Since they had met Shi Yue in the auction house, Xie Yi had been full of conflicted feelings.
First the fact that he had just understood that there was something very wrong about his favourite wine, and then Mingtian leaving him to kill demonic cultivators.
His heart felt a bit better when Shi Yue tried to cheer him up.
The building was kind of bright and colourful; quite unlike anything he was used to. The people inside were weird, too.
The women were almost all very beautiful and scantily dressed, the men looked kind of… Well, they had weird gazes.
The moment they stepped in, Xie Yi had women surround him.
They were squealing and squeaking. Some poked his sides. He watched them with a bit of confusion - what were they so excited about? They kept on giggling.
Then that woman came over and they scattered.
He did not really understand her.
“A room for you two? Shall I make it a private one?”, she asked with a weird smirk.
Shi Yue’s face darkened. “No!”
Then he glanced over at Xie Yi. The young man looked back dumbly. So… were they going to sit in a public room? Didn’t Shi Yue always prefer to have a room for himself? Why not now?
“Master Li, should I choose a room with good soundproofing?”
She had that tone. It was the kind of tone that he was slowly learning to recognize.
Xu Yan had explained it; it was a tone that suggested that the person speaking was hinting at things they weren’t saying out loud. Obviously Shi Yue caught it, but he didn't.
It was a shame that Xu Yan wasn’t here. He would have loved to know what she was hinting at with that sentence.
As he was busy trying to figure it out by himself, Shi Yue had already turned to him. He was rubbing the bridge of his nose.
Xie Yi was aware that this meant that Shi Yue was feeling troubled, but he really liked seeing it. It looked kind of nice on Shi Yue.
“Please don’t take her seriously. She is only making fun of me. I don’t engage in… that kind of thing.”
More of that tone. Anyway, Shi Yue looked uncomfortable and Xie Yi didn’t like that, so he agreed. If Shi Yue said he didn’t, then he didn’t - even if he didn’t know what he didn’t.
His master relaxed at that and so did Xie Yi.
Soon enough, a young girl walked over.
Shi Yue spoke kindly to her, seeing that she was nervous, and Xie Yi curled his fingers. He loved that tone, too. It was sweet and caring.
He looked over the girl; she was a bit younger than him and didn’t look very good, especially compared to the other women in the building.
It was obvious at first glance that she was fidgety around them, but Xie Yi didn’t take it to heart. He was used to people being fidgety in his presence, both in this and his past life.
She led them up a staircase and past numerous doors that were tightly shut. There were women everywhere.
“Do you come here often?”, Xie Yi asked, feeling a twinge in his heart.
Of course, if it came to beautiful women, then men liked having them around. He knew that.
But he did feel a bit unwell at the thought.
Shi Yue hummed. “A good friend of mine likes this place a lot. When we meet, it usually is here.”
That was worse.
Xie Yi pried his eyes off Shi Yue and looked on the ground. He was sorely missing Mingtian. He felt out of place here. He couldn’t understand Shi Yue’s thoughts in coming to this place.
At least the room that they were led to looked comfortable.
Shi Yue went right onto the pillow pile, but Xie Yi hesitated.
Uh, hadn’t he said he didn’t want a private room? This looked pretty private. And what was with the pillows? And the stage?
Wait, was he supposed to take off his shoes? Shi Yue did that.
Uncertain, Xie Yi took off his shoes and sat beside Shi Yue. He couldn’t relax. This place was foreign and smelled too strongly of powder and perfume for his taste.
Then the women came in.
They were leaning on him and giggling. He didn’t like their scent at all, but he could tolerate it. Even their high voices weren’t that unbearable.
It was weird when they touched him all over. Ticklish and leaving behind an unknown feeling that he just couldn’t stand right now.
He tolerated it. Maybe that was how things went here. He didn’t want to embarrass Shi Yue.
Music began to play. It was nice and soothing to the ears, but Xie Yi couldn’t concentrate.
One of them sat down on his lap. He had never noticed, but now he realized that there was a surprising number of nerves in that area - he felt her every movement.
