Ugh. He’d honestly preferred Madam Meiyin. At least there was entertainment value in watching an increasingly frustrated succubus fawn hopelessly over his totally indifferent shidi (and later, his even more totally indifferent husband). And getting his fortune read had been kind of fun. It made a good story. But this was just…
The beautiful succubus trailed her fingers down his arm with a longing sigh. “But Peak Lord Shen just doesn’t understand how lonely this humble one can be, now that all of my sisters have gone our separate ways. If I were to leave this town, I’d be all alone...”
Gone their separate ways? That was certainly an interesting way of saying now that Liu Qingge has completely destroyed our cave and killed most of my associates. Still, right now he had more pressing concerns. Like how they only had, at most, five minutes before Luo Binghe got back to the inn, realised he was missing, and came crashing through the door to utterly destroy this voluptuous young demoness for daring to put her hands on him.
He sighed. She really had no idea that she was already marked for death, did she?
To say nothing of the fact that it was going to take all night (possibly even several days) to finish reassuring his dear Vinegar Lord that he wasn’t going to up and leave him for a pretty succubus. He’d much rather get this whole mess sorted out quickly. Before Luo Binghe had a chance to burst in and witness his beloved Shizun tied to a chair in only his sleepwear. (The ideas he would get…)
Although he hadn’t had his sword when he’d been taken off-guard, Shen Qingqiu still had all of his brains, and this lady clearly had none. She hadn’t even done a particularly good job restraining him, probably assuming that since she’d managed to temporarily seal his spiritual powers, he’d be completely helpless. Carefully, he twisted his wrists, beginning to slip them out of their restraints while giving her a strained but patient smile. “Perhaps Miss doesn’t understand the severity of her situation,” he said placatingly. “This teacher is concerned for your wellbeing, and I’m only giving you a friendly bit of advice. If you’d like to end today with your life still intact, you’ll let me go and make a run for it now.”
The succubus let out a rumbling purr, sitting herself down in Shen Qingqiu’s lap and taking his face between her hands. “Ah, you’re talking about your companion? But this room is protected by a warding array. How will he know where to look for you?”
A warding array? Really? What good was that going to be against Heavenly Demon Blood? Even if Luo Binghe couldn’t find out his exact location at literally any time, there was no way that the protagonist wouldn’t be able to see past something as basic as a warding array. As far as he could tell, she’d literally just taken him to another room in the inn! Why did all these antagonists continue to have such low IQs even after the story was finished?
“Miss continues to misunderstand,” he said, managing to get his fingers around the knot and slowly working it looser. “If you do anything at all to me, there’s no place in any of the realms that you’ll be safe from him.”
It felt a bit ridiculous, playing the “my husband is going to beat you up for me” card, especially with such a weak demon. But Shen Qingqiu had already moved on from dignity to damage control. His number one priority was getting out of this situation before it assaulted Binghe’s eyes, and since she already thought she’d overpowered him, she’d probably take Binghe’s threat more seriously.
No such luck, though. She caressed his cheek tenderly, and reacted like she hadn’t even heard him. “But Peak Lord Shen is just so pretty. I don’t want to hurt you. I only want to have some fun. It’s the least you can do after what you did to my home.”
What the hell? Wasn’t it Liu Qingge who had destroyed her home? Why drag Shen Qingqiu into this?!
Whatever, there was no time to dwell on that. The way she was sitting practically forced her breasts right into his face, and Shen Qingqiu turned his head away with a face full of lines. Seriously? In all the years he had spent proudly telling everyone he was 100% straight, he couldn’t get a single girl to want him, but now that he was very openly married to a man, this kind of thing happened?
The succubus turned his cheek back to make him face her, and Shen Qingqiu did so dourly, realising in the same moment that he’d successfully worked his hands free.
Oh, well. He’d tried negotiating.
Shen Qingqiu suddenly brought his hands forward and shoved her off of him. Although succubi’s aphrodisiacs could be very potent, they were not particularly powerful demons, and physically were not much stronger than regular humans. Even with his spiritual energy blocked, Shen Qingqiu was able to easily take advantage of her surprise and push her away. She fell to the floor, face suddenly contorted with rage.
Of course, he was still tied to the chair, but at least he had his hands free. Shen Qingqiu grabbed his fan from within his sleeve at the same time the door burst open to reveal Luo Binghe, Zheng Yang clutched in his hand.
If looks could kill, this town’s entire population would be dead right now. His eyes were bloodshot with fury as he lunged toward the succubus.
Seeing him, her demonic face lost all pretense of civility. With a snarl, she threw out a hand toward each of them, and a fine pink powder sprayed forth in either direction.
Luo Binghe was immune to succubus poison thanks to his Heavenly Demon Blood, but Shen Qingqiu had no such luxury. He quickly opened up his fan to cover his face, but the sickly sweet scent still permeated the air, and he wanted to groan as he breathed it in. They’d only had sex just last night…
From the other side of his fan, he heard a stabbing sound, and Shen Qingqiu grimaced. Nobody could accuse him of not telling her!
It was all over in a matter of moments. He felt a familiar hand on his wrist as Luo Binghe pulled his hand down to view his face. His poor husband’s eyes were as wide and as round as saucers as he crouched before him. “Shizun, did this succubus hurt you?” he asked, looking over him in worry. “I came as soon as I realised. If she did anything…”
If she did anything then what? You’ve already killed her! Shen Qingqiu was about to pat his head and reassure him, but he suddenly became aware of a certain part of his body reacting very, very positively to their present situation. He inhaled sharply, face turning red. Succubus poison or otherwise, if Luo Binghe realised he’d gotten a hard on while tied to a chair with him leaning over him, he would never, ever, ever hear the end of it.
God, had Binghe always looked so enticing…?
Luo Binghe took his shocked gasp as a sign that something was wrong. Tears brimming in his eyes, he reached for Shen Qingqiu’s face, petting it uncertainly. “Shizun, I’m so sorry, I was only going out to buy ingredients for breakfast, and she...she…”
Shen Qingqiu snapped his fan shut and promptly bonked him on the head with it. “Calm down, she didn’t do anything,” he said in a mollifying tone. “Just hurry up and untie me.”
Luo Binghe hurried to do as he was told, reaching for the closest knot above Shen Qingqiu’s lap.
He was so distracted with the task at hand, determined to make up for his earlier blunder in allowing his Shizun to be captured, that for once his mind did not contain a single impure thought. So Shen Qingqiu might have gotten away with it if he’d stayed quiet, but unfortunately, he was unprepared for just how sensitive he was in...that region. When he suddenly felt Luo Binghe’s fingers brush against him, even through the fabric, he let out an audible gasp.
Luo Binghe froze, looking up with a start. He’d been worried he’d hurt him, but was unprepared when he registered the face flushed red with arousal. Shen Qingqiu shut his mouth, embarrassed, but it was too late. Binghe was smart. Putting the pieces together, his eyes dropped down again, hand automatically going to cover the notable bulge in Shen Qingqiu’s clothing. “Shizun, you…”
Shen Qingqiu’s soul could have departed his body right there. “Have you never met a succubus before?” he demanded, trying to preserve what little dignity he had left as if his whole body wasn’t on the verge of trembling under his touch. God, he was certain it had never felt this good before. “Don’t think so highly of yourself. Just untie me.”
At this last part, Luo Binghe’s face curled into a smug sort of grin. He did not, as it happened, untie him. “If this disciple remembers Shizun’s teachings correctly, the best cure for a succubus poison is…”
His hands wandered meaningfully up and down the length of his thighs.
