Actions

Work Header

shine in secret (i covet your light)

Work Text:

1 - In Which Luo Binghe Has No Chill

 

Luo Binghe’s mother used to tell him, that when the days get rough, to look up at the stars, and let them fill you with wonder. With enough wonder, you can conquer any hardship.

She used to tell him stories about the constellations, things she made up, about the pictures they would see. She’d tell him tales of star-crossed lovers separated by the milky way, or twin stars that orbited each other from birth because they couldn’t bear to be apart. She talked about guiding stars that would never let him get lost. And she mused that when immortal cultivators ascend, they must sit up there as stars themselves.

But in Qing Jing Peak, locked in the woodshed, Luo Binghe can’t see any stars. 

Only the painful bruises and hunger. He just closes his eyes and tries to picture her. Tries to picture any wonder he can.

 

::

 

Peak Lord Shen is beautiful, aloof, so bright, and untouchable. Just like the stars.

Binghe remembers the day he met Peak Lord Shen, how this beautiful immortal looked down at him and asked if Luo Binghe wanted a better life than begging for scraps. When Luo Binghe said yes, Peak Lord Shen said, “Then follow me, and don’t be weak.”

Since then, Luo Binghe has gravitated towards him.

He never raises a hand against Luo Binghe, but he never acknowledges him either. All meals, cooked by Luo Binghe, are eaten and then put away. Peak Lord Shen never tells him that his food is delicious, only ‘enough’. He never looks at him either, only scowls with disgust. 

But oh, if Luo Binghe could get him to look at him, he would die happy. Even if he’s despised on this peak, belittled and weak, he just wants Peak Lord Shen to look at him and say his name. He’ll grow strong if it means Peak Lord Shen will look at him.

Instead, Peak Lord Shen always looks at Sect Leader Yue. He’s heard they’re as close as brothers and hopes that is all there is to their relationship. He’s not sure what he would do if Sect Leader Yue were to confess his feelings to Peak Lord Shen…

It’s the day that Luo Binghe turns eighteen, that he hears a rumour that Sect Leader Yue plans to begin courting Peak Lord Shen. It’s the day that Luo Binghe turns eighteen, that his desperation grows into obsession, and he unashamedly walks into Peak Lord Shen’s bamboo hut. It’s the day that Luo Binghe turns eighteen, that he falls on his arms and knees in front of Peak Lord Shen and loudly declares, “Shizun! Forgive this disciple for his rude behavior, but I must confess before anyone else does, that I love you!”

Stunned silence follows.

Peak Lord Shen snaps his fan shut, his face livid. “What did you say to me?”

“Shizun! This lowly disciple has romantic feelings for you. He knows that he is unworthy of Shizun’s affections, but if there’s even the slightest chance that Shizen would indulge him, that he would do his best to make Shizun the happiest man in the world.”

More silence. Then, a mocking laugh, cold and low. “The happiest man in the world, you say? And what power would you use to do that? You can barely cultivate compared to the other disciples.”

Luo Binghe flinches and trembles. He knows this. But he has to try. There must be something…! If he reveals his demon heritage… no, no, he can’t. Then Peak Lord Shen will never look at him without disgust on his face…

In despair, Luo Binghe dares to lift his face from the floor, and sees through the window, a shooting star.

“That star…” Luo Binghe says quietly.

Peak Lord Shen’s eyes narrow. 

“If you were to choose me, I would give you a fallen star!”

Fallen stars are a rare commodity in the cultivating world, thought to be legend. No one’s held the heart of a star in thousands of years. It’s rumoured that to consume the light of a star is to truly gain immortality, a status higher than the title of immortal. Perhaps, with the heart of a star, you would become celestial.

Something flashes across Peak Lord Shen’s eyes. He sneers and reopens his fan to conceal his face. “If you wish to go on such a foolish quest, then go ahead. You will find no help here.”

Eagerly, nearly tripping over his toes, Luo Binghe shouts, “Many thanks Shizun!” before racing out.

There’s still hope. 

He just has to catch a fallen star.

