Xie Yi slept until midday, waking up woozy and slightly disoriented. Despite feeling well-rested, he couldn't quite find his way out of his dream-like state. Everything around him was kind of soft and foggy.
Waking up slowly, he crawled out of the bed and wobbled over to the door while rubbing his eyes.
“Shi Yue?”, he called out as he opened it, holding one hand against the wall to steady himself until the fog in his head completely lifted.
“I’m here”, came the answer, just moments later. “And don’t forget to call me ‘Master’.”
Shi Yue stepped into the hallway, walking over to his disciple and stretching out a hand to feel his forehead. Seeing as the temperature was normal, he heaved a sigh of relief and turned the check into a head pat.
“How are you feeling right now? You had a light fever when I checked on you this morning.”
“How late is it”, Xie Yi mumbled in confusion, reaching out to take hold of Shi Yue’s sleeve.
The cultivator let the boy hold unto him and answered slowly. Xie Yi was obviously still waking up and his thoughts were still going slowly.
“Around noon. Go and wash up, afterwards you can get something to eat”, Shi Yue said as he pulled his sleeve out of Xie Yi’s hand to switch it with his own instead and then tugged the child into the right direction once he saw that Xie Yi was more sleep-walking than anything else.
Dizzy, Xie Yi stared at the pair of hands. In his past life, Shi Yue had never held his hand. It was weird to see his own being so tiny that Shi Yue’s was completely wrapped around it. He really did like its warmth, though. As long as he followed Shi Yue’s lead, he didn’t feel uncomfortable even though he still had trouble concentrating.
“Shi Yue”, he called again as he yawned. “Shi Yue is leading me…”
“Into the right direction?”, the older cultivator responded amusedly, tugging Xie Yi continuously forward to the large bathroom. The boy was following him completely blindly, according to how dazed his look was.
“Yes”, Xie Yi mumbled and rubbed his eyes, earning a soft chuckle.
“Can you wash up by yourself?” Once they were in the bathroom, Xie Yi was led towards the sink and then lost hold of that hand holding him.
“Hmm”, he hummed tiredly, blinking a few times and then reaching out to take off his clothes more out of habit than conscious behaviour.
Shi Yue left for outside - Xie Yi was a child and still so young that there was nothing else to see him as, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t starting to enter puberty. There was no need to stay and watch him undress and wash up. Xie Yi wasn’t his son and even if he was, at that age, you should really start staying out of the room when children aren’t wearing anything.
Shi Yue waited responsibly, listening closely in case all sounds ceased or he heard something loud. Basically, anything suggesting that Xie Yi would have fallen over.
Thankfully, the water seemed to help Xie Yi to wake up completely. A while later he stepped out, wearing one of the robes that Shi Yue had placed into the bathroom this morning, and looking up with bright eyes.
“Good morning”, he chirped happily.
“Awake now?” Shi Yue smiled lightly at the cheerful child.
“Un. I don’t think I ever slept that deeply”, Xie Yi said as he pulled a face. He vaguely remembered waking up and Shi Yue taking his hand, but it was so foggy that it might as well have been part of a dream. When he truly came to, he was standing at the sink and already washing his face, undressed.
“Well, the room and the concoction did their thing. Are you awake enough to eat?”
“I’m… starving”, Xie Yi admitted awkwardly. He was incredibly hungry. As much as he wanted to keep quiet about it - the elders had hated it when he commented on wanting to eat -, he did feel a bit like Shi Yue wouldn’t be happy if he did. So, experimentally, he tried saying it.
“Good. I already have something ready for you”, Shi Yue said, pleased. Look at that, his disciple had actually admitted to being hungry! So many steps into the right direction recently!
“Uhm, how is the plan for after eating?”
Shi Yue lead the way to the terrace, where the sect leader was drinking tea as he read a book. When he heard someone approach he looked up, nodding slightly in greeting and the placing his book away. The table was already filled with all kinds of delicacies.
“The sect leader will stay here for another while”, Shi Yue told him as he sat down and placed food on his own plate. “We will go fetch Ying Hua and then go back to the sect. To put things bluntly, we will make a scene about the fact that my disciple nearly got hurt. There is no use to directly point Yao Ming out as the culprit, the more important thing is that his family becomes aware of the fact that I’m not letting this matter fall under the rug. You will have to spend a few times toning it down until you’re back to full health.”
“Ehh? That’s boring, what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”, Xie Yi complained and nibbled on his breakfast-slash-lunch. Brunch?
“How about resting? I will get everyone’s agreement to letting Mingtian stay with you. He is quite small, anyway, so it shouldn’t be a problem as long as he behaves well. Xu Yan is also around, and other than that, I will give you a few books to read.”
Xie Yi pulled a face. Why reading… Couldn’t he train or something like that…
“You will have to even out your temperament sooner or later if you wish to advance to a higher level”, Shi Yue warned. “The higher your strength, the worse would it be for you to be impulsive. It would be much too easy to cause great destruction due to a momentary lapse in patience.”
The child contemplated the words and found them to be very true. That was pretty much how his last life had gone all the time. Maybe he would have gotten along better with Shi Yue if he wasn’t so quick to change his moods? Well, he could learn about that now. And while he was at it, MingMing might as well do the same.
“Does Shi Yue-”
“Does Master like people who are calmer?”, Xie Yi asked while pouting a bit, his reddish eyes turned down to the food where his hands moved to fill his plate.
“It’s good if people aren’t too impulsive”, Shi Yue honestly answered. Maybe that would give Xie Yi some incentive to-
“Okay then… I’ll do my best to grow into someone Master likes!”
Shi Yue and the sect leader both froze in their current positions, their eyes darting up to each other as awkwardness appeared on their faces.
Great, now it sounded like Shi Yue was raising a little wife up to his taste. That hadn’t quite been what he intended. There were cultivators who did things like that - age gaps weren’t really that serious if you could expand your lifespan, so sometimes adult cultivators would find younger ones to watch over until they themselves were mature. On that matter, laying your hands on a minor, no matter your relationship, was strictly forbidden. Anything beyond a hug was absolutely out of question and a necessary measure to avoid cultivators misusing youth’s naivety to create a physical dependency that had nothing to do with feelings.
Even more so because most cultivators had a sort of teacher-student relationship with their juniors, you had to make sure that no one could take advantage of it.
Especially because cultivators tendentially sought out different aspects in their partners, it wasn’t too rare for half-couples to form from teenager-age already. Cultivators also matured differently on a mental level, which did nothing to ease the situation.
Shi Yue didn’t know how many heartbroken young adults he had to deal with. Sometimes it was because the one they liked was raising up a full harem and not just one lover, sometimes because they truthfully misunderstood the other’s intentions and feelings, sometimes because they felt like they weren’t taken seriously.
Shi Yue didn’t have the right to judge those that formed one of these complicated platonic couple relationships with a young junior, but he himself was quite averse to the idea.
Yet, how should he say this, his disciple was raising himself as a little bride on his own accord? What kind of mess was that?
Moreover, if he remembered the way Xie Yi looked as an adult, he had a weird feeling of dread in his stomach.
Until his disciple grew to an age where anyone, no matter gender or age, would have troubles rejecting him… By then, that boy would have let go of his obsessive adoration and not pursue his master, right?