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When Flowers Bloom, When Flowers Fall

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Why is it that his life has turned out like this?

He's beaten the story. The System has upgraded him, he hasn't gotten the worst ending, and now the only voice in his head belongs to him. It should be a time for celebration.

It's good news! You're not dead!

Neither is Luo Binghe!

Shen Qingqiu, despite the massive pain in his ass that is directly caused by a certain brat, is filled with an intense amount of happiness mixed with the resigned realization that yes, he really is this way. Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky may be a horrible writer who never met a trope he wouldn't use as an excuse for his protagonist to add yet another harem member, but somehow, he managed to build a world where certain transmigrators could actually be happier in than their real lives.

It's a depressing thought.


“He doesn't remember? Anything?”

Qi Qingqi glances over at Mu Qingfang, who's giving her a complicated look of his own. “You both went through quite a bit,” he says delicately. Shen Qingqiu remembers exactly what condition was probably found in, and flushes a little. He's pretty sure if he looked at Liu Qingge right now, the man would be gripping his sword or frowning or doing anything that says, I disapprove of all of your terrible life choices and please remember that you have students that look up to you, and how dare you abandon them for a demon that tried to destroy us all and was unhealthily attached to your dead body.

Liu Qingge can pack a lot of judgment into one very attractive glare.

“Yes,” Shen Qingqiu says, because he's not going to just say, “Letting him have his way with me saved the world, so please be grateful.” Wait? Can he say that?

“Well, while he is physically all right, due to his nature, his memory appears to be affected. It's not uncommon, especially in cases of severe qi deviation.” And now everyone is pretending not to look at Shen Qingqiu, which is intensely annoying, considering he knows exactly how this whole mess started.

It's not my memory, he shrieks internally, it's that I'm a completely different person who had the grave misfortune to have poor taste in literature and the universe punished me for it! He settles for a restrained, “I see. So what happens now?”

Ning Yingying who's been sitting patiently with Ming Fan, speaks up. “The masters want him to go away, but Zhangmen-shixiong said that we needed to talk to you first.”

Bless you, Yue Qingyuan! For both surviving and being so soft towards Shen Qingqiu that you would put aside the “whole trying to destroy the world” thing until he woke up and could tell you want he wants you to do! Truly, you feel way too much guilt for your own good and probably should have been way better at talking to people before all of this!

“If he can't remember anything, they can't possibly think he's a threat. And if they send him away, he may get into more trouble than if someone keeps an eye on him.”

Ming Fan lets out a low grumble. “And it has to be you, Shizun?”

Shen Qingqiu puts on his most beneficent smile, the one that says, I am a noble self-sacrificing Peak Lord that looks after all his wayward charges. “It does.”

The argument is fierce and Shen Qingqiu thinks he might have to strangle a few of the more vociferous masters, but in the end, the combined words of Yue Qingyuan. Great Master Wu Chen, and most surprisingly, a very reluctant Liu Qingge persuade them, however unhappily, that it's better to watch and wait for the next calamity than it is to send it away.

There are a few who think they should just cut it off at the root right now by eliminating Luo Binghe in his current, relatively less powerful state, but it turns out that Shen Qingqiu has a few good death glares of his own, thank you very much.

“Thank you, Liu-shidi,” he says as he walks back to the bamboo house.

Liu Qingge grunts. “You are making a terrible mistake,” he says. “And if he does anything--”

Shen Qingqiu lays a hand on the man's shoulder. “It will be all right.” He smiles at him. “I appreciate your assistance in everything.”

Liu Qingge stiffens, then removes Shen Qingqiu's hand from his shoulder, before hurriedly muttering something and practically running away.

Shen Qingqiu sighs. His reputation must really be in tatters if Liu Qingge cannot bear to be seen being comfortable with him. Thanks to the Resentment of Chunshan and whatever he saw after rescuing them from the depths of Luochuan, Liu Qingge probably thinks of him as some sort of foolish trash teacher, worse than the scum villain he was before.

