Mingtian broke out of what was half a mixture of his own and Xie Yi’s memories with a start.
Xie Yi was not fully awake yet but thrashing in a silent panic, clutching at his fur and confusedly groping around.
Mingtian cursed loudly, hurrying to turn his body back.
The fearsome crackling was echoing in his ear and spelling trouble.
He had intended to see the memories. He hadn’t wanted for Xie Yi to live through them, as well. That was the price he paid for playing around with an ability he hadn’t learned to control.
“Hush, hush”, he coaxed, pulling Xie Yi into his arms. The young man’s eyes were blank as if he was unconscious and he was panting. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m here, everything is alright. I’m safe.”
The feelings of his little brother picking up the fur were still rampaging inside him.
He had been alive and conscious for the full time that the men had skinned him, unable to resist under the influence of the array but kept alive by his resilience.
It had been horrible - but not half as horrible as being inside Xie Yi’s shoes at the moment he discovered it.
For half a second, the cultivator had realized the truth. Then his mind had taken an emergency brake; violently tearing the thought apart and not allowing it to surface.
His brain had been buzzing with silence.
The heavy denial of his partner’s death had thrown him into disarray. To protect himself, he turned and twisted the truth until he himself acted like he had simply not found Mingtian yet.
However, he could not bear to leave the fur behind and let it be trampled on by people or dirtied.
Similar to how it had been with Shi Yue, the Xie Yi of that time hadn’t trusted the elders truly. He had followed their words like it was a script that had to be played out. They were the writers, they knew how things had to be.
It was a very twisted sort of trust. Rather than seeing things logically, Xie Yi would turn black things into white only so that their words were correct.
But his thoughts towards Mingtian were different.
Whether it was blindly throwing himself off a cliff or running towards hordes of demonic beasts, as long as Mingtian asked him, he would do it.
And afterwards, he would smirk at him, saying “I knew you had a plan”.
In that time, he was the only existence that Xie Yi could trust. But he had left him behind.
The pain and terror of the memories - Xiao Jie’s broken body, his own death and Xie Yi’s reaction - were hard to endure. But it wasn’t the right time for this.
Xie Yi calmed down surprisingly fast, the unholy crackling dying down. He continued to cling to Mingtian.
“Everyone left me behind”, he gasped, shuddering. “I’m scared. I don’t want to be alone again. Sometimes I think it would be better if I died. I wouldn’t be so scared anymore if I did… but afterwards, I would be alone again.”
Mingtian closed his eyes.
Dumbly he wondered if Xue Hua would be mad at him if he knew or if he would understand. If Xie Yi couldn’t make it, he would accompany him and lead him down the path to reincarnation by the hand so that he wouldn’t have to walk it alone.
Somehow, he felt that Xue Hua would understand.
At some point, strong spiritual beasts weren’t partners of humans by choice anymore. That was a sort of bond created by fate.
Xiao Jie, too, had likely only kept holding onto his life to accompany Shi Yue despite his broken wings.
“We promised to go out to eat that dough-on-a-stick on your birthday again”, Mingtian whispered gently. “Shi Yue said he’d prepare it. Aren’t you looking forward to that?”
Let’s keep the excuses for now. Let’s take small steps to get better and better.
“Un”, Xie Yi sniffled through his blocked nose. “It’s tasty.”
“It actually isn’t.”
“...No. Not really.”
“But let’s eat it together. Come on, little brother. Let your older brother carry you around for a while.”
Xie Yi wasn’t small anymore, but with his legs wrapped around Mingtian’s waist like a koala, he could indeed be carried like a little child.
He played along, allowing himself to be carried.
“Should I sing you something?”, Mingtian suggested with a loving chuckle.
“God, no. Your singing is awful”, Xie Yi complained.
“Pf. That’s just your bad taste.”
“No. You howl. That’s just not singing”, the young man began to laugh. It really was horrifying to listen to Mingtian sing. Only if he actually howled a song would it sound nice.
“Philistine”, Mingtian humpfed but Xie Yi laughed harder.
“I don’t even know what that means.”
A good few hours later, Xie Yi had calmed down and ordered his thoughts.
He wasn’t mad at Mingtian for invading his memories. All in all, he could understand the beast’s desire to know everything so that he could plan and the desire to have his own memories back.