(He does not notice Peak Lord Shen immediately writer a letter for Sect Leader Yue to see, a letter saying come immediately, a star has fallen. )

 

2 - In Which Shen Yuan Falls Because Reasons

 

Being a star for many years was… boring. His last incarnation had apparently been a star for a thousand years before he was reformed into a newer star, part of pair of binary stars, (one of which was Shen Yuan and his brother, until his brother left) rather recently. Now Shen Yuan floats adrift and watches his favourite humans down on earth. 

As usual, he sends his luck to Yue Qingyuan in wooing Shen Qingqiu. He even checks up on his favourite tragic bun, Luo Binghe, when to his horror, he sees Binghe trying to confess to Shen Qingqiu ice princess. No, no, nope, very bad idea, Binghe, why would you do that, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak!

Shen Yuan is so distressed, that he practically leans out of orbit and is smacked in the face by a random meteorite and tumbles out of the sky at unimaginably hot speeds.

Shit. Ow. Everything hurts. Why. If pain feels like this all the time, no wonder humans complain so much.

His brother, and the rest of his siblings, will never let him live this down.

Slowly, Shen Yuan looks around in his newly made crater and determines that he is a few hundred li away from Cang Qiong Sect. Lovely. Also his leg is broken. Also lovely. At least his pale green robes are still okay. They sparkle very lovingly in the moonlight. 

Looks like he won’t be back in the sky anytime soon. Oh well, he didn’t really have anyone to talk to anymore once his siblings moved away. Maybe he can find out if Stars can cultivate! Or get a pet panda! Or a snake! He can find all the creatures in the region and write a book on them! And then try whatever dumplings are!

So cheerfully, deciding to treat this as a long-term vacation, Shen Yuan drags himself to a tree and tries to make a walking stick.

 

3 - In Which Luo Binghe’s Protagonist Halo Brings him to The Plot

 

The Dream Demon had nothing useful to say about finding stars. “No one’s seen one in thousands of years up close. It’s a wild goose chase. He wants you to fail. Give up on him and acknowledge me as teacher already!”

“No! Shizun is testing me because he believes in me!” Luo Binghe insists.

“Sometimes I wonder how the world works from your eyes…” the Dream Demon grumbles.

“Enough,” Luo Binghe snaps. “Just tell me how to find one!”

“Urgh. Fine, you ungrateful brat.” The Dream Demon refuses to admit that he cowers just a little bit under Luo Binghe’s gaze. “Stars should have the scent of unbelievable qi. Meditate and expand your mind, if you find the presence of unbelievable qi, then that is your star.”

Luo Binghe nods and begins to meditate. 

The first source of unbelievable qi comes from Qing Jing Peak. He dismisses that source immediately, of course Peak Lord Shen’s qi is powerful. He would expect no less from his teacher. Slowly, he lets his mind wander a few hundred li away from the peak until…

There! At the edge of his dream vision, bright light beyond anything he’s seen! It has to be the star!

Luo Binghe wakes from the dream immediately and jumps on Zheng Yang and flies towards the source of qi.

 

4 - In Which Shen Yuan Shouldn’t Talk to Strangers

 

After successfully making a mangled walking stick, Shen Yuan begins to limp towards Cang Qiong Sect. Surely someone will help him there. Immortal cultivators are supposed to be moved by compassion or something so they will at least give him food or pointers. Though Shen Yuan wonders if he will need food on earth, being a star and all. 

Oh well. One step at a time.

As luck would have it, he sees a cultivator flying towards the crater he left behind. Shen Yuan starts to wave. How fun. He should do this ‘waving’ more often.

The cultivator sees him, then descends from his flying sword. Upon closer look, Shen Yuan realizes it is Luo Binghe, one of his favourite humans. 

“Ah!” Shen Yuan smiles and bows, “It’s good to see you.”

Luo Binghe blinks at him down at him adorably. “It is good to meet you too… I’m sorry, have we met?”

Not exactly, Shen Yuan thinks. But he doesn’t think Luo Binghe would believe his story about being a star.

