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Under Custody of the Swan

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[Gege]

[Gege]

[Gege]

Shen Qingqiu considered renaming his Didi system to Muquin just because the thing nagged him instantly. Only in dramas had he ever seen omega hens annoying another character to such an extent. It was similar to having a slightly incompetent personal assistant with him 24/7. Not inherently bad, since he always had someone to talk with and his ultimate goal was to sway the system into fully comprehending and appreciating all the amazing and adorable qualities of Luo Binghe, but the down side came with unrelenting anxiety. A time clock that spoke. Strange because he’d been led to believe technology and AI systems couldn't develop anxiety or fear but his did!

[Gege T^T]

He ignored Didi for now. As he did most things. A professional ignorer.

Living his best life with zero thoughts.

Everything was fine.

Steadily losing and gaining points at such a rapid rate, he also didn’t spend any time -except at night when he lay awake staring at the ceiling cursing himself- considering the consequences. 

Yep, everything was just peachy.

Time passed as it did. Hours, days, weeks and suddenly when he sat back and thought about it months had gone by. One of the major factors for his loss of time was his ‘new’ peak duties and the slow acclimation to a foreign world. Constantly surrounded by babies everywhere made it better. And worse.

Children were everywhere and they wanted his attention. He couldn’t take a single step without some bright eyed and chipper greeting from a fresh faced baby. He couldn’t help patting their heads, cooing at their projects or gifts. His new -personally assigned- personal assistant, Luo Binghe, was always at his heels. The worst of the offenders, and the most touch-starved of them all.

It was lovely.

And overwhelming.

“Shizun, look at this rock I found,” a young boy with a shy grin held out a beautiful blue rock.

[+6 pts for background building]

“Yes, please put it in the rock garden.” He instructed the boy. The area next to his new (yeah!) pond had developed into a rock garden due to the amount of rocks the disciples would give him. Shiny was his favorite.

[-5 pts OOC]

“Shizun, do you like this wind chime?” An older boy held up an intricate woven chime with small brass bells at the bottom. 

[+7pts for Peak skill increase]

“Yes, thank you, hang it with the others.” 

[-8pts OOC]

The bamboo forest teamed with colorful chimes, charms and ribbons the disciples made him. A few crafty ones had even carved out bird houses that only increased the noise by his pond. Crafting had exploded as a hobby, and color bloomed over the peak like a flower popping out of the snow. Disciples wore handmade items, passed them to their martial siblings, teachers, him, and even decorated their areas.

The peak might not have a scent, which still irked him, but it had a feel, a sense about it, that this was his territory, lovingly reinforced by his children. The more they made, the larger his heart felt and the deeper his sense of responsibility grew.

“Shizun, I made you a rock statue.” 

Oh how lovely, another. 

[+ 4 pts for Side character growth]

“Shizun, do you like my calligraphy?”

[+2pts for Peak skill increase]

“Shizun, I made another disciple of Bai Zhan cry. Can I have some candy?” Yingying chirped with a wide smile, her hands open wide for treats he kept tucked in his pockets. “I didn’t even use my sword, just my words.

[+ 1 pts for Ning Yingying satisfaction]

“I’ll win next time.” Luo Binghe huffed and crossed his arms over his chest, she stuck her tongue out at him. Rude protagonist, that's not how you treat your future first wife. 

“Sure, sure,” the girl dismissed him with a wave. Took her treat, hugged him, and scampered off.

Debates had become a hot-topic on the peak and some of the other peak lords had even sent him scathing letters that his disciples were bullying there's. Which was not true and sort of hilarious. He’d have to make next week's topic- during debate class- be bullying which all his disciples knew he no longer tolerated. 

The upside of debate was that disciples devoured study material and swarmed the library. The more they knew the better they performed in debate. Plus he’d always thought that the mob characters in PIDW had an IQ of zero, it was truly the best for everyone. It warmed his heart to see them breaking into groups and practicing.

“Shizun, take my flower arrangement.”

“Shizun, A-Zhou won’t accept my duel challenge.”

“Shizun.”

“Shizun.”

Head pat.

[-5pts OOC]

Praise.

[-10pts OOC]

The points flew over his head and he ignored them. However, it was Luo Binghe who continued to save him as any good protagonist did. He got the most points being with the protagonist and doting on him, feeding him, giving him new clothes, yarn, beads, even his own ribbons.

[GEGE! ヽ(TдT)ノ STOP!]

Another head pat. Just to defy.