The pain had come quickly and gone away just as fast. The feeling of his chest clenching together had gone away in the time that Mingtian took afterwards to calm him down.
Truthfully, Xie Yi did not want to think about it and his brain welcomed the distraction that Mingtian had offered.
The explanation about sex.
He had a hard time fully grasping the concept.
Ever since he could remember, he had never had the kind of reactions that Mingtian had talked about. Or maybe he had?
When he had been young in his last life, there had been times where his body had been uncomfortably hot and the like but he had always ignored it until it went away, which never took too long.
He hoped he wasn’t broken now.
Although at this point he wasn’t too interested, he would hate it if the elders had managed to steal something from him that he, with Mingtian’s explanation, now considered as something like one proof of love.1A/N: Focus on 'one' here. I'm fully of the opinion that love can be proven without physical contact
Maybe he wasn’t ready for that yet, but one day he would be and if his body hadn’t returned to its normal state by then, the elders would get another point on the list of reasons to kill them.
“I guess that’s why Xu Yan sometimes locks himself up in the bathroom?”, Xie Yi wondered out loud. “Weird.”
Mingtian had tried his best to explain but his imagination on that point was incredibly limited.
“Not like I can look it up or anything”, Xie Yi sighed.
...Uh. Wait. Could he?
Another two hours later, Mingtian had followed Xie Yi’s trail of scent from what was the library to a patch of the forest. The last minutes had him mentally screeching.
“Oh my god what are you doing here”, he half whispered, half screamed at Xie Yi who had drawn himself a tiny array to hide in.
Xie Yi was leaning on his arms and staring forward at the loudly panting and writhing couple not that far away in the bushes.
“It’s hard to understand and I didn’t find any books on it.”
“That doesn’t mean that you can-... You can’t-... God! Xiao Tian! Leave!”
Mingtian wrapped his hands around Xie Yi and tugged but the youth stubbornly clawed himself to the ground.
“Why? It’s interesting. They’re doing stuff you didn’t say anything about.”
Mingtian halted, frowned, turned his head over and blanched.
Once more, he began to drag at Xie Yi - more violently now.
“No! No! No! Strike that out of your brain! Leave! Stop watching this!”, he half sobbed.
Goddamn brats! If they wanted their time alone, so be it, but why in the open!
Moreover, why did it have to be a couple with kinks!
Xie Yi struggled and twisted himself out of Mingtian’s grip again and again. It was easy as long as Mingtian didn’t use his full strength to avoid hurting him.
The couple wasn’t finished yet. He hadn’t figured out the exact reason why the man looked so happy at being, uh… tied up, blindfolded, slapped, cut-
Lots of things by now.
Also, the woman looked kind of angry.
But he did have a clearer picture on how exactly that kind of stuff worked now, including the full anatomy of a woman. (Having large breasts appeared much more annoying now that he knew how much work it was to keep them in place.)
“Xiao Tian, you’re not supposed to watch other people do this kind of thing!”, Mingtian hissed into his ear, his face slightly red.
Xie Yi tilted his head to look at him. “Watch you and Xue Hua then? But you said he’s shy.”
“Watch no one!”
“Nah”, Xie Yi rejected bluntly. Not an option.
Learning by doing was the best way but he understood that it was out of the question until he would trust someone with his body to that degree.
Writing and images weren’t as good as the actual thing so he had decided to watch.
Like this, he had a more realistic view of how things worked.
He rubbed his ears.
In general, what the two were doing didn’t strike his fancy - all that tying up and stuff was a bit too much - but the sound of their moans left his ears itchy.
“Xiao Tian, you’re learning bad things here”, Mingtian pressed. “Most people wouldn’t like this! And I don’t want you to get the impression that this is how everyone does it! So don’t watch them, watch someone else!”
He’d prefer if his little brother didn’t watch anyone at all but that option had been crossed out by Xie Yi. Better lessen the damage.
Xie Yi considered the matter with a quiet ‘Ooh’. He watched another few seconds, then stood up and moved his foot to destroy the array on the ground.
Unconcerned, he jumped up and away from the situation before looking at Mingtian with an expectant gaze.
“MingMing, I don’t know what the ‘normal’ way is, so I’ll wait for you to tell me when there’s a good example around.” - And if you don’t notify me soon, I’ll go looking on my own again.
The unspoken sentence left Mingtian half in tears.