in good health again.“

„...“ Shen Jiu bit his lip. His mind was going in circles, and he needed a moment to sort things out. „How much do you know about my past? Well... our?“

Shen Qingqiu took a deep breath. „A lot?“ He paused. „I know about both of you being orphans and the Qiu estate. I also know how you treated Luo Binghe when he came here.“

It was clear, that the boy was upset. Shen Qingqiu felt even more miserable. But the next question was something he never anticipated.

„You are... happy with this halfbreed?“

Shen Qingqiu widened his eyes. But then he nodded and smiled. „Yes. He's a good man.“

Shen Jiu stood up and went over to his old body. While standing he was taller, and so he looked down on the other one sitting on the ground.

„You have to take care of this body, you hear?!“ His voice was too tender to pose a threat, but Shen Qingqiu still flinched a bit. „Be happy! Don't make the same mistakes I did!“

Shen Jiu was trembling, but then he hugged the elder one. „I won't make them again, too!“

Shen Qingqiu needed a moment, but then he hugged the small body back. „I promise“, he whispered. „And if I can do anything to help you become happy, just let me know.“

„I... I am happy“, the boy said with a trembling voice. „I have Qi-Ge by my side.“

„That's good then.“ Shen Qingqiu let go of the boy. „You deserve happiness.“

Barely holding back his tears, Shen Jiu smiled. „Many thanks...!“

-

Yue Qingyuan was waiting outside the hut. When Shen Qingqiu came out, he smiled. „You're still in one piece, I see.“

The other one seemed worn out, but he smiled, too. „Barely, but yes“, he joked, but then his expression became stern. „Since when did you know?“

„The moment you opened your eyes.“ Yue Qingyuan sighed. „At first it was just a feeling, but soon after it was clear to me.“

Shen Qingqiu nodded. „Then thank you for letting me stay.“

„There's no need for a thank you.“ The Sect master laid a hand on Shen Qingqiu's shoulder. „You gave Cang Qiong Mountain so much, you changed the people here. It is I who have to say thank you.“

„But still... I robbed you from your-“

„It wasn't you. He was a bitter man, he harmed himself and others on purpose. I think, like this he can finally be at ease.“ Talking about Shen Jiu let a smile spread on Yue Qingyuan's lips.

„You really love him, do you.“

Yue Qingyuan placed a finger on his lips to tell Shen Qingqiu to stay silent. „He is here with me, there is nothing else I can wish for.“

Shen Qingqiu sighed. „No secrets anymore. Tell him how you feel, or else he will never know.“

„When the time is right, then I will“, Yue Qingyuan promised.

Chapter Text

When Yue Qingyuan entered the hut, there was a moving pile of blankets again on the bed. With a smile he slowly approached it and sat down beside the mass of cloth. He then hugged it gently, while the pile flinched a bit.

„You did well, Xiao Jiu.“

The pile began trembling, and then a boy poked out his head. A moment lated he flinged himself on the elder one, crying his heart out.

Yue Qingyuan wrapped his arms around the small body and stroked him soothingly. No words were needed, Shen Jiu just had to cry out all the pent-up fear and frustration which he had inside of him for so long. And so he let the boy cry until there were no more tears left.

„Are you feeling better now?“, the elder one asked, and Shen Jiu turned his head away in embarrassment. „I stained your clothes“, he mumbled. „I'm sorry.“

Yue Qingyuan smiled. „If you can think of something minor like this, then you are fine.“ He gently wiped the last traces of tears from the boy's cheeks. „But really, you did well.“

Shen Jiu lowered his gaze. „It is hard, Qi-Ge“, he said with trembling voice. „Even if I have this body now, this former one, I...I...“

„I know.“ Gently, Yue Qingyuan sorted the messy hair and began combing through it with his fingers. „Don't force yourself too much. But I think you saw for yourself, that he isn't a bad person.“

„No.“ Shen Jiu sighed. „There's no way I can hate him. He just tried to survive, I suppose. And then he fell in love.“

„Feelings can make things very difficult, but they can make someone really happy, too.“ Without thinking twice Yue Qingyuan placed a small kiss on the boy's head. „It depends on the situation.“

The boy was watching the other one intensely. After some time he asked reluctantly. „Are things... difficult for you?“

„Maybe.“ Another warm smile followed. „But I'm very happy, too.“

-

Another half year went by, and somehow Shen Qingqiu began visiting more often. At first Yue Qingyuan didn't know where this was coming from, but then he found out, that it was Shen Jiu who insisted on these meetings. Since they first met they seemed to have developed a bond between them, and it became deeper with every visit. It made Yue Qingyuan feel more and more jealous, even if he knew, that there was no reason for it.

It was good, that Shen Jiu could leave the past behind like this. And it was good for Shen Qingqiu since he was forgiven for what he did. But still... Yue Qingyuan felt some kind of possessiveness, and this irritated him the most. He wasn't the type to feel like this, at least that was what he thought. Bunt now he was proofed wrong.

He always tried to hide this from Shen Jiu, but he was also a normal man. And so one evening he was in a bad mood. Shen Jiu was playing with some marbles he got from Shen Qingqiu, and that made his mood grow even worse. So without a warning he stood up. „I think I'll go to bed.“

Shen Jiu, who was watching this, tilted his head slightly. „Why? It's still early.“

„I don't feel well. I think it's better if I lay down.“ He didn't look at the boy.

„Then I will go, too“, Shen Jiu decided, but before he could stand up, Yue Qingyuan shouted: „No!“

They both looked irritated at each other, but then Yue Qingyuan tried to smile the situation away. „I mean... don't mind me. Just do whatever you want to do.“

„And if I told you I want to go to bed with you?“ Without waiting for a response, the boy stood up. „You said it's my choice, right?“ He went over to the elder one and grabbed his hand. „Don't just stand there. Let's go.“

But Yue Qingyuan didn't move. „Why are you doing this?“, he asked weakly, and the boy looked up with an earnest face. „Because you don't talk.“

„...huh?“

Shen Jiu tugged at the hand he was holding. „Since I began meeting my old body your behavior changed. But you don't talk to me, so I had to try various things. And now I finally have you where I wanted to. So talk. What is bothering you?“

The clear eyes were focusing on him, and Yue Qingyuan had no way to escape. So he rubbed his eyes for a moment, something he only did when he was at a loss. „Maybe I am... jealous?“

„Jealous?!“ The boy repeated the word in disbelief. „What is there to be jealous about?“

„I know this already, I know!“ Yue Qingyuan looked away, not able to stand the gaze of the other one. „It's stupid to think like this, but it's true. Every time you meet up with him you seem happy. And I... I'm afraid of losing you again...“

A strange sensation let Yue Qingyuan look back to the boy. And what he saw was Shen Jiu kissing the palm of his hand!