Shen Qingqui, just to be a petty bitch, considered leaning down and kissing Binghe the next time the little bunny did something that made his heart clench, like making his favorite foods or sweets, wondering if he could give his system a heart attack. 

He didn’t but he thought about it. His brother, from the other world, would have called that ‘character growth’ in a mocking tone. Plus five points to him.

 

***

 

“This disciples has found that assigned homework has cut down on time that could be better spent in a more productive manner to further my cultivation instead of wasted on assignments which do not promote my own growth and learning,” Su Xioadan argued passionately.

Her tirade cut short by the doors to the dining hall being opened and  a booming male voice calling out.

“Shen-Shidi?” The sad widower Yue Qingyuan interrupted debate class.

The two disciples who stood in front of him on either side had been fervently debating whether homework should be assigned after a lesson or if it does promote learning? He suspected they were especially feral over this week's topic in hopes he, as the peak lord, would ban homework. The fourth pair that night and the last session had gotten - as it did- heated. 

Luckily this week hadn’t resulted in a fist fight. The night was young and his disciples full of energy.

A groan passed through the audience in the large dining hall, watching in rapt attention at the debate. He waved a hand and dismissed the topic. Better not keep the sad-eyed Sect Leader waiting.

“Next week will be the ethical dilemma of killing demons.”

A murmur broke through the disciples. Even a few of the teachers, watching in the back, were stunned at the announced topic.

“Shizun,” his own senior head disciple, raised a lazy hand. “What does that even mean? Demons are evil. We kill them.” Nods followed his statement.

Shen Qingqui languidly swept his sharp eyes across the room, lightly fanning himself as if he had all the time in the world. His gaze ended on Binghe, the trembling sheep that perked up at his attention. “Humans are also evil, they have done some horrific things too. Should we kill every human for what a few have done? What's to say there are no good demons? However, that's everyone's homework this week.”

If more disciples were accepting, maybe Binghe might not have become so cruel and vindictive? His favorite character was a demon. His bias showed. 

A groan swirled through the hall like a breeze and he nodded, hiding a smile. Dinner was served, a tad late, and he walked out to meet the Sect Leader, not wanting too at all. Binghe trailed behind him, wringing his hands.

“I will meet you at the house, don’t wait for me.” He instructed the boy with a head pat. These few months he’d fattened the boy up under the ingenious plot of making him eat at his table. 

“Yes, Shizun.” Binghe bit his lips, hesitated, glanced at the Sect Leader then reluctantly left at a run.

Finally giving the sad man his reluctant attention, Shen Qingqiu waves his hand and they slowly walked towards his house. Behind the two the dining hall erupted with noise, plates clinking, voices yelling and laughing, mouths chewing as they talked.

“What class was that?” Qingyuan began the conversation.

Averting his eyes from the man, knowing he shouldn’t lie, Qingqiu answered. “This master noticed a lack of common sense on his peak and thus sought to rectify the issue with an extra class one a week before dinner. This master calls it ‘debate class’ since the disciples are required to argue their side of a topic for five minutes, following a review from me and their peers.”

“A sound idea,” Qingyuan answered after a long pause that made Qingqui sweat. “Fitting for the peak founded on the arts and intelligence.”

Was that a compliment? Why? Feeling like his feathers had gotten ruffled and desperately needing this unknown man off his territory, Shen Qingqui got to the point, “what is so important that the Sect Leader himself would come to see me?”

“There is talk of a demon attack in the village below, and Shidi before your fever asked to be given leave off the mountain to take some disciples.” The Sect Leader stepped close enough, their elbows brushed lightly and Shen Yuan became reminded he took the body of the person Qingyuan cared for most in the world.

Despite the man’s giant size, which would have made him an omega, his passive and appeasing nature fit more with a beta. Neither of which Shen Yuan had ever been attracted to. He wasn’t gay, he preferred Alphas who were shorter than either betas or omegas, with leaner bodies and prettier faces. A provider and fighter to support the more aggressive and intense tendencies of being an omega . There wasn’t anythign wrong with being gay, he’d know a few, he just wasn’t. As an omega who’d desperately wanted children, he wanted an Alpha, found them more aesthetically pleasing too. Even in this new world, without the second genders, he couldn’t ever see himself being with Qingyuan. It would be a conflict of interest or like banging the principle.

 “Is this Shidi’s request going to be denied,” Shen Yuan said in a more demure voice, hating how he was playing the sad man but wanting to get off the peak if only for a little while. 