But there are other matters to consider besides Liu Qingge's distaste. There is someone waiting for him at home.

Shen Qingqiu stands up straighter, adjusts his robes, and makes sure his expression is as mild and welcoming as possible. Then he opens the door.

“You're my Shizun?”

Oh, fuck, Shen Qingqiu thinks. The Luo Binghe in front of him is a pure white lotus, innocent and sweet, tilting his head and letting his cloud of fluffy black hair swirl around his beaming face. If the masters were to see this, they would probably pat him on his head and tell him he was a good disciple.

“Yes,” Shen Qingqiu manages, pushing down definitely inappropriate feelings. How can a grown man be simultaneously so frustratingly hot and adorable at the same time? He doesn't know if he wants to demand an apology for his lower half, which is still throbbing, or apologize himself for corrupting him.

It turns out words aren't necessary as Luo Binghe rushes towards him and hugs him tightly. “Shizun!” he says, grinning down at him. “Even if I don't remember anything, I promise I won't disappoint you!”

“I know you won't.” His voice chokes on the words and he lets his hand ruffle Luo Binghe's hair. It's still soft and damn it, why didn't he just send Luo Binghe off to that temple like the Great Master suggested?

Oh, right. He's a terrible teacher who is definitely not going to seduce his student, especially not when his student is so...

Shen Qingqiu closes his eyes, wills a certain part of him to go down even as he basks in Luo Binghe's warmth, his strong arms, his utter devotion. Yes, he knows where this leads to and his back protests at the very thought, but the universe will just have to give them this for now. They've been through too much to give it all up.

He has no idea how long they just stand there, locked in the embrace, but it's far too long for an appropriate greeting between a teacher and disciple, and far too short for one between Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe.

“I'll go make you some food, Shizun!” Luo Binghe chirps. “Just show me how!”

“That's all right,” he says, giving the hair a final pat. “This master is capable of doing these tasks. Why don't you sit down and let me take care of you?”

There's a momentary flash of uncertainty, as if Luo Binghe wants to protest, but he obediently sits down and waits as his shizun shuffles over.

Now... what to make?

Almost an hour later, his congee is clearly not as good as Luo Binghe's, his back is already telling him to lie down, and his student is going to drive him insane with all his little smiles and fond looks around the room.

“Shizun is very good to this disciple,” Luo Binghe says. “He has done way too much for him and this disciple does not feel worthy of it.”

Done too much to you, Shen Qingqiu thinks, with a strong pang of guilt. The System still remains silent, but it's not responsible for all the harm Luo Binghe underwent. If... if the guilt of what happened on Maigu Ridge is what has taken his memories away, is it selfish to wish for them to return? Surely, this is the way of correcting the wayward plotline, of putting Luo Binghe back on track?

“Don't say such things,” Shen Qingqiu tells him, and does not get any sleep that night. 

Luo Binghe still doesn't remember the next day, though apparently, it's an automatic thing for him to want to brush out his Shizun's hair, try to cook things for him, and in general, be the perfect, thoughtful disciple that he was before the Abyss.

He just doesn't know who he's doing this all for.

Shen Qingqiu wants to say things like, "Look, don't just do this because you think you have to," or "I won't throw you out even if you don't do housework," or even "Please stop stroking my hair and remarking on how shiny and pretty it is because it just leads me down the wrong path and I am trying very hard not to be reminded of how adorable you were before I stabbed you in the chest." 

Instead, he resolves to look like the untouchable, immortal lord of Qing Jing Peak and pretend that everything's fine, no, he's not losing his mind because Luo Binghe is right there, a constant, smiling reminder of everything he's fucked up.  Everything he's missing. 

"Shizun?" Luo Binghe asks.

Shen Qingqiu's not a coward, unlike some Peak Lords he knows, but fuck, why did he just have to walk in on Luo Binghe undressing?

