Something like soulmates was a foreign concept to Shen Yuan. He had heard about it in movies. In books and folklore, but something like that was too fantastical to be real.
But he still dreamed.
Shen Yuan had been born into a loving family. A mother, a father, two older brothers, and later a little sister. The family was very close to each other despite what it might appear to outsiders. As a family of money, one would expect that the parents were always busy and in order to make their children not feel their absence, they would shower their kids with toys and material goods. Basically, leaving them to be raised by nannies and the like.
Shen Yuan didn't remember much of it, but he knew that despite owning luxuries and hiring many helpers, his parents had made sure to always be present in their lives, and make them feel and know that they were loved and cherished.
It did not last long.
Shen Yuan was in high school when it happened. He had been on his way to pick up her little sister from school when he heard the news that there was a fire at their parents' company and that they were in critical condition. Shen Yuan had rushed to pick his sister from her elementary school, and then payed for a taxi to take them to the hospital. By the time they arrived, their older siblings had already been there for a little while and they were given the horrible news.
Their mom had passed away and their dad was in a coma with severe burns. They didn't know if he would wake up.
The following years were full of confusion and anxiety.
Shen Yuan's eldest brother had tried to take control of the company, but it was hard and, in the end, it was given to one of their more cunning uncles. It all seemed like a colossal joke because the bastard had been so greedy for money, he had mis-stepped somewhere along the way and the entire company fell into bankruptcy only a few years after taking control.
Shen Yuan and his brothers had to learn how to navigate in a world where they had not even a single penny to die with. His older brothers had managed to land good jobs, but it was in no way enough to help pay for the private schooling Shen Yuan and their sister had had until that point, and they were forced to attend public school. It wasn't as difficult for their little sister; she was small still and was quick to adapt to their new reality. Shen Yuan on the other hand, had more trouble adapting to his new environment. When it was time for Shen Yuan to attend university, he took a long look at the expenses he could expect, and shook his head at his eldest brother.
It was too much, they had no money for it.
His brothers tried to protest, Shen Yuan should at the very least try to attend, it's what they parents would have wanted. But Shen Yuan had made up his mind. He was his sister to go instead.
Two weeks after that, Shen Yuan got his first job. He was sure that if 10-year-old Shen Yuan saw his future self, he would be disappointment, but it payed the bills and that was the important thing to him.
Unfortunately, this meant that the time he could use to see his siblings became even smaller. Shen Yuan had moved away from his brothers to give them time to be with their wives, his little sister staying with their eldest and playing babysitter to their new nephew.
And Shen Yuan...
Well, Shen Yuan had no one. He hadn’t really had the time to go out and meet someone, never mind in a place as conservative as China. Perhaps it was the shock he received when his eldest brother announced that they were going to disconnect their father because they didn't have enough money to keep paying his hospital bills. Shen Yuan had understood. It had hurt, but he understood just how hard their brothers were working and it was still not enough. Their little sister, bless her soul, had been understanding even if she looked like she wanted nothing more than throw a tantrum.
It got Shen Yuan thinking once again. About their family before . Before mother died, before father fell into a coma, before the fire, before they broke .
Shen Yuan wanted that too, he realized. Not necessarily the riches and all that stuff, though it would have certainly been nice to have, but a loving family. A wife and children to go back to after a long day after work to shower with love and be showered with love too. Shen Yuan had his sibling, and he loved them too death. But he also wanted something like what his older siblings had managed to find.
However, something in that little image made Shen Yuan uncomfortable. The image of a wife was... did not quite settled comfortably in Shen Yuan's heart. In the beginning he had not understood why until he had seen two men kissing at a park, probably on a date.
It felt like he had been dumped into a lake.
Being gay was not something he expected of himself, and for a while he tried to find excuses as to why this couldn't be. But the more excuses he found, the more reasons he found pushing for him for accept reality.
In the end, Shen Yuan did not have much time to ponder about this, for he died when he pushed his little sister out the way of an upcoming truck.
“At least she's safe.” Was the last thing he thought before everything went black.
Shen Jiu, Shen Qingqiu, had been called every name in the book. Be it an insult or a compliment, he had heard it all. Regardless, none of that mattered to Shen Jiu. As long as he had Yue Qingyuan's (his Qi- ge's ) faith and affection, Shen Jiu did not need anything else.
