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metaphorically speaking

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Shang Qinghua is in the depths of accounting hell, sunk so deep in Liu Qingge's idea of budgeting that he's muttering angrily under his breath, when Luo Binghe rips a hole in reality and steps through in an extremely cool swirl of black matter.

Shang Qinghua knows it looked extremely cool, because even Peerless Cucumber had said it was a pity that such a cool effect had been wasted on a fifth rank wankfest piece of trash and he ought to have left it in Kingdom Hearts where he found it. Joke was on him, not only did Peerless Cucumber read and give him real human money to read his "fifth rank wankfest trash", but he also knew where Shang Qinghua had gotten the idea, which means they were two peas in the same nerdy, nerdy pod.

Anyway, the effect, as cool as it was to see in a dramatic fight or as the prelude to some escapade with a beautiful maiden, turns out to be pants-shittingly terrifying if you were an innocent wankfest peddler with the bad luck to be accidentally transmigrated into your own shitty novel.

Shang Qinghua screams.

Then he screams again when Mobei-jun appears in a blast of icy air, probably to see what was getting rid of Shang Qinghua for him. Shang Qinghua lunges instinctively toward him anyway and cowers behind him. It's a reflex now. He just knows that Mobei-jun won't let anybody beat him up worse than he does.

"Stop making that noise," says Mobei-jun.

Shang Qinghua stops.

"What are you doing here?" says Mobei-jun to Luo Binghe.

Luo Binghe points at Shang Qinghua.

"I didn't do anything!" wails Shang Qinghua. Probably. "I'm innocent!" Very likely, of whatever Luo Binghe is mad about, he adds silently in his head, crossing his fingers behind his back to be safe.

Mobei-jun heaves a deep, annoyed sigh and reaches down. He picks Shang Qinghua up by the scruff of his robes and gives him, by Mobei-jun's standards, a gentle shake. Shang Qinghua knows better than to do anything but dangle there like a bullied kitten. "He hasn't even asked you a question," he says. "How do you know you're innocent?"

Shang Qinghua has spent years watching shitty American crime dramas instead of updating his novel. He exercises his right to be silent, but turns tearful eyes toward Mobei-jun.

Mobei-jun shakes him again, almost affectionately, and hauls him up higher to eye level, turning him to face Luo Binghe.

How dare you treat your creator like this! thinks Shang Qinghua, but he keeps quiet.

"Well?" says Mobei-jun.

"I had a question for the Peak Lord," says Luo Binghe, voice sweet, eyes cold. "A dialect question."

If Shang Qinghua was sweating before, he's dripping fucking rivers now. He and Cucumber-bro communicate in a horrible mix of memes, internet slang, Chinglish and modern Chinese, mostly but not entirely incomprehensible for any outsider. Luo Binghe had decided it must be some hometown dialect that they shared, despite any evidence of Shen Qingqui and Shang Qinghua ever speaking to each other before they both had the shitty luck to be transmigrated, and devoted himself to learning his beloved Shizun's birth dialect. Fuck! Why was Shang Qinghua dumb enough to have made it a plot point that Luo Binghe had a god level ability to pick up languages!

.... right, so he could pick up some girl's dialect and seduce her more easily, but it wasn't fair that this monogamous version of his son could still do it, okay!!

He darts another pleading look at Mobei-jun, but Mobei-jun just looks back at him without expression and opens his hand, letting him fall to the ground. Shang Qinghua lands on his ass and whines. Clearly Mobei-jun isn't going to save him, so he tries smiling fawningly up at Luo Binghe and says, "What dialect question, my lord?"

Mobei-jun lets out a barely audible growl of disapproval, but Shang Qinghua ignores him. He hadn't called Luo Binghe his king, Mobei-jun could just deal with it.

Luo Binghe bends down, smiling a little. Every hair on Shang Qinghua's body rises. "Shizun said, he's reluctant to let his disciple serve him in all things. His disciple is very saddened by this, so he asked his shizun why."

Shang Qinghua swallows hard. "Yes?"

