“Xie Yi”, he said slowly and reached out for the other’s hand. The black-haired youth looked down in confusion, where Shi Yue’s large palm was placed over his hand and was squeezing tightly. “Promise me that when I do something that makes you uncomfortable, you will tell me and not just let me do whatever.”
“Okay.” Xie Yi nodded with a gentle smile. Then he patted Shi Yue’s hand with his free one and pulled both of them back, ignoring all the pink bubbles that had been floating about a minute ago.
Aaaah. MingMing always said that Xie Yi was naturally seductive, but he felt that Shi Yue was also a natural. It was way too easy to misunderstand the things his master was doing, even though it was nothing but goodwill.
Shi Yue felt the side of his lips twitch and stopped himself from reaching out again.
As much as he wanted to hold Xie Yi’s hand, this wasn’t the right situation for it. Shi Yue stood up and gathered his notes. “I will go and inform everyone necessary. Why don’t you settle the new child’s lodging and afterwards, we can eat dinner together?”
It was quite late in the day already.
Xie Yi hummed in agreement and left the room with Shi Yue.
He found Qiang Ren with Li Mei, the image looking rather funny. The boy was pressed against the wall, his face so white you could think that Li Mei was trying to do something indecent to him.
“To no one’s surprise”, Li Mei started, “the child is malnourished, has a few bones that were broken and didn’t grow together quite right, and he’s sick. Beyond that, he’s not too suited for cultivation in general, but body strengthening techniques should suit him.”
Li Mei was standing in another corner of the room, giving Qiang Ren some space.
When the boy saw Xie Yi, he looked up expectantly.
“So, what do I do if I want to have him around and train him?”
“Safety regulations, Xiao Yi. You can’t have him around at all, he will need to live like any suspicious person coming here for the first time. At most, you will be allowed to take him out once in a while.” She went over to mess Xie Yi’s hair up and smiled at him. “I’ll take care of it for you. We have a separate ward for children that were brought here and that are sick. There will be guards to keep an eye on him and he can get back to full health for now.”
Xie Yi gave her a thumbs-up.
“Do what she says, Ah Ren. I’ll come by every day to make sure you’re still fine.”
Qiang Ren didn’t respond, but his shoulders relaxed a tiny bit. Although he was a street rat, he knew about the Virtuous Sect and even if he was slightly creeped out at the moment, he knew he was safer than ever before.
By the time Xie Yi had finished making his rounds to visit Xu Yan, Su Liang and wash up, his stomach was growling.
Like a hungry beast, he followed the scent of food into Shi Yue’s house and peeked into the kitchen without entering. (He was still forbidden from going into Shi Yue’s kitchen, after all, and even if he forgot once in a while, he tried to follow it if possible.)
The Grandmaster stood with his back turned to the door and his hair was only tied in a loose ponytail. The usual, beautiful robes had made place for a monochrome black one that contrasted strongly with his hair and white skin.
Xie Yi leaned against the doorframe and watched him happily. That he could come to this place and be greeted with his master making a meal for him was pure bliss.
“I’m almost done”, Shi Yue said without turning around when Xie Yi didn’t speak up. The pot bubbled quietly.
He didn’t mind cooking for Xie Yi. It was the opposite; he was hoping that Xie Yi might get too used to him doing this. Shi Yue was a Grandmaster, he had a lot of time. If he could quietly integrate himself into Xie Yi’s life, that wasn’t bad.
And less stressful than a confession.
Shi Yue had not invited the two flowers and the feather ball on purpose, allowing himself to eat alone with Xie Yi, who was surprised at the large variety of dishes to choose from.
“Were you in the mood for cooking? That’s a lot”, he absentmindedly commented while trying to choose where to start.
“I’m relieved you came back, it’s not too much to prepare a good meal for you”, Shi Yue said honestly. Xie Yi looked too thin. “You’ve lost weight.”
“Did I?” Xie Yi sounded surprised and reacted on instinct.
He tugged his robe open and placed a hand on his stomach, trying to remember if he had had more meat on his bones before.
