It was hard for a small teahouse like theirs to gain business considering that they were found on the border. Especially since it was no ordinary border between two countries or nations but rather, the boundary between the human world and demon realm.
Considering how this place was often filled with demons coming and going while stealing things, murdering, and committing arson, it was no wonder that the population declined more and more. This border used to be a flourishing metropolis but as the border between the two realms became blurrier, more people left. So far, only cultivators and disciples of sects who were powerful enough to guard and fix the boundary stayed here.
That is why it is a fairly huge shock for Lu Liu to find that his savior was a man not only covered in black mud, looking like he crawled out of a grave, but he was also carrying an infant. The man who saved him was obviously a cultivator and from what he saw, he may be a fairly strong one.
“Many thanks to your excellency for chasing away that demon just now!” This seems to startle the baby, causing it to scrunch its face, an impending warning of another round of crying.
The man sighs tiredly as he rocks the baby to calm it down. “Hush, be quiet little one.”
“Would this master prefer to sit down? It seems like your child is getting more and more agitated by the minute. I can prepare you tea.”
“Thank you good sir,” he sighs in relief and shifts the position of the baby. “He hasn’t stopped being irritated and crying ever since we went down the mountain.”
Lu Liu frowns at this. The boundary is dangerous enough but for them to have lived in the mountains? He can only imagine how difficult it must have been to live there while raising an infant.
“Oh dear, you’re from the mountains? It must have been difficult for you and the little tyke. You got run out by the demons there too?”
The man hums. “Hm, something like that. Shh, little one be quiet. It’s okay, It’s okay!”
“Little tyke has a set of powerful lungs I see,” Old Qin comments. “Ah, I remember my cousin’s son. He was like that too. I think he may be hungry. Has his mother fed him yet?”
The man smiles wryly. “His mother is uhm...gone unfortunately.”
The rest of them murmur their apologies. It wasn’t easy to lose a wife that young and for an infant to lose his mother at that age, it must be very difficult, Lu Liu laments.
“I think one of the cultivators who help mend the boundary might know someone who can help you feed your child.”
“Oh no, no, I possibly couldn’t bother you for that. You have served me tea already,” he then takes a sip of the tea prepared in front of him. “Anyway, what year is it now?”
“Think of it as our thanks. Especially since the demon race had been invading these past five years and it has become more and more serious. All kinds of monsters have come pouring into the human realm, what you did sir… oh, I still haven’t asked for this master’s name?”
The man turns quiet for a while before replying. “Peerless Cucumber.”
He sighs as he bounces the baby strapped to his chest up and down. Thank goodness the people here were kind enough to him to give him this baby sling. It made carrying the little one so much easier for his arms. The little one had even been pretty quiet the entire journey.
But of course, of all times he chose to act up, it would be now. Shen Qingqiu could recognize that scrunching up anywhere.
“Baby shh, shh,” he tries to placate him as he frees the cultivators captured by Sha Hualing. He really did not plan on bumping into the demoness here.
He does have a baby strapped into his chest. He was hoping that maybe Shang Qinghua was somewhere around here but alas, that no good author didn't even bother to check up on him. “Little one, now is not the time please.”
“Many thanks to senior for saving me!”
"You are a Bai Zhan peak disciple?” He can recognize those colors anywhere.
“That is correct."
“The Bai Zhan Peak Lord, Liu Qingge, is my master.”
This makes Shen Qingqiu almost sputter. Ah, what the hell is his shidi doing nowadays? Liu Qingge never took on any disciples. He really had no interest in teachig anyone. He just goes out, hunts monsters, and comes back. Even though Bai Zhan claims to teach its disciples, in reality, all they do is really just pick fights with people. His own peak had been on the receiving end of said challenges for a long time now.
Liu Qingge taking on a disciple...It really cannot be. He narrows his eyes in suspicion. “What’s your name?”
Shen Qingqiu looks at him up and down, trying to remember where exactly he had seen this person before. But five years is quite a long time for someone’s looks to change and for a child to grow up.
But as the shixiong, he should ask about his shidi. Liu Qingge did fight strongly for him in Hua Yue city. Granted, Liu Qingge lost but he still tried to fight for him. That loss must have been a huge blow to him too considering that the God of War Liu Qingge just experienced his first loss.
“Your shizun, how is he?” Shidi, are you still cursing me out for making you lose? Ah, forgive this old man for pitting you against Binghe, knowing full well that Binghe’s protagonist halo would make him win no matter what.