That scarred chest, those strong arms, those firm muscles dipping down towards...

"I apologize," he says, and flees to cool his head off. 


“Look, dude, I don't know,” Shang Qinghua says. “I think you're assuming that this isn't just some sort of weird glitch. I already told you that the plotline was closer to what I wanted than what I wrote.”

“Which was trash,” Shen Qingqiu says amiably, admiring the absolutely gorgeous day it was outside. “Utter trash.”

The house was empty right now. He'd grabbed Shang Qinghua, as soon as that asshole showed up, and Ning Yingying took Luo Binghe off his hands for the day, promising to be very careful about where she took him. “He can't just be in the house all day, Shizun,” she said. “He's not a pet.”

(And the mental image of Luo Binghe in a collar sent him into a tailspin for a few hours.)

Ning Yingying is far too forgiving for her own good and Shen Qingqiu thinks it's one of the reasons why she was always one of his favorite characters. Such a nice girl that didn't deserve the book she was in.

“That you read. Faithfully.” Shang Qinghua waves his hand dismissively. “Seriously, when you had me come over, I thought you were just going to complain about your love life or some shit like that. I have no fucking idea where this is going now. We're in uncharted territory.”

“You're telling me you never had an idea for a sequel? Never wrote some damn fanfic on the forum under a fake name? Never left an outline detailing yet another ten books in the series with the massive deal you imagined you were going to get for writing this shit? Because this fucking amnesia shit reeks of something you would pull.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, bro, but I can't help you out here.” That asshole actually has the temerity to grin. “Now unless you're going to give me some material so I can write my own Resentment--”

“Do you want me to punch you in the face?” It's really tempting, and Shen Qingqiu is pretty sure he'll look damn graceful doing it.

“So violent, Cucumber Bro,” Shang Qinghua says. “You give someone just a little bit of power and they start lording it over people.” He elbows Shen Qingqiu a little. “Tell me, are you really that upset at me or are you just mad that Luo Binghe isn't--

But Shen Qingqiu doesn't hear him anymore.

Because Luo Binghe is laughing. He's letting Ning Yingying pull him off somewhere, his tall frame dwarfing hers, but she's able to take his hand and smile and they're looking at each other--

Fuck this. Shen Qingqiu ignores whatever babble the great Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky is saying and stomps off towards his house.

In that moment, he looks every bit the untouchable, bitter immortal he's reputed to have been.

After that, Shen Qingqiu grows quieter.

He stops talking to people. He's not cold or rude like in the old days, but he's distant. When he talks to someone, it's like he's looking beyond them, for something else.

And he is.

He's looking for the System.

Because he has no idea what he's supposed to do now. Is he supposed to be with Luo Binghe? After everything that happened, he was sure that was the ending that he earned, like it or not.

And begrudgingly, he did like the ending.

He really did.

He loved it. Loved Luo Binghe.

Is still in love with Luo Binghe.

But what if that's just another delusion on his part? He's been so wrong about everything this entire time and how does he know this isn't just another mistake? Maybe things are trying to self-correct. He knows Luo Binghe isn't going to turn him into a human stick, and maybe that's enough.

He's saved his life. Luo Binghe is still alive. The world is still here.

Isn't that a happy ending?

And so he drifts further away. Thanks to Luo Binghe, Without A Cure is a thing of the past, so physically, he'll survive. He doesn't need to eat, really, either.

He stops making food. Doesn't notice that Luo Binghe tries to now, watches his Shizun with concern, and vows to make him delicious things that will arouse his appetite.

Doesn't notice that Luo Binghe is getting quieter and sadder, too.

He does notice when Luo Binghe talks quietly with Ning Yingying, both of them giving furtive glances at their shizun. They're probably trying to figure out a way to tell him that they want to be together, Shen Qingqiu thinks gloomily. Good for them, he should be thinking, but all he knows is that he doesn't care if it's wrong, he wants to be with Luo Binghe.