Shen Qingqiu’s eyes twitched. “You always were a...very astute pupil,” he admitted, slowly.
Leaning in closer, Luo Binghe took Shen Qingqiu’s chin in his hand, tilting his head up to look at him. “It would be very bad form if this disciple failed to do everything possible to assist his Shizun at such a time,” he continued, their faces close enough that Shen Qingqiu could feel his breath against his skin.
Giving him a weary sort of smile, Shen Qingqiu replied, “Yes, I suppose it would.”
Looking absolutely delighted, Luo Binghe closed the space between their lips, his other hand still wandering shamelessly across Shen Qingqiu’s lap. Even the barest touches were enough to send shivers of pleasure rippling up his spine, but he forced himself to break the kiss, moving his mouth closer to Binghe’s ear while his dear disciple took the opportunity to start mouthing at his neck. “Binghe?” he said breathily.
Luo Binghe’s voice was heady with excitement. “Yes, Shizun?”
“If you try and do me in front of a dead succubus, I’ll never speak to you again. Untie me.”
Snickering, Luo Binghe obeyed.
Shen Qingqiu stared up at the ceiling of the inn as he lay, catching his breath, on the bed. He was going to be feeling it for the rest of the week, but at least the effects of the aphrodisiac had passed. He could already feel his head clearing, and he let out a relieved sigh, eyes drifting closed.
Luo Binghe, for his part, looked exceptionally pleased with himself, like the cat who ate the canary. How fickle was this disciple of his that he could forget his rage at the succubus so quickly once he realised that her parting gift had afforded him an easy lay? Truly, what an absolute beast he was.
...It had been quite some time since Shen Qingqiu had opted for sex two days in a row. Let alone during the day; it had barely been twelve hours since they went to bed! He’d been so needy...he couldn’t even think about it without flushing in shame.
Thankfully, Luo Binghe was shameless enough for both of them. Rolling back over so that he was half-draped over Shen Qingqiu’s body, he gave him a little kiss and said, “Shizun, if you’re alright now, how about I go and fix up some breakfast for us? I was just going to make congee, but I think I’ll do something extra for you.”
Opening one eye to regard him with a withering look, Shen Qingqiu nodded, not quite ready to speak. Never one to be discouraged, Luo Binghe brushed some stray hairs out of Shen Qingqiu’s face and kissed him again, this time a little deeper. “Then, you stay here,” he murmured, running his thumb over Shen Qingqiu’s lips and stealing one final peck before rolling off the bed.
Stay here? What, did Binghe think he would still be capable of doing anything else after being fucked so hard twice within one day? Bastard…
Still, he could not deny that there was something terribly endearing about the way Luo Binghe hummed happily to himself while he pulled on his clothes. Shen Qingqiu watched him with one eye, a fond smile forming on his lips when he was sure Binghe wasn’t looking. His husband was practically glowing with contentment. Shen Qingqiu couldn’t even be mad that the tune he was humming was very obviously Resentment of Chunshan.
Once Luo Binghe had ducked out to borrow the inn’s kitchen, Shen Qingqiu threw his elbow over his eyes, groaning softly.
All he wanted was to go back to sleep, but he should probably at least get dressed. With a wince, he rolled upright and gave a long stretch, hearing his joints pop.
...It really wasn’t so bad. It ached, but it was a kind of satisfying ache, like the sort that followed a long workout. (Not that he did many workouts other than the kind that happened every two or three days). He pulled on his clothes from yesterday, figuring he’d wait until he’d bathed before putting on something fresh. And then he paused in front of the mirror, eyeing off the large purple hickey that Binghe had just left on his neck.
Give that man an inch and he’d take a mile. With a sigh, Shen Qingqiu adjusted his collar so that it was mostly covered before going back to lounge on the bed while he waited for his breakfast. Lying on his back again, he fanned himself for a few minutes, musing over the morning’s events. Luo Binghe had all but carried him back to their room in his haste. For all Shen Qingqiu complained, though, he’d actually been very attentive. It was...nice.
His free hand wandered absentmindedly downward while he reflected, still smiling to himself. It wasn’t until he had started palming himself through his clothes that he realised he was hard again.
He dropped the fan in alarm, sitting bolt upright. What the fuck? Already?
It was only that he’d been thinking about having sex just now, which he normally avoided doing when they weren’t actually having sex. His body had a high level of cultivation and so still held its youthful vigour. Of course it would respond accordingly. It didn’t mean anything. Unfortunately, it was right at that moment that Luo Binghe had to return with their breakfast. Shen Qingqiu frantically grabbed a pillow and used it to cover his lap.
The tray contained two bowls of their usual delicious-smelling congee, as well as a nice basket of fried dough sticks and even what looked like a bowl of Shen Qingqiu’s favourite tofu pudding. His mouth watered, but in truth, he was paying far more attention to the person carrying it…
Luo Binghe stopped in the middle of passing him the tray to look at Shen Qingqiu with concern. “Shizun, is something the matter?” he asked innocently.
“Nothing!” Shen Qingqiu said, scrambling out of the bed on the opposite side to him. “I just need to use the bathroom. I’ll be back.”
Luo Binghe watched, blinking in confusion, as Shen Qingqiu fled the room.
He made it until mid-afternoon.
After clearing things up with the innkeeper, they set out again (The words “Shizun, are you sure you don’t want to rest another day?” answered by a scathing look had preceded their departure.)
And it was fine. Really, it was fine. Shen Qingqiu wasn’t thinking at all about the way Luo Binghe’s hands felt when they kneaded his ass, or the way he smelled, or his stupid, ridiculously-sized Heavenly Pillar, the way it spread him open, or how he knew from experience how Binghe was strong enough to fuck him in mid-air, supporting his entire weight…
They were just walking. Enjoying the fresh air. He wasn’t thinking about it, until all of a sudden he tripped and stumbled, and Luo Binghe grabbed his arm to steady him, and then Shen Qingqiu was thinking about it very, very much.
Rounding on him, Shen Qingqiu grabbed both of his wrists and promptly backed him up against the closest surface; a large tree bordering the path, whose root he had tripped on.
For a moment, neither said anything. Luo Binghe’s eyes went wide, hardly daring to breathe. Shen Qingqiu’s, on the other hand, looked slightly deranged, and he was breathing very heavily. “Shizun, what is...”
Shen Qingqiu silenced him with a kiss, wishing he’d just hurry up and put his arms around him (quite forgetting that he was still pinning his wrists against the bark). Luo Binghe gasped sharply against his lips. He was easily strong enough to reverse their positions, but he remained where he was, although he did pull one of his hands free so he could place it on the small of Shen Qingqiu’s back and pull their bodies flush together.
It was all going very well until that damn disciple had to break the kiss, leaning his head away. “Shizun, w- wait,” he said insistently.
Shen Qingqiu huffed his displeasure, trying to guide Binghe’s hands to his waist.
Luo Binghe took Shen Qingqiu’s face in his hand, trying to give him a patient sort of smile, although he was a little too turned on for it to be completely innocent. Unfortunately, he looked way too adorable with his hair all messed up. “Are you saying you want…already…?”
There was disbelief in his voice. The succubus aphrodisiac should have worn off by now, but not only was Shen Qingqiu the one propositioning him, he was doing it during broad daylight, out in the open like this…for the second time in one day!
