“Mingtian, meet Juxian”, Xie Yi happily said, pulling his new sword and showing it to his partner with a more than proud look.
Mingtian’s fur bristled up high. It was standing completely on edge and his body was lowered. He did not make a sound but his teeth were showing in a snarl.
“Eh? Is there a problem?”, Xie Yi asked, blinking in surprise. He did not understand why Mingtian looked unsettled. A sword spirit couldn’t be dangerous to their creator, right?
As if Mingtian sensed his thoughts, he answered. “Sorry. There’s no problem, his aura is only… a bit overbearing.”
“I don’t think so at all?”
“You probably can’t sense it. But it should be good if you have such a strong sword spirit. it might even keep away some lower beasts simply by drawing it.”
The canine sniffed the sword as his fur smoothened again.
The sword made a tiny, bright sound before returning to being completely silent.
Xie Yi smiled. He took it as Juxian greeting MingMing.
“He said he’d help me control everything from my last life”, he explained. “All the bad things.”
“That sounds great”, Mingtian said dotingly. Mentally, he noted down that Juxian was somehow aware of the last timeline. He’d keep an eye on that. “Do you think it will work?”
The cultivator nodded with full certainty.
Then he halted as he remembered something and his face gained a healthy flush. “Ah, Shi Yue complimented me, I think. That was rather embarrassing. Hey, MingMing, how do you know whether you like someone? Is this a part of it?”
“Ask ten people, get ten answers. There’s no real way to tell. It’s a feeling, so it’s hard to explain.”
“But you said I like him. How could you tell?”
Mingtian shrugged his wolfish shoulders in a very human gesture. “Because I know what you are usually like. You are not the type to get so innocently overjoyed at the mere sight of someone’s smile, for example.”
“Do I… really…?”
Was it like that? Was he really overjoyed whenever Shi Yue smiled at him?
On hindsight, it did appear a bit like that?
“Isn’t that kinda obvious, then…?”, he muttered to himself.
Mingtian decided to act as if he hadn’t heard. He did not quite want to tell the kid that the whole sect suspected it.
Even if Xie Yi might not have a sense of shame about it as others would, it still was a personal thing and it was likely that he would be unhappy realizing that people knew about it before he even himself had known.
“A-Anyway”, Mingtian hurriedly changed the topic. “There was something about Xu Yan going on a trip, right? You are going to accompany him?”
“Un”, Xie Yi hummed, hugging Juxian to his body. “They’re kind of making a round-trip with gathering stuff, stopping at another sect and then returning here.”
“When is it? I’ll come along.”
“Are you going to leave Xua Hua for that long? It will probably take two or three weeks.”
The puppy bit into his hand. Annoyed, he raised his voice. “You…! Xue Hua was always my wife, it’s not like things changed just because you know about it now! Of course I won’t leave you alone!”
“I think Xu Yan will be happy about that, too.”
Xie Yi fixed Juxian at his hip and bent down to pick Mingtian up. He was heavy at this size but it was manageable - although, frankly, he was starting to get problems seeing when he did that.
Mingtian was too large and fluffy.
“Be careful, I don’t want to poke you!”
“It’s not like it’s dangerous. There’s no venom unless you prepare it.”
“I’d still prefer not hurting you for no reason?! Sheesh, just be careful about my tail, okay?”
Wobbling like that, Xie Yi carried Mingtian back to his room where Xu Yan was sitting at the table, working through his notes.
He looked up when Xie Yi entered and grinned.
“Who is that walking furball?”
“He’s too fluffy.”
Xie Yi set Mingtian down again and Xu Yan hurried over, kneeling down and hugging him. “Ahh! So soothing!”
Mingtian did not resist the cuddles. For him, Xu Yan was accepted as something like a younger cousin of some degree. Kind of family, but certainly not as close as Xie Yi.
Either way he did not dislike the boy and was very tolerant.
“I’m coming along on your trip, by the way”, Xie Yi said as he walked to his bed, already beginning to undress from the stuffy robes. He had forgotten to tell him even though he knew since before the incident.