“Yes,” Qingyuan said. He reached into his robes and pulled out two brown tassels, one he recognized as the one he’d recently made and a frayed and lopsided one that he did not.

Oh, shit. Had the original goods made him one too? What were the blizzard odds they looked the exact same?

“Do you remember,” the Sect Leader held them both up.

[+10 pts for expanding backstory]

“No, who gave that to you?” he said in a light tone, still gently, expecting the wince and hating how he hurt the taller man but refusing to be a character he wasn’t.

[-15 pts for Yue Qingyuan heartbreak]

That was a thing?

Now he definitely could never push Binghe into the Abyss.

The Sect Leader tucked both tassels back into his robes, the sad look in his eyes increasing until he could have been a basset hound. They finished the walk to his house in silence. 



***



He chose twenty small duckies. As written in PIDW, the first mission Luo Binghe had gone on was a small journey to the nearby village to hunt a skin-stealing demon. Qingqiu vibrated under his skin. Finally a chance to escape and see the world. 

“Shizun my saddle is broken can I-”

“I fixed it,” Ming Fan elbowed his martial brother in the side. 

Binghe frowned deeply at the older boy as if he’d been mortally wounded and Shen Qingqiu raised his fan to hide a smile. Debate club had done wonders for the comradery on the peak. Children could fight -in a civil manner- with not only their swords but their minds. Hopefully some of Binghe’s and (surprisingly) Yingying’s freighting intelligence would rub off on Ming Fan. 

“Shizun,” Yingying ran up to the group, late. “I found (read: hunted them down like a shark sensing blood) and made a Bai Zhan disciple cry when I quoted him the seven virtues and questioned his motives for constantly fighting and not taking lessons. Can I have a piece of candy?” 

She held out her hand and Shen Qingqiu, without a thought, deposited a single piece from the pouch he kept tucked in his sleeve. Was he training the disciples or were they training him for sweets and head pats?

[+ 1 pts for Ning Yingying satisfaction ]

Yinying had become the fiercest in her age-group, even going so far as to search for others to debate with. He’d heard one student whisper to another that the debates were ‘tongue wars,’ and he’d almost choked on air, cheeks flushing at the unknown innuendo. The change in Ning Yingying’s demure and  passive attitude from the books to this now demanding and slightly feral alpha was a welcome change which did fit with Binghe’s 180 from Alpha of all Alphas to the slightly overbearing mother hen omega that walked in his shadow. 

They still had a chance.

Said feral cute girl grinned and the others around glared or looked sad at the exchange. Worried a fight would break out or Luo Binghe would find another way to sabotage his horse to ride with him, he loudly declared it was time to leave. The small group all got mounted and the small procession headed down the mountain.

Finally, more of the world to see.

[Starting First Mission: Failure to stop the demon will result in a deduction of 200B points]

Oh he definitely had less than that. 

Didi how many do I have?

[92  %!$@%#%@#!%#$!@]

Ohhhh, well, that wasn’t good.

[GEGE, it's more than not good]

“Shizun,” Binghe called in a sweet chirpy voice. “ I made snacks, would you like some?” The perfect little omega.

“Snacks?” Ning Yingying jumped on her far too patient mount.

“Snacks?” others perked up with hopeful expressions.

Yep, pavloved.

“No, they’re for Shizun,” Binghe defended the pack in front of him like a hen roosts on eggs.

Making his lips curve up into a smile, sweat dripping down his back, lightly fanning himself when he really wanted to run back to his bamboo house screaming -his new pond was lovely to be around- Shen Qingqiu was the picture of serenity.

“Binghe you should share with your martial siblings, it’s important.”

“Yes Shizun,” Binghe reluctantly allowed the others to reach into the box and take treats until there was only one left for him which he took, leaning out the carriage window and shoved in Binghe’s open mouth. The adorable boys' cheeks puffed like a little bunny’s, his nose even twitching as it scrunched up.

[-25 pts for OOC behavior]

[FUCK] his system cursed for the first time. 

He congratulated his Didi on actually cursing and received even more in response. Too bad his system couldn't have sweets, it deserved some.

Despite the sudden profanity, and the lack of points, the death sentence constantly handing over him, and the noose around his throat, Shen Qingqiu lightly stroked Binghe’s hair. The poor protagonist flushed from the hot sun and the heat.

“Binghe deserves sweets too.”

[-10 pts for OOC behavior]

“Yes Shizun.”

[+20 protagonist satisfaction points]