Having sex outside had always been a fantasy of Luo Binghe’s, but he knew his Shizun was a deeply proud person who placed quite a lot of stock in others’ opinions of him, so he had never dared ask him for it. But here he was, making the first move!
Glaring at him, Shen Qingqiu tried to use his words. “I think...this poison...might last longer than we thought,” he said slowly.
Luo Binghe’s eyes widened. “But...right now...won’t it hurt?”
Shen Qingqiu hid his face in Binghe’s neck. Unfortunately, the effort of speaking had brought him back to his senses just enough to get caught on his usual hangups. Why did they have to talk about it? “Ugh, it’s fine. I want it.”
I want it. He almost never said that. Luo Binghe visibly swallowed, trying to reconcile his own desires with what the best thing was for Shen Qingqiu right now. “Then, Shizun, you do me this time,” he said.
Shen Qingqiu looked up sharply, eyes boring into him.
Luo Binghe stroked his cheek. “You’ve already taken it twice since last night. I’m not good at holding back once I’ve started, so you should do it this time.”
Shen Qingqiu blinked slowly, processing these words. “Yes, well…” His mind was floundering. It wasn’t like they’d never done it before, but… “We’re out in the open like this, I don’t want to take too long. We should stick with what we know best.”
Luo Binghe still looked uncertain, so Shen Qingqiu kissed him again and pressed his knee in between his legs, rubbing his thigh against his crotch. Binghe gasped, and Shen Qingqiu could already feel that fearsome object of his growing under all the attention.
Luo Binghe’s arms moved obediently to wrap around Shen Qingqiu’s waist, and he kissed him deeply, eyes closing. But they opened again a few moments later, and he grabbed Shen Qingqiu’s arm, tugging him further into tree cover and away from the path.
So the poison wasn’t cured yet.
They figured out the logistics over the following days. They’d have sex, Shen Qingqiu would feel fine for little while (sometimes a good few hours, sometimes...less), and then he’d start to feel a nagging itch creeping back into his body, and wow, Binghe looked really good from behind when he was cooking, didn’t he?
Sometimes, for the sake of his own continued existence, he’d hold out for as long as he could. To make things easier, they stopped adventuring and settled back in their little house in the mountains to wait out the effects; it was nice and secluded, but close enough to town that Binghe could buy supplies when they needed them. Touching himself helped, as did a good soak in the cold stream that ran nearby, but for the most part, Shen Qingqiu preferred the icy river inside their home…
And said icy river was more than happy to oblige him. In fact, Luo Binghe seemed to be in unusually high spirits, and he took his job of caring for his beloved Shizun very, very seriously. When he wasn’t...attending to his needs, he worked tirelessly to keep him comfortable; chopping firewood, preparing baths, catching fish, cooking meals…when he was forced to go into town for something they couldn’t get for themselves (like an expensive jar of luxury oil…) he made sure to go as quickly as he possibly could to minimise their time apart.
It…wasn’t awful. Shen Qingqiu was getting used to the near-constant ache between his legs, and there were times when he wasn’t sure how much of that was from exhaustion or from desire. Binghe was very non-judgemental, and he had to admit, it was kind of nice being waited on hand and foot by his dear husband, but it was just…
So fucking embarrassing.
Shen Qingqiu hated being needy. He hated watching Binghe through the window less than an hour after he’d been fucked within an inch of his life and wondering if it was too early to go and ask him for more. This was ridiculous. It was humiliating. It was supposed to be Binghe who was the sticky one. Shen Qingqiu wasn’t some blushing harem member who lounged around all day waiting for the protagonist to come home and grace him with his attentions, but it sure as hell felt that way when Binghe came through the door carrying a bundle of firewood only to drop it when he was pounced on by Shen Qingqiu, who would wrap his legs around his waist and start tearing his clothes off before he’d so much as shut the door.
At least Luo Binghe learned pretty quickly not to try and talk to him about it. That was a rare blessing and one that Shen Qingqiu was immeasurably grateful for. He wasn’t sure if his husband understood just how difficult it was for him to discuss things of this nature, or if he’d simply figured out there was no point, but Binghe stopped questioning it every time Shen Qingqiu approached him and let him direct them as he liked.
So it could be worse, but it was obvious that this couldn’t go on forever, and when a full week had passed with no obvious change in Shen Qingqiu’s condition, he finally decided to harden his head and have a conversation about it.
They were lounging in bed after finishing their latest round. Shen Qingqiu pushed his fan aside and grabbed the washcloth he’d taken to keeping in a bowl of water by the bed, and started wiping himself down. His stomach was a mess; he’d had Binghe use his thighs this time to give his ass a break. Without a word, his disciple sat up as well and came up to press against his back, reaching around to take the washcloth from his hands. “Shizun, I’ll do it,” he murmured, kissing his shoulder as he began cleaning away the mess of bodily fluids.
Shen Qingqiu swallowed. “Binghe, I think we should go back to Cang Qiong Mountain.”
He felt Luo Binghe tense up for a moment before quickly relaxing. “I agree,” he said, dipping the cloth back into its bowl and wringing it out. “Mu-shishu will definitely know what to do.” He sounded a little strained.
Shen Qingqiu knew Luo Binghe was enjoying finally having his Shizun actually want to have sex as much as he himself did. He would probably be a little sad when the poison was cured and they went back to their old “once every three days, provided Binghe has been on his best behaviour and asks very nicely” routine. But even so, he gave no complaint.
Shen Qingqiu felt an unexpected rush of affection for him. Turning his head, he gave him a little kiss on the cheek. “We’ll leave tomorrow?”
“Yes.” Luo Binghe’s arm wrapped protectively around his stomach and resumed wiping him down. Shen Qingqiu gently placed a hand over his. “Do you think you can ride a sword?” Binghe asked.
What, like he hadn’t been riding a sword all week?! Shen Qingqiu grimaced. “I’ll be fine. This poison hasn’t affected my spiritual power.”
“Then, this disciple will pack everything.”
Giving his shoulder one final kiss, Luo Binghe got up from the bed, taking the bowl and washcloth away to change the water. Shen Qingqiu settled back into bed and picked up his fan, watching him over the top of it as he went about the cabin, fully nude. Even though Luo Binghe was not particularly broad-shouldered, there was no denying the strength concealed in those muscles. He was truly extraordinary…
Feeling an uncomfortable flipping sensation in his stomach, Shen Qingqiu fanned himself harder. This was just ridiculous.
Normally, whenever they got back to Qing Jing Peak, Luo Binghe would spend as much time in the bamboo house as possible to avoid any unnecessary confrontations while Shen Qingqiu caught up on his Peak Lord duties. This time, however, they only dropped off their belongings at home before going directly to Qian Cao Peak. Binghe tried to explain the situation, but Shen Qingqiu hadn’t quite lost enough of his dignity to be okay with someone else being the one to tell Mu Qingfang about all the sex they’d been having, so he interrupted, albeit while concealing the lower half of his face with his fan.
To his credit, Mu Qingfang was a doctor first and foremost, and it was with an air of utmost professionalism that he listened to their account of what happened (minus some of the more...intimate details), asking a few questions in a totally indifferent tone.
Although none of the Peak Lords held a particularly high opinion of Luo Binghe, at least Mu Qingfang knew the truth about why he had been so intimately embracing Shen Qingqiu’s deceased body when they found him, so he didn’t believe he was a complete degenerate. He sat back in his seat when Shen Qingqiu finished explaining, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
“I have never heard of a succubus aphrodisiac lasting this long after initial infection,” he admitted at last. Shen Qingqiu felt his heart sink.
