“Xie Yi”, someone called him from the side and the youth skidded to a halt, half turning to Li Mei already.
She discarded the male cultivator that had been blatantly staring at her body during their conversation and walked over to him. In a habitual manner, she wrapped her arms around him and cuddled him close.
She was soft and comfortable to hug. Xie Yi didn’t struggle and allowed the touch for a while before beginning to move. She pulled back without any further words and beamed at him.
“Good to see you back. Need anything?”, she asked, pulling out bottles filled with pills as she spoke. “I’ve got some nourishing pills I’ve made, they’re good for you. Oh, and these, too.”
She pushed several bottles into his arms so that he had to steady them first. It happened kind of often since she had started making pills regularly.
Xie Yi didn’t know what the second pills were for.
He knew that a lot of female cultivators liked them. He also knew that Li Mei had asked but not tried to convince him to take them.
Anyway, he took them and felt nothing bad.
Oh - his skin did look better. Was that a change? Li Mei liked touching his face.
She also liked choosing clothes for him. Or correcting the orders for new robes whenever he made them.
Somewhere in his head, Xie Yi felt that the whole behaviour was a tad bit out of line. Nevertheless, he never resisted it and always complied without any actual reason.
It was like playing a game.
The male cultivator looked disgruntled at Li Mei leaving him but seeing Xie Yi, he swallowed his insults.
“Help me get away”, she whispered very quietly into his ear and Xie Yi gave an almost imperceptible nod.
“Li Mei, can you help me out with something if you have the time?”, he asked louder, looking at her with his bright, intelligent eyes. He did his best to look pitiful.
Li Mei felt her chest constrict at the sight. Too cute! Too lovable! She pinched his soft cheek. “Call me Senior Sister!”
“No.” He kind of didn’t want to.
Her cheeks blew up in a pout and she raised an eyebrow. “Hmpf. I’ll convince you sooner or later. What help do you need? Ah, Senior Brother, I’m sorry! My little junior needs me, let’s talk some other time, alright?”
The cultivator would have been stupid to not notice that Li Mei was pushing him away.
Xie Yi was at late-stage fourth level, easily one or two years faster than the usual ‘fast’ people. Not only that, the Grandmaster’s disciple could perfectly hold his ground against people even up to the sixth level and was very violent when annoyed.
The cultivator himself was only on the late fifth level. The chance that he could go against the youth was minimal.
This was a time where strength spoke the loudest; he forced out a smile and bowed. “Of course. Until later, Junior Sister.”
Li Mei smiled broadly until he was out of earshot. Her face fell, and she rolled her eyes. She was starting to show signs of picking up Master Chen’s habits.
“He just wouldn’t leave me alone. More importantly, Xiao Yi, you look down. Did something happen? Did you fight with Master Li?”
Xie Yi’s mouth tilted downwards. He looked at his shoes. “He forbids me from forging my own spiritual sword.”
“That sounds very understandable?”, Li Mei questioned, her head tilting in confusion.
“But I won’t let anyone else do it! Absolutely not!”
“Well… Did you ask him why he refuses? Maybe you can argue against it or relieve his worries?”, Li Mei suggested rhetorically. It was the standard question to ask at this kind of time and the usual continuation would be the other person saying that they had tried and explain what the outcome had been.
This was Xie Yi, though.
Yes, why not. Because he was scared that the scene of his past life would repeat. He didn’t think it would, but the tiny voice in his hand hadn’t vanished.
“But why? Why would you make me do these things?”
“You don’t need to know! Listen, you little brat, you only need to follow our orders! There’s no need for you to think about anything else!”
...What if Shi Yue didn’t have a reason for denying him? Or one that had nothing to do with Xie Yi’s well-being, but only personal gain?
His stomach churned. His bit hard on his lower lip.
Li Mei stopped her teasing instantly when she saw Xie Yi pale. Her voice tilted completely, turning into a coaxing and gentle sound.
“Xiao Yi. YiYi. Baby… Everything is fine”, she whispered, reaching out to caress his cheek and grabbing his hand with her free one. She dragged him to the side, off into the garden-like parts that were a bit more protected from views due to the trees.
“I tell you what”, she suggested, keeping his hand in hers. “Go find something Master Li likes. Then you go back to the upper grounds, ask an attendant on where to get some tea. Brew it yourself and go to Master Li. Apologize for being obstinate and explain why you insist on forging it yourself and ask if he can explain why he refuses.”
Simple steps. Xie Yi pondered about the suggestions. “He… won’t be mad afterwards?”
“I don’t think he truly is mad in the first place but this is a great way to show your sincerity.”
“I got it”, Xie Yi said while nodding. Li Mei’s ideas were, up until now, always good things. It felt a bit easier to follow her suggestions now.
“Do you have an idea on what you can bring him?”
“Maybe”, Xie Yi hesitantly admitted.
There was something he had made with Shi Yue in mind but it was quietly thrown into the corner of his wardrobe. He was too uncertain about giving it to his master.
“Go and fetch whatever you were thinking about. No discussion”, Li Mei declared, staring at him with expectant eyes. Xiao Yi looked bashful! How interesting! It would be such a shame to not use this opportunity!
She had been thinking of something in the line of food, to accompany the tea, which was the logical thing to do, but Xiao Yi seemed to have thought of something more present-like. That was fine! Uncommon and weird, but fine!
“Ehh”, Xie Yi groaned, leaning away.
“Go, go, go!” Li Mei pushed him off the bench with surprising strength. “I’ll wait here! I won’t move! Go and return here to tell me what happened!”
Her ideas were good, Xie Yi told himself. They were good and what she said made sense. It was suspicious how excited she was but it made sense otherwise.
Xie Yi dragged his heavy feet once to his dorm and then back to the gate.
The guards didn’t question him running in and out. Xie Yi was an enigma for most people in the sect and they had given up on questioning his behaviour.
The attendant who brought the tea set to Xie Yi had his eyebrows up high but not once asked what he needed it for and left when he was told to.
Making tea was easy enough on a basic level and the steaming brew was ready quite fast. It was not going to be an especially delicious tea but it could be considered tea, at least.
Xie Yi stared at it for a minute. Couldn’t this have taken longer? Uwah. Moreover, there was no way that Shi Yue hadn’t noticed him standing in front of his house for a while now, something that was even more awkward.
He looked up to the sky, sighed, and knocked.
Shi Yue opened the door again.
“I’m sorry”, Xie Yi mumbled in a much more sincere tone than before. “I brought tea. And a… apologizing-present? Can I come in?”
Shi Yue looked at Xie Yi for a moment before already feeling his annoyance lowering. “Usually, you would bring something that makes sense to have for a conversation. Food, or other tea. Not presents. But the intention is appreciated and I’ll of course take it.”
He let Xie Yi in.
The youth appeared stunned once he realized that he had misunderstood Li Mei’s words. It was too late now.
He scolded himself and walked in.
When he sat down this time, he poured Shi Yue a cup of tea first and sat perfectly straight like a nervous little boy. In front of him, on the table, he had placed a small something.
Shi Yue smiled at him and sat down, his eyes curiously wandering to what Xie Yi had brought for him.
“Oh”, he exclaimed, the delight in his heart shining through his voice.