Xu Yan glanced over and away. He did not have an interest in Xie Yi but it was still troublesome to see the other doing seductive moves like slowly undressing.
“Will it be fine? How are your injuries? And your moods?”
Xie Yi huffed and dragged the thing white robe for sleeping over. “I’m fine, I was healed up completely. As for my moods, they’re great!”
For Xu Yan, too, it had been a relief to hear that Xie Yi now had a sword spirit that calmed him.
He smiled to himself while scratching Mingtian’s ear. “In that case, I’m looking forward to it. We haven’t gone on a trip together yet.”
“Yeah, it’s a shame! I’m always telling you, you can come along to my hunting trips!” Xie Yi reached out for his hair, feeling its length. Could he tie it up already? A bit, maybe.
He joined Xu Yan.
“Maybe now that you’re calmer, sure”, Xu Yan chuckled. He also looked at Xie Yi’s hair when he saw the other play with it. “You’re still letting it grow out?”
Not every cultivator let their hair grow, although a lot did. For some reason he had trouble thinking of Xie Yi as someone who would walk around with the careful, intricate hair stylings.
“Yeah. I’ll tie it up once it starts getting long enough.”
Xie Yi shook his head and tugged at his long fringe.
“No, partially braided and then wrapped up. That way it won't disturb me.”
He did want his long hair back. It felt nice when he’d sleep without clothes once in a while; like fur.
Xu Yan leaned on his arm and looked at him. “Yeah, that suits you.”
“Right? I think so, too.”
Mingtian nudged him.
“I guess it’s time for bed, huh?”
“Mingtian has spoken. Time for bed.”
Laughing, the two obediently went towards their beds. They would continue to talk but with lights out, they’d get tired soon enough.
Mingtian walked from Xu Yan to Xie Yi before he jumped onto the bed and joined his little brother. Juxian was placed next to the bed, leaning against the wall.
Xie Yi sighed softly and full of content. “I’m happy I joined the sect.”
In the darkness, Xu Yan’s blanket rustled. “Same goes for me. My family is having it better, too!”
“You send them money regularly, don't you?”
“Hmm, it’s nice that they take it. The last time I sent Feng Yan something, he got mad at me.”
“Yeah. Because you sent him a piece of ore worth half a year's wage.”
“But it wasn’t my type! I couldn’t do anything with it anyway.”
“...You could have sold it.”
“Sure, but Feng Yan could use it better.”
“...It’s nice to see that Uncle managed to find such a good son for himself.”
Silence descended for a moment.
"What would you say that my thoughts towards Master are?”
Mingtian’s ear twitched.
“Quite obviously crushing on him.”
“...Well, darn. Do you think he knows? Would that trouble him?”
In the darkness, Xu Yan pulled a face. “I couldn’t possibly know his thoughts.”
“Oh, true. I simply don’t want him to be troubled about it. What about you? Do you have anyone you like?”
“No, haven’t found anyone yet. I mean, the girls here are beautiful and everything but… I dunno. Somehow, they don’t strike my fancy.”
“If I find a good girl, I’ll introduce her to you.”
“I’m scared of your definition of a good girl.”
Xie Yi stopped himself from making a comeback after he realized that, truly, there was a good chance he’d cause a mess.
“I’m happy to hear that you are offering, though. You weren’t really concerned about that topic before.”
“Yeah, well, I only recently found out about a lot of things concerning relationships.”
That was what I had forgotten!!
Xu Yan turned white and almost threw himself out of the bed. “You still didn’t know until recently?!”
“I mean, I knew you didn’t when you were like, ten, but, you still didn’t?! How did you live all those years?!”
“Obviously kind of different from every other guy my age, it seems.”
“That explains why you never-... Oh my god! Shit! I had completely forgotten!”
“But you know everything now, right?!”
“Saying ‘everything’ is a bit complicated but I think I should know the basics?”
“Wait so you never understood why everyone was after you?”
“In fact, I still don’t think I understand?”
“Do you not understand the kind of effect you have on guys?”
The sounds of muffled screaming sounded through the room. Xie Yi, whose eyes were adjusting to the darkness, registered Xu Yan pressing his face into the pillow.