He lifted his sleeve and moved it over his elbow, then twisted his arm to show the underside of where upper and lower arm met. If you looked closely, you could see that there was a patch of lighter coloured skin with a hatched pattern.
“Lost a chunk of flesh. Did not have the appropriate medicine around for a while.” He traced the faint lines where the stretched, implanted skin had thinned out a bit, resulting in the pattern.
“Cultivators are kinda ridiculous”, Xie Yi noted. “Even with injuries that might disable a normal person, we are surprised if it leaves so much as a scar.”
“We do pay for that”, Shi Yue warned. “You do lose the feeling of danger if you keep on being hurt and healed. Which is why I would prefer if you only sparred with other disciples once you can fully control yourself… I’ve recently come to realize that they have become much too used to losing parts of their bodies.”
That was unhealthy.
“Whatever you say”, the youth fawned over his master joyfully. He was happy that Shi Yue had woken up, so even hearing him talk let his mood soar.
Seeing as his disciple was finished, Shi Yue decided on the next thing he really wanted to do. “I’m going to take a bath. I miss the feeling of being clean.”
“Do you want me to wash your back?”, Xie Yi offered.
Shi Yue and the avian beast froze.
“...How did you get the idea of offering that”, Shi Yue stiffly asked, his facial muscles tight.
Confused, Xie Yi cocked his head. “Li Mei did that for me during this time and it was quite comfortable. I thought it’s a friendly offer?”
That’s because she sees you as a dress-up doll and cute little boy while she’s only interested in women, Shi Yue thought blankly. You, on the other hand, hold a different interest in me.
Knowing Xie Yi, though, there was a chance that he would show absolutely no reaction even if he did wash Shi Yue’s back.
Gnawing at him, an irritated little voice complained. Xie Yi had even gone to an open bathhouse. What difference was there to help wash his master’s back? Didn’t Shi Yue do that for his master, too, when they visited bathhouses during their travels?
It was a common thing. Filial piety, you could say.
“Yue, he could help wash your hair”, Xue Hua threw in with a deadpan face. He was acting a bit too obvious at trying to hook up his partner and his mate’s partner but Shi Yue thought it was amusing. It completely went past Xie Yi, after all.
Shi Yue rolled his shoulders a bit. His body was stiff and he couldn’t raise his arms correctly.
Admittedly, he wouldn’t be able to cleanly wash his hair.
“Alright, as long as you stay calm”, Shi Yue gave in. There were others who could help him, but a disciple could certainly do that for their master.
“Why should I not stay calm?”, Xie Yi asked without a hint of understanding but was ignored.
Shi Yue threw him out while he changed into what was a pair of pants made from the same material of the robes in the bathhouse. Reason was, obviously, he did not want to stand completely unclothed before Xie Yi.
He had a whole set of those for cases where he needed to enter a healing spring but could not go alone due to being too injured. Still better than being seen naked.
When Xie Yi was called in, the bath had heated up and was steaming. Shi Yue was already sitting inside and tiredly leaning on the rim. It was a large stone bath, similar to a heightened pool. 1Imagine it like a modern bathhouse
Almost soundlessly, Xie Yi wandered over.
Unlike many other male disciples that would open up their robes or even take off the upper part during training, he had never seen Shi Yue with only this much fabric.
It was a very nice image.
“Do you even know how to wash someone’s hair”, came the slurred voice of Shi Yue, who did not even open his eyes. The long, silky white strands were hanging over the edge of the bath, spilling all over the floor while only a few were swimming on top of the water.
“Xu Yan washed mine sometimes, after we got here and when I was hurt. I think I know how it works.”
Xie Yi looked around and found a bowl. Barefeet, he wandered over to the edge of the stonetub and squatted down, his pants rolled up high.
“It’s like a miniature bathhouse here. We don’t have anything to soak in in our bath”, Xie Yi complained as he scooped up some of the water with the bowl.
