Xie Yi looked satisfied at the response. He found it hard not to think of the adorable little girl as family; she had gone through the same experience as him, basically taking his place, but she was a strong child, very much to his liking.
Xu Yan looked at the situation and quietly swallowed the words he was about to say.
Honestly… he was a bit reminded of when the stray dog he had seen on the street adopted a stray, orphaned kitten. It looked like a similar kind of imprinting was going on right in front of him.
Dishevelled and a bit giddy from over-exhaustion, Xie Yi kept hugging Xiao Zai to himself.
“Okay, okay. Give her to me. I’ll take care of her until tomorrow, at least.” Master Chen pried the child out of her hands. Nervous, Xiao Zai looked over at the familiar Xu Yan, who hurried over to hold her hand.
Master Chen looked over Shi Yue and Xie Yi. “When was the last time you two had an actual rest? And by that I don’t mean a pause, but rest, as in, can relax?”
Two heads tilted simultaneously.
Well, not on the way back. They took a nap in the Singing City, kinda, but they were preparing for going out so that was a rather tense situation. The way to the Singing City… Uhm, they were careful about being watched there. The Honourable Sect?
“Too long.” Master Chen interrupted their thoughts. “You two, bed. Tomorrow, bath, breakfast, and then you can come to me.”
Shi Yue, knowing what was good for him, merely nodded. Xie Yi opened his mouth, but Li Mei threw a sentence into the middle.
“Xu Yan will get angry at you if you don’t.”
Swerving his head over to Xu Yan.
Xu Yan quickly nodded with a serious face.
Xie Yi surrendered.
Mingtian’s stamina was abnormal, but since he was looking forward to seeing his mate and child, he was cooperative in dragging Shi Yue and Xie Yi back to their house. He howled at Xue Hua, who waited at the door, and ran over to envelop the other in a hug.
Xue Hua returned it gently before focusing on his partner. “Yue… You look tired.”
“I am”, Shi Yue admitted.
Xue Hua and Mingtian exchanged glances. Once more, the two cultivators were pushed and dragged forward until they reached a bedroom - Shi Yue’s to be precise.
The whole room smelled of witchhazel and softly pulsed with familiar arrays. The furniture was Shi Yue’s personal style, as was the large and welcoming bed. From outside, you could hear the soft sound of the wind and birds chirping, while dimmed light fell through the drawn curtains.
The two cultivators felt that their heads were a bit blank. Even as Xue Hua quietly closed the door they stood in a daze, doing nothing but breathing.
“Oh lord”, Shi Yue said as he exhaled, placing his face into his hands. “Everything is going well. It’s actually going well.”
Xie Yi felt overwhelmed by the sudden change. Going from high pressure to this in mere minutes had left him speechless. “Uhm, so… We can relax?”
“Yes. Yes, it’s fine”, Shi Yue whispered and reached out to drag his beloved over.
The kiss came crashing down on Xie Yi who was still gathering his wits, but he did not resist nonetheless. His slowly gathering thoughts scattered again, leaving nothing but the aggressive lips rubbing against his.
Both of them were exhausted from the last days. Shi Yue was especially irritated because he could not cling to his new lover as he wished to, but his responsibility kept him under control.
Now that he was at home and safe, with a deity sitting in his cellar and one of the Demonic Sect’s currently most treasured human experiments safe and sound in their hands, he felt a lot of pressure falling away.
It made him hungry.
Xie Yi realised the shift in the mood. It wasn’t quite like before, especially not with the way Shi Yue was kissing him. There was a hint of growing restraint that slowly made Shi Yue reign himself in, but Xie Yi didn’t forget the unusual ferocity.
He didn’t dislike it. He’d have to find a way to probe whether Shi Yue was holding something back out of concern for him - in which case he’d probably have to say that Shi Yue didn’t have to worry - or whether there was another reason.
As soon as a good opportunity would show itself.
He enjoyed the feeling of Shi Yue’s tongue wrapping around his and returned it enthusiastically. His lips were sucked on until they were numb, then the other person retreated.
“Sleep sounds good”, Xie Yi yawned and was kissed again.
“Do you want to go to your own room or stay here?” Shi Yue gently rubbed their noses against each other and kept his hands wrapped around Xie Yi’s cheeks, caressing them with his thumbs. He did not ask Xie Yi to rest together.
