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You Wouldn't Sleep Without a Bath First

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Shen Qingqiu sits on the cushion quietly, barely listening to the discussion of his martial siblings around him. He doesn't care what they have to say anymore, he just wants a bath and then go to bed. The day has completely tired him out. Firstly from preparing for the inter-sect meeting this past week, and then the subsequent failure of it today that resulted in a near bloodbath. Shen Qingqiu has had to hold up spiritual shields all day to keep cultivators of various sects from killing each other. All of Cang Qiong ended up becoming the mediators, slowly succeeding in sending everyone home whilst Liu Qingge tired out the most violent ones through battle, and Shen Qingqiu restrained the remainder. By the end of it he'd completely emptied his qi reserves, quite a feat with how large his reserves are. Pure irritation for these irresponsible cultivators had kept him going for a while, but by the end of it he was running on completely empty.


Arriving in one of the meeting rooms on Qiong Ding peak, Shen Qingqiu took a seat as soon as he could whilst discussions on the incident took place. Thankfully no one of their own sect was injured, besides a few scratches and the minor wounds his Liu-shidi received. After that news was confirmed, Shen Qingqiu had no energy left to listen further. He can tell he's starting to hunch over, perhaps even swaying a bit, but for once he doesn't even care about his image. His eyes are lidded, nearly closed.
Just before he falls asleep, he manages to shake himself awake again. It wouldn't be good to fall asleep here. And he still needs a bath. He attempts to tune back into the conversation, but all he can make out are snippets about the damage that's been done to Cang Qiong mountain and their sect relations. He ends up chanting a mantra of 'don't fall asleep' as he waits for the meeting to finally be over.


He gets interrupted by the sudden appearance of a hand waving in his face, causing him to flinch back.
"Shen-Shixiong? Are you back with us?"


"Huh?" Is his eloquent reply. He finally registers that it's Mu Qingfang sitting in front of him, who now takes his wrist to feel for his meridians. His eyes seem to widen with what he finds.

"I'm so sorry for not checking on you sooner, Shixiong. I should have been more diligent," He can feel the stream of qi the healer sends through him, and it feels so relieving he nearly drops asleep right then.


"Mu-shidi, what's wrong with him?" He hears someone ask, but it feels far away.


"It's quite a severe case of qi exhaustion. I should have considered the possibility of it earlier - those shields take a lot out of people, even those with large qi reserves like Shen-Shixiong. I'll replenish as much as I can, but the best thing is for him to get lots of rest."


"Bed...yes."


"Don't worry Shixiong, we'll get you to a bed soon. Just give me a little longer."


By the time Mu Qingfang was happy with the amount of qi, Shen Qingqiu was nearly asleep again. Carefully, he was helped up from his cushion and lifted onto the sect leaders back. After a bit of adjustment, Yue Qingyuan flew him to his bamboo cottage by sword, still accompanied by Mu Qingfang as assurance.


Arriving at the cottage, Shen Qingqiu insisted on walking inside instead of being carried. He started regretting it a little when his legs were shaking like a newborn lamb's. Instead of walking to his bed and immediately collapsing, something he really wanted to do, he made his way over to the bathing room.


"Qingqiu-shidi? Where are you going?" The sect leader asked.


"Bath."

"Wouldn't you rather go to sleep?"


"I feel filthy. Bath first." Shen Qingqiu knew he wouldn't be getting any restful sleep if he went to bed sweaty and dirty like he was.


Unfortunately, a wave of dizziness had him nearly collapsing to the ground, had it not been for his Shixiongs quick reaction.


"I don't think it's good idea for you to take a bath now, Qingqiu-shidi. You could drown if you fell asleep."


"Don't care." Shen Qingqiu struggled out of his grip and continued to the baths.