„You big dummy“, the boy whispered, his breath tickling Yue Qingyuan's skin. „I would never leave you again. Not for anything in the world!“

His fingertips stroked the soft lips of the boy. „I'm sorry...“, Yue Qingyuan said with a trembling voice. „It's just... I'm so insecure. After all that happened... But I have to be strong, I-“

„You don't need to.“ Shen Jiu kissed the fingertips gently. „You are a human like me, you can be weak sometimes. At least in front of me.“ He let go of the hand and hugged the elder one. „Qi-Ge, I want to have a matured body, so I can hug you for real. I have a feeling you need this.“

Yue Qingyuan laughed dryly. „You will grow up soon enough.“

But Shen Jiu shook his head. „This needs way too much time!“ He let go to look into Yue Qingyuan's eyes again. „I was once only a little bit smaller, and now it is so hard to look up. I want to make everything better this time, but I don't want to wait for it!“

With a gentle move Yue Qingyuan lifted the boy up into his arms. „Thank you, Xiao Jiu“, he said warmly and laid his forehead against the other one's. „For being impatient for my sake.“

„This is my own selfish wish.“ Shen Jiu stroked Yue Qingyuan's head a bit clumsily. „And I have another one. Please talk to me! There was so much left unsaid the last time, don't let this ever happen again. Can you fulfill this?“

„Of course. You are right.“ Yue Qingyuan smiled again, this time warm and gentle. „I don't want something like this to stand between us.“

„Mn.“ The boy closed his eyes. „Never forget, Qi-Ge, that I need you in my life. Don't you ever think of leaving me!“

„I won't.“

„And don't think I will leave you ever again. Even if you don't want me, I'll stick with you until the end!“

„Xiao Jiu...“, Yue Qingyuan began, but he then felt a small hand on his lips. „I'm not finished.“ He inhaled deeply and opened his eyes again. „We belonged together from the start. I won't let something like jealousy ruin this!“

There he was, the Shen Jiu he knew. Saying what he wanted to get what he wanted. And Yue Qingyuan was more than fine with this. So he nodded. „It won't happen again“, he promised.

Shen Jiu seemed satisfied. „Then do you still want to lay down?“, he asked curiously. „Or are you feeling better?“

„I'm fine“, Yue Qingyuan confirmed. „What about you?“

„Im feeling all pumped up!“ Shen Jiu lifted one arm, and Yue Qingyuan laughed. „Then let's go out. I heard the stars will be beautiful tonight, so let's go stargazing.“

Stargazing... this sounded like a date, and instantly the boy blushed. „You sound like an old man“, he mumbled while he hid his face on the other one's shoulder.

„So you don't want to?“

„Shut up and let's go!“

With a happy face Yue Qingyuan left the hut, the beet red boy still on his arms. Now he was sure this would be a wonderful night.

Chapter Text

Yue Qingyuan carried the boy into the night. After having spoken about his feelings, he felt even closer to him. It was a warm feeling, and he nuzzled his nose against Shen Jiu's ear.

„What are you doing?!“ Shen Jiu began to wiggle, and Yue Qingyuan laughed. „Just let this old man enjoy being close, will you?“

„We are already close“, the boy said pouting, but he stopped wiggling. „And stop calling yourself old man.“

„But I am old, compared to you.“

„Just compared to this body.“ Shen Jiu began playing with a strand of Yue Qingyuan's hair. „My soul isn't that much younger.“

„That's true. And I am glad about this. I don't feel ready for being a father.“ His voice sounded amused, and Shen Jiu laughed. „No, you're a good big brother. That's enough.“

A faint pain was stinging Yue Qingyuan in his heart. „So, a big brother it is?“, he asked.

„Only for me.“ The boy puffed out his cheeks. „I won't share you with anyone!“

That made Yue Qingyuan feel instantly warm and fuzzy. „And I don't want anyone else as a younger one“, he replied, earning a peck on the cheek. „That is a good answer“, the boy said with a smile.

-

After a while they arrived at a small hill. There were no trees around so they were able to see the whole night sky. No cloud was to be seen too, only the stars. Gently, Yue Qingyuan let the boy down. „We're here.“

Shen Jiu looked up, and his face softened. „It's so beautiul.“ He let himself fall backwards into the grass, his gaze up to the sky, and crossing his arms behind his head.

Yue Qingyuan sat beside him, watching the stars, too. „It's rare to have a beautiful sight like this“, he said. When he looked to the side, he saw, that the boy was watching him intensely. After a while, Shen Jiu turned away. „Beautiful, indeed“, he mumbled absentmindedly.

„Xiao Jiu?“

But the boy didn't answer and seemed concentrated on the night sky. Yue Qingyuan sighed. „Is there something you wish from me?“

The boy turned his head. „What do you mean?“

„I promised you to talk more openly to you. But is there anything else I can do for you?“

A moment of silence fell over the two of them. Suddenly, the boy robbed over and placed his head on Yue Qingyuan's lap while turning his back to him. „Just... stay the way you are“, Shen Jiu said. „This is more than enough.“

The elder one was a bit overwhelmed, but then he smiled and began stroking the boy's head. „If this is what you wish for, then I will try my best.“

„Mn.“ Shen Jiu didn't look at the elder one. „I expect you to do this.“

-

After this night Yue Qingyuan began to look for more creative ways to spend their time together, and Shen Jiu appreciated this. Even if he always said what he liked or what he wanted, he never complained once about the choices Yue Qingyuan made or told him what he wanted to do.

Sometimes Yue Qingyuan asked Shen Qingqiu if he had any ideas, since he became a close friend, and the other one always gave him some hints what Shen Jiu was interested in at the moment. It helped them enjoying their time together even more.

It was a very harmonious time, and even the other Peak Lords felt like their Sect Master became more relaxed and happy. It was like some shackles became loose, restraining the Sect Master for such a long time.

The first one to suspect a thing was Mu Qingfang. Since the boy had a growth spurt recently after his thirteenth birthday went by, he was consulting the Peak Lord for some medicine to soothe the pain in his joints.

The other one gave him some powder and was watching the youth intensely. „There is more to you than you are showing“, he mumbled.

Shen Jiu looked up from the medicine, feigning ignorance. „What does this elder mean?“

But the other one only shook his head. „Nevermind. Our Sect Master is finally back to his old self. Keep up the good work.“ He patted the boy before turning back to his work.

Shen Jiu returned deep in thoughts. When he saw the elder one, he hugged him without a word.