He could tolerate the scent. He could tolerate their giggles. He could tolerate the touches.
But then she held a grape in front of his mouth and he looked into her eyes.
And it was that same look that he had seen so often in his last life. Only a variation of how the old bastards had looked at him.
And suddenly, he couldn’t tolerate it anymore.
It slipped out of his mouth. He hadn’t intended to say anything that might shame Shi Yue.
However, the girls went away immediately and came back to play music.
Xie Yi looked at them.
Maybe he had made a mistake just now. Maybe Shi Yue would be mad now. He didn’t dare to look over.
He wanted to leave but couldn’t. The worry about Shi Yue being mad was slowly being encased by the discomfort that the girls had caused him, creating a larger and larger knot in his gut.
The arm that they had touched directly was prickling.
Every place that the women with those eyes had touched was like being bitten by ants, but that place, where skin had met skin, was like being dumped in acid.
He raked his fingernails over it, thinking. If he tore off the skin, then it would regrow, right? New skin wouldn’t feel like that.
Then he heard Shi Yue speak. It was a low tone, full of worry and guilt.
Shi Yue was sitting close to him now and leaning into his sight. Xie Yi felt his ears burn at the sound and stopped himself from raising his hands to rub them. Shi Yue's voice sounded different when he talked like that, in a very pleasant way.
“I’m sorry. Do you dislike this place? You hadn’t rejected it when I suggested it. I had intended for it to be comfortable for you.”
Xie Yi felt the knot in his gut unravelling slowly. So that’s how it was.
His mouth felt sweet, like he had bitten on candy.
“I like the music”, he honestly said.
“But you don’t like being touched”, Shi Yue said right afterwards. “Why didn’t you tell them immediately? There is no need to let them approach you when it results in this.”
Oh. He hadn’t known that. He didn’t even know why they had come over in the first place, so it had been a bit hard to say no.
Afterwards, Shi Yue cleaned up his arm. He held it carefully and washed out the open scratches. Xie Yi stared.
Hm, he did like this better. Look, his hand was almost the size of Shi Yue’s. It wasn’t small. His actual hand was still a bit smaller than right now, but he would grow the last bit.
His fingertips twitched a bit, brushing against Shi Yue’s arm. The man’s skin was comfortably warm.
The bubbly feeling in his head only grew when Shi Yue turned to one of the women and asked them to not approach anymore.
Shi Yue didn’t make a large business out of it or asked more questions. He had quietly accepted it and reacted so that Xie Yi would be more comfortable.
Xie Yi felt his lips tug up in a smile.
Then, suddenly, loud footsteps and even louder shouts.
“Shi Yue! You dare have fun here without me!”
And someone slammed the door open.
Xie Yi jolted, curling himself up, and turned around to look at the man. Zero hostility, but the entrance had surprised him quite a lot.
Stunned, he stared at the man.
His clothes looked nice, but Xie Yi somehow disliked his overall looks.
Then the next one ran closer. “Prince!”
Ooh. Xie Yi was beginning to understand. So that was why it wasn’t a private room. First, the eight girls had come in, and now the two men. People could enter as they pleased. That made sense!
The peacock-like man went into the room while clicking his tongue. “Sheesh, you are hoarding all the beauties for yourself! How dare you, Shi Yue! You can’t come here and enjoy this without me.”
Who was he even?
Once the second voice had reached the room, Shi Yue greeted them.
The peacock and Shi Yue began to converse.
“Didn’t we always say we would share?”
Wait, his master’s relationship with that man was that good? Shi Yue had said you shared things you liked with people you liked. If Shi Yue liked that man, who was probably his friend, then that meant he really did like the beauties here?
“What’s this, you’re hooking up with such a treasure and never introduce me?”
Xie Yi stopped the urge to look around.
Was he sitting on something expensive? Why would you hook it up? Was it supposed to hang from the ceiling?
“I’ll treat you well.”
Shi Yue was treating him plenty well already. There was no reason to follow that man.
...Something in Xie Yi’s mind whispered that he was missing the point of the conversation.