His disciples knew him well, and had already prepared a tub filled with water knowing he was likely to want a bath after this ordeal. Ignoring his two martial brothers quietly discussing nearby, he started stripping. Layer after layer of robes fell to the ground, too tired to bother folding them properly. When he was naked, he stepped up to the bath and started reaching for the heating talisman. His wrist was grasped tightly, keeping him from activating it.


"Has Shixiong forgotten? You have qi exhaustion, trying to use more will make it worse for you. Let me heat it for you instead." As Mu Qingfang spoke, Shen Qingqiu realized he was naked as well. And when the water was heated and he started stepping into the tub, his Shidi joined him.


Once they were somewhat settled in the water, he asked, "...why?"


"To help you get clean quicker, and make sure you don't fall asleep and drown." An acceptable answer, Shen Qingqiu 's brain provided. He faintly noticed Yue Qingyuan folding his dropped robes. Deciding he didn't care, Shen Qingqiu closed his eyes and relaxed into the water. Before he dropped too far, Mu Qingfang grasped his shoulders and manoeuvred behind him do he could lean his back against Qingfang 's chest. Gentle hands started scrubbing at his arms, slowly cleaning the dirt away.


When Yue Qingyuan came closer, he and Mu Qingfang worked together in washing his hair, dipping a bowl into the water to wash the soap out of his hair with. He was barely awake by the end of it, completely pliant in his Shidi 's arms.


They let him soak in the tub for a little longer than necessary, absorbing the warmth of the water with his head resting on Mu Qingfang 's shoulder. As he dozed he heard his martial brothers quietly discussing, and the soft deep rumbles of his Shidi 's chest behind him nearly lulled him to sleep. When they shook him awake to help him move out of the tub, he couldn't help the whine that escaped him as he tried to huddle closer to Mu Qingfang. At their urging, he managed to gather enough courage to stand up and be helped out of the water, quickly being dried and covered with a warm clean sleeping robe. They shuffled him to his bed and practically tucked him into the covers. Huddling into blankets and shoving his face into the soft pillow he always used, he fell asleep.



He twitched awake an undetermined amount of time later, his sleep disturbed by something he wasn't aware of. Opening his eyes a slit, he saw it was still dark in his room, and noticed a figure meditating peacefully by his bed. Comforted, he went back to sleep.



Later in the night he woke again, but this time he immediately felt why. Nausea had him throwing the blankets off himself, struggling to get out of bed in time. Someone grabbed his shoulders carefully and leaned him down until he noticed the bowl conveniently placed in his lap.
"It's alright, Shen-Shixiong, nausea is expected. It'll pass." Mu Qingfang rubbed his back as he lost the little food left in his stomach. The bile burned his throat, causing him to cough until he was handed a cup of water to wash it down with. The bowl was removed and he was helped to lay down again, blankets tucked back over him.
"You've developed a slight fever, but it's nothing unexpected for qi exhaustion. Sleep a while longer and you should start feeling better."
He hummed a small reply and closed his eyes again. Mu Qingfang wiped the hair out of his face and softly petted his head a moment longer until he fell asleep.



When he woke properly in the morning he did feel a bit better. Nausea no longer bit at his stomach, and the pain in his head had faded slightly. He only still felt just as exhausted. He shifted into a seated position, which alerted Yue Qingyuan who was now sitting by the bed.
"Good morning Qingqiu-shidi." He said.
"Morning."
"Mu-shidi recommended you still sleep lots today, but you should also eat. I'll have a quick breakfast prepared for you, so stay awake a bit longer if you can."
Honestly it was a lot to ask of him, but Shen Qingqiu nodded his consent and kept himself awake for a while longer, until a small and simple breakfast was handed to him. He didn't have much appetite, but he picked through the food and ate what he could. He'd eaten nearly half by the time he pushed the food away.
"Good. I'll let you rest further now, Qingqiu-shidi. I'll be here if you need anything." With hooded eyes Shen Qingqiu watched his Shixiong return to the small table placed near his bed, sitting on the cushion and starting in on paperwork. It was boring to watch so Shen Qingqiu went back to sleep.