Irritated, Yue Qingyuan laid down the letter he was reading and hugged the boy back. „Did something happen?“

„I just wanted to hug Qi-Ge“, he mumbled and hid his face on the other one's shoulder. „Just to make sure, Qi-Ge ist alright.“

Yue Qingyuan began stroking the other one's head. „Well, I don't know where this is coming from, but yes, I'm alright. Thank you for your concern.“

The boy hugged the other one tighter. „I never thought it could have been painful without me“, he said. „Wasn't it better for you?“

„How could it be better?“ Yue Qingyuan laughed, but it sounded sad. „You are dear to me, the most important person. Every day without you by my side was a day I was grieving.“

„But I am selfish and bitter and...“ Shen Jiu bit his lip. „I never did you any good. Instead, I made you responsible for what happened.“

„It is fine.“ The elder one tried to soothe the child. „It never changed the way I thought about you.“

It took some time for the boy to calm down. Only then he loosened the hug. „And what about a cultivation partner? You're not supposed to stay alone the whole time.“

Gently, Yue Qingyuan tucked a strand of hair behind Shen Jiu's ear. „I am the Sect Master. I don't have time for something like this. There were some requests, but I was never interested in letting someone come closer than necessary.“

It sounded a bit sad, but it made Shen Jiu aware of something. „So... I am closer than others?“

„You are the closest to me“, Yue Qingyuan said with a smile. „No one can ever take your place.“

This made the boy smile again. „So are you, Qi-Ge. You are the most precious person for me, too.“

Yue Qingyuan didn't know if the boy knew what he was saying, but his heart began beating wildly. He was hoping, that Shen Jiu could enjoy his childhood to the fullest, but right now, this instant he wished to hear this words from an adult Shen Jiu. To hold the adult version in his arms, hoping, the words really had the deeper meaning he wanted to hear so badly.

Soon. He needed to hold out a bit more.

Chapter Text

The shooting star of Cang Qiong Mountain became quite famous in a short amount of time, when his training efforts suddenly boosted his abilities to a new heigth. Being a handsome youth at the same time, several young maiden began to woo him. At first, Yue Qingyuan became jealous over seeing this, but soon he found out that there was no need too.

After seeing for himself how cold and harshly Shen Jiu rejected one of the female disciples, he was convinced, that his Xiao Jiu wouldn't fall for one of them.

The bright smiles, the hugs – it was all for him, and for him alone.

And so he had no problem when Shen Jiu asked him to help him with minor errands. This was something the former Shen Jiu would never have done, but the youth seemed to be bored since his abilities were skyrocketing, and he gladly accepted the help.

Shen Jiu was very diligent in his doings, so Yue Qingyuan didn't have to worry about the youth losing face. It was quite the opposite, the people of Cang Qiong Mountain grew fond of the star disciple, and Shen Jiu returned often with smaller gifts like tea or sweets. And every time he gave them to Yue Qingyuan.

„They are yours, you know that?“

„I'm not interested in them“, Shen Jiu replied. „It's fun to be the favored one this time. But I don't care about the presents. They are only interesting when I can share them with you.“
With this he sat on Yue Qingyuan's lap and unfolded a wrapping paper which hid a small box with dumplings inside. He took one out and held it in front of Yue Qingyuan's mouth. „Open up!“

Obediently, Yue Qingyuan parted his lips. This, too, beacame a habit, to be fed by the youth. He took the dumpling in, and as if by coincidence, the tip of his tongue touched the small fingers.

He felt the other one shudder.

It was too early for things like this. The body was too young, even if the soul wasn't, and it affected the soul and the whole behavior. But being in a situation like this was too tempting. He starved for so long regarding personal affection, and now the one he wanted the most was sitting on his lap right in front of him!

It was wonderful and frustrating at the same time.

„I'm sorry, Xiao Jiu“, he said. It was the best to retreat for now. There would be another time for this. „It wasn't on purpose.“

The boy looked at the other one for a long time. „I wish it was“, he finally whispered.

Yue Qingyuan's eyes went wide. „What...did you say?“ His voice was almost soundless. Did he hear right?

But the boy stayed silent. Instead, he stood up. „I need some fresh air“, he mumbled, before leaving almost like he was fleeing. Yue Qingyuan could only stay behind, dumbfounded. His heart was hammering in his chest.

When he realized what happened, he finally jumped to his feet and followed Shen Jiu.

The youth wasn't standing far away leaning on a tree, his eyes closed. When he heard the other one coming closer he turned away.

„Xiao Jiu...“

Yue Qingyuan's lips were dry, and he swallowed hardly.

„Are you disgusted?“

The boy sounded bitter, and it pained Yue Qingyuan so much. „Why should I be disgusted?“

„You heard what I said, didn't you? Don't lie to me!“ The boy clearly was upset, and so Yue Qingyuan only slowly came closer.

„Yes, I heard clearly what you said. But I didn't want to believe it at first.“

„Because this would ruin your feelings towards me?“

„Because this would be too good to be true.“

Silence fell over both of them. Yue Qingyuan waited for a moment before he gently laid his hand on the other one's shoulder from behind. „Because it gives me hope.“

The boy turned his head to look over his shoulder. „Hope...?“

„Yes. Hope, that I'm not the only one with feelings.“

Finally, the boy turned around. His cheeks were flushed, and his eyes were big and round. „Do you mean...“

Yue Qingyuan nodded. „I'm in love with you, Xiao Jiu.“ He scratched his head in embarrassement. „Well, it's weird to say it to a thirteen year old boy. But I love you since forever, and I think it's time to-“

Suddeny he felt hugged. „Yes! The feeling is mutual!“ The youth was clinging to him. „I love you so much, Qi-Ge! When we lived on the street and you cared for me, I fell in love!“

He looked up, tears glistening in his eyes. „I never thought you would feel the same! I thought, I'm only like a younger brother, and when you didn't come to get me, I...“

His voice became muffled when he was pressed against the elder one's chest. „No. You were never only my 'younger brother'.“

The youth trembled in his arms, and Yue Qingyuan was feeling happy and weak at the same time. Was this really true? Did they really admit their feelings or each other? The way Shen Jiu admitted his feelings was so childlike, yet it was so sincere!

He couldn't resist and placed a kiss on the soft hair of the youth. „I longed for you for so long, and I grieved so much when you were gone...“

Shen Jiu only hugged Yue Qingyuan tighter. „I'm back! Qi-Ge, I'm back!“

„Yes, you are. And I will never let you go!“

Yue Qingyuan bent forward and lifted his beloved Xiao Jiu up. He looked him deep into the eyes. „If only you wouldn't be so young right now“, he said with a wry smile.