It was Luo Binghe who answered. “Is it possible that this is some...other kind of succubus?” he asked. “One whose poison is more persistent?”
Mu Qingfang paused. “If she was part of the same group that Shen-shixiong and Liu-shixiong encountered a few years ago, that seems unlikely, although not impossible. There are still many things about the demon race that we don’t understand. Of course, if she were still alive, we could have simply asked her…”
Luo Binghe’s expression darkened, although it was unclear if that was from realising the consequences of his hasty decision or from hearing Liu Qingge’s name mentioned. Shen Qingqiu hurriedly intervened. “Regardless of how long the poison is supposed to last, how do we cure it? There must be some medicine.”
“But if there isn’t, this disciple is more than happy to continue taking care of Shizun for the rest of his life if necessary,” Binghe added. Shen Qingqiu snapped his fan shut and smacked him with it.
Mu Qingfang looked a little uncomfortable. “Succubus poison is not particularly dangerous and can normally be cured in the same way as any other kind of…arousal. There has never been a need for a medicine to treat it because it’s always been easier to simply take care of it in other ways.”
Shen Qingqiu had gotten momentarily distracted by how soft Binghe’s lips looked, but at this, he turned sharply to look at Mu Qingfang. “There’s no cure?” he asked blankly.
“I didn’t say that,” Mu Qingfang said in a pacifying tone. “Just that we haven’t needed one until now, but obviously your case is special. I already have a few theories of what might work. Wait here…”
He got up to go and look through a box of herbs. Shen Qingqiu snuck a glare at Luo Binghe, who looked confused and mouthed “what” at him. Fuck, why did he have to be so frustratingly beautiful even when he was being obnoxious?
Mu Qingfang sent them away with a few different herbs to try and instructions that they were meant to be brewed into teas; one that worked against most basic demonic poisons, one that calmed the mind and helped to induce a meditative state, and another that was specifically intended to reduce the drinker’s libido. (Hah, maybe when this was over, they should save some of that for Binghe.)
By the time they’d shut the door to the bamboo house, Shen Qingqiu was itching to jump Binghe again, but he forced himself to resist the temptation, wanting to see if any of the teas worked. His husband dutifully went to boil some water. “Which one should we try first?” he asked, looking at the different packets.
Shen Qingqiu came up behind him and wrapped his arms around his torso. “Any of them. Brew them all at once,” he said, nuzzling against his neck.
Binghe smiled to himself and did as instructed, adding a little of each herb to the pot and brewing them together. When Shen Qingqiu was finally guided back to the table and handed a cup, his hands were almost shaking.
The tea tasted bitter, and the three different flavours did not work together at all, but he drank it dutifully, nearly burning himself in his haste. Luo Binghe sat across from him, watching anxiously. “Shizun…? How do you feel?”
Shen Qingqiu set the cup down.
The heat and the strong flavour had indeed been an effective distraction from the burning arousal in his body, but he wanted to see if it would last. He glanced over at Binghe, trying to assess his current state of mind based on his reaction to him. Naturally, the protagonist still looked as handsome as ever, but Shen Qingqiu did think...maybe the urge to jump his bones right then and there was not as strong.
He let out a sigh of relief. “It’s working,” he confirmed.
Luo Binghe’s eyes widened. “You’re sure?”
Shen Qingqiu nodded, finally allowing himself to relax. “Yes, I feel clear headed,” he promised, leaning over and giving him a kiss just to be sure. It was a nice kiss, but it was indeed just a kiss. Nothing supernaturally enhanced about it.
Luo Binghe grinned, reaching out to take his hand. “Shizun, I’m really glad.”
Even though Shen Qingqiu knew he was secretly disappointed, he was still grateful for his support. “This teacher is…appreciative of how well you’ve looked after me,” he admitted, face turning red.
“Anything for Shizun,” Luo Binghe replied earnestly, drawing Shen Qingqiu’s hand up to his lips and kissing it. “Why don’t I go and get us some lunch to celebrate? You haven’t eaten anything since before we left this morning.”
“Mn, good idea.” Maybe he’d finally be able to appreciate Binghe’s cooking again. “I’m going to look through some of the other disciples’ papers. I’ll be alright, so you take your time.”
“Of course. I’ll make you something really delicious.” Giving him one more little kiss, Luo Binghe got up and bounded off in the direction of the kitchens. Shen Qingqiu watched him go with a faint smile. Almost out of muscle memory, he snapped open his fan to cover the blush spreading across his cheeks.
He was glad things would be going back to normal. Really. His body needed a break. But…it was sweet how much Binghe cared. Even if it wasn’t what he himself wanted, he still supported coming here and seeking a cure.
Gathering up his things, he moved over to his desk to look through the stack of letters and official documents that had piled up since his last visit while he waited for Luo Binghe to return with lunch. The chair was not particularly comfortable, and he squirmed around, suddenly feeling restless. Had it always been so hot in here…?
When Luo Binghe opened the door to the bamboo house an hour or two later, carrying a large bowl of fluffy steamed buns that were giving off a delightful aroma, Shen Qingqiu almost made him drop them with the force at which he jumped him.
So the tea didn’t work.
Or rather, it didn’t work any better than sex or masturbation or a cold bath did. Over the next few days they experimented with drinking them separately or in different combinations, but none of them provided relief for more than an hour or so, and Shen Qingqiu had to admit that when he knew that, drinking a bitter medicinal tea held little appeal over some of the other options.
Mu Qingfang promised to keep looking for a solution, and Luo Binghe continued brewing the tea for him several times per day, but they were still fucking way more than normal, and Shen Qingqiu was starting to feel the exhaustion. His body was way too sensitive, to the point that it was uncomfortable doing almost anything, and sex with Binghe was so intense that he was nearly always crying by the end of it, which was just…mortifying.
At the very least, he was getting over feeling embarrassed about asking for sex. Why should he, when it was the succubus poison talking, and not himself? He was sick. This was his treatment. He might as well have felt embarrassed about how Liu Qingge used to help him balance his meridians.
One day, he paid a visit to An Ding Peak.
He’d brought some of the tea with him so he could have a normal conversation, but he was still glaring daggers at Shang Qinghua when he sat across the table from him.
His fellow transmigrator found the whole situation incredibly funny. “Cucumber-bro, it sounds like out of the two of us, you’re the one who should be called Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky right now,” he said. Shen Qingqiu hurled his fan at him.
“Is this a joke to you?” he asked, while Shang Qinghua ducked like it was something he had a lot of practice at. “Look, it’s been years since I read the book and I can’t exactly check it again. Are you sure you didn’t put any creatures in there that have an effect like this?”
“Yes! No! I don’t know,” Shang Qinghua said insistently. It was true that Proud Immortal Demon Way had been so long and convoluted that even he couldn’t remember every single detail of every single monster, but the ones that involved sex, he still knew pretty well. After all, he’d only put succubi into the story as an excuse to make Bing-ge sleep with the woman he’d been travelling with at the time. But even he hadn’t thought to make its effects a permanent thing. “This is a complicated world. I can’t account for every single detail.”
Shen Qingqiu groaned, chugging the last of his tea and letting his head fall into his hands. “Your stupid son is going to be the death of me,” he said, throwing himself down on the couch. He was annoyed that he’d chucked his fan since he couldn’t even cover his face with it. “We’re having sex every single day now.”
At this, Shang Qinghua was silent.