“No, I’m just very glad to come across a kind traveller. My name is Shen Yuan. If Master Binghe could take me to the nearest settlement to find a doctor, I would be most grateful.”

There, watching the humans all day has helped him blend in! Perfect formal speech!

“Oh,” a blush crosses Luo Binghe’s face. “Yes. Of course, I would be happy to help you. I just need to find something in this crater first before we go…”

“A mission for your Sect?” Shen Yuan asks eagerly, he loves watching the Peak Lords and disciples of Cang Qiong Sect explore different areas. “May I be of assistance in any way?” 

“Only if you’ve seen a giant glowing light nearby. Wait, maybe stars don’t look like that…”

Wait what.

“Or maybe they’re giant rocks…?”

“That’s very offensive! I do not look like a giant rock or ball of light at all! Go talk to a meteorite or a fairy!” 

That’s when Luo Binghe freezes and gapes down at him.

“Are you saying… that you’re the star?”

Oops. His brother was definitely going to kill him.

 

5 - In Which Luo Binghe’s Worldview Changes

 

This gorgeous and kind looking man is… a star?

For a minute, he had thought he was looking at a softer, smiling version of his teacher Shen Qingqiu, but a star? Is this a trick from a demon? Or maybe the stars heard his wish to court Peak Lord Shen and decided to fall down with a face similar to his beloved?

Quietly, Luo Binghe checks Shen Yuan’s qi levels and nearly falls back at how bright, how luminous, how much qi this man has. He must be telling the truth but…

“Are you sure you’re a star?”

Shen Yuan’s cheeks puff up like a little otter. “Of course I am! I didn’t fall out of the sky and get a broken leg just for nothing, you know!”

“Then… why aren’t you…?”

“Glowing?” Shen Yuan smiles again, and Luo Binghe wants to melt inside. “That’s easy enough to fix. We stars only shine when we’re happy. The happier, the brighter. Just make me laugh and I’ll shine.”

“Laugh?” 

“What? You don’t know any jokes?”

Not really, when his whole peak shuns him. His mother always told him stories, not jokes.

Shen Yuan frowns, looking so similar to Shen Qingqiu that Luo Binghe nearly has a heart attack. Then Shen Yuan reaches up and pats Luo Binghe’s head, making his heart dance in wild contortions.

“It’s alright. We can figure out what else makes me happy on this planet. I’ve never eaten anything before. I’m told that food makes humans very happy! Especially when they eat together. Let’s go share a meal at a local village!”

Luo Binghe can barely get words out of his mouth. No one has ever looked so happy to spend time with him before…

“No need,” Luo Binghe hates to disappoint this star, but he has no money. “I could cook something instead. It will be easy to hunt, and give you a chance to rest your leg, Master Star.”

“Don’t call me that,” Shen Yuan huffs. “I’m just Shen Yuan. I haven’t even been a star for very long, a mere twenty or so years.”

“...Shen Yuan then.”

Eagerly, with energy Luo Binghe didn’t think he ever possessed before, he hunts a bird and starts making congee with some emergency rice he carries around. The warm smells of congee waft through the air, making the star Shen Yuan come closer with interest like a small cat. Carefully, Luo Binghe pours a portion into a bowl and offers it to the star.

Shen Yuan looks down at the bowl of congee and frowns.

Numbly, Luo Binghe asks, “Is there something wrong?”

Of course there’s something wrong. Such a beautiful and celestial being like a star shouldn’t eat food made by filth like him. He’s nothing. Shen Qingqiu probably only eats his food and says nothing because it would be cruel to tell Luo Binghe his food is nothing. This star will only think the same…

After all, Luo Binghe has never been able to truly duplicate his mother’s congee recipe. Everything tastes bland compared to what she used to cook.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Shen Yuan says instead. “Did I take your bowl?”

“Oh… no I have another bowl…”

Shen Yuan beams. “Then scoops some congee up for yourself too! Food is supposed to taste better when you eat together!”

“I…” what is this heat coming to his face, “I couldn’t possibly…!”

The star puts his finger against Luo Binghe’s lips, so unaware of propriety, and says, “I insist.”