Until he met him .
Shen Qingqiu had been on his way back to the inn he was staying after getting rid of the local menace that was haunting the town. Up to this day, he still wondered if it had been mere coincidence that he had decided to take an unnecessary left turn, or if it had been the will of the gods that allowed him to meet the one that more or less fixed everything wrong in his life.
Only, he had been but a nameless child abandoned at the entrance of a temple. Still warmly wrapped in a green blanket. Shen Qingqiu had thought back to when he was still a street rat, when it felt like it was the world against Shen Jiu and Yue Qi. Shen Qingqiu had swallowed the need to sneer at the cooing baby on the floor that would grow to become another street rat, if he didn't die before that.
However, Shen Qingqiu, Shen Jiu , found his cold and dead heart melted at the sight of warm brown eyes with green speckles peering back at him. He didn't even realize he had picked the little baby and settled him carefully and comfortably in the curve of his arms until he was closing the door on his room.
In the beginning he had thought the baby a demon in disguise, but no matter how hard he tested him, nothing came out. In the end, Shen Qingqiu decided that the best thing to do was take him in, just so that he could keep an eye on him of course. You never knew when he would try to show his true colors.
And so, he made his way back to his Qing Jing Peak in the death of the night to make sure no one saw them. The following morning, he sent Ning Yingying to Qiong Ding Peak to deliver a message to Yue Qingyuan informing him of the new addition in his house, knowing full well that the man in question was out at the moment taking care of other business.
By the time he came back, Shen Qingqiu would have already settled into a routine with his new buddle and Yue Qi would had to pry the baby out if his cold dead fingers.
Days went by, and the baby remained a secret even from his own disciples. At this point, Shen Jiu had realized he couldn't simply keep calling the baby “you,” so he settled for Yuan (it had nothing to do with sect leader, the name was merely a coincidence) . It wasn't long before his bamboo house was suddenly invaded by a disheveled Yue Qingyuan wanting to meet his Xiao Jiu's new charge.
He fell in love immediately.
He had met his Xiao-Jiu as a young child only, but Xiao-Yuan was the cutest baby he had ever met. From his soft round cheeks, to his cute little toes. When he saw Shen Jiu cradling little Xiao-Yuan so lovingly between his arms he couldn't help but think it that was what it felt like to have a family of his own.
He hadn't meant to do it, honestly. He had planned to take the secret to the grave but one day it had just... spilled right from his mouth when he was trying to feed baby A-Yuan. Shen Qingqiu had frozen in place, face showing his shock not even his trusty fan was fast enough to cover it. He then had asked him in the softest voice to please leave, they would talk later.
That night Yue Qingyuan had been unable to sleep. He had found himself dreading Xiao-Jiu's answer, and like the coward he was, he left the next morning on a mission and did not come back until almost a month later.
Shen Qingqiu was, to say the least, infuriated. So was his anger even baby A-Yuan could feel it and was cooing at his “mama” more than usual, but his actions didn't seem to help very much. Finally, Shen Qingqiu learned Yue Qingyuan finally came back when he was sent a message summoning him and his fellow peak lords to discuss something or other, he didn't really care. He had spent 50 minutes glaring at his cowardly sect leader and ignoring everyone else until Yue Qingyuan finally dismissed them and Shen Qingqiu proceeded to drag him to his bamboo house by the ear.
Both Shen Jiu and Yue Qi knew they had soulmates since they were children due to the black ring-like tattoo on their promise finger, but just like legend went, neither of them could see their own mark nor the others’. The tale said that the name of your soulmate would only appear once both souls were of marrying age, and free of any misunderstanding. The ring-like mark turning a bright red color in the process. Another reason that could make the name of your soulmate appear on the skin would be if they died, the ring tattoo disappearing in the process.
Neither Shen Qingqiu nor Yue Qingyuan had taken notice of the change on their tattoo until the following morning after their talk, both of them being rendered speechless after waking up with their entangled fingers sporting red marks instead of the black color they were used to.
They would had remained frozen if not for baby A-Yuan suddenly yelling his first word trying to convey his hunger.