Shen Qingqiu turned to look at him and was met with a confused stare. “What?”
Shang Qinghua blinked. “How often…were you having sex beforehand?” he asked vaguely.
“Every three days! You know this!” Shen Qingqiu shot back, almost throwing his empty teacup at him. What was even the point of those stupid interviews if he didn’t even remember—
Shang Qinghua threw up his hands apologetically. “Well, yes, but I figured Bing-ge was just being modest to protect your dignity. He knows you get self-conscious—”
“Normal people don’t have sex every day! Especially when they’re having sex with—that—” He made a circle with his hands and moved them up and down to indicate a large, cylindrical shape.
Again, Shang Qinghua was silent, although his face was turning a little red.
Shen Qingqiu gaped at him. “No.”
“What?” he shot back. “Demons aren’t like humans. Different needs.”
“You’re a human, unless there’s something you’re not telling me,” Shen Qingqiu was honestly so shocked that he couldn’t even feel embarrassed.
“Well, yes, but, you know, we manage,” he said airily.
“I don’t know.” Shen Qingqiu scrambled to sit up again. “Just for context, is Mobei-Jun, compared with Binghe…” He made the cylindrical motion again.
Shang Qinghua shrugged. “He's a demon. They’re all like that.”
What kind of pervert makes a detail like that canon?!
How was Shang Qinghua still walking?
Shen Qingqiu pinched the bridge of his nose. “Airplane-bro, just, help me out here,” he said, sounding defeated. “So you and him, every single day…”
Here, Shang Qinghua winced. “After we got the hang of things.”
Well, Shen Qingqiu could relate to that. “And every time, does he…” He made a circle with his hand and poked a finger through it, eyebrows raised.
“What?” Shang Qinghua snorted. “Every time? Are you mad?”
Shen Qingqiu fell silent.
Shang Qinghua stared at him. “Wait, so you and Bing-ge, you only ever…”
“I’ve done it!” Shen Qingqiu said defensively.
“Oh yeah? How many times?”
Shen Qingqiu didn’t answer.
This sent Shang Qinghua into hysterics. “Oh, wow, I understand every three days now,” he said, wiping a tear out of his eyes. “Look, I’d probably like Mobei-Jun to do me more, but it’s just so much work getting ready, so in practice it’s only about every three or four days. Sometimes I do it, or we’ll just do other stuff.”
That really surprised him. “You want me to fuck your stallion protagonist more? You literally called me the shou!”
“And was I wrong?” Shang Qinghua asked, chortling.
Shen Qingqiu looked back on their relationship, wondering if he’d been going about it all wrong. “Do you two...talk about it?”
Shang Qinghua was still chuckling quietly, but at this, he tried to sober up. “He’s not exactly known for his great conversation skills, but he says enough.”
All of a sudden, Shen Qingqiu felt very uncomfortable with the direction this conversation had gone. He’d only come to see if the author had a solution to the succubus problem, not to discuss his sex life. His sex life was fine the way it was. Luo Binghe preferred being the one to fuck him, and Shen Qingqiu didn’t care either way, so that was what they did. It wasn’t that complicated.
“Well, you’ve been no help at all,” he said, standing up. “Give me my fan.”
Shang Qinghua rolled his eyes and picked it up, tossing it back to him. “I’m gonna go fuck my husband now.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Shen Qingqiu said, stalking out of the room.
When he got home, Binghe fucked him so hard he almost passed out.
Now that they had the tea, they managed to get their lovemaking down to a reasonable amount, but it was still very obviously not a permanent solution. Luo Binghe performed his duties admirably, but he seemed weighed down by something. He always seemed to know when Shen Qingqiu needed him, but he spent more and more time away from the bamboo house, which was…weird, considering how the reason he hated coming back to Qing Jing Peak was because it divided Shen Qingqiu’s attentions away from him.
A few times, Mu Qingfang came by with a new medicine for him to try. They all seemed quite promising at first, too, but each time, he inevitably relapsed within a few hours.
He tried to get his workload under control, but since Shen Qingqiu didn’t have the face to be seen in public with a boner, in practice, he spent nearly all of his time in the bamboo house, absentmindedly fanning himself while idly looking through documents that Binghe brought. When he wasn’t getting himself off, of course.
The other Qing Jing Peak disciples had put together from his isolation and Mu Qingfang’s visits that he was unwell, and were understandably concerned. At one point, Liu Qingge stopped by, presumably to ask if there was anything he could do, but Luo Binghe appeared like a spectre and chased him away with an even higher level of hostility than normal.
Shen Qingqiu really missed travelling the world. A few times, he was tempted to suggest they leave Qing Jing Peak, since they’d failed to find a cure here and if he was going to continue being horny all the time he’d much rather do it somewhere private. But Mu Qingfang was probably still their best hope at finding a solution, and it was better to stay where he could easily test out his treatments.
It was evening right now.
Luo Binghe had been away most of the day. Shen Qingqiu hadn’t even seen him since he’d brought him his tea and breakfast that morning; he’d normally come back for lunch, at least, but he hadn’t, and so Shen Qingqiu had just contented himself on leftovers.
The food wasn’t the problem. They hadn’t fucked since the same time last night, and Shen Qingqiu was aching. Luo Binghe normally wouldn’t let him go this long without at least giving him the option, and he was starting to wonder if he should actually go and look for him when the door finally opened, revealing his beautiful disciple in simple black robes. He looked extremely tired, like he hadn’t eaten or rested all day.
Shen Qingqiu was on him in a flash, eagerly taking the tray out of his hands and putting it aside so he could shove him up against the wall.
Luo Binghe grinned wearily down at him, putting his hands on Shen Qingqiu’s waist. “Did Shizun miss me?”
Shen Qingqiu didn’t answer, just pressed their lips together and let out an appreciative moan as he started removing Binghe’s clothing.
His disciple wrapped his arms around him and hefted him up so that he could carry him back to the bed, laying him out. “How is Shizun feeling?” he asked, one hand curling into his hair.
Not at all in the mood to play these games, Shen Qingqiu pushed against him and rolled over to reverse their positions so that he had Luo Binghe on his back, straddling his hips. Trembling with desire, he took advantage of the position to start kissing him again, holding his face in both hands.
Luo Binghe’s strong hands made their way up Shen Qingqiu’s back, tugging off the loose silken robe he’d been wearing. “Shizun, you’re so beautiful,” he murmured, sounding like he was struggling very hard to control himself.
Controlling himself was the last thing Shen Qingqiu wanted, and he was growing increasingly frustrated with whatever this was. “Want you,” he said breathily, guiding Luo Binghe’s hand between his legs so he could feel how he’d already prepared for him.
His hand grew shaky on the way down, though, and stopped just short. Luo Binghe inhaled sharply, instead fastening his hand around Shen Qingqiu’s cock and making him gasp. “Shizun, do you want to do me? Is that it?” he asked, reaching up with his other hand to brush some hair out of his face.
Shen Qingqiu gave a huff of displeasure, and with a sound resembling a growl, forced Luo Binghe’s hand lower, up against his entrance. Why did people keep asking that? They both knew, everyone knew, that Binghe liked it better this way. He didn’t need to keep panicking that he was forcing him into it. It was fine.
Feeling the way it was already soft and welcoming, another short gasp left Luo Binghe’s lips, and he grinned slightly. “Alright, this disciple understands,” he said, a hand tangling in Shen Qingqiu’s hair and pulling him down for a kiss, slow and possessive. “Whatever Shizun wants.”