So stunned by the warmth of the star’s finger, Luo Binghe doesn’t notice as Shen Yuan gently passes Luo Binghe his bowl and scoops up another portion for himself. He doesn’t notice as Shen Yuan whispers, ‘thank you for the food,’ before eagerly taking his first bite.

The Star’s eyes light up in delight, soft light radiating from his whole body as he quickly eats more. Ethereal. Unreal.

“Binghe!” the star proclaims, “What is this called? It tastes divine! I’ve never tasted something like this before!”

“I… well… it’s just congee--”

“It’s amazing! Binghe must be very talented at cooking! You should eat some too!” The star moves his spoon towards Binghe’s mouth.

Tears begin to fill Luo Binghe’s eyes, this unimaginable relief and warmth soaking up in his body.

He opens his mouth and lets the Star feed him.

The congee finally tastes just the way his mom used to make it.

 

6 - In Which Shen Yuan Goes with the Flow

 

Gulping down the last of the delectable congee (he must learn how to make this! He hopes it’s not too much work!), Shen Yuan notices Luo Binghe watching him softly. How sweet. He’s so glad that he’s becoming friendly with one of his favourite humans.

“So, what do you need a star like me for, anyways?”

Binghe’s eyes widen. “Ah, nothing at all… nothing special…”

“Nonsense, I would like to know. If it’s nothing special then it shouldn’t be a big deal if Binghe tells me, correct?”

Binghe hesitates. “There’s someone that I love… in Cang Qiong Sect.” Shen Yuan’s heart drops, his light dims. “I told him that I would give him a fallen star, and if I did, he would let me court him.”

“Oh…” Shen Yuan’s light goes completely out. Binghe’s eyes widen in alarm.

“Don’t worry! I realize that you are a living being! I wouldn’t give you to a person anymore! I wouldn’t ever hurt you, I--”

“No, no, I trust you Binghe. I know you’re a good person,” he doesn’t see how those words move Binghe to more tears. “I just…”

He doesn’t have the heart to tell Binghe that his love is unrequited. He doesn’t think Binghe would believe him. What human in love would? From all these years watching humans, Shen Yuan has never seen anyone in love act logically.

Well then, he’ll just have to be there to comfort Binghe when it goes wrong.

“Alright then. I’ll come with you,” Shen Yuan says.

Binghe’s eyes widen. “What? But…!”

“I will be fine, Binghe. No need to worry about this star. I’m sure once your beloved realizes that I’m sentient, he won’t try to keep me. He’s a cultivator, correct? Cultivators live with honour. Now, where is your sword?”

Binghe, being a good and pure lotus flower, looks conflicted before he unsheathes Zheng Yang. After stepping on his sword, Binghe holds out his hand for Shen Yuan, but just as Shen Yuan steps on Zhen Yang, a blast of qi makes him fall back. Ow again.

“Yuan-ge!” Binghe pulls him into his arms. “Are you alright?”

“I think…” Shen Yuan winces, “that I have so much qi… I hurt Zheng Yang… sorry…”

 

7 - In Which Binghe Has all the Feelings

 

Shen Yuan feels so warm and too light on Binghe’s back. He can’t help but blush as Shen Yuan wraps his arms tighter around Binghe’s shoulders, and walks a little bit faster. (Just a little bit. He wants… he wants a bit more time with this person.)

Because Shen Yuan coos and glows every time Binghe cooks him a new meal. They’ve had braised pork and curry. Sometimes Binghe manages to scavenge for mushrooms to stir fry with boar meat. More often though, they eat congee, which Shen Yuan loudly deems his favourite. “It’s heavenly,” Shen Yuan glows every time, so soft and sweet when he eats it.

Binghe could watch that face every day. 

They’ve traveled together for about a week so far, at a slow pace since Binghe carries Shen Yuan on his back every time. After apologizing a lot on the first day, Shen Yuan began asking questions about Binghe’s life. What was your mother like? What is Binghe’s favourite food? Favourite season? Has Binghe read this play before?

Binghe feels more and more overwhelmed and more and more warm. No one in his life has ever asked him so much about him. No one has ever been so pleased to hear him speak.