And why is it when he realizes this shit, that Luo Binghe is the farthest away he's ever been? Even further than when Shen Qingqiu was dead or when Tianlang-Jun had him hostage or when--

Or when Shen Qingqiu pushed a trusting, loving Luo Binghe into the abyss and fucked it all up.

He really is the worst teacher.

“Shizun?” Luo Binghe says, interrupting his increasingly morose thoughts. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No,” he says. “You've done enough.”

And he pretends he doesn't see the stricken look on Luo Binghe's face.

It still keeps him awake, long enough to see dawn. 

In the morning, he makes sure not to wake his student up. Shen Qingqiu can dress himself, after all, and he manages to do everything quickly and quietly before Luo Binghe's Shizun senses go off. 

“I don't understand, Shizun? Why can't I come with you?” Luo Binghe whines. The pitiful look on his face almost makes Shen Qingqiu reconsider, but he stays firm.

“It's just a day trip,” he says. “I'll be back tonight. There's no need for anyone to accompany this master.” Naturally, Yue Qingyuan would probably have an aneurysm if he knew Shen Qingqiu was going off on his own, but he needs to get away, if only for a day.

It'll be fine. Ning Yingying will take care of Luo Binghe, and no one will even know his shizun left him unattended.

His jailer, Shen Qingqiu thinks. Let's just be honest, here.

Luo Binghe frowns at the look on his shizun's face. “I can help you,” he says stubbornly. “You shouldn't be--”

Shen Qingqiu holds up his hand and Luo Binghe stops. “Enough, Binghe.” He fastens the sword around his waist. “You can't follow me forever.”

He turns around, so Luo Binghe can't see how biting out those words makes him flinch, and so he doesn't see Binghe's own wince, his eyes welling over with tears as Shen Qingqiu's words hit him.

“Just be good and stay out of trouble,” he calls over his shoulder and walks out the door.

The trip to Snow Fox Valley is quick – Xiu Ya is a reliable sword and the creator of the world is atrocious at geography, so Shen Qingqiu is not surprised to see that oh, yeah, freezing cold ice region right past a flowery meadow.

No wonder Mobei-Jun doesn't have issues. The climate here is all fucked up.

He lands, sheathes Xiu Ya and looks around. It's actually quite pretty. Ice crystals hang from the trees, the ground is an unbroken sheet of white, and the frost flowers are delicately beautiful, fragile things that shiver when plucked.

It's peaceful, it's serene, it's boring and quiet.

It's exactly what Shen Qingqiu needs. He wants to clear his head. Everything is getting too claustrophobic on the peak and here, he can think rationally.

Rationally, he should let Luo Binghe do what he wants to do. If he wants to live forever on the peak, never regaining his memory, being a cheerful, oblivious disciple, then Shen Qingqiu should try to work with the masters so they accept him. Maybe he can show that Luo Binghe's abilities can help them out? That not all demons are bad, just as not all humans are good.

It's a painful, but necessary lesson.

And if Luo Binghe wants to pursue his destiny of getting a harem, well, Shen Qingqiu should support that too. The world conquering looks to be out of the question, but Luo Binghe is a very charming, handsome young man who could easily acquire a few wives with no problem and he's sure Mobei -jun would assist him with setting up a nice house in the demon realm.

Whatever Luo Binghe decides, Shen Qingqiu should support it.

But fuck that, the other part of him thinks. Fuck all of that. Luo Binghe is his. He suffered for him, protected him, bled and died for him, and they've earned the right to be together.

Self? What are you saying? That's not--

Shut up, this part of him says. You make bad decisions. Why stop now?

“I don't make bad decisions,” he says, getting up abruptly. He takes a few hard steps forward. “I don't--”

And that's when he hears a crack under his foot.

Oh, right, he thinks. The Devouring Lake of Ice. You totally forgot about that.