Finally. The nerve of him trying to take his time after leaving him alone all day…
Some time later, Shen Qingqiu threw his arms across Luo Binghe’s chest, cuddling in close with a dazed sort of smile. The room smelt strongly of sex, but Binghe had wiped them down enough that they’d be okay until morning. He was utterly exhausted, and now that the built-up tension of the day had been relieved, he was ready to just go to sleep in Luo Binghe’s embrace.
So it took him completely by surprise when he suddenly felt his arms being peeled off his usually clingy husband. “Shizun, is it okay if this disciple goes and finishes something up before bed?” he asked, sounding worried. “It’ll only take me an hour or so, but I won’t go if you’d rather I stayed.”
Shen Qingqiu reluctantly opened his eyes, too tired and sore to look at him with anything other than exhaustion. He what…? Already?
What did he have that was so important it kept taking him away from him?
His sex-addled brain could not deal with this question. “Mphn,” he replied, shifting to wrap his arms around a pillow instead and closing his eyes once more.
He felt soft lips press against his shoulder. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”
Shen Qingqiu went to sleep.
It was not unusual for Luo Binghe to get out of bed before him, especially these days when he got up to brew the tea, but normally, he was still somewhere inside the bamboo house. Binghe didn’t like to start cooking breakfast until he had his good morning kiss from Shizun, or he got pouty.
Shen Qingqiu looked around in confusion, wondering where the hell he was. It was totally quiet. He remembered, dimly, that Luo Binghe had said he was going to do something, but couldn’t remember if he’d told him where.
His skin was already itching, so he got up and made the tea himself. When Binghe hadn’t gotten back by the time he’d finished it, though, Shen Qingqiu gave a reluctant sigh and got dressed to go find him.
Ning Yingying was the first to spot him on his emergence. “Shizun!” she cried, delighted. “Are you feeling any better?”
Shen Qingqiu froze up, before relaxing, realising she just thought he’d been sick. “This teacher has been feeling much better, thank you,” he replied, giving her head a little pat. Even though she was all grown up now and old enough to be considered a senior disciple, she still maintained her youthful positivity.
“A-Luo has been so worried about you,” she said.
“Yes, well...I’m actually looking for him right now, as it happens,” Shen Qingqiu said. “You haven’t seen him, have you?”
“Seen him?” she asked. “Um, not today, but I think I heard Ming Fan mention he was in the library until quite late last night, so…”
“The library?” Shen Qingqiu asked. “What would he be doing there?”
Ning Yingying frowned. “He spends nearly all of his time there. Well, except when he’s in the kitchens or in your house, of course. Do you want me to go and find him, Shizun?”
“Ah...that’s alright, I’ll go,” Shen Qingqiu said, waving it off. It was nice walking around outside, honestly.
As the Scholarly Peak, Qing Jing Peak housed the Sect’s main library, which contained manuals on all forms of cultivation and other manuscripts brought in from their disciples’ travels. Students from every peak stopped by to visit it on a regular basis. It wasn’t particularly far from the Peak Lord’s residence, so he started there on foot.
It was normally empty this early in the day, but sure enough, a lone figure in black robes lay hunched over the table, surrounded by open books. Curious, Shen Qingqiu kept as quiet as he could, sidling up to peer at the one he’d fallen asleep on top of.
Poisons of the Demon Realm.
His expression softening, Shen Qingqiu looked at a few more.
A Complete Guide to Succubi.
Three Hundred Different Curses and Their Cures.
With a sigh, Shen Qingqiu carefully started to tug the book out from under Luo Binghe’s face, startling him awake. The page stuck briefly to his cheek before he lifted his head, disoriented. “Shizun?” he asked, bleary-eyed.
Shen Qingqiu was so touched that for a moment, it was like he had never been poisoned. He leaned back against the table, setting his fan down and cupping Binghe’s face to look up at him. “Breaking curfew is against the rules. Go and run ten laps of the peak,” he said.
(They both knew that wasn’t actually a rule.)
“Ah…” Luo Binghe looked down at his surroundings, blinking. “I’m sorry, Shizun, I must have fallen asleep. I can go—” He started to stand up, only for Shen Qingqiu to push him down again.
“Is this what you’ve been doing all week?” he asked, his voice surprisingly soft. “Trying to find a cure for me?”
Luo Binghe looked down. “I didn’t want to mention it until I’d found something, in case I got your hopes up for nothing…”
So this disciple had been slaving away with every free minute that he had, without even expecting a word of thanks? In between attending to his every need at all hours of the day?
That silly boy…
“Haven’t you already read every book in this library in your youth?” he asked.
“But I wasn’t looking for succubus poison then. I might have missed something,” Luo Binghe insisted. “And it’s been a long time, new books are added every year. Shizun, I just can’t bear the thought of the answer being right under our noses and me not finding it for you.”
Luo Binghe stared up at him. “I...Shizun?”
“What do you mean, why?”
Shen Qingqiu blushed, but he’d already put his fan down, so he bore the shame. “...This teacher...I mean, it’s not that I don’t…” He sighed, practically squirming under the earnestness of his stare. “Don’t you...prefer it this way?” he asked, at last.
Luo Binghe’s expression slowly changed from confused to aghast. “...Prefer Shizun being poisoned?”
The way he said it made it sound like Shen Qingqiu had just suggested Binghe would be happier if he were dying! He hurried to defend himself. “It’s…look,” he said. “Binghe, are you...happy with the amount of sex we have, normally?”
“I...what does that have to do with this?”
What kind of question was that? It had everything to do with this. Shen Qingqiu couldn’t believe he’d finally worked up the courage to ask this only to be met with such a stupid answer. “Because you ask me all the time, and most of the time, I say no,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Wouldn’t you...rather we did it more? Isn’t it better like this?”
It wasn’t often that Luo Binghe looked so completely stunned. “Shizun, I don’t want you to sleep with me because of a succubus. I hate this whole situation.”
Shen Qingqiu stared at him blankly. “But when you told Mu Qingfang you’d be happy to keep taking care of me every day—”
Luo Binghe stared at him in dismay, tears prickling the corners of his eyes. “I’ll always be happy to take care of Shizun, whatever that involves, but I don’t—Shizun, I want you to want me for real.” Hesitating only a moment, he reached out to take his hands. “Even if it’s only every three days, or once a week, or—or not at all! We can just kiss and hold hands, if, if that’s what you want. Or if you don’t want that, then I’ll just stay by your side and cook for you, you don’t even have to do any—”
Shen Qingqiu covered his mouth before he could work himself into hysterics. “I do want you for real,” he said.
Neither said anything. Luo Binghe didn’t even try to move the hand away, although he blinked hard a few times, trying to stop himself from crying.
Shen Qingqiu had never said that to him before, in all of the time they’d been together. With that realisation, it felt like a weight had been lifted, and he relaxed. “Do you think I’m so selfless that I only sleep with you to keep you happy?” he demanded. “I’m not. I like you a lot.”
Slowly, he took his hand away.
Luo Binghe swallowed, his voice wavering. “But I’ve hurt you, Shizun. I still do, when I’m not careful. And then you’re hurting for days. I know you think I don’t notice.”
