Every now and then, Shen Qingqiu would return to the Cang Qiong Mountain Sect to check on his pupils. He was still a peak lord and their mentor, after all, so he felt some obligation to act the part… Ok, no, he didn’t really and they seemed to function just fine without him anyway. Sure he was here to check on his students and friends, but there was another simple reason that they didn’t need to know – he was just bored.
Times like this, Shen Qingqiu was reminded that his husband wasn’t just a sticky, tail-wagging and maiden-hearted crybaby, but a full-fledged demon lord (heavens forbade his subordinates ever saw the other side of their lord) with an entire realm to oversee. Demons weren’t exactly the most peaceful beings to ever walked the earth either, so that meant there was always a riot, rebellion, war or whatnot somewhere. Occasionally, those whatnots became big enough to warrant Luo Binghe’s attention and he’d be forced to personally intervene. When that happened, he’d usually be gone for months since he didn’t have the convenience of the original’s dimensional-tearing, portal-making sword that ran on sex magic.
Of course, Luo Binghe had been torn between ungluing himself from Shen Qingqiu and bringing him along since he couldn’t bear to stay away from him for more than 10 minutes let alone months. But, while Shen Qingqiu could perfectly take care of himself and would definitely not mind seeing more types of demons and monsters this world had to offer, Luo Binghe still didn’t think the demon realm was the best place for sightseeing. In the end, Shen Qingqiu convinced him to go alone since it was official business and they could always go by themselves another time (where there was no risk of traumatising demons with the sight of their lord turning into a clingy, fragile-hearted maiden.
And that was how Shen Qingqiu found himself waving Luo Binghe and his entourage off to the distance. If anyone even insinuated that he looked like a housewife seeing her husband off to work, they were going to find Xiu Ya skewering them. Luckily no one did. Anyway, after holing up in his quarters for a few days with nothing to do except read, draw and meditate, he’d be lying if he said he didn’t miss his sticky disciple. Sure time was trivial to cultivators, but even cultivators were allowed to be bored and miss their partners. It then occurred to him that the last time he’d dropped by Cang Qiong Moutain Sect was months ago and voila.
Shen Qingqiu snapped out of his thoughts just as he reached the top of Cang Qiong Mountain, silently cursing the ever-so-many stairs. This was definitely the last time he’d take that ‘scenic’ route. A couple of young disciples who happened to walk by quickly recognised and respectfully greeted him. As his luck would have it, just when he was looking for friends to catch up with and kill some time, the disciples informed him that most of the other peak lords were unavailable. Yue Qingyuan, Qi Qingqi and a few other peak lords were away for another conference while Liu Qingge, surprise surprise, was meditating in the spirit caves.
Shen Qingqiu sighed and made his way to Qing Jing Peak. He’d be staying here for a while anyway, he’d bump into the others sooner or later. He’d barely stepped out of the forest of bamboo when he was tackled with considerable force by a flash of white and green.
“Shizun’s back!” Came a high-pitched, excited and overjoyed squeal that was unmistakably Ning Yingying’s and Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help but chuckle as he patted the head of dark hair still nuzzling against his chest, careful not to mess up her neatly styled buns.
“Yes, yes, but this master won’t be around for long if you keep crushing the air out of him like that.”
“But I haven’t seen you in months!” Ning Yingying pouted, but finally relented and let him go.
Before he could say anything else, there was an increasingly loud chorus of ‘shizun’ and the ground practically vibrated from the tirade of footsteps. Seconds later, Shen Qingqiu found himself surrounded by his other disciples, led by Ming Fan, acting like a bunch of little ducklings that had just found their mother. The sight was so endearing he couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. Maybe he really should drop by more often.
“Alright, enough of this ruckus. You’re going to disturb the other peaks,” Shen Qingqiu chided with a barely concealed smile as he shooed his students back a few steps with his fan. “Since you are all so thrilled to see this master, am I right to assume you have been diligent with your studies? Some tests are in order then. What shall we start with: guqin, poetry or sword skills?”
Shen Qingqiu inwardly laughed when chorus of groans sounded and the disciples couldn’t run away from him fast enough, leaving behind excuses about still having chores to do. Only Ning Yingying and Ming Fan remained and he let them dragged him into the bamboo house for tea and small talks. The three had been chatting away for about half an hour when there was a knock on the door and another familiar face appeared.
“Welcome back, Shen-shixiong.” Mu Qingfang greeted with a warm smile as he made his way inside and sat down opposite Shen Qingqiu. Ning Yingying and Ming Fan quickly prepared some more tea and snacks for him before excusing themselves.
“Mu-shidi! I didn’t expect to see you so soon. A disciple told me you were away gathering herbs.” Shen Qingqiu began with polite interest as he snapped his fan shut.
“I was indeed, for a new recipe I’m researching. I just got back and heard that you have returned. I also heard that you took the stairs. Willingly.”
“Haha…” the gossip mill was still grinding as hard as ever here by the look of it. Was it necessary to include that last detail? “It was a good chance to gather my thoughts.”
“I see,” Mu Qingfang gave a polite smile, then suddenly retrieved a vial from inside his sleeve and put it onto the table. “You must be tired from the long trip back and that. This is a new potion I have just blended with freshly picked herbs. It has rejuvenating effects and should ease your fatigue.”