“Surely this must be boring compared to what Yuan-ge has experienced,” Binghe tries to say, once.

Shen Yuan’s light grows dim, and Binghe panicks. He wants to chase the light back out, like a moth chasing the moon (or any imitation of it.) 

“Not really. My life has always been… hovering in the sky and watching humanity. All the lovely and terrible things humanity does… It’s overwhelming. It’s so much. I had to pick and choose a few humans to watch, just so I wouldn’t go dark. Good humans. Humans who live kind lives. Humans like you.”

Binghe’s eyes widen.

“Like… me?” 

But he isn’t kind. He’s weak. He just tries to survive by smiling and hoping someone will love him. How pathetic.

“Yes,” Shen Yuan beams, his light returning. “Like you. I know it must be alarming, to know I was watching you--”

“Not at all! It’s an honour I don’t deserve!”

“--But you went through so much hardship. You had to survive all on your own. Your mother was kind and she did a wonderful job at raising you, because you kept choosing to be kind. No matter what. Even when she died, even when Ming Fan belittled you, even when your beloved didn’t see you. You chose to stay kind. And I still adore that part of you.”

Binghe nearly chokes. “How… how can you say that… if you were truly watching me then… you know . You know what I am.”

A monster. A demon. Nothing.

“Binghe put me down for a moment, and look at me face to face.”

Tense, Binghe slowly does that. When he dares to look, he sees Shen Yuan’s gentle smile and light. He sees something that makes his heart twist and flutter and rise high high up…!

“Yes. I know you’re a half-demon. But I’ve watched the demons too. Demons are just as capable of love, of goodness, of kind acts. They are just as capable of feeling. To me, a truly evil act is a choice. You, Binghe, have never chosen to harm others. You’re kind. And you’re you. Demon or not, you are you.”

Ah… Binghe truly begins to cry now. 

This person is so genuinely kind.

 

8 - In Which Shen Yuan Tries To Play Therapist

 

“Binghe…” Shen Yuan tries to bring up gently, while they’re resting and Binghe does a few cultivating exercises. “Try moving your feet a bit farther apart and keep your stance a bit looser. You’re too tense.”

Ever since he revealed to Binghe that he knew him already, he also told him that Ming Fan gave him a fake cultivation manuel and offered to correct his techniques. Within a few days, Binghe’s cultivation has improved through leaps and bounds. Truly a prodigy! Shen Yuan leans back against Binghe’s cloak and beams when Binghe perfects his next set of exercises.

“Excellent work, Binghe! You are a natural!” he says when Binghe comes eagerly to him for a head pat.

“Many thanks… Shizun.”

“Don’t call me such an embarrassing name,” Shen Yuan blushes and shines. He’s surprised Binghe’s not blind from all the light. “I’m no teacher. I’m just a humble star. Maybe I’ll become a painter or a writer as long as I’m on earth, but I’m not a teacher compared to those on Cang Qiong Sect.”

Binghe frowns. “Peak Lord Shen… has never personally taught his students.”

Shen Yuan feels alarmed. “Is Shen Qingqiu… not the man you love?”

Binghe splutters. “You knew?! Right, no, of course you knew. I just… I suppose so.”

Poor Binghe. He must be feeling insecure compared to Yue Qingyuan. Though personally, if it were Shen Yuan, he would pick Luo Binghe every time. Unfortunately, Shen Qingqiu’s heart does not turn the same way.

“I have a question Binghe… about human love…”

“Yes, Shizun!” Ah, the adorable puppy eyes are back. Cute.

He gives another head pat.

Binghe preens.

“This star was just wondering… how did you find out that you loved Shen Qingqiu? What about him do you love?”

Binghe looks as if no one has ever asked him this question before… and perhaps that is true. Ning Yingying is his only friend but Shen Yuan can’t picture Binghe going to her for love advice. 

“I…” Binghe’s brow furrows. “I loved… how beautiful he looked, like a star, when he asked me to come to his peak. Ever since then… I loved him.”