Shi Yue placed his face into his hands and sighed.
“I don’t think I’m thinner? Shi Yue, look, I’m the same as before.”
“I won’t look.” Although tempting, that felt like taking advantage of the youth.
Xie Yi patted his stomach and the crisp sound of skin hitting skin sounded out loud. The youth was just short of completely taking off the upper part and running to find a mirror. “I’m not thin… I’m fine…”
“No, you just have a warped perception after living malnourished for too long.” Shi Yue’s muffled voice was barely audible through the hands he was holding in front of his face.
“Is that how it is…? I don’t really have anyone to compare to, Xu Yan is smaller than me and MingMing taller… Oh, Shi Yue, can I compare to you?”
“No.” There were zero hidden intentions, Shi Yue knew that, but the conversation was a bit painful nonetheless. “Eat your food.”
Shi Yue only allowed Xie Yi to stop eating once the other was stuffed. Content, the younger man followed his master into one of the smaller siderooms.
Shi Yue gestured towards the chairs. “Now that we’ve eaten, maybe we can go back to the topic we’ve postponed before?”
“It will take a while to tell”, Xie Yi warned with a sheepish smile but sat down anyway. He knew what the other was talking about.
Shi Yue only responded by leaving for a moment and then returning with a bottle in his hand. Sitting down as well, he held it out to Xie Yi. “I have time, and ears to listen.”
The strong scent spread through the room and Xie Yi’s eyes lit up. He hurriedly grabbed the bottle and hugged it to himself.
“Good wine! Excellent!” He purred like a cat - or maybe, a tiger - and his eyes turned into crescents. “This must have been expensive! You don’t mind me drinking?”
“Your body can handle it.” Shi Yue paused, then awkwardly tilted his head. “Another thing I have to apologize for. I know the state your body is in.”
Xie Yi raised an eyebrow. “Should I see this wine as an apology, then?”
“If you want to.” Shi Yue smiled softly. He had a lot of wine hidden in his rooms; priceless treasures that he kept to use as expensive gifts or for special occasions. Alas, the person he liked enjoyed wine even more than he did, so he would happily share.
“Shi Yue, I looooove-”
Xie Yi dragged the word excitedly.
...He had expected it to end like that, but Shi Yue was still a bit unhappy.
“Definitely one of the things I love the most in my life”, Xie Yi sighed contently and poured himself a cup. “Although I guess it started as a painkiller addiction, I still like the taste a lot.”
Shi Yue watched Xie Yi’s movements.
Maybe now that the secret was out, Xie Yi’s behaviour had switched over completely. Even his eyes had slightly changed, adjusting to look more like eclipses, and his body language was languid but seductive.
He sipped at the wine and licked the drops from his lips while Shi Yue tried his best not to stare.
Truly a beautiful person. He looked best when he was relaxed like this.
Once Xie Yi focused on his wine, he fell quiet, and Shi Yue along with him. He simply waited for the other to start, not pressuring him or asking.
The clouds in the sky moved to the side, revealing numerous stars.
Xie Yi leaned back in the comfortable chair and turned to look outside at the moon.
Shi Yue, with a move of his sleeve, extinguished all light inside the room. Only the moonlight illuminated their figures.
“I’m not sure how much you know, so I’ll just start in the beginning. Interrupt me if you have questions”, Xie Yi said slowly, thoughtfully, as if the story he was about to tell wasn’t his own.
Shi Yue picked up his cup of tea and agreed with a nod.
Into the silence of the night, Xie Yi told the story of his life.
Living on the street and being found by the Demonic Sect. He was treated differently from the start; from the beginning, the elders personally kept an eye on him.
He narrated calmly how he was raised, how he trained and was moulded by the sect. In a gentler voice, he told the stories of how he met Mingtian and Shi Yue, in colder ones the time after that - how effortlessly the elders used his lack of knowledge to their advantage.
Shi Yue remembered a lot of what Xie Yi told him. The distorted presents and violent visits, most of all.