“Thank you, Mu-shidi, you are too kind.” Shen Qingqiu returned his smile, picked up the vial out of curiosity and lightly sniffed before setting it back onto the table for later. He wasn’t that tired, but it did smell very pleasant and he had no reason to turn down Mu Qingfang’s goodwill.
They conversed for another good two hours, with Mu Qingfang filling him in on what had been happening at Cang Qiong Mountain Sect and Shen Qingqiu retelling any interesting ventures he had in the demon realm. Mu Qingfang left after lunch and Shen Qingqiu spent the rest of the afternoon doing some actual teaching in the form of sword practice in the garden. It was a nice change to be back in the tranquility of Qing Jing Peak, surrounded by the gentle breeze and fresh air that was imbued with spiritual energy. Luo Binghe had gone to great lengths to replicate this scenery, but it still wasn’t the same as being here, unfortunately. Yet another reason to come back more frequently.
By nighttime, with lessons and dinner out of the way, Shen Qingqiu found himself more exhausted than he’d expected. Good thing Luo Binghe wasn’t here to beg for…cough… yeah, these old bones would definitely not survive that right now. Shen Qingqiu shook those thoughts away before his thin face could burn any more. He then spotted Mu Qingfang’s potion still sitting untouched on the table at the centre of the room. Bless his considerate shidi. One could always count on healers, right? Without hesitation, Shen Qingqiu unsealed the vial and swirled the fragrant dark liquid inside several times. There actually wasn’t a lot inside the vial, maybe two sips or so. Mu Qingfang didn’t mention anything about dosage so Shen Qingqiu assumed he was meant to drink it all. This was only a health supplement to help with fatigue anyway. Thus, Shen Qingqiu tilted his head back and emptied the vial. It was quite sweet and not bitter in the least, which was a pleasant surprise.
Letting out a soft yawn, Shen Qingqiu changed into his night clothes and made his way back to the bed, fully intending to catch up on his sleep – another perk of not having his husband pestering him until early hours of the morning with kisses and cough. He cursed his traitorous, potentially desperate brain and immediately threw images that were materialising out of his mind. Great, how was he going to face Luo Binghe now when the latter dragged him into his dreamscape later like he did every night?
Much to his dismay, Shen Qingqiu dozed off with that last thought and, as expected, found himself within the dreamscape that was the bamboo forest identical to the one just outside his doors at the moment, down to the last tree. And he was tackled by his disciple, again, but this one a lot taller and stronger than Ning Yingying. Good thing he still had his trusty fan with him to smack that disciple’s head and cover his face with.
As usual, the two didn’t do much else other than talking about each other’s day – papapa in a dream world was a tad too kinky for this old master, thank you very much. Luo Binghe reassured him that he was fine and handling everything as quickly as he could, and Shen Qingqiu informed him of his impromptu visit to Cang Qiong Mountain Sect. Luo Binghe was only mildly surprised at his decision, and agreed to meet him there at a later date without complaint. A voice that sounded suspiciously like Airplane’s chirped in his head that they looked like a pair of newlyweds separated by a business trip video-chatting about nonsense just because they couldn’t stand to be apart. Shen Qingqiu’s lip twitched behind his fan as he chose to ignore that thought. And talked to Luo Binghe for another two hours.
Eventually, Luo Binghe dispelled his dreamscape to give Shen Qingqiu some proper rest, but not before the obligatory teary apologies about how he was a failure for taking so long, for keeping Shizun waiting and a million other cheesy but admittedly sweet things. As always, the best way to shut Luo Binghe up was a fan to the head and a not-so-optional peck on the lips.
By morning, when Ning Yingying entered the bamboo house after a few soft cursory knocks, Shen Qingqiu was still fast asleep. Smiling at her master’s unchanging bad habit, she set the tray containing his bowl of congee and side dishes onto the table and went to wake him. “Shizun, it’s nearly time for morning classes.” Ning Yingying called as she pulled back the bed canopy… then shrieked at the top of her lungs.
Even Shen Qingqiu, who notoriously required multiple attempts to drag himself out of bed, couldn’t keep sleeping after someone quite literally screamed in his ear. “Yingying? What’s wrong?” He asked groggily as he sat up, one hand trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes. His still half-asleep brain could not think of a reason why his disciple would be making an impression of a dying crow first thing in the morning. The same brain also failed to notice that his voice had jumped several octaves from its usual mellow pitch.
Ning Yingying didn’t answer him. Little did he know she was too preoccupied with keeping herself from fainting at the moment while watching his every move. Before he could ask again, she screamed, or squealed to be more specific, a second time and lunged at him.
“Yingying, please keep your voice down. And how many times have this master told you? It is hardly appropriate for a young lady like you to keep throwing yourself at me,” now fully awake, Shen Qingqiu held back a groan as he began prying her off him. And then a realisation hit him like one of Liu Qingge’s punches. What. The. Fuck. His fingers could barely wrap themselves around her wrist and he could hardly feel any strength in his grip. “What the-” Fortunately for his image of a graceful, eloquent immortal, his swearing was cut off by the sound of his own voice creeping him out. What the fuck was this childish squeak of a voice?!