Mingtian walked over to keep a hand near his son in case he'd fall. “I am surprised he is so… lively. He should have just hatched a day ago at most, I’ve checked the nest yesterday morning. And yet, he can wander around already!”
“Did he hatch from an egg? Right, Xue Hua didn’t look pregnant, did he? How does that work?” Xie Yi spoke up, curiously staring at Mingtian.
The canine was always ready to teach his little brother. “Yes, he grew in an egg. As for birth, hmm. It’s a bit complicated. Beast couples with males and females can get children the usual way, but same-sex beast couples can’t. That said, this wasn’t really planned!”
For a same-sex couple to bear children, they needed to eat a certain type of somewhat rare plant. The process of it taking root was both painful and uncomfortable and would be very taxing on the mother’s body.
Xue Hua had never ever considered taking it before. It was only recently that he had changed his mind.
He believed the chance to be low anyway and did not inform Mingtian of it. (Not that Mingtian cared about that at all, he was perfectly fine with the situation.)
He saw it as the same chance of getting pregnant as a female would have. If it was fated, then he’d be happy about it, but he wouldn’t suffer if it didn’t work. He still had the seed from his parents, as part of the things he had taken after leaving his home - not on purpose, but as a forgotten extra.
The plant needed for lesbian and gay couples were different. The one that a man needed to eat would, due to a man not being built for pregnancy, create something like an eggshell around the fetus.
The egg would have to be cut out of the male’s body along with scraping out the rest of the plant. Thankfully, the doctor had not noticed the small scar and had only noted Xue Hua’s exhaustion. Although the physical damage was minor, the strain on the body would take months to vanish. The nutrients that were absorbed in this process could only be retrieved slowly through food.
The egg grew outside of Xue Hua’s body.
Mingtian gave Xie Yi a quick rundown of it and Xie Yi curiously watched Su Liang. “So it can be considered a chick? Aren’t newborn chicks without feathers?”
“I have no idea why he’s like this, either. Pups can’t walk and see right away after birth and neither can chicks. Equestrians can, but that’s got nothing to do with us. And I don’t think I’ve heard stories of crossbreeds being that different…”
Su Liang didn’t look particularly hungry, either. Or troubled by his surroundings.
Experimentally, Xie Yi went to fetch some milk.
Su Liang licked some of it off Xie Yi’s finger but while he showed interest, there was no real hunger. A piece of meat he tried to chew on but ultimately ignored, fruits he absent-mindedly licked. The milk still was the most interesting.
“Is he not hungry?” Shi Yue reached up to his shoulder to tug Su Liang down. The newborn stretched his feet into the air and kept a few long strands of Shi Yue’s hair in his mouth as he looked around.
“This… He looks healthy, but this is unnatural. Whether it’s canine or avian, he should be hungry”, Mingtian muttered.
“Besides, I don’t think he should have hatched yet? Don’t they say that it takes around ten months, no matter what?”, Xue Hua commented worriedly.
Mingtian appeared to only now realize this. The joyful atmosphere twisted a bit.
“We don’t know anything about him. It will have to be trial and error.” Xie Yi poked the little guy who only yipped.
Xue Hua showed a dark face. “I can’t accept trial and error if it concerns the life and health of my child!”
Fiddling his fingers, Mingtian closed his eyes. “I will go and find Nie.”
“The deity?”, Xue Hua asked instantly, his eyes widening.
“He’d know”, Mingtian said, his hair beginning to stand up as he nervously talked. “I’m sure he can tell whether Xiao Liang is fine! He’d also know how to help him if there were problems! He’s a deity! It’s not certain he will, but if I go and ask him, maybe he will help us!”
“Do you know where he is?”, Xie Yi asked, instantly judging the idea as a good one.
“He never once left the tree”, Mingtian confirmed. “I’m sure he still is there. I’ll go.”
Xue Hua lowered his head. His voice was resigned, already accepting the situation. “All the way to that place? ...How long will you be gone?”
Mingtian frowned deeply. “...Three months if I hurry.”
The silence spread.
Shi Yue sighed. “If you do go, I and Xie Yi will watch over the two of them. I’m sure Ying Hua will also be here to help. Luckily, Xiao Liang is hardly timid.”
“I wanna hold him”, Xie Yi whined, circling around Shi Yue.
Mingtian watched in loving amusement how Shi Yue handed over the feather bundle and Xie Yi carefully curled up on a chair so that the little guy could rest on his knees and climb to his shoulders.
Something about holding Su Liang was relaxing.
“So what do you eat, hmm? Should I get you worms-” He tugged at the tiny wings. “-or should I get you meat and milk?” He poked the tiny teeth. "How about fish?"
Xie Yi half sang his words and Su Liang yipped along happily.
Xie Yi beamed. “Is he going to be able to turn into a humanoid form, too? A little bun tumbling around?”
“I think there’s nothing that can be said with certainty about that little guy. Xiao Bai Qiu!”
The “little white ball” whined.
Xie Yi snorted at the nickname. “Bai Qiu is cute, too.”
Mingtian laughed, then looked at his mate. He smiled sadly. “I think it is best if I really do hurry to get to Nie. I’ll leave… in a few days.”
Xue Hua closed his eyes. He stayed silent for a few seconds before nodding in understanding, but he looked very tired.
“I think you could use a nap. Xie Yi, give Su Liang over to Xue Hua. We should leave them alone.” Although Shi Yue hadn't been close to any beasts with newborn children, he knew enough that most mothers were very protective right after birth. It was surprising that Xue Hua and Mingtian let them hold Su Liang so much.
“Yes.” Obediently, Xie Yi brought Su Liang back. The child had no problem with being handed around all the time. Instead, he looked as if he understood the situation and buried himself under Xue Hua’s hands.
The bird, with his eyes still red, turned to the side and let his child curl against his chest.
Mingtian sat down at the edge of the bed, placing his legs up and leaning against the wall. Xie Yi watched him raise his hand and slowly caress Xue Hua’s hair.
The young cultivator looked through the gap of the door before it closed.
Shi Yue moved his eyes to his disciple. “It was lucky that you were out at this time. I won’t say thanks - I believe it’s as natural for you as it is to me to wish to ensure his health.”
Xie Yi nodded and grinned proudly. “I’ve got a nephew!”
Seeing that delighted face, Shi Yue had an inkling that this little guy would be surprisingly helpful in making Xie Yi learn to calm down.
“He sure is cute.”
“Does that plant stuff work for humans, too? I don’t think I’ve heard about it before.”
Shi Yue shook his head. “It’s poisonous for humans. Animals don’t react to it at all, common beasts with a very rare percentage. It’s only used by spiritual and demonic beasts. Maybe it’s their blood.”
“I see.” Xie Yi hummed. His interest in it was very minor anyway. The most important thing was that Mingtian had his full family with mate and child that he had always wanted.
The beast had gotten more mature, too, weirdly enough. Maybe it was his memories or his mate, but Mingtian had grown more steady. It was good if he could settle down.
The black-haired youth raised his hands over his mouth, breathing in slowly to stop the sob that wanted to well up.
That was good.
Mingtian wasn’t alone this time. He had the mate he had loved since he was young. He could be a parent to a child, together with Xue Hua, be the parents that he had wished he would have had.
He was happy. He wasn’t alone and wouldn’t ever be, even if something happened to Xie Yi.
Xie Yi did not feel lonely at the thought of having to share Mingtian. He would always be important and irreplaceable to his brother.
That was why it was such a relief to know that this precious brother of his was so happy right now.
Su Liang was definitely fine, and once Nie had explained everything, Mingtian would be able to raise his son in peace.