The one that shifts around the valley because Airplane Bro didn't want to be bothered with mapping it out and instead came up with this bullshit lake that shifts around and drowns unwary travelers who aren't careful. The protagonist saved the travelling merchant, Guiying, after she fell in and they had to take off all their clothes so she could warm up.

Fuck, Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky was the worst.

But there's not much time to dwell on cliché writing choices because Shen Qingqiu plunges through the ice, the water pulling him down like a whirlpool.

The ice closes above his head and he's in a world of silence and cold.

That's how it kills you. It sucks you in, traps you, and if someone isn't right there, someone stupidly lucky and blessed like the protagonist or one of his harem, you're dead. And even if you survive the loss of air, the intense chill, or the water seeping into your veins, it still drains your energy, reduces you to a living corpse of ice, while the lake expands.

That Airplane-Bro was not writing horror stories was amazing, considering the amount of nightmare fuel that he managed to pack into his insipid novels.

Shen Qingqiu slows down his body functions. His cultivational level will let him stay alive longer than most, but it also means that the energy the lake draws will be enough to increase its size dramatically. More people will die because of him.

If that's not a thought to go out on.

He closes his eyes, lets his lashes frost over.

Everything is darkness.

No one comes.

Eventually, even his mind fades away.



He hears screaming from somewhere above him. There's an intense heat that's breaking through the ice, penetrating into his bones. The sensation is faint at first, but he can feel himself prickling, tingling, as his body warms up .


The voice sounds less desperate, more hopeful.

Shen Qingqiu feels himself try to open his mouth to call out a name. He fails.

And then he's coughing, sputtering up cold water, and there are hands on his back, carefully patting him as he lets himself feel warm again. He doesn't dare open his eyes, as crusted over as they are with the ice, but he knows who supports him.

Luo Binghe could never be mistaken for anyone else.

“Shizun,” Luo Binghe keeps saying, crying it over and over. “Shizun.”

Shen Qingqiu says nothing, lets himself be warmed and held and loved, for however long this lasts. He's too weak to let this go, he realizes. There is no part of him that is capable of it, no matter how much he tries to fool himself.

Luo Binghe's hands are warm on his face. They brush past Shen Qingqiu's eyelids, very gently, and where the fingers trace, he can feel ice fall away. Soon, his whole face is hot.

He opens his eyes, lets everything come into focus. They're no longer in the snow, but in a dark cave, lit by glowing red rocks that cast everything into a murky crimson light. Xiu Ya lies off to one side. He looks at Luo Binghe, finally.

His eyes gaze back, warm and dark and knowing. “Shizun,” he says. “I'm sorry it took so long.”

And the tears that fall down Shen Qingqiu's face, stupid fat ones that roll down against his will, keep coming long after Luo Binghe begins to kiss him, fervent and deep.

It's inevitable, Shen Qingqiu thinks. There's a reason it's a cliché and he's giving into it, but a naked Luo Binghe holding him is too irresistible to pass up. Slightly more shameful is the fact that he is also naked, but someone insisted that Shizun needs to take off his clothes too, he's really cold and wet and he needs to be as close to Luo Binghe as possible.

Oh, how he's missed him.

“How did you get here?” he asks. “You didn't take someone's sword, did you?” The last thing he needs is more reason for Cang Qiong to have a grudge against Luo Binghe.

“Of course not, Shizun,” Luo Binghe says, letting his hands rub up and down against Shen Qingqiu's arms. The goosebumps that arise are only partially out of chills. “I followed you.”

“You—there's no way you could keep up!” Flying sword versus determined disciple with demonic blood should still mean that... well, it is the protagonist. Shen Qingqiu remembers the Mausoleum and sighs. Even without Xin Mo, he's still going to be OP. “I thought I told you to stay behind.”

“Yes,” Luo Binghe agrees. “Shizun should really punish me for that.” He lets his hands wander down to Shen Qingqiu's hips, who slaps them away.