Shi Yue moved to lean his head on the edge.
A bit surprised, Xie Yi found himself looking right down at Shi Yue’s face. The man’s head was stretched back, revealing the fine lines of his throat down to his collarbone and chest, and his expression was at ease with slightly parted lips.
He hesitated for a moment before he set the bowl to the side and carefully brushed Shi Yue’s hair back with his fingers.
“If you have enough money, of course you can let someone build this kind of thing for you. It’s comfortable, so I wanted one.” As he spoke, the man’s throat quivered along each word.
A bit irritated, Xie Yi found himself fidgety but pushed the feeling down.
Once he had all of Shi Yue’s hair together, he let the water run over it again and again while avoiding it running down Shi Yue’s face.
“There’s something to rinse it out with over there.” A tired arm moved out of the water with splashing sounds and gestured to the side. Xie Yi found the bottle and took it.
It hardly had any scent but the liquid felt somehow nice to the touch. Xie Yi slowly massaged it into Shi Yue’s hair and the man hummed peacefully when his disciple rubbed over his scalp.
The youth’s fingers flinched back, his face a bit weird.
Was… this a side effect of liking someone? Heavens, this was troublesome! How was he supposed to help his master when he was constantly distracted and felt like his fingers were being burned?
Pulling himself together, he continued working on washing the hair.
“Do…” Xie Yi cleared his throat at hearing his slightly raspy voice. “Do I brush it, too?”
A hum as a reply. Truthfully, it looked like Shi Yue was falling asleep.
Quietly, the younger man went to pick up the brush and got to work.
About half a minute into it, he decided that no matter what, he had to convince his master to let him do this more often.
Wherever the brush moved through, the tangled strands turned to even lines, incredibly soft to the touch and shining like the moonlight. They ran over his fingers in a gentle wave.
Habitually, he ended up braiding the white hair and fixating it with one of his strings before placing it over Shi Yue’s shoulder and into the water.
...Looks so nice.
Greedy, the youth stared at the lines of muscles above and underwater until the point where they vanished below the fabric.
Shi Yue had indeed been dozing but upon feeling the tingling sensation of being watched, his blinked his eyes open. Xie Yi looked at him innocently, but somehow he had a feeling that this not-so-young disciple of his had taken the chance to steal a longer look.
Tired, he moved a hand under the braid that moved in the water and lifted it up lightly while throwing a questioning glance over.
“That way it won’t tangle.”
“Well, that’s true”, the Grandmaster agreed. He breathed out heavily at moving his heavy body out of the water and sat at the edge of the tub, showcasing his back.
Since the other was here anyway, he really might as well help with washing his back.
With a deadpan face, he ignored the feeling of a pair of eyes running down his spine. He mentally counted to ten, intending to give a scolding if the other didn’t have himself under control by then.
It took eight seconds.
Xie Yi was acting well-behaved. Other than staring, he didn’t do anything that might imply he wanted to do something indecent.
His fingers did not even touch Shi Yue’s skin once - only the towel moved systematically over his back.
At first, the Grandmaster had wanted to say that Xie Yi was scrubbing too hard, but it did feel a bit like a massage so he shut up about it instead.
In truth, Xie Yi was fighting with himself. His face felt hot, he was a bit breathless, his eyes kept on wandering and he had the urge to grope his master.
During the whole time, he did nothing but constantly repeat ‘No’ in his head and focus on controlling his mischievous hands. Under no circumstances could he do something like sneaking a touch! That was totally wrong!
If there were any techniques on getting his rampaging thoughts under control, he wanted to learn them. Fighting with his master might turn out to be troublesome if this continued. Could you stop liking someone?
“Enough, enough”, Shi Yue yawned at some point. “Thanks for the help. Now get out.”
The youth wanted to protest, then thought about the fact that now was probably the time when Shi Yue would proceed to wash the rest of himself… and decided it was better he left.