Shen Qingqiu blushed. Well! If anyone was to blame for that, it was Airplane-bro and his all demons are like that bullshit. But...really, it wasn’t nearly so bad as Binghe was suggesting. He’d come a long way from their disastrous first time. They both had. Binghe was good at it. Better than Bing-ge, as far as Shen Qingqiu was concerned; he was honest and sweet, and they knew each other’s bodies, which was enough for him. Binghe’s size was an obstacle they had to overcome, but...it was honestly fine. Shen Qingqiu’s body had a strong spiritual core, so he was hardier and healed faster than a regular human, anyway. More importantly, it was…
It was good, okay? It felt really good. He liked it. He liked having it inside him. He liked being fucked by Luo Binghe’s stupid Heavenly Pillar. What? Was there a prize for admitting it? He fucking loved it! He was a grown up man and he was big enough to admit that—“I. Like. It.”
Luo Binghe blinked. “You…?”
“I like sleeping with you, okay?” he said, gritting his teeth. “I like it when you fuck me. But it’s just—it’s hard for me, Binghe. It’s hard for me to say it.”
“Shizun, why?” he asked, staring up at him imploringly. He took his hands again. “We’ve already been married for so long. Why don’t you feel like you can talk to me?”
“Because—” Shen Qingqiu had to look away. His face was bright red. He stopped talking.
“Is it because I’m a man?” Binghe pressed. “Or—or because I’m me?”
What a good question. Why, indeed? Luo Binghe, the godly stallion novel protagonist whom he’d liked so much he’d read the entire nonsensical plot of Proud Immortal Demon Way just to follow him. Luo Binghe, his little disciple that he’d always had to put on a strong face for. Luo Binghe, the man he’d been terrified of for years, convinced he was destined to be tortured and mutilated by. (The man whom in his fear, he’d hurt more badly than any amount of rough sex could ever come close to.)
Luo Binghe, his husband. Luo Binghe, the love of his life. Why was it so hard to say he wanted him?
“It’s not you,” he said at last, forcing himself to look at him. He offered him a small smile. “Your teacher has a thin face, but I...Binghe, you’re truly…”
Luo Binghe pulled Shen Qingqiu’s hand closer to his face and pressed his cheek against it, without breaking eye contact. “Shizun, you don’t need to say anything,” he said, right at the same time that Shen Qingqiu blurted out, “the best part of my life.”
If Luo Binghe hadn’t been holding both of Shen Qingqiu’s hands, he would have hidden his face, but luckily, his shameless disciple held firm. “Oh,” Binghe breathed, eyes watering.
Shen Qingqiu swallowed, looking away, and Luo Binghe finally stood up from the chair and wrapped his arms around him. Good. This was good. He didn’t have to look at him anymore, and he appreciatively hid his face in Binghe’s shoulder.
“Shizun is my whole world,” Luo Binghe whispered.
How the hell did he just say things like that? Truly, it was a superpower far greater than any other that the protagonist halo afforded him.
A few moments later, Shen Qingqiu pulled away, although he let his hand trail down Luo Binghe’s arm until he could link their hands together once more. “Come on, let’s go home,” he said. “I bet you’ve gone and ruined your back, sleeping like that all night. You need to be more careful.”
Luo Binghe flushed. “Sorry, Shizun,” he said sheepishly.
They went back to the bamboo house, and Shen Qingqiu dragged them directly to bed. Luo Binghe started to take off his robes, but Shen Qingqiu stayed his hand, shaking his head.
He blinked. “You don’t want to?”
“I just had my tea, it’s fine. You look tired,” Shen Qingqiu said, although he was still kicking off his boots and getting into bed. Luo Binghe followed him blindly, and Shen Qingqiu curled up against him, giving him a small kiss. He did not say more.
A faint smile crossed Luo Binghe’s face, and he wrapped his arms around Shen Qingqiu obligingly.
Really, it had been very rude of him to leave last night right when he’d been in the mood for cuddles and then not come back at all. What kind of a selfish disciple…
It was still daylight when he woke again.
In a rare turn of events, Shen Qingqiu woke up before Luo Binghe did, although that shouldn’t be surprising, given how badly Binghe had slept last night. He remained laying across his chest for a while, watching him with a thoughtful expression. Binghe seemed so peaceful like this. Shen Qingqiu wished he could replace every other memory he had of Binghe’s face with this one.
Eventually, though, his stomach rumbled, and he crawled tentatively out of bed. Amazingly, Binghe did not stir. Feeling triumphant, Shen Qingqiu went and poured himself some more of the cold tea from that morning, chugging it down with a grimace. It was very bitter, but it’d get the job done. He needed to be clear headed.
He took the dinner tray from last night (they’d only managed a few mouthfuls in between finishing up and going to bed), and crept off toward the kitchen.
When he eventually returned with two bowls of hot congee, Luo Binghe was no longer asleep. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling his boots on, and looked up in surprise when Shen Qingqiu entered. “Shizun, you...cooked?”
What a stupid question. What did it look like?! “Mn,” he replied, sitting down next to him and offering him a bowl.
Looking touched, Luo Binghe accepted it gratefully and picked up the spoon. Shen Qingqiu watched him anxiously as he took a bite. “Shizun, it’s delicious,” Binghe said, looking at him with the fondest expression ever to grace the face of a living being. Even Shen Qingqiu was not immune to its heart-melting effects, and he sagged with relief.
Luo Binghe ate another mouthful, and Shen Qingqiu looked at his own bowl with a sigh. “Binghe, I was thinking, let’s just go home,” he said.
“Leave?” Luo Binghe looked up from his congee, which he was practically shovelling down. “But what about—”
“We can come back periodically and see if Mu-shidi has any more breakthroughs, but I’m just...sick of being stuck here. I’ll drink the tea twenty times a day if I have to, but I’d rather be out there travelling with you.”
Luo Binghe’s eyes widened with joy. “Shizun, I’ll make sure you’re comfortable, no matter what. I was thinking, we can probably find ways to make the tea taste better so it’s easier to drink. We’ll make it work.”
Shen Qingqiu nodded. Yeah. Yeah, that sounded nice.
He took a mouthful of the congee—and then immediately spat it back out again in disgust. “What the fuck?”
Luo Binghe looked up in surprise. “What is it?”
Shen Qingqiu was still staring down at whatever the hell he’d made in the kitchens, that Binghe had somehow, miraculously, just scarfed down an entire bowl of. “This is…completely inedible.”
Sounding defensive, Luo Binghe said, “I liked it! Here, Shizun, let me have yours!”
“You called this delicious?” Shen Qingqiu asked, looking at him like he’d sprouted horns.
“It is!” Luo Binghe snatched the bowl away, like he was worried Shen Qingqiu was going to throw it out. “Shizun made it, so of course it’s delicious.”
Well, this Shizun had grown up with a private chef cooking all of his meals for his first two decades of life and then switched almost immediately to Binghe’s cooking upon transmigration. He hadn’t had to cook for himself in years, and it showed. “You’re just letting me make a fool of myself. Give it back, I’ll get you something nicer,” he said, trying to take the bowl back, but Luo Binghe held it away from him, and quickly ate another spoonful. Shen Qingqiu gagged.
This disciple...really did love him, didn’t he?
Shen Qingqiu was unprepared for just how tender the feeling was that struck him with that realisation. Anyone who loved him enough to eat two bowls of that with a smile on his face was surely not someone he could ever afford to lose.
He stopped trying to steal the bowl, just watching him in amusement.
Wow, Binghe was so beautiful when he was spitefully putting away mouthful after mouthful of inedible congee, wasn’t he?
“Done,” Binghe said, putting down the bowl.