“You don't need to sound that happy saying that,” Shen Qingqiu scolds. “You could be in big trouble if anyone knows you left.”

“They already hate me.” Luo Binghe sounds matter-of-fact. “It's not like I can make it worse.”

“Still,” Shen Qingqiu subsides, letting Luo Binghe go back to nuzzling the top of his head. “If they found out you remember--” A shiver runs through him.

“Shizun?” Luo Binghe hugs him tightly.

“When did you remember?” he asks. “After I left?” If the words that triggered Luo Binghe's awakening were the ones pushing him away, wouldn't it be fitting? That his cruelty is what Luo Binghe would be the one thing will always remember, deep down.

But Luo Binghe is far more perceptive as a would-be demon lord than he was as a young disciple and he takes Shizun's hand gently into his own, letting the slender fingers rest in his larger grasp. He lifts it carefully to his lips, presses a warm kiss to it. “I remembered when I saw Shizun in danger.”

“How could you know?” Shen Qingqiu looks baffled. The way the trap is written, there's no way for a person arriving even minutes later to see where the victim has gone. It would take a person of incredible power and determination and oh, yeah, that's right. It's Luo Binghe. How does he forget this?

“I will always know when Shizun needs me to find him,” Luo Binghe says, nuzzling Shen Qingqiu's ear, and then nipping it gently. “Just as Shizun will always know that I will come for him.”

Stupid, Shen Qingiu thinks. How stupid they are. Luo Binghe, for always following him, wanting to be with him even when he pushes him away and Shen Qingqiu, for doubting it. He lets himself lean back against Luo Binghe fully, lets Binghe bite along his neck, leaving small bruises down it.

There's a giddy sense of relief in him that makes him tease, makes him say, “Come for me, Luo Binghe? But I haven't even came yet.”

He can feel Luo Binghe laugh against his neck, before he pulls his head away. He hugs Shen Qingqiu against him with one arm, reaches off to the side with another one. “Shizun will have to forgive me, but I need him to lift up for a little bit.”

The blush is probably all over his body, judging from Luo Binghe's appreciative reaction, but Shen Qingqiu gets up, so Luo Binghe can take an ointment – judging from the smell, one of the better healing ones--

“Did you steal that from Mu Qingfang?” Shen Qingqiu demands.

Luo Binghe looks shifty even as he applies it to his impressive cock. “Shizun has been out of sorts for a while. I didn't know if I might need it.”

Even without his memory, Luo Binghe is still a fucking mother hen. “He's going to kill you, you know.”

Luo Binghe just puts the ointment down and opens his arms out. Shen Qingqiu settles himself back down again in Luo Binghe's lap. “It's all right,” he says, and his hand runs along Shen Qingiu's chest. “Shizun will always come first for me.”

Shen Qingqiu tries not to flinch at first. The last time they did this, well... Liu Qingge's grudge against Luo Binghe rose exponentially after the aftermath of it. He knows Luo Binghe is nervous as well, if the slight trembling of his hands is any indication.

“It's all right,” he says, adjusts until Luo Binghe's cock is at his entrance. “I trust you.”

“Shizun.” Luo Binghe lets out one broken sob, puts his hands at either side of Shen Qingqiu, and pushes himself forward.

Fuck. Okay, it's still a little painful and shit, it's a good thing they waited until Shen Qingqiu had healed up to try this again, but at least, now he's prepared. He takes a deep, ragged breath, lets himself get used to the feeling of Luo Binghe at least a little inside him.

Luo Binghe's left hand goes to Shen Qingqiu's cock, takes it in his grip and begins caressing it, letting his fingers find sensitive areas. As befitting the master of a harem, he's naturally talented at it and really, it takes an embarrassingly short of time before he's panting and aroused.

\Luo Binghe presses more in, his length filling him. It's enough to take his breath away, and Shen Qingqiu shakes as everything is almost too much. “Binghe,” he gasps.