Yang Yixuan then answers. “Defeated in every battle.”
Ah, Yang Yixuan, you don’t have to sound so sincere when saying that especially in front of a stranger, he laments. Save your shizun some face will you? “...Who had he been fighting exactly? Luo Binghe?”
Yang Yixuan scoffs and replies, his voice filled with contempt. “If not that little bastard, then who else could Shizun be fighting?”
Shen Qingqiu sweats nervously and tries to bounce his baby again to calm him down. It certainly looks like Cang Qiong hasn’t been too receptive to Luo Binghe ever since his death.
“What about the An Ding peak lord? And how did you fall into that witch’s trap anyway?”
“That witch pretended to be a lady in distress! If not for that, I wouldn’t have fallen for her trap!”
Ah, Liu-shidi, is this really your disciple? He thinks. Don’t worry shidi, he’ll scold this disciple on your behalf. “Look at yourself! Are you really from Bai Zhan? Just because you haven’t interacted with women doesn’t mean you should be scared of them! So what if one undresses in front of you? Back in the day your shizun fought an entire cave of naked female demons and was unaffected!”
“Amazing! He truly is Shizun!” Yang Yixuan replies, his face suddenly filled with admiration. “Senior, you know my shizun?”
Shen Qingqiu immediately tries to deflect. "It was back in the days. Too long ago, no need to dwell on it. Anyway, about the An Ding peak lord."
“Oh him,” Yang Yixuan scowls. “That traitor left Cang Qiong for Mobei-jun. He doesn’t even go back to Cang Qiong anymore. What do you need him for?”
Left Cang Qiong for Mobei-Jun huh? Airplane bro, then what the hell is keeping you from checking up on this plant body? Shen Qingqiu rages internally as he softly pats the back of the child strapped to his chest.
“Senior, is that your child?” Yang Yixuan frowns. “Senior should go back to the town with his kid then. It’s not safe here for an infant and his father. I’ll rescue the other disciples. I thank senior for helping me.”
He rolls his eyes and stops himself from bopping his head with his fan like what he usually does with Binghe. “Nonsense, are you not a child too? What kind of senior would I be to let you face off Sha Hualing alone. Though my baby is strapped to my chest, I’ll be your support and will provide help should you need it from a distance. Is that fine?”
Even though the little tyke is strapped to his chest rather safely, it’s still not easy for Shen Qingqiu to fight. He really did just get lucky with fending off Sha Hualing earlier. Once they rescue the rest of the Cang Qiong disciples, perhaps he should continue to look for Shang Qinghua. That little rat deserves to be on babysitting duty on top of explaining to him why the hell did he wake up with a baby beside him.
Then it went to hell. It turns out that freeing the cultivators trapped by Sha Hualing wasn’t as easy as he thought considering the baby strapped onto his chest. The three nuns managed to escape, making even more trouble for him. So in the end, he decided to just free everyone.
That is until he himself got caught in a net of Immortal-Binding Cables
“Baba!” The child blubbers out, as he tries to grap his beard again.
“Little one, not now,” he says as he tries to think of a way to get rid of the net covering him. He can simply just try to make it explode with energy again but with the baby on his chest, it’s more difficult. He was able to concentrate the energy on the strings on his back earlier, somewhat making sure that the damage would be far from the baby on his chest. But now that the net covers his entire being, he’s not even sure how to do this anymore. “Shh, yes your baba has to get us out of here first.”
Sha Hualing in front of him, chuckles. “Even if you destroy a hundred Immortal-Binding cables, I’d just use a thousand or ten thousands of them. It wasn’t originally meant for you so you should be honored that you got the treatment instead. Stop flailing and tell you brat to stop crying! I’ll go easier on you if you and your child behave.”
Ahh fuck, he really should have left the child with Yang Yixuan, he thinks, despairingly. Not even a day into being revived and he’s going to be used as canon fodder by demons again. Since it seems like he’s about to be thrown to the wolves, he might as well throw out his dignity. “If you’re really going to go easy on me, why not remove the net then?”
Sha Hualing starts her speech again. Seriously, what is it with these villains and their speeches? “You seem strong. You seem to contain a large amount of energy and power. If you only pledged loyalty to me, you would have risen in ranks. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Whether you pledge willingly or not, you’re still set to face the consequences of your actions. You will still be a human vessel for our lord. So choose your options wisely if you want you and your child to be safe.”