„I don't like it, either. But I will grow up soon! And then...“ Shen Jiu didn't finish the sentence. Instead, he leaned in and gave Yue Qingyuan a kiss on the lips. It was an innocent and pure kiss, only a tad longer than the normal pecks between family, but it sealed their promise.

When Shen Jiu grew up, they would be together.

„Why didn't you tell me sooner what you feel?“ Shen Jiu was cuddling in his Qi-Ge's arms.

„Would you have done this when you felt guilty like I did?“ Yue Qingyuan enjoyed the closeness, and he felt sad when they arrived the hut way too soon where he sat down Shen Jiu.

The youth seemed in thoughts. „No... I wouldn't have said a word. I didn't say anything because I thought you had abandoned me. There was no way you could have feelings for me.“

Yue Qingyuan sighed. „I understand. We should have talked sooner.“

„That is right.“ Shen Jiu lowered his head in dejection. „We could have been happy together for a long time.“

A large hand was placed on Shen Jiu's head, and he felt his hair ruffled up.

„We have enough time. The most important thing is, that we are together now.“ A warm smile was spreading over Yue Qingyuan's face. „And now we can start anew, without the things that happened in the past.“

Shen Jiu nodded. It was true. Even if they became a couple back then, their relationship would have been destined to fail. They both were too entangled with their past before; they needed the distance to free their minds.

„I can't wait to start anew with you“, the youth said and took the large hand in his own small hands. „And to enjoy it to the fullest.“

„We already do“, Yue Qingyuan said. „And it will be even more enjoyable in the future.“

Chapter Text

Since they finally admitted their feelings for each other, every day was sugarcoated and sweet. Before this both of them made more or less subtle actions, but from this point on there was nothing subtle. Shen Jiu still loved feeding his Qi-Ge the gifts he got, but he began touching the other one's lips on purpose, letting him lick his fingers clean and such things. Sometimes it was hard for Yue Qingyuan to resist, especially when the boy began to mature faster. He was only fourteen, but he began looking like a young adult already. And a very handsome at that.

And oh, how Shen Jiu loved teasing his Qi-Ge because of this!

One night Yue Qingyuan woke up because Shen Jiu was laying in between his legs and rubbing himself against the other one's hips. The devilish smile when he felt his Qi-Ge's body reacting was burning itself deep in Yue Qingyuan's mind.

Once this child grew fully into an adult, he would pay for this!

But right now he was powerless against Shen Jiu. And to be honest, he didn't mind. It let him feel even closer than before, and when it was possible, he embraced him and inhaled the scent that still contained some sweetness of the youthful body.

After some time had passed, Mu Qingfang was the one talking to the Sect Master.

„Is Shen Jiu well?“

Yue Qingyuan's eyes went wide, and for a moment he didn't know what to say. They were talking about needed supplies and how many disciples were injured recently, when he heard the question, and it hit him unprepared.

The Peak Lord smiled. „I'm sorry, how do you call him? Wei Jiu?“

Yue Qingyuan sighed. „It's his aactual birth name. But yes, his name is Wei Jiu now.“

Mu Qingfang was sipping at the tea that was served. „You ask yourself how do I know this and when did I recognize him, right? Well, I know you for quite some time now. And no one could ever make you happy like this beside him.“

„Am I that obvious?“

„More than that.“ The Peak Lord smiled. „The other Peak Lords don't know it yet, especially because Shen Qingqiu is still alive. But I had my suspicions all the time, too, and after the young man appeared...“

A chuckle was heard. „You alwas were quite the perceptive one, Mu Qingfang.“

„It's my job to be perceptive. Otherwise I wouldn't be a good healer.“

„That is true.“ Yue Qingyuan sighed. „Please... just don't tell the other Peak Lords yet. There is no need for this.“

„Don't worry, I won't. I just wanted to tell you, that I am happy for the both of you. And that everyone on Cang Qiong Mountain is happy to feel the change of the atmosphere here.“

It was that moment when Shen Jiu entered the hut. He received a smile from the Peak Lord and tilted his head slightly, but Mu Qingfang just shook his head. „It's nothing. I just thought it is good to have you here.“

-

When Mu Qingfang left, Shen Jiu was taking his place on Yue Qingyuan's lap. „What was this all about?“

„Peak Lord Mu is a very intelligent man, that is all.“ Yuen Qingyuan began stroking the young man's back. „Did he mission go well?“

„No problems at all.“ Shen Jiu presented a hairpin to the other one. It was an exceptional beauty under the accessories, and it had special power hidden inside, giving the one wearing it a boost of energy. Shen Jiu had to receive it from a shady merchant in the town nearby who was hiding it from the public, spreading rumors to raise its worth. No one knew if the rumors were true, but when Shen Jiu approached him with lots of money and in the name of Cang Qiong Mountain, the merchant was willing to give it away. „I just didn't know you were into such things.“

„If it's useful, why not?“ He took the hairpin out of Shen Jiu's hand and put it into the hair of the young man. Shen Jiu widened his eyes. „For me?“

„Of course.“ Yue Qingyuan smiled warmly. „I'm sorry that you had to fetch it, but it will help with your cultivation.“ With a look at Shen Jiu, he nodded. „And it suits you.“

With burning cheeks, Shen Jiu hid his face on Yue Qingyuan's chest. „You meanie...“, he mumbled. „What a scheme...“

„So you like it?“

He felt the nod more than he saw it, and with a smile he placed a kiss on Shen Jiu's head. He wanted to sat upright again, when he felt pulled down a bit and soft lips on his. Stunned, he needed a moment to realize what was happening.

„I want to do more so badly“, the young man whispered against Yue Qingyuan's lips. „But this body isn't ready.“

He knew that. He knew that too well, and it hurt him, too. „Just a bit more patience. You grow up so fast, and we have all the time in the world.“

Shen Jiu seemed unsatisfied, but he nodded. „We have no choice anyway. But.. to know how you feel... it makes me impatient.“ The young one looked away, still beet red. Yue Qingyuan himself blushed a bit. „Me, too. But this gives me time to look into how... you know...“

Turning his head back, Shen Jiu lifted an eyebrow. „Into what?“

Now it was Yue Qingyuan's turn to look away shyly. „Having sex... with a man...“ The blushing intensified.

The young one bit his lip. „You never... thought about it? How and... well...“

„Of course! Of course I did!“ He grabbed the young man's shoulders. „How often I dreamt to hold you in my arms, to...to sleep with you! But it was only a dream. There was now way this would happen for real, and so I... I...“ He lowered his gaze in embarrassement.