"Shizun said, he fears that a mutated cucumber might make things difficult," says Luo Binghe, still smiling. "Now, I wonder if Peak Lord Shang Qinghua could enlighten shizun's disciple about that phrase?" Against his will, Shang Qinghua's eyes drag down to Luo Binghe's crotch before he snaps them back. Fortunately neither Luo Binghe or Mobei-jun seem to notice. "Shizun's disciple wants to serve his shizun perfectly in all things," he says. "He hopes this Peak Lord will help him."

Shang Qinghua swallows hard.

Mobei-jun stirs finally. He says, "Don't bully him," in a way that expresses that the only one allowed to bully Shang Qinghua is Mobei-jun. Shang Qinghua is less grateful than he should be, but probably Luo Binghe won't murder him now. Probably. Mobei-jun will do it himself instead. Oh God.

"What does -" he has to swallow again before he speaks. "What does my lord think it means?"

"If this lord knew," says Luo Binghe, smiling like a shark, "would he ask you?"

For all the times Shang Qinghua had posted on Weibo complaining that writing was killing him, he never expected to be facing death from his own protagonist. "Uh," he says.

Shang Qinghua looks at the door. There's no way he could make it and then he'd be locked up in a little black cell in the nastiest part of Luo Binghe's dungeons, hung up on chains, and Cucumber-bro would come every day specifically to tell him how it was his own damn fault. "Does -- is my lord aware that 'cucumber' has, er, a metaphorical --" his voice dies down as the temperature in the room drops again.

Well, if he's going to die, he might as well die quickly. "It's only a guess, of course, my lord --"

Luo Binghe smiles widely. Shang Qinghua feels his own cucumber and radishes attempt to crawl up into the safety of his body. "Do please tell this lord your 'guess'," says Luo Binghe.

Shang Qinghua had made it a habit to never regret a word he wrote -- they were terrible words, but they entertained people right? Now, about to explain to his literary son that he was probably being cockblocked by, well, his own cock, he almost does. WHY hadn't he written Luo Binghe as the owner of five or six masterful techniques learned from sexy tantric buddhist nuns? Instead he just had to be lazy and give him a --


"He said mutated?" says Shang Qinghua cautiously. He'd written Luo Binghe with an enormous dick, certainly, but he hadn't put in any more details.

Oh God, this was his punishment for putting 'Luo Binghe's huge demonic dick made her scream with pleasure that was almost pain' as a macro in Word, wasn't it.

"I think," begins Shang Qinghua. "That. Um."

"I don't want you to think," says Luo Binghe, on a snarl. "I want. You. To tell Me. What. Shizun. Meant."

Shang Qinghua's mouth, not for the first and definitely not the last time, opens on it's own without asking his brain if speaking would be a great idea. "He means your dick is weird and he's not sure he's into it."

Then he cowers down, covering his head, and waits for death with his eyes squeezed tight.

There's a long silence, and finally he cautiously opens his eyes and looks up again. Both Luo Binghe and Mobei-jun look extremely confused, as far as Mobei-jun can look anything. Mobei-jun plucks him up again and they both stare at Shang Qinghua like he's some sort of interesting scientific specimen.

"What do you mean?" says Mobei-jun.

"How should I know!" says Shang Qinghua, driven into snappishness by fear and resentment. "I've never seen a demon dick! Haven't you seen a human's!"

"No," says Mobei-jun.

"Not -- very clearly," says Luo Binghe, which Shang Qinghua takes to mean that Cucumber-bro is still being a weird prude and slash or that Luo Binghe is a lot more into tenderly taking his shizun in a dimly lighted candlelit room than Shang Qinghua really wants to think about.

Luo Binghe looks at Mobei-jun. Mobei-jun looks back at him.

"Oh my God," says Shang Qinghua, realization dawning on him and making him even more depressed. "You've never seen anybody else's dick, have you?"

"Why would I," say Mobei-jun and Luo Binghe at once.

Shang Qinghua feels like crying. So much for his fifth rate wankfest trash's stallion heroes.