Luo Binghe needed human vessels. No wonder, Sha Hualing set her sights on him. Out of everyone they captured, he arguably contained the highest spiritual energy. And now she was planning to offer him to Luo Binghe! He glances at the child on his chest and sighs.
“Miss Sha,” his voice calls out, echoing in the cave. “I would willingly go with you. On one condition.”
“And who are you to demand anything from me?”
You crazy witch! You literally just said I would’ve risen in ranks if I pledged allegiance to you! He scowls internally but continues anyway. “Let my child go with the Cang Qiong cultivators. I’d willingly go with you and pledge allegiance should you allow that.”
He originally wanted to show the child to Shang Qinghua and drag answers out of him but from the looks of it, the plant child would be in more danger with him. Even if Mu-shidi somehow found out that this child is a plant child, it’s not like they can trace anything back to him since he’ll most likely be a vegetable absorbing energy for Luo Binghe by that time. Heh, vegetable, he snickers internally.
“Again! Who are you to even make demands—My lord, today isn’t the night of the full moon yet? Why did you think to visit this subordinate? But you came at just the right time. As it turns out, I’ve prepared a special gift for you—it’s already here.”
Cold sweat breaks out on his neck as he keeps his head bowed. Aiyah, his luck truly is rotten. He would’ve broken out of this net and blown this place up if not for this child. Oh little one, this father apologizes for sharing his rotten luck with you. Let us blame Airplane Bro for our misfortune instead, he laments and tickles the baby’s checks instead, surrendering to his fate.
Maybe he can still keep his disguise and settle a deal with Luo Binghe that would let both of them live. Maybe he’d find Shang Qinghua in Luo Binghe’s palace too. Then he’d be able to dump this baby onto him. See how babysitting fits you huh, Airplane Bro.
“This is your special gift?” Luo Binghe asks, his tone neither pleased nor angered. It was hard to discern actually, with his head still bowed low. The protagonist might want his life but he may be able to delay his inevitable death by hiding himself.
“Yes my lord.”
Luo Binghe looks over the wreckage and raises a brow at her coldly. “I thought I said that Cang Qiong sect’s people were off-limits?”
Cold sweat drips down Sha Hualing’s forehead in the face of Luo Binghe’s possible anger. She never expected that he would still be able to know the type of people she had captured even after they had all escaped. She immediately tries to explain as her blood runs cold, “Don’t be angry, my lord, I accidentally captured two of them, but let them go. This time though, this subordinate found an exceptional individual. Never before had I seen a cultivator with this much spiritual energy. With him, you’ll never need to switch to a new human vessel every month.”
She stops, bites her lip, and then continues. “As long as you give me a certain thing…”
While Sha Hualing was explaining for her life, Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help but curse the entire heavens as the extremely familiar and hateful voice appeared in his head again. Not again, not again, he cries internally. Just as he had thought that he was free from this cursed voice, it appeared again.
He thought that by getting a new body, he would be free of this damned virus! He had turned over a new leaf already! He even found himself with a child! He puts his hands over his ears as he tries to block out the sound. Truly, the protagonist is golden to be able to activate the System again with just a single appearance. And truly, he is a wretched villain with cursed luck to have activated his System after one interaction with the protagonist. It wasn’t even a physical interaction! He just happened to appear at the wrong place and time!
[ …Activating……Activating……Soul binding… ]
[ …Debugging……Contacting customer service… ]
Sighing and accepting his fate, he strokes the cheek of the child to calm him down before turning his head to meet the gaze of his (former?) disciple. Luo Binghe who towers over him right now, with an expressionless look on his face.
His heart cannot help but go out to Luo Binghe. He did this, he thinks sadly. Even back in Jinlan, at least Luo Binghe showed hints of facial expressions, even if they had been angry and hatred towards him. This one...This Luo Binghe looks so cold and expressionless. Meeting Luo Binghe’s gaze is like looking at a snow field or a tundra. It’s entirely cold.
But despite that, Shen Qingqiu does not know why he doesn’t feel fear. Maybe it’s because he had accepted his wretched fate. Villain from the start of transmigration, and villain to the end. Maybe it is because of the baby strapped to his chest that he feels tranquil. Luo Binghe in the novel was never shown to have killed children.
Luo Binghe’s face twists into several expressions after seeing him from being puzzled to surprised and then settling into the cold and chilling stare again. Shen Qingqiu hugs the child tighter and closes his eyes, accepting his fate.