Shen Jiu stared at the other one for a moment. Then he began to laugh. „Ha... hahahahaha!“

Being beet red himself, Yue Qingyuan looked up. „What's so funny?“

„It's the same, the same!“ He wiped away a tear. „I always thought the same thing but never did it or looked into how to do it!“ He threw his arms around Yue Qingyuan's neck. „What a pair of dummies we are!“

Yue Qingyuan chuckled and stroked the back of the youth. „That we are.“

But now they had found each other anew, and now they wouldn't be separated ever again! And together they could learn how to do such things.

-

„...you sure about it?“

Liu Qingge stood in front of Shen Jiu, inspecting him from head to toe. The young man looked the Peak Lord in the eyes without fear, earning some respect with this.

„You know I'm not good in teaching martial arts. So it would be helpful if Wei Jiu could attain your lessons from time to time.“

It was a lie, but it was something both of them came up with. Since Shen Jiu had a chance to establish a better connection to the Peak Lord, he wanted to use the chance. And what opportunity could be better than being his disciple and learning from him?

Liu Qingge humphed. „This training will be harsh. I heard he is a prodigy, but he seems delicate.“

Shen Jiu bowed deeply. „This disciple is not that fragile. Please teach this humble disciple, Peak Lord Liu!“

The other one raised an eyebrow. „Fine. At least we can try.“ He looked at the Sect Master who seemed pleased. He, too, acknowledged how Yue Qingyuan had changed since his disciple arrived at Cang Qiong Mountain, and even if he couldn't show it properly, it warmed his heart. „Sect Master, please don't punish me if he receives some bruises and scratches.“

„And please don't blame me if he overpowers your disciples soon.“ Yue Qingyuan's tone was a joking one, but it was highly possible that this would happen. He earned another humph. „If that happens, that means, my disciples have to train even harder.“

-

Yue Qingyuan left his Xiao Jiu in the care of the Peak Lord with mixed feelings. On the one hand it was good that Shen Jiu was fixing the bond with Liu Qingge. On the other hand... he really became quite possessive and didn't want to let his Xiao Jiu go for even a second.

He sighed.

It was for the best.He needed to control his feelings more. When he entered his hut, he slapped himself on the cheeks. Get yourself together! Shen Jiu would be away only for short times, just like when he was running errands. And when he came back, they would have another topic to talk about.

With new resolve he sat down to do some paperwork.

Chapter Text

„...Liu Qingge really has his own style in teaching things. I have to admit, I am impressed!“

They were walking through the streets of the city next to Cang Qiong Mountain. The governor had asked for help regarding some demonic creatures plundering the storages at night, and Shen Jiu thought it was a good idea if the two of them would go. He wanted to train and test his abilities in real combat, and of course his Qi-Ge had to come with him!

Yue Qingyuan didn't want to take him with him at first, because he didn't want to expose his Xiao Jiu to danger. But Shen Jiu was persistent, and finally he gave up. He couldn't resist anyway for too long when his Xiao Jiu wanted something. Sometimes he thought he spoiled him too much, but seeing his happy face was his biggest joy, and so he gave in over and over again. Just like this time.

„You seem to be quite fond of him“, he said with a smile. „Do I need to be jealous?“

„If you are jealous of Liu-Shidi, then I have to be jealous of your paperwork!“ Shen Jiu pouted, but his fingers seeked Yue Qingyuan's hand. No one was looking, and so he held the larger hand tight. „And of the other disciples, and...“

„Fine, fine.“ A chuckle escaped Yue Qingyuan's lips. „I understand. But I am glad this turned out so well.“

„Me, too.“ The young one was looking into the distance. „To be honest, I can't understand how I was able to hate him so much. It just makes no sense!“

„It was a different situation back then.“ His thumb slid over the other one's hand. „And it's good that everything had changed.“

That Shen Jiu himself changed. No, that was wrong. That he was able to stay the way he was from the beginning, without fate lashing out onto him and forcing him to adapt to the circumstances.

„Mn.“ Shen Jiu seemed to think for a moment longer before he smiled sweetly. „Qi-Ge, I am hungry. Mind if we go and grab something to eat?“

-

They visited an inn hidden in the backstreets of the city. Yue Qingyuan knew this place from visits in the past, and he knew, they could have some privacy there. He was thinking about booking a room for the night here, too, since he was sure this mission wasn't solved over night.

Shen Jiu seemed to like it here, too, and so it was decided. The innkeeper greeted them warmly and brought them to a small room in the back where they could be alone. After a short time they were served delicious looking food and some drinks before they were left alone again.

Sitting opposite of each other, they ate in silence for some time when suddenly Shen Jiu laid down his chopsticks, looking like he wasn't satisfied.

„Is something wrong?“

„The food is fine, but...it's missing a special taste.“

Confused, Yue Qingyuan looked at the young one. „You mean some spices?“

„Something like this, but I'm not sure.“ His lips began to form a devilish smile he only showed when he had something in mind. He leaned over the table, his gaze firm onto his Qi-Ge. „I should try something of your food if it's the same. Would you feed me something?“

Slowly it dawned on Yue Qingyuan what this was all about. For a moment he was unsure if it was the right thing to do, but he decided to play this little game with his Xiao Jiu. „Hm. You're right.“ He lifted up some meat and held it in front of Shen Jiu's mouth. „You really should taste it.“

As if he had all the time in the world, Shen Jiu opened his lips and took the food in. He then licked over the chopsticks and his own lips in an lascivious manner before chewing properly and swallowing it. „As I thought, it really tastes better than mine.“

Yue Qingyuan wasn't able to look away for even a split second. He then cleared his throat. „Then I should give you my share of the food?“ He casted his gaze down on the several dishes in front of him, waiting for a reaction of the other one.

„No. It only tastes good when you feed me!“ The young man stood up and kneeled down in front of Yue Qingyuan, opening his mouth like a baby chick.

From sexy to adorable in one moment! This was the might of a beautiful young man whom he loved. With a sigh he picked up some more food and fed it to the other one who obviously enjoyed this. „Qi-Ge is so generous!“ He looked up through his eyelashes, the image of innocence himself. It made Yue Qingyuan want to ravish him, barely holding back from any actions.

Only Shen Jiu was able to make him feel this way!

His face must have shown something, because the young man in front of him laid his hand on Yue Qingyuan's knee. „What is Qi-Ge thinking?“

It didn't stay unnoticed, that Shen Jiu was beginning to stroke his leg softly.