“So…” Shen Yuan’s heart clenches painfully, his light flickers. “Love at first sight?”

Quietly Binghe fiddles with his thumbs. “This one supposes it could be called that.”

“Binghe is very lucky,” Shen Yuan says, mouth growing dry. “I have never experienced such a thing. I’ve grown fond of kind people by their actions, and more and more fond the more kindness I see in them, but I have never felt this Love at First Sight that I’ve heard of in human tales.”

“Yuan-ge is very lucky too then. It’s too painful.”

No, Shen Yuan thinks, he knows the pain of heartbreak too.

“But what else do you love about him? How does he act when you spend time together? Does he treat you kindly?”

Binghe’s eyes grow wider and wider. His lip actually trembles so much that Shen Yuan retracts his questions.

“Never mind. I didn’t mean to push you! It’s just… I always imagined love to be a mutual connection, something that makes both people shine bright. When you speak of Shen Qingqiu, Binghe, you seem so sad… and I can’t help but feel sad with you too.”

Shen Yuan stops, his voice feeling clogged and out of energy, as dim as his light. There’s so much more he wants to say. That Binghe deserves to be happy too. That Shen Yuan has watched so many humans suffer heartache but things can get better (but sometimes they don’t, and Shen Yuan would hate for Binghe’s life to grow dim… then dark…)

Binghe’s hands touch Shen Yuan’s, and when Shen Yuan looks up he sees his adorable human’s eyes filled up with happy tears. Oh this adorable lamb. 

“Shizun… it’s enough that you care.”

Shen Yuan’s throat feels too tight and heavy.

“Of course, Binghe, I’ll always care.”

Even if you keep looking at Shen Qingqiu. Even if your heart breaks. Even if you never move on. Even if no one ever chooses little Shen Yuan first.

They sit in silence together for a long time.

 

9 - In Which Binghe Makes a Choice

 

Only one more day until they’re back at Cang Qiong Sect. Binghe wonders how many laps Peak Lord Shen will make him run for being missing for a month. Instinctively, he pulls Yuan-ge closer to him, treasuring the warmth and the arms around his shoulders. Even when Yuan-ge insisted on walking, to relieve Binghe of the burden, Binghe insisted on having Yuan-ge rely on him.

He’ll only have one more day to treasure this warmth… and then…

Peak Lord Shen will have his star.

Binghe feels twisted bitterness, this disgusting anger, and fear all scrunched up in his bones. No, no, the anger roars, Shen Qingqiu does not deserve this star!

But… he made a promise.

(Do you even love him anymore?

Did you ever really love him?)

Binghe stops.

“Hm?” Yuan-ge’s eyes flutter open. “Are we already there…?”

“Ah, no. Yuan-ge can sleep a little while longer…”

Please stay forever. Pick me. 

“Wait, um, Yuan-ge… this might be our last day together, so this disciple was wondering if he could learn a bit more about you…”

Learn everything.

Yuan-ge’s chuckles are so sweet against his ear. “You already know most of it. I came into consciousness twenty years ago. My previous incarnation went dark and then I was born, along with my brother. But he was formed first by several years. Always lords it over, being older…”

“Go… dark? What does that mean?”

“It’s just when a star dies. If they grow sad enough, they’ll go dark. Their light stops. And they’re gone. That version of them never comes back.”

Binghe freezes. “But! Sometimes! I don’t see you glowing?! Does that mean Shizun will go dark?!”

“Oh, no no no, I still glow a little bit when I’m sad. When a Star goes dark, they stop moving and breathing. Then they turn into dust... and reform into a new being with a new soul.”

Dust. Shizun disappearing before him…

“Then! Is it true, that long ago, people ate the hearts of fallen stars?! What happened to those stars?!”

“Well… they’re dust forever, I suppose… once eaten, they don’t come back.”

Binghe sees red.

He cannot let Shen Qingqiu get his hands on his precious Yuan-ge. Never. He won’t let anyone hurt the one who has stood by him, who has cared for him, who laughs and feels sad for him !

“Huh? Binghe, why are we turning around…?”