The hand around his cock pauses, holding it in its grasp. “If it hurts, Shizun, I can stop,” Luo Binghe says, his voice anxious.

First off, he's a fucking liar because his cock is telling a different story and secondly, did you really think I'd stop right now once I got you back. No, we're doing this and we're doing this right. “Don't you dare,” Shen Qingqiu says. “I love you but I will kill you if you stop.”

“You love me?” The voice is uncertain. “Shizun?”

Shit, he thinks. This is the worst way to tell someone, he thinks, and Luo Binghe deserves to hear it when they're not both on the verge of coming. But it's true. It's been true for longer than he wanted to admit it and it took almost losing Luo Binghe at the end to finally give him the kick in the ass he needed to firmly say it. “I love you,” Shen Qingqiu says, and he doesn't waver.

Luo Binghe is crying again. “I love you so much, Shizun,” he says, and then his hand is rubbing Shen Qingqiu's cock. He arches back, feeling the scar he left so long ago on Luo Binghe against him, but it no longer means what it used to. To Shen Qingqiu, it was a symbol of his guilt, of his overwhelming drive for survival in this world that led him to almost make the worst mistakes of his life.

But to Luo Binghe, it's now a promise that Shizun made, to be with him and to accept him. He fills Shen Qingqiu completely and he accepts it, lets the pain and pleasure wash over him and cries as Luo Binghe cries, comes as Luo Binghe comes, and rests in his arms, takes Luo Binghe's love and returns it as best as he can.

Tomorrow is not going to be pleasant, Shen Qingqiu knows. Shang Qinghua is going to find this horrifically inspirational, now that he has actual competition for ruining Shen Qingqiu's reputation and an audience willing to lap up his horrible romances. And he'll have to read it because how could he not? Someone has to keep Airplane-Bro in check. 

More importantly, Cang Qiong is probably going to revolt over this and as much as they could warily deal with an adorable, harmless white lotus disciple, the possessive, hot demon lord that replaced him would be too much for most of them to bear. Yue Qingyuan may do everything in his power to protect Shen Qingqiu, but it's not fair to keep relying on him forever when the one he's waiting for will never come back.

Someday, Shen Qingqiu may have to leave for good.

This time, though, he won't be alone.

It's a sunny day, birds are chirping and Luo Binghe is blissfully holding Shen Qingqiu as they ride Xiu Ya back to Cang Qiong. 

"We do need to find you a new sword," Shen Qingqiu says. 

"It's all right, shizun. I don't mind sharing." Luo Binghe kisses the back of his neck and no, not on a flying sword that we are trying to control! At least wait until we're not in public, you shameless, sticky disciple!

Shen Qingqiu does relent, however, and let Luo Binghe nuzzle his hair, because yes, he missed that too. They can take it slow on the way back. It'll give him some time to come up with a good lies to explain his absence.

Well, you see, the Great Snow Leopard that only comes out once in a hundred years came out and there was no time to find anyone else from one of the sects so my disciple and I had to go there and--

There were some traders in danger passing through and we couldn't just leave them undefended. How did I know there were there? Oh, I'm sorry, I think Ming Fan needs my help.

The truth? I needed to get away from all of you because I was drowning in self-loathing and doubt and then I almost drowned for real which is like one of those shitty “metaphor made real” situations that would arise in Airplane-Bro's books, but luckily, that demon you guys are terrified of regained his memory and saved me! Isn't that great!

“Shizun?” Luo Binghe is gripping Shen Qingqiu tighter, and as delightful and arousing as that is for the two of them, his voice does not reflect that.

Shen Qingqiu peers down.

They can make out Liu Qingge staring suspiciously back up at him. He's got his sword in hand and Shen Qingqiu is positive that even at this distance, he can make out a glare. Off in the distance, vague cries of "Shizun?" echo Luo Binghe's own. 

Shen Qingqiu sighs.

“Maybe we better go on vacation for a while.”