„You... you are a little devil“, Yue Qingyuan said while closing his eyes. „If you go on like this, you'll overstep the boundaries.“

Shen Jiu chuckled. „You're just too kind. Others would already have punished me one way or another.“

Opening his eyes again, Yue Qingyuan fixated his gaze on the young man in front of him. „You are way too young right now. I can't do this. I love you too much for this.“ He leaned in and placed a kiss on Shen Jiu's forehead. „You are mean to provoke me like that.“

Shen Jiu sighed. „I'm sorry, but I'm becoming more and more impatient. I want to be by your side, want to be your official cultivation partner!“ He laid his head on Yue Qingyuan's knee. „Last time I didn't want to grow older because I was waiting for you. Now I can't wait for it.“

The elder one chuckled and began stroking Shen Jiu's hair. „It's not easy to wait, but this is something that will happen sooner or later. And when you are an adult again, I...“

He stopped, a bit embarrassed. This piqued the young man's interest, and Shen Jiu looked up again. „You... what?“

A smile appeared on Yue Qingyuan's lips, and he leaned in again. „I will make you mine“, he whispered.

This time it was Shen Jiu whose cheeks turned red. For a moment he stared speechless at his Qi-Ge, before he finally smiled again. „Who is the mean one now? Saying something like this. Don't say it if you don't mean it.“

But Yue Qingyuan shook his head. „Xiao Jiu, I would never joke about this. I want you. And I will make you mine. This is a promise.“

Burying his head on the other one's knee, Shen Jiu mumbled. „I will remember this. And I will remind you when the day comes!“

„I won't forget. Because this is something I'm longing for so long now. And I will make it come true.“

Chapter Text

„Xiao Jiu, wake up.“

The boy mumbled and clinged to the warmth beside him even more. Yue Qingyuan sighed with a smile on his lips. He stroked the soft hair for a moment, before he shook the boy again. „The sun is up, we need to go.“

Feeling all drowsy, the boy sat up and rubbed his eyes. It was such an adorable sight, Yue Qingyuan couldn't help but watch this in amusement. „Where is the diligent and splendid Peak Lord gone to?“

„...I'm a child right now“, Shen Jiu mumbled with a sleepy voice. „Beside, I sleep so well when you're around.“

That warmed the elder one's heart. With a few gentle movements he sorted the silky hair. „Don't make such compliments, or else I cuddle you down.

„Wouldn't mind.“ The boy yawned heartily. „I love cuddling with you.“

Of course they had booked only one room in the inn, and so they had an invitingly huge bed that was made for cuddling and lazying around. But they weren't here for that, and so Yue Qingyuan laughed and stood up. „As much as I want to, it's not the time for this. We're here for a mission, remember?“ Fetching his clothes, he went over to the washbowl and splashed some water into his face. Shen Jiu was watching him intensely.

„How come you never look like you stood up just recently?“

Confused, Yue Qingyuan turned around. „What do you mean?“

He was bare chested, and the water was dripping down from his chin onto his fair skin. Shen Jiu watched one drop sliding over the muscles to the belly where it disappeared into the clothes. Only then he looked up again. „You always look perfect and awake. Even when you sleep you look like you just closed your eyes!“

„You watched me while I was sleeping?“ Yue Qingyuan laughed. „You have strange hobbies! But old habits don't die so soon, you were the same once. It's good that you changed.“

„...you knew how I looked like when I slept?“

The boy finally stood up and came over, throwing his undergarments careless on the ground. Being naked in front of his Qi-Ge wa another thing that would never have happened in the past, but knowing how the other one felt made him more shameless.

This time Yue Qingyuan was watching the boy for a moment. „I woke you up a few times, remember?“ He dried his face and stepped away to make place. „You always looked like you were just about to go to bed, not standing up after a good night's rest.“

„I was just vigilant.“ The boy grabbed a washcloth and began rubbing his arms. „I always had the feeling something bad could happen while I was asleep.“

„So was I. I still am.“ Yue Qingyuan began dressing up, and Shen Jiu felt like losing a chance to look at that manly and handsome body a while longer. „Only because I am older doesn't mean everything went smoothly for me.“

The boy stopped in his tracks. „I thought you were the favored one?“ This time he didn't dare to look up, and somehow his heart was beating loudly in his chest.

He was the one being bullied. Only he. There was no way-

„The Qiu family didn't favor anyone.“ Yue Qingyuan's tone was grave. „It was only a question of how much, not of who was being bullied and abused.“

Shen Jiu gritted his teeth. Flames of hatred were sparking in his heart. „What I did to them... it wasn't nearly enough“, he spat out. But before he could go on, he felt warm arms laying around himself.

„It's over. All is in the past now.“ The voice of the elder one close to his ear was soft and gentle. „They don't have any more power over us. We are free. You got your revenge a long time ago.“

Yes. That was true. But still, the thought alone that they did something to his Qi-Ju...! He closed his eyes. „You never told me anything“, he whispered. „Not about what happened afterwards, and not even what happened there.“

„It wouldn't have made anything better.“ Yue Qingyuan leaned his forehead against the small shoulder. „My only thought was to get us out of there, nothing else.“

Shen Jiu sighed and leaned against the elder one. „You really are too good-natured, Qi-Ge.“

A chuckle was heard. „Maybe?“ Then Shen Jiu felt something warm and soft touching his shoulder. „But only because it's you.“

A faint blush appeared on Shen Jiu's cheeks. He then tried to wiggle himself free. „Stop saying such overly sweet things! It's disgusting!“

Again, Yue Qingyuan laughed and placed another kiss on the soft young skin before he let go. „I'm sorry, I just can't resist!“

With a huffing sound Shen Jiu turned around- and gave Yue Qingyuan a kiss!

Overwhelmed, the elder one stopped in his tracks and looked at his Xiao Jiu with wide eyes.

With his cheeks burning, Shen Jiu turned away. „Don't you ever say such cute things again. You're my greatest weakness after all!“

Talking about cute things... this speech made Yue Qingyuan blush, too. „I can't guarantee this, but I try to take care that we're alone then.“

Shen Jiu nodded while still looking away. „I can deal with this... I think.“ He then turned back to the washbowl. „Didn't we want to go out? I need to get ready...“

With a swift move Yue Qingyuan took the washcloth out of Shen Jiu's hand. „Then I will help you with this!“

Shen Jiu wanted to protest, but when he felt the washcloth moving over his back in a loving manner, he bit his lip and stayed quiet. They bathed together several thime since he returned to Cang Qiong Mountain, but never did Yue Qingyuan something like... this. It seemed that he became bolder over time.

Shen Jiu liked it.

„Qi-Ge...“, he said after a while, and the other one stopped. „You really are made to be the perfect lover.“

Yue Qingyuan stared at the back of the boy. „What are you saying...“

„It's true.“

Shen Jiu turned around, facing his beloved. „Gentle, caring, thinking of the other one first... but when you feel safe, you begin to demand more, without pressing the other one.“ He leaned in and brought his lips to his ear. „Be more bold. Demand more. I like it. Show me what you really want.“

It was now on Yue Qingyuan to feel overwhelmed by this speech. „Xiao Jiu, I...“ He stopped for a moment, but then he decided to be what this boy in front of him wanted him to be: bold.

