Shi Yue shoved Xie Yi outside until they were out of sight of the building. Only then did he stop, turning Xie Yi to him and raising his chin to look into his eyes.
They were blank, but below the surface was bubbling fury. The memory of everything that must have happened to him must have both called his old worldview and the anger at it back up.
“Xie Yi”, he nervously called.
The youth snapped back to reality, his head slightly twitching at the force keeping it tilted up.
He looked at Shi Yue for a moment, then freed himself from his hold and wrapped his arms around the man.
Stunned, Shi Yue did not resist his disciple burying his face into his shoulder.
“Sorry”, he heard the low voice. The sounds rumbled against his skin. “I need a moment.”
The Grandmaster didn’t reply. He only lifted his arms to wrap them lightly around his disciple and sighed sadly, not moving away. If this much could grant the poor guy some relief, he did not mind it.
The pair of arms that were hanging around his neck was unusually weak, the whole person defenceless. Shi Yue felt his heart twinge painfully at seeing the usually strong Xie Yi like this.
He opened his mouth, tempted to tell him.
That he knew what had happened in his last life. That he would help him continue to get over it. That he wouldn’t abandon him and aid him in his revenge against the sect.
He didn’t say it.
He lowered his head to place it closer to Xie Yi’s and kept quiet.
The youth needed a couple of minutes before he inhaled and exhaled deeply. He pulled his arms back slowly, showing his master a wry smile. “Sorry.”
The Grandmaster raised his hand before he knew it, gingerly stroking over his cheek and pushing back some strands of hair behind his ear.
“Don’t worry about it.” His voice was low and tender - such a sweet tone that he, himself, snapped his mouth shut and hurriedly pulled his hand back.
Xie Yi chuckled lightly, giving him a gratified smile.
...Good thing he still couldn’t judge intimacy levels. At all.
Shi Yue folded his arms behind his back to hide the burning hand that he was roughly rubbing over to get rid of the sensation. He truly did not like how he was acting since he woke up.
Master Chen’s comment about him breaking their distance popped into his mind and he irritably pushed it away. There was no way he would pursue his male disciple. 1A/N: Eat those words, hubby
“Feeling well enough to go back?”, Shi Yue asked, clearing his throat in hopes of it returning to being more even and not quite as... odd.
“Yeah, of course”, his disciple nodded, already taking the lead to walk forward. Shi Yue joined into his pace.
“I will call in a meeting about everything that we heard just now. This is something that I need every sect leader to know about. On that occasion, I’ll also declare you as my succeeding disciple in front of everyone again.” He paused to make sure that Xie Yi was listening. “I believe you won’t mind if I don’t make a large issue out of it?”
Xie Yi shuddered in terror at imagining what these ceremonies could look like. They were like huge parties with everyone staring at you and coming over to talk to you and giving unnecessary presents while saying unnecessary praises. The thought of being in the center of that was terrible.
Shi Yue fully agreed with his train of thoughts.
“Then we will keep it very simple. Hmm, we will need to tailor you some clothes for it, though.”
“I think I’ve got something suitable”, the youth rejected, thinking about the clothes he had bought with Xu Yan back then. There was something else he was interested in. “Uhm, is there going to be a gift exchange again? So that I can prepare.”
Shi Yue laughed lightly. “Well, it’s not obligatory, but yes, people usually do it and I did intend to prepare some things for you.”
“Good to know”, Xie Yi breathed out. What could he get his master? What would he like?
“You’ve gotten me something recently, though. You don’t have to force yourself to think of something”, Shi Yue commented and pulled a finger through the string of the jade amulet at his waist. It was the one Xie Yi had given him.
The other, only now noticing his master was wearing his present, chuckled happily. “I definitely want to give you something. Don’t reject it, okay?”
“Alright then”, his master dotingly gave in. He was a bit curious as to what Xie Yi would come up with.
A few days later, Shi Yue called Xie Yi up to his training room. Contrary to usual, he did not mind Xie Yi wearing his tighter clothes and even wore a similar type himself, gaining a surprised look from Xie Yi.
“Slow practice”, Shi Yue explained. “More useful like this.”
The youth tilted his head but walked to the middle of the room anyway. His master walked to stand a bit farther away from him to the side.
“Follow what I do”, the Grandmaster ordered and slowly moved his body. He was going through a set of motions without his sword, plain martial arts. Due to his clothes, every movement was visible.
Xie Yi watched the whole set first before he repeated it. As he began, Shi Yue came closer and continued walking around him in circles.
He felt his skin prickle where Shi Yue stared and pretty soon understood what the other was doing. He had said that he wanted to find a better set of arts for Xie Yi, so he was probably looking out closer for any habits.
That was indeed what Shi Yue was doing.
He was unlikely to go through the trouble for a common disciple who wouldn’t have deeply ingrained habits but for Xie Yi, this was necessary. The movements of his muscles, the shifts of his body and how he moved from position to position already told him a lot.
For example, Xie Yi was almost constantly lowering his body more than needed. Despite the additional strain, he would stay closer to the ground and while he was very controlled in moving his arms, shifts from facing forward to facing backwards were always quicker than the other movements, his head almost jumping around first.
He didn’t like the movements that needed his body to get into any position where he was fully stretched and would need more time to change. He would hardly ever completely stretch his legs.
Shi Yue had built in some unnecessarily pretty movements on purpose but Xie Yi skipped them completely as if forgotten. He was very direct in the path he took.
Thinking about the martial arts that the spiritual sects had, based on equal duels where people did not lower their heads and faced each other proudly, Shi Yue pursed his lips. No wonder Xie Yi failed even at the movements.
“All again, but this time while moving your spiritual energy as I do.” One more demonstration. Xie Yi pulled a face with an awkward expression but repeated it, too.
Tried to. It was worse.
Shi Yue’s spiritual energy moved very smoothly and evenly, like a stream of water. It followed along all of his movements without the slightest change.
Xie Yi’s control was basically excellent - the amount was steady and it always followed along the exact path but it couldn’t be compared to a stream. It was more of a hare.
Partially it moved at the exact same speed but at the end of every motion, it jumped forward into place, readied for a more explosive attack and gathering there. Then it would stream into the next direction obediently before performing another jump.
When Xie Yi finished, he had flushed cheeks from embarrassment. He knew well enough how obviously you could see his shortcomings when watched like that. With the previous examinations he had still been able to somewhat hide his problems but this set showed it all.
Shi Yue was momentarily stunned at seeing the expression on his face. He knew that Xie Yi was ridiculously strong, there truly was no need to feel ashamed that he had habits developed over decades.
It was only when he remembered that he was not supposed to know this fact that he understood the youth’s embarrassment. It certainly looked as if they weren’t habits but a lack of control and practice.
“Although it’s possible to change habits, I’m not sure it would be beneficial in your case”, Shi Yue said pointedly, making sure that his disciple would know he didn’t think he was bad at this. “I feel as if they’re too deeply settled already. I believe I have something that might somewhat work…”
Muttering to himself, Shi Yue vanished in one of the adjacent rooms and rustled around for a while. Coming back he held another book with a set of martial arts.