“You sure showed me,” said Shen Qingqiu, hoping that Heavenly Demon Blood made people immune to food poisoning. He leaned in and kissed him. God, his mouth tasted like shit. It had only been a minute or so and it was already so much worse than he remembered. He kissed him harder, trying to drive away the taste, and Luo Binghe responded by twisting him around and pressing him down on the bed.
He had no idea what time it was, but he was guessing it was mid-afternoon.
Between all of the medicinal tea and another round with Binghe, Shen Qingqiu was feeling pretty normal when he heard a commotion coming from outside. He’d just been getting dressed after soaking in the bath (a nice warm bath; he was treating himself) and overall felt pretty good, so when he heard what sounded like a small earthquake, it really put a damper on his day.
Luo Binghe looked up from where he’d been sorting through Shen Qingqiu’s paperwork. “That sounds like Cheng Luan,” he remarked idly, as though he were identifying a common type of bird call.
What the hell? They’d really fought each other so much that Luo Binghe could identify Liu Qingge’s sword from sound alone? God, they had issues. “Come on,” Shen Qingqiu said dryly, quickly pulling on some shoes and heading for the door. With a sigh, Luo Binghe got up and followed him.
There was a small crowd of people gathered around a pair of unfamiliar Bai Zhan Peak disciples, who were indeed being yelled at by Liu Qingge. A large gash had been taken out of the ground nearby, which had evidently been the source of the noise, but nobody was injured. It looked as though it hadn’t been directed at anyone in particular.
Pushing to the front of the crowd, Shen Qingqiu stopped next to Ning Yingying and lowered his head. “What happened? What are they doing here?”
Ning Yingying looked up at him. “Those two disciples came by to use the library this morning, but they started, ah...causing a scene...”
Ming Fan, who was standing on her other side and was only too happy to fill him in, leaned over. “Shizun, they were in the library, taking each other’s clothes off, they were about to—”
Getting the idea, Shen Qingqiu waved his hand to stop him from continuing. Wow, what a scandal to be brought upon Bai Zhan Peak! It wasn’t often that they got this kind of gossip. Still, it was a bit unfair that their esteemed Peak Lord had to take out his frustrations on his own peak’s pristine landscaping! “What about Liu-shishu?
Ning Yingying answered, “Liu-shishu came as soon as he heard, but once he found out what happened, he got so angry all of a sudden. I’ve never seen him like this, Shizun.”
Behind him, Luo Binghe snorted. Shen Qingqiu, however, was a little worried. He had seen Liu Qingge get this angry on one specific occasion; that time he’d been infected with succubus aphrodisiac. That was...weird.
But then Liu Qingge caught sight of him in the crowd and started stalking over, and Shen Qingqiu quickly straightened up. “Shidi,” he said placatingly. “What brings you to our esteemed—”
“This has nothing to do with you!” Liu Qingge snapped. He looked a little deranged. “Just—take this, you left it in the library.”
And then all of a sudden, Shen Qingqiu was having his hand fan thrust against his chest. He caught it with a fumble. “Ahaha...so I did,” he said. “Shidi, are you feeling well?”
Liu Qingge was glaring daggers at Luo Binghe, but at this, he turned his attention back to Shen Qingqiu, looking at him with an expression that was impossible to read. “Fine,” he choked out. “I’m leaving.”
Liu Qingge had already started walking away, and the two Bai Zhan Peak disciples followed him after a moment of hesitation. Seeing that the show was over, the rest of the surrounding Qing Jing Peak disciples started to disperse.
Luo Binghe leaned in closer. “He seemed upset.”
His voice was so warm and familiar...Shen Qingqiu gave a sigh, unconsciously leaning back against him.
And then his eyes went wide, and he suddenly threw the fan away from himself like it had turned white-hot. “Fuck.”
Luo Binghe frowned, glancing at the fan on the ground. “What is it?”
Shen Qingqiu spun around to face him, aghast. “Binghe, my fan. I tried using it to block the spray. It got completely drenched.”
For a moment, Luo Binghe looked like he didn’t understand what he was talking about. And then he covered his mouth. “Shizun, you carry that fan everywhere.”
Not only did he carry it everywhere, he was constantly waving it into his own face. And the only other person who ever got close enough to be affected was Luo Binghe, who wouldn’t notice anything amiss.
There was nothing wrong with any of the treatments. He’d just been continuously re-dosing himself on the poison for weeks.
...He definitely owed those Bai Zhan Peak disciples an apology. Not to mention Liu Qingge.
Luo Binghe went and picked up the fan, holding it up to his nose. “You’re right. It’s faint, but I can still smell it.”
Shen Qingqiu’s mind was reeling. How could he possibly look Mu Qingfang in the eye and tell him about this? He would absolutely die of shame! “Burn it,” he said.
Luo Binghe held the fan a bit closer. “Can’t we try cleaning it?”
“I’ll make a new one. Get rid of it.”
“You never know, it might come in handy,” Luo Binghe teased.
In the absence of the fan, Shen Qingqiu smacked his shoulder with his bare hand. “Do whatever you want, then, just keep it away from me.”
Luo Binghe did, with some reluctance, burn the fan once they were back in the bamboo house.
Shen Qingqiu downed his final cup of medicinal tea with a wince, shaking his head out like a dog.
Well, that was another chapter of their lives over.
Despite his jokes about keeping the fan for “special occasions”, Luo Binghe also seemed to be in high spirits. He breezed around the bamboo house, cleaning everything and packing for when they decided to head out again. Shen Qingqiu watched him from the table with some amusement, pouring a cup of plain water to get the taste of the tea out of his mouth. “And what are you so happy about, hm?” he asked, taking a sip from the cup.
Luo Binghe looked like he’d been waiting eagerly to be asked this. “Nothing, Shizun,” he said, in a tone that suggested it definitely wasn’t nothing and he was about to elaborate on why. “It’s just that this morning, after breakfast, you hadn’t held the fan in hours and you’d even had a cup of the tea beforehand. That was all you.”
Shen Qingqiu rolled his eyes. That thought had, indeed, crossed his mind. “And what of it?” he challenged.
Luo Binghe grinned boyishly from where he was folding away a few items of clothing. “So...you really do like me.”
If that had still been in any doubt, then he definitely owed his poor husband an apology. Shen Qingqiu sighed, holding out his arms. “Come here.”
Like a puppy, Luo Binghe did so, stopping in front of him and taking his hands.
Shen Qingqiu looked up at him with a little smile. “I really do like you,” he affirmed, squeezing his hands.
“But it’s probably too soon to ask if you want to go again?”
Shen Qingqiu gave him a quelling look. Luo Binghe laughed, and his laughter was one of the sweetest sounds he’d ever heard. “I’m sorry, Shizun, I couldn’t resist.”
When Shen Qingqiu simply turned his head away with a huff, Binghe’s expression changed, leaning down to catch his attention. “Shizun, don’t be like that. Shizun. Shizun!”
Shen Qingqiu took advantage of his distraction to pull him down for a kiss.
He could feel the smile cross Luo Binghe’s face as their lips met. Really, this disciple of his was so easy to please.
When they broke apart, Shen Qingqiu left a hand on the back of his neck, fingers curling in his hair. “You can...ask me again tomorrow?”
Nodding excitedly, Luo Binghe pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Okay. I will.”
“Good. Do that.”
“Will you say yes?”
“You’ll find out!” Shen Qingqiu said, although they both knew what the answer was. “Now go and make us some lunch. You ate my breakfast.”