“You certainly got guts.” He hears Luo Binghe say lightly.
He immediately opens his eyes when he hears someone faintly choking and Sha Hualing screeching. He almost gasps at what he sees. “My lord, forgive me! This one knows she is wrong! I swear, it’s just a coincidence! My lord, forgive me!”
But Luo Binghe is not one to listen to her immediately. He merely stares at her coldly. “Did I not warn all of you not to get any ideas about using his face?”
“It really...isn’t...my...fault...my lord!” Sha Hualing says, choking out every word as Luo Binghe refuses to relent.
He bites his lip as he watches the scene in front of him. He cannot help but feel a thousand needles piercing his stomach. He really...He really traumatized Luo Binghe to the point that he no longer wants to see his face or even someone who resembles him. It really...It really is his fault. For all his efforts to try and not make the protagonist hate him, fate still got what it wanted.
Just then, a loud noice pierces through the air.
Shen Qingqiu’s heart drops as he drops his eyes to the baby strapped to his chest.
“Of all times, of all times!” He hisses and tries to bounce the baby to calm him down. He should’ve known that the baby wouldn’t stay silent for that long. Thanks to Sha Hualing and her subordinates, he even lost the milk bottle the people in the tea shop gave to him! Seriously! “Shhh, hushh, darling it’ll be fine.”
He hums a lullaby he learned back in the modern era and rocks the baby back and forth, unaware of the tall silhouette approaching him. “Little one, please calm down…”
“You…” Luo Binghe says, grabbing his arm. Shen Qingqiu gulps and tries to pull it away.
[ Touch verification successful! ]
“Where did you learn that song?”
He tries to pull away again, the baby’s cries still piercing through the cave. “Let me go…”
[ The power source has been connected. Storing power! ]
“How do you know that song?!” Luo Binghe demands, shaking his arm, making the baby cry even louder. “Only he knows that song!”
Panicking, Shen Qingqiu lets his mouth run. “It’s from my hometown okay?! Shut up, you’re scaring the baby!”
[ System self-evaluation: all system operations normal. Thank you for your continued usage! ]
Upon trying to push Luo Binghe away, he ends up making the little tyke and the protagonist touch each other. Just as the two touch, the little one’s cries settle down and he opens his eyes as an intricate red mark appears on his adorable little forehead.
Luo Binghe pulls away as if burned upon seeing it and then turns his gaze onto the man holding the child. The said man holding the child on the other hand holds the child closer to his chest and tries to hide him as if it will undo Luo Binghe seeing the mark and the child.
[ OC: Luo Binghe’s Son: ACTIVATED ]
[ Thanking User for his patience! ]
you are NOT...wait wrong...you ARE the father!
“You. Are. A. Menace.” Shen Qingqiu says as he emphasizes each word with a light tap behind the back of the baby.
The said baby just continues to wail his lungs out, not willing to calm down. Shen Qingqiu despairs. How is he to know what this little one wants? A wetnurse already arrived earlier to feed the little one but the little one only smacked her on the chest. And it was a very powerful smack for a baby, leaving a tiny, red handprint.
Little one, you’re still so little and young and yet you’re already terrorizing people, he laments as he tries to pull his hair out of the baby’s hand.
“No, no, we don’t eat hair,” he lightly scolds him who just wails even harder. Is this really the only thing babies do? Cry? He's pretty sure his meimei in his previous life didn't cry this much. “You’re definitely Binghe’s child alright with how much you can cry.”
[ User has accepted the truth! Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations! Important things must be said three times! ]
"As if there's any denying the truth with that mark on his forehead." He grumbles and his eyes wander to the baby's forehead. That is most certainly the mark of a heavenly demon. There's no contesting that.
The baby now looks tired from crying but he still won't stop for reasons no one knows. The look on the baby's face is so pitiful that Shen Qingqiu is pretty sure even the protagonist would take pity on him. Luo Binghe in the novel was mentioned to be kind to those who were kind to him. So maybe Binghe will spare his child.
Then Shen Qingqiu remembers the shocked look in Binghe's face when he saw the mark on the baby's forehead and the angry furrowing of his eyebrows as he dropped the two of them in this empty room.
Okay, maybe he shouldn't be too complacent. Just because Binghe doesn't look like he wants to outright kill him doesn't mean he should throw out the thought altogether.