His hand wandered from the shoulder slowly down, stroking one of the pink flowers on the chest for a short time before moving to the back and squeezing the young butt for a moment.

„I feel sinful thinking about doing...things with you“, he admitted, while he felt the young body tensing up a bit.“It's just not right, even if your soul is ripe, your body isn't.“

„I know.“ Shen Jiu's voice was a mere whisper. „But my body begins to long for you, too. Not only my soul.“

Slowly Yue Qingyuan retreated his hand. „Let's just... wait for a bit longer. Alright?“

Shen Jiu bit his lip before he nodded. „Fine. It's fine.“

He knew the conflict his Qi-Ge was in, and on the one side he didn't want to trouble him. On the other side...well...

With a sigh he kissed his Qi-Ge on the cheek before grabbing his clothes. If there wasn't some kind of magic to turn him older, he really would have to wait.

A shame, really.

Chapter Text

„And you really are sure this will work?“

Yue Qingyuan was laying with Shen Jiu on their bellies in the upper floor of a storage. All around them was hay, shielding them from gazes from the outside, but making them unable to look down to the supplies, too.

Since the demons had an order in which they were robbing the storages of the villagers, it was likely this one which they were laying in to be the target tonight.

So they made some preparations. Yue Qingyuan just didn't think it would result in... this.

Their bodies were pressed together here, and he felt even the slightest move of his Xiao Jiu. It really was cramped, and he feared he wouldn't be able to move properly when the demons arrived.

„We placed several talismans around here. If they try to enter, they will explode and scare them away.“ Shen Jiu seemed quite confident when he told Yue Qingyuan this. „And I can fight them with my practice sword! It's not a real cultivator's one, but for these small fries it will be enough.“

Shen Jiu turned around so his belly was now touching Yue Qingyuan's side. This closeness made the elder one uncomfortably aware of his Xiao Jiu's body heat. „And you are sure you aren't doing this just to be close like...now?“

„Of course not!“ The young man seemed shocked. „I'm fully aware, that this is a mission and we have to help the villagers!“ An arm snucked around Yue Qingyuans waist. „But you know, Qi-Ge... why can't we do fun things while waiting?“

Yue Qingyuan sighed. „You little devil...“ He turned around, too, and now they both were laying there facing each other. „I wonder who raised you to be so mischievous?“

Shen Jiu smiled innocently before he stretched himself to give the elder one a peck on the lips. „Who knows...? Am I too hard to deal with?“ His innocent look with these round big eyes let Yue Qingyuan sigh in defeat. „Sometimes I just want to grab and spank you to educate you properly.

„Uuuuh~“ A chirping sound escaped the young man. „Sect Master, have mercy!“ He began rubbing himself at the other one a bit, and slowly the blood began tinting Yue Qingyuan's cheeks pink. „I will behave, please don't spank me?“

Warm arms were laying themselves around the smaller body, pulling him even closer. „Don't play with my urges like this.“ Yue Qingyuan's voice was heated, his heart beating wildly. Being so close, Shen Jiu had to hear it, and his own heart began to speed up.

„I'm sorry, I just can't resist!“ Shen Jiu could feel how much the other one wanted to go further, even in this situation. It was just due to his iron will, that Yue Qingyuan didn't take him on the spot. „I will try to behave.“

Yue Qingyuan shook his head. „Please do what you want, just... not here. Not on a mission. Even if they are small fries, you know I can pull Xuan Su only when our lives are on the line. Or else...“

„No!“ Now Shen Jiu was clinging to him like a real child, burying his head on his Qi-Ge's chest.. „Never pull it out. Never! I can manage this, really. Am I not the shooting star of our sect?“ He began trembling. „Please don't waste even an inch of your energy for this...!“

The fear of losing his Qi-Ge suddenly overwhelmed him. He knew what it meant when Yue Qingyuan drew his sword. He had to make sure this would never happen. He needed to get even stronger!

A warm hand was soothingly stroking him. „I won't, I promise. Only when things really go out of hand. But I don't believe it.“ He smiled, and even if Shen Jiu couldn't see it from his position, he could feel it. „I don't want to worry you even one moment.“

„Mn.“ Shen Jiu stayed in this position, but he calmed down noticeably. „I trust you, Qi-Ge.“

„So do I.“ Yue Qingyuan planted a kiss on the soft hair, but then he listened up. „I think they are coming.“

The young man listened up, too, and nodded. „I think they are more than four.“

„Six, maybe seven.“ Yue Qingyuan turned back on his belly and robbed foward to the edge of the wooden floor to look downwards.

That moment the first talisman exploded with a loud boom!

Shen Jiu moved forward, too, grinning from ear to ear. „It works! I told you it will work!“

The door flung open, and several small demons were storming the storage. One was tinted black of the explosion, and when another talisman blew up, they screeched in high pitched voices out of fear.

Before Yue Qingyuan could react, Shen Jiu already had jumped down and sent one demon flying with a blow of his spiritual energy. The other ones didn't know what to do and ran around unorganized. But suddenly they stood still and fixated their gazes on the small cultivator in front of them.

„Screeeee!“

The first one flung himself onto Shen Jiu, trying to grab his arm, but the young man was faster. He also sent this demon flying before unsheathing his sword.

„Even if I am small, you are no match for me!“

Yue Qingyuan was watching while Shen Jiu was fighting. He wanted to step in, but seeing the behaviour of the young man he knew, that Shen Jiu was putting up a show for him. It wasn't necessary; Yue Qingyuan was aware how powerful the young man already was. But Shen Jiu wanted to demonstrate what he was capable of. He needed it for his own ego, and so Yue Qingyuan let it happen. If it became a more serious situation, he was there to help.

To be honest, seeing the elegant and refined movements which surpassed that of a normal youth at his level were quite the sight. It made him proud and attracted at the same time. Being in fighting stance made Shen Jiu look a lot more mature, and he showed to his 'audience' up there, that he didn't unlearn a thing over time.

And after a short while it was over.

The little demons were beaten black and blue and without a chance of winning they gathered and escaped through the open door.

As soon as they were left alone, Yue Qingyuan jumped down to the ground while Shen Jiu sat down after sheathing his sword.

„I'm tired“, he said and stretched out his arms.