“I’ve decided that we don’t need to see Peak Lord Shen anymore!”

“But… he’s the one that you lo--”

“Not if it gets you killed! I can’t lose you, Yuan-ge! You’re too precious! I couldn’t bear if it you went dark, if I couldn’t see this you again, I love you!”

He almost drops Yuan-ge in shock, he feels Yuan-ge stiffen (probably in disgust.)

But Binghe does. He didn’t know what this felt like before, this overwhelming feeling to be by this person’s side and protect him and know him. This security in knowing that Shen Yuan is so kind, that he would never hurt Binghe, that he will always smile at him like that and…!

“What are you doing with that star?!” comes a hiss.

When Binghe turns around, Sect Leader Yue and Shen Qingqiu stand at the entrance to Cang Qiong Sect, looking livid.

 

10 - In Which Shen Yuan Gets an Ending

 

Shen Yuan wonders if this is what humans call motion sickness. Or being dizzy. His mind is still reeling from the revelations that Luo Binghe. Apparently. Loves?? Him?? Him, Shen Yuan, the laziest star in the universe?? How? When? What about Shen Qingqiu?!

Then he finds himself being placed on the ground while Binghe unsheathes his sword and points it at Yue Qingyuan and Shen Qingqiu.

“I won’t let you hurt Yuan-ge!”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop. Stop, Shen Yuan can feel bits of demonic energy beginning to escape into Luo Binghe’s aura.

“Hand him over right now, you filthy beast!”

“Gege stop! He’s just trying to protect me!”

Luo Binghe drops his sword in shock.

“Gege?!”

Shen Yuan laughs nervously. “It wasn’t my secret to reveal…?”

Yue Qingyuan’s jaw drops as he stares at Shen Qingqiu, “You…? Does that mean Xiao-Jiu is a star as well?”

“This is not the time! I need to get my younger brother back!” Shen Qingqiu stomps over, ready to pull Shen Yuan towards him. 

“So…” Luo Binghe’s mind seems to gather slowly, “you don’t want to eat Yuan-ge’s heart?”

“What? No! That’s something a weakling like you would do!”

“I wouldn’t do that to Yuan-ge! I love him!”

Wow. Shen Yuan could float again. Binghe says he loves me…

“A month ago you said you loved me!”

Yue Qingyuan gets a sharp glare that whispers silent murder. “He did what?”

“But I knew you didn’t because you’re a power-hungry brat! I didn’t think you’d find my idiot brother of all people!”

I’m an idiot?” Shen Yuan, having enough of this back-and-forth drama, snaps. “Just who fell down to the earth just to chase this human,” he points at future brother-in-law Yue Qingyuan, “without realizing that he couldn’t come back to the sky?! You did! You even told me that you’d disown me if I tried to follow! I got randomly hit by a meteorite just to meet you again, Gege!”

Yue Qingyuan looks ready to swoon. “Xiao-Jiu… is that really true?”

Shen Qingqiu looks ready to hiss. Or kiss Yue Qingyuan silly. “Don’t listen to my idiot brother. It’s not my fault you’re too slow to court me!”

“Besides, Binghe is kind! And I love him too!”

“Really?” Binghe looks delighted.

Shen Qingqiu looks ready to set the whole world on fire.

 

::

 

Many, many arguments, and one burned down bamboo grove later, Shen Yuan settles down in Qing Jing peak as an unofficial assistant teacher. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to see Binghe very much because of his overprotective brother.

Ah well, Shen Yuan knows the art of sneaking out.

He meets Binghe under the moonlight, under all the stars, near the pond.

Binghe throws his arms around Shen Yuan immediately and just leans in, as if this desperate embrace is not close enough, not warm enough.

“Did you really mean it,” Binghe asks every time.

“Did you?” Shen Yuan always answers.

“I love you,” Binghe whispers again and again, like saying it will bring luck. “I love you so much. It hurts not to be near you during the day.”

“I love you too, Binghe… but don’t you know? Stars shine brightest at night… and so do you.”

Binghe kisses him again and again.

He’ll tell him his blushes are like moonlight.