"Little one," he says, shushing him again as he appears to prepare himself for another round of crying. "Shhh, we get it. You have powerful lungs. Please stop crying. What do you want?"
He really isn't prepared for this. He just woke up from death into his new body. He was fully prepared to live a long secluded life of being a mysterious NPC cultivator in his plant body. Ah, Airplane you had one job! All he had to do was make sure this plant body was growing well. Why did he have to sprout another plant body the size of a baby!
Shen Qingqiu scrambles to sit upright and cradles the baby against his chest again as he hears the commotion outside the door. He bites his lip, deciding whether listening in was worth it or not.
Ah fuck this, he might as well get some scoop on what’s happening. He stands up, gingerly placing a hand behind the baby’s head and standing close enough to the door to listen in but still far enough to not be slammed by the door when opened.
“My lord! Liu Qingge came again twice. But when he saw that you weren’t here, he smashed the water caltrop blossoms.” A follower in Huan Hua most likely, he thinks as he continues rocking the baby in an attempt to calm him down.
Liu Qingge? Ah, was...was his shidi trying to get revenge for him? He’s a bit touched really. But at the same time nervous. His shidi should really stop trying to fight Luo Binghe. The protagonist halo will always make sure that he’ll win every fight and triump over any challenge thrown his way. He (hate) read all 689 chapters of Proud Immortal Demon Way and frustratingly enough, the only one that truly gave challenge to Binghe was the Abyss.
Not even facing the heavenly officials of the South gave him a challenge. Airplane Bro, you should have at least tried to tone down your version of Gary Stu.
“Aiyah little one, how will we know what’s happening if you keep crying?” He whispers to him. He frowns when he realizes that the room might be a tad cold for the baby so he concentrates a small amount of energy on his hand and rubs the baby’s tummy.
Surprisingly, the baby’s cries soften to tiny whimpers until he’s finally just sniffling. Jackpot!!! Shen Qingqiu cries internally. All this time was the baby just cold?! Well he should’ve said it sooner! He concentrates more qi in his hand and then lets it evaporate in the air, making the room warmer.
“Liu Qingge? Who cares? Let him smash them. What else?” comes Luo Binghe’s nonchalant reply. Whether it’s because Luo Binghe knows he has tons of money to replace whatever Liu Qingge destroys or because he knows Liu Qingge will never win against him, he will never know. He sort of wishes he could see his disciple’s face this time…
He steps closer to the door to hear the conversation better. “There is also...Little palace mistress...she wants to meet with you. But…”
Another wife meeting! He perks up and pulls the hair away from the baby’s mouth. This little one really thought he could trick him huh. “No. No eating!”
"Why can't I hear anything? What did Binghe say?" He murmurs, like an old woman gossiping with her neighbors.
"But I've already arrived!" The little palace mistress' voice is so loud and booming that Shen Qingqiu doesn't even need to come closer to hear more. "You've returned."
Is this the part where Luo Binghe lovingly embraces his wife after having been separated from her for a long time? She was one of the most spoiled wives in the novel after all. Spoiled by riches, spoiled by her father, and spoiled by Luo Binghe.
She's a spoiled brat through and through. He supposes that there are people whose type are like the Little Palace Mistress who is a spoiled brat with the tendency for SM. Or at least pretends to be good at SM. He never really understood the attraction to those types really.
While he liked Liu Mingyan and Ning Yingying the best among the wives, he remembers leaving a long comment in one of the chapters saying something along the lines of how Airplane never gives effort to build up an arc for a wife to be justified as being Luo Binghe's fated one.
His one true soulmate should be kind! She should be able to understand what he went through and stick by him despite it all and not just through several chapters of papapa! The closest wives to that were Ning Yingying, who had cared for him since the very start, and Liu Mingyan, who understood his path to revenge towards the scum villain Shen Qingqiu.
Naturally the rest of them flamed and downvoted his comment to oblivion. Pathetic, the lot of them. Peerless Cucumber what are you doing? They yapped. This is a stallion novel. How can there be one true soulmate? Luo Binghe deserves all the beautiful women in the world as his wives! Having one true soulmate and love would ruin that!
It didn't help that Airplane commented on his rant post, "Cucumber bro if you want it so bad, why don't you be his soulmate instead?"
"—Why is it then when you actually see him you pretend to be lovable and pitiable? Why was it that before I came here you made no efforts to stop me, and yet only advise me now?!" comes the Little Palace Mistress' shrill voice.