„But you fought well. I'm impressed.“ Yue Qingyuan bent down and picked up the young man. He made a sound as if Shen Jiu was as heavy as a rock. „You've grown so much, I don't believe I can carry you like this for much longer.“

„Just for tonight.“ Shen Jiu was cuddling up even more. „I think I deserve a good treatment.“

„That you do.“ The words of the elder one were warm. „No one could have fought them alone beside you at your age. I've never seen such a power used the right way from a disciple.“

„Mn.“ Shen Jiu rubbed his cheek against his Qi-Ge's cheek. „I'm special after all.“ After a short pause he added: „Right?“

Yue Qingyuan chuckled. „You were always special, and you are special now. And it's a good kind of special.“

„Good answer.“ Only because Yue Qingyuan knew this person for so long he heard the relief in the voice. But then the young man seemed to sink against his shoulder, and after a moment Yue Qingyuan understood, that his Xiao Jiu was fast asleep.

With a smile he carried the young man down the road and to the inn. Just like a parent he laid Shen Jiu down and tucked him in. „Sleep well, my dear“, he whispered and placed a kiss on his forehead. „The next time just don't exhaust yourself too much.“

Getting ready himself for bed and laying down beside the young man he chuckled. Still stubborn and proud, but still powerful and beautiful. That was his Xiao Jiu.

Chapter Text

Blood was dripping down, forming a pool on the ground.

Shen Jiu stared in disbelief when his Qi-Ge sank onto his knees in front of him. „No...“, he whispered, but his voice wasn't heard. Cackling sounds came from various throats around them, laughing at them, and a moment later his world went red.

Red as the blood of his beloved.

They shedded it! They hurt him!!

The first head was sent flying, and green demon blood was mixing with the red one to a dark unseemly color. The demons were screaming and tossing themselves on the young man, trying to bring him down. But to no avail.

„Xiao Jiu...“

Yue Qingyuan was holding his stomach. Blood was gushing out of a wound where a demon had stabbed him with his claws. It was not life-threatening, he would recover if he had the chance to. Seeing his beloved going into a frenzy hurt him so much more, and there was nothing he could do against it.

They had underestimated the demons. They both had thought that it was enough to scare them away. How wrong they were! The demons had gathered even more of them together and even had two middle-ranked ones with them! And what's more, this time they ambushed the two cultivators when they wanted to prepare the setting for tonight.

It was a very clever move Yue Qingyuan and Shen Jiu never had anticipated.

Body parts were sent flying, and more and more demons were screaming in agony. In between them were the god of vengeance, his eyes burning with hatred. He wielded his training sword as if it were a real one, not even hesitating for a moment.

„No one ever dares to hurt my Qi-Ge!“

With a shattering sound the blade of his training sword broke and kept stuck in one of the demon's bodies. It didn't faze the young man the slightest, with his qi he formed a wind blade and kept on slaughtering the demons until no one was left. Breathing heavily he stood amindst the gruesome sight, his eyes still red, as if he was about to qi deviate.

Strong arms were wrapping themselves around the small shoulders from behind. „Xiao Jiu, it's enough. Stop it, please...“

Yue Qingyuan had mobilized all of his powers to do this, and only then did the tension leave the young body. He felt something wet dripping on his hands, and he recognized, that Shen Jiu was crying.

„Qi-Ge“, the young man wailed and turned around in his arms. „Are you alright? We need to patch you up, don't die, please, don't, I-“

With a strong move Yue Qingyuan pulled the young man closer again. „I will be fine, don't worry. This is nothing.“ He tried to soothe the other one, to help him ease the pain and to disperse the panic. „But please calm down. I don't know what to do, if you fall into a qi deviation.“

He stroked the young man gently, and for a moment only the sobbing sounds were heard. Then Shen Jiu pushed him away a bit, and with still trembling hands he tore the soaked clothes of his Qi-Ge apart and tried to clean the wound. He didn't dare to look the elder one in the eyes. „It won't stop bleeding“ he cried out and tried to apply pressure to the wound, but his hands were held in place by Yue Qingyuan.

„Let me just concentrate for a moment“, Yue Qigyuan said warmly. He closed his eyes and let his spiritual energy circulate. He wasn't able to close up the would completely under this circumstances, but after a while the blood ceased to flow until it stopped. Only then he opened his eyes again. „See? It wasn't that bad.“

A moment later he was the one embraced, and he felt soft lips on his. „I was so scared, Qi-Ge!“ The voice was a mere whisper, the breath hot, the young body trembling. „I still am! I don't want to lose you! I thought I was going mad!“

Tears were flowing again, and Yue Qingyuan was wiping them away with his thumb. „I won't die on you so easily. Not after I found you again.“ He smiled wryly. „But I would be thankful if you help me up. We should retire for now and send out some troops to clean up this mess.“ He held out his arm, and Shen Jiu readily jumped to help.

-

They returned to the inn unnoticed. This was important for Yue Qingyuan since he didn't want to cast a ruckus. Back in their room he sent out a communication talisman before finally breaking down again. He heard Shen Jiu cry out, but his eyelids were too heavy, and so he fell unconscious in an instant.

Shen Jiu barely caught him, but the elder one was a grown-up man, and so he wasn't able to hold him up and landed on the ground with him. Tears were falling down again.

„It is my fault“, he whispered. „I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...!“

Shen Jiu never cried. Even when humiliated by the Qius, he didn't shed tears. But now he was crying like a small child again. Yue Qingyuan was the only one who could make him do so, and he became painfully aware of this fact.If he was ever tolose him, this would be the end for Shen Jiu.

Slowly he heaved his Qi-Ge on the bed and undressed him completely. Gladly, the wound didn't had open up again, but the Sect Master still got a fever because of the blood loss. Shen Jiu barely knew what to do and began to panic, but then he forced himself to calm down.

'Think... what can you do for him?'

Cursing himself that he didn't care for such things until now, he collected all of the things he heard about treating an injured person and prepared some water to clean the wound and his Qi-Ge from all the blood. Since he didn't have bandages with him and couldn't ask anyone for assistance, he ripped his own clothes to shreds where they still were clean and wrapped them around his Qi-Ge.

Well, that was all he could do to physically patch him up.

Taking care, that Yue Qingyuan had a cold cloth on his forehead, he then took a bath to clean himself from the fight. Only when he dipped into the cold bathing water the innkeeper had prepared some time ago, he began trembling again.

Staring at his hands he tried to get rid off the feeling of sickness and pain in his heart.

He didn't regret going berserk. He regretted underestimating the demons and pulling his Qi-Ge into this mess. He wanted to play the hero and defeat them all by himself again to impress his beloved, but he was careless, and if Yue Qingyuan didn't have taken the blow for him, he might be dead right now.

It was all his fault.

Still trembling, he climbed out of the bathtub and dried himself only a bit. Naked as he was he slid into the bed and hugged his Qi-Ge as tight as possible without touching the wound. Then he closed his eyes to transfer his spiritual energy.

Please, Qi-Ge, get well soon!