Once more, several days passed until the weekend was finally there. It wasn’t hard to tell there was a festival nearby, considering that everyone was clothed differently and Xie Yi could hear people chattering everywhere.
On this kind of day, the bathhouse was almost empty - especially since it was still early noon - and Su Liang was indeed accepted inside. Not into the actual bath, though, only a smaller tub on the side, but the cub was happy enough.
Shi Yue grimly avoided looking anywhere at the youth. On his insistence, they had all taken the robes despite being in the separate men’s area.1Reminder: There are mixed and separate areas. Only in the mixed areas is it obligatory to wear a robe, in the separate areas you usually just wear a towel
With all of his muscles relaxed, Xie Yi stepped out of the bath and sat down on a bench in the sunshine. “I feel great.”
“It’s relaxing”, Mingtian agreed and stifled a yawn.
Shi Yue watched for a moment as Xie Yi began to gather his hair together before walking over.
“Wait a second”, he said in a soft voice and Xie Yi froze when he felt the still warm fingers of his master trail through his hair. He lowered his own hands and did not move.
With nimble hands, Shi Yue brushed through the black hair before gathering them in three thick strands. Mingtian was about to intervene, but Xue Hua glared at him and the beast shut his mouth in a pout.
The young cultivator’s hair had grown considerably longer. Shi Yue slowly braided about a third, leaving it a bit loose, and pulled out a brightly-coloured ribbon. Like the specks in Xie Yi’s eyes when they formed an eclipse, it was a gentle yellow with a tint of orange.
He finished tying it up, then retreated with a hint of unwillingness. Xie Yi carefully moved his hand over his shoulder to pull the braid into view.
A bit surprised, he looked at Shi Yue.
“I’m sorry, I did not want to get a black one”, Shi Yue commented. He didn’t like the dark colours that the Demonic Sect leader had used.
“Is this a birthday present?” Delighted, Xie Yi smiled.
“I love it.” Xie Yi laughed, his smile genuine. Not only that Shi Yue had given him a gift at all, also that he had personally put it on.
Stunned, Shi Yue needed more than a few seconds to look away from the face that was letting some of Xie Yi’s feelings of love seep through. Under the warm gaze, the Grandmaster had to avert his eyes.
Xue Hua tightened his grip around Mingtian’s wrist and kept a warning glare on his face.
“Don’t you dare.”
“I’ll get mad at you. I am serious. Don’t get in their way.”
The whispered conversation wasn’t heard by either of the two cultivators who were too caught up in their own thoughts.
Shi Yue pointedly cleared his throat. “Where do you want to go?”
“Weapons store!” Xie Yi jumped up, his face shining.
Seeing his partner still not willing to show his affection for Xie Yi, Xue Hua could only furrow his brows a bit. He did not feel like watching this forever, for various reasons.
...One of these being that he was awkwardly reminded of how long it took him and Mingtian to get together.
Xue Hua or Mingtian made sure to carry Su Liang whenever the number of people on the streets rose or when they entered a store. Some shopkeepers looked wary, some interested. Some had young women employed that barely held back squeals at the gathered power of four handsome men and one very fluffy animal.
Especially when Mingtian and Shi Yue kept their words. They stared in envy as Xie Yi went around, gathering together everything of interest and letting the two men pay for him.
Only once outside again did he pause and look at his storage ring that now held a large amount of not quite spiritual cultivator-typical weapons such as blowdarts, small knives, and needles. “...Is this okay?”
“It’s your birthday. Buy whatever you want”, Mingtian rightfully declared.
“No one is going to find out about what you bought. If they do, they won’t ask - you’re being accompanied by me, after all”, Shi Yue added with a gentle smile.
“If you say so.” The young cultivator shrugged and darted off again.
All in all, there weren’t overly many things that could hold Xie Yi’s interest. When he entered a store selling alcohol, the three beasts waited outside to avoid Su Liang getting issues with the smell.
The salesman was overjoyed to meet a customer like Xie Yi, who loved wine to death and was quite knowledgeable. Shi Yue stood at the side and watched him.
Through rose-tinted glasses - and he knew that his thoughts were warped - Xie Yi looked like an adorable little cub running around, very much like Su Liang.
If he turned his brain on, then he knew that Xie Yi wasn’t adorable. He could be described with beautiful, yes, but a man his size, with muscles all over his slender body, and the temperament of a dragon was not adorable.
However, his thoughts couldn’t care less for the most part. Xie Yi was adorable, he was cute, he was an obedient little guy and seeing him happy was great.
“Good Lord”, Shi Yue mumbled to himself and rubbed the bridge of his nose with closed eyes. “My brain.”
Should he be relieved that Xie Yi was not the type to use his affection? At least this point wasn’t anything to worry about.
“Shi Yue!” Xie Yi called from a room to the side. He wasn’t in the mood to call his master “Master” today, so he didn’t.
“Yes?” The Grandmaster started walking the moment he heard his beloved call, and then smiled in amusement at seeing the scene before him.
The salesman was an enthusiast on Xie Yi’s levels. Like little children looking at a box of candy, both of them were holding onto the edge of a high pedestal, eyes shining. Up above was a glass box - you couldn’t simply touch the glass inside.
It was a bit uncommon, but the flask was made of glass, allowing people to see the beautiful clear colour of the alcohol. With superior senses, Shi Yue could even catch a whiff of the mouthwatering scent.
“Go ahead”, he said sweetly and Xie Yi gave a squeak.
“It’s expensive, though”, he tried hard to hold back.
Shi Yue crossed his arms and arrogantly raised an eyebrow. “I have money.”
Geez, he had spent decades living quite frugally because there was nothing he wanted to buy. Now he wanted to buy things for his disciple, so why not use all that money? It was fine.
“He has money”, the salesman said with an acknowledging nod and shrugged his shoulders as if he wanted to ask Xie Yi where the problem was. “Let your boyfriend buy it for you. If he offers, why not!”
It wasn’t weird that the man had mistaken their relationship. In the first place, they looked quite good together, and then there was the issue of their small interactions. Added to that, Shi Yue kept on agreeing to buy everything Xie Yi pointed at, so the man judged that obviously they must be lovers.
And hey, cultivators were weird! And rich! Who cared if two men were together? He’d take a boyfriend too, if that boyfriend bought him expensive stuff!
Xie Yi needed a second to process the words, then awkwardly opened his mouth to correct him.
Shi Yue found himself flinching. “Anything else you want to have here?”
Anyone else would have noticed he interrupted on purpose. Even the salesman noticed, a bit confused, but Xie Yi didn’t.
The youth’s thoughts instantly switched gears and he replied, completely forgetting what he had wanted to say. “Nope.”
“Alright. I’ll be paying.”
The salesman beamed. He had gotten a good catch today.
With that done, noon was already long passed. Realizing they had somehow skipped lunch by eating some snacks, the group discussed together to eat an early dinner.
They booked a private room in an expensive restaurant for various reasons - it allowed Su Liang in, they wouldn’t be bothered, it had the kind of food quality Shi Yue liked. As for the prices that weren’t even written anywhere, Xie Yi politely decided not to ask.
They took their time for a lavish dinner and an even more lavish round of fascinating desserts. They were small and expensive, but they were tasty.
Shi Yue could hardly remember what he himself had eaten. He had been busy helping Xie Yi - opening up the shells of crabs to give him their meat, explaining how to eat some more complicated dishes, handing him whatever he couldn’t reach.
As they walked outside, he was the last in the group after paying.