Not yet. Xie Yi would not yet truly sleep around him and right now, he wanted both of them to rest. Xie Yi had yet to let all of his guard fall away, and there was no way for a Grandmaster to truly sleep around a person until that was done.
“I want to sleep in your room”, Xie Yi asked in a spoiled voice.
“Then I’ll sleep in yours.” Another kiss was placed on his forehead before the warmth left him. “I’ll wake you up tomorrow.”
“Un”, Xie Yi mumbled while rubbing his eyes. He turned his body and crawled into the bed.
The next day, it was neither Shi Yue nor Xie Yi who was the one doing the waking up. It was Xu Yan and Master Chen, carefully manoeuvring both drowsy cultivators to a breakfast table.
Xie Yi let his head thump onto the wood and stopped moving. Only a long, low groan could be heard.
“The whole mission sounds so easy”, Shi Yue sighed. “Enter the black market. Find Xiao Zai. Leave.”
He tried to lift his arm above shoulder height and realized that he failed. All his muscles had locked up from the constraint strain and stress and now he was getting payback. He had been as tense as during a war, but was forced to act calmly. Now his body didn’t listen anymore.
“Where are the kids?” Xie Yi’s drawled words were hard to understand, but Xu Yan managed to do it.
“We’ve put Qiang Ren and Xiao Zai together. Qiang Ren is… I don’t know how to say it? He’s very determined to do whatever task you give him, and now he’s convinced he has to make Xiao Zai comfortable. He’s running around, getting toys for her and the like.”
Xie Yi closed his eyes. Qiang Ren should be maybe a year or two older than Xiao Zai. “When can they come live here?”
“As soon as you two look human again”, Master Chen answered in Xu Yan’s stead. She prodded and poked Shi Yue’s arm, her eyebrows rising. “You two need an extended break.”
“I can’t take a break, I need to manage the sect”, Shi Yue grunted.
“You don’t”, Master Chen rejected. “The others have done well so far and they can continue for another few days. Besides…”
She hesitated, looking at Xu Yan, then decided to speak out anyway.
“The sect leader is looking better. His fingers have begun to twitch and you can see his eyes move once in a while. I believe he will wake up soon.”
Xie Yi rolled his head around to stare at Master Chen, who merely smiled. “That’s why… Take it easy. You’ve done enough. Let us see what we can do about Yao Ming and how Xiao Zai’s health is for now, that’s all that needs to be done. the rest can wait.”
The black-haired youth felt a pair of hands pat his back and slowly massage his shoulders. He threw a thankful glance at Xu Yan, who rolled his eyes and chuckled a bit.
Master Chen and Shi Yue both reaffirmed their thoughts of definitely wanting to involve Xu Yan in the sect’s business. Too precious not to use.
After breakfast, Shi Yue climbed down into his cellar with Xie Yi in tow. Su Liang happily jumped out of Nie’s arms and towards them, whistling out “YiYi, YiYi” all the time - somewhere between an attempt at speaking and just making noises that were close enough to the words.
Shi Yue bowed towards Nie, who waved his hand and gave a nod at the cultivator digging a hole and burying Xie Yi’s old storage ring.
Carrying Su Liang out, they finally walked to the pavilion to meet Xiao Zai and Qiang Ren.
Xie Yi held back a chuckle when he saw the two children.
Qiang Ren stood straight, his chest puffed out - he had gotten a tiny bit of weight and muscle. When he saw Xie Yi, his eyes glimmered with excitement, similar to how the new disciples would look at the cultivation masters.
Xiao Zai sat on a chair right before him, also looking up at Xie Yi and especially the fluffy thing in his arms.
Su Liang blinked, jumped down to the ground and began to check out the new child.
“How are you?”, Xie Yi asked, rubbing Qiang Ren’s head and looking between the two children.
“I’m good! I’ve learned how to train! Master Chen said I’m doing well”, Qiang Ren reported, fidgeting on the spot. Xie Yi laughed and gave him an approving nod that made him stand even straighter.
Xiao Zai took longer to reply. She fidgeted and hesitated, her eyes turned to the ground. “I don’t know”, she finally replied. “Not good. Better, maybe?”
“Better is great. Better is all we want for now”, Shi Yue soothed her.