The volume of the argument outside seems to have startled the little on in his arms as his eyes open again. Shen Qingqiu groans as he prepares himself for another onslaught.
"Who's there?!" Little Palace Mistress demands upon hearing the cries of the baby.
"Mistress... let's go."
Shen Qingqiu scrambles backwards as the door slams open. He tries to make himself smaller as if it will hide him and the baby with a heavenly demon mark on his forehead in his arms. Of course it doesn't work with his cursed luck because he is the first thing the Palace Mistress sees upon entering the room.
"Who are you?" She questions as she walks towards him. "Luo Binghe, who is this?"
"This," Luo Binghe replies, his tone turning dangerous and promising danger. "Is none of the Little Palace Mistress' business."
"Is he why you keep on postponing finding my father?"
Luo Binghe says, "Your father has disappeared into the clouds. I can't find any trace of him anymore."
Ah, Binghe could you at least pretend to care? He thinks. The way he says it is too insincere. Binghe, you sound too much like one of those people from dramas who say "I don't know where they are" when the truth is, they orchestrated the disappearance of the person.
"Fine. Let me rephrase it then," she sneers at Binghe and Shen Qingqiu. Ah, Palace Mistress what did this one do to you even? He thinks. "Would you have even looked for me if I didn't come to you?!"
Two shrill cries is not good for the head, he notes as he bounces the baby up and down gently to calm him down while keeping him against his neck to avoid showing everyone the forehead symbol. Having one baby crying shrilly is already a headache but add up the Little Palace Mistress' shrill voice, it really is a recipe for a huge migraine.
By the looks of it, Binghe and the others seem to agree as well as their faces scrunch in displeasure. Binghe especially seems tired of this as he orders the other followers to take the Little Palace Mistress away.
"You will regret this Luo Binghe!" Her voice echoes as she is pushed outside the room.
Qin Wanyue awkwardly stands there, looking from the ground then to Luo Binghe then to the ground again, unsure if she should follow the palace mistress. Sha Hualing rolls her eyes and glares at her.
"Well? What else are you waiting for? Aren't you her servant?" She scoffs. "This is your fault in the first place."
Qin Wanyue's eyes instantly water and she holds back the tears. "I'm sorry. I didn't do my job properly by not stopping the Little Palace Mistress."
"You had one job! You can't even look after a single person! You're her senior martial sister and you can't even reign her in." The saint demoness in red sneers.
"Are you two quite done?" Binghe interrupts them coldly, making the two freeze.
Sha Hualing bows to him on one knee. "We shall leave my lord."
"Yes my lord," comes Qin Wanyue's soft reply.
Shen Qingqiu jots down what he knows about the current wives in his mind and uses his fingers to count them.
Sha Hualing: No longer a wife but now similar to a corporate slave, slaving away and working herself to death with overtime. Does she even have a salary? Her working environment is scary and inhumane. As of right now, it looks like the boss is more likely to kill her than engage in any dirty and illicit office romance
Liu Mingyan: Canonically, Binghe and Mingyan exchanged love token sword tassels but WTF they haven't even exchanged anything. Liu Qingge, her brother, seems to have had more interaction and exchange (of attacks) than her.
Ning Yingying: He has not seen his other disciple yet but from what he remembers, puberty seems to have cured her lovesickness for the male protagonist.
Little Palace Mistress: Aggrieved woman confined at home. Shen Qingqiu quotes her angry words as she's being dragged out. Being raised like a pig by Luo Binghe. Whether she's a pig for slaughter one day or not, no one knows and Shen Qingqiu does not plan to know either. He would like to stay out of the catfights thank you very much.
Qin Wanyue: Aggrieved woman confined at home #2. Despite numerous attempts at seducing the male protagonist with her "innocent" looks, she has failed repeatedly. Now she's the caretaker of the pig Luo Binghe is raising.
Qiu Haitang: Originally in the novel, she went happily NTRing with Luo Binghe after dragging Shen Qingqiu through the mud. However, this particular wife is still traveling and even got herself captured by overworked employee Sha Hualing.
Three Taoist nuns: They only made short cameos. Their cameos are even shorter than a M*rvel hero post-movie cameo. Basically went, hello goodbye~
In the novel, Luo Binghe already had tons of wives begging for his attention and other women throwing themselves at his feet. From this perspective, Luo Binghe is doing terribly.
Aiyah Xiao Bing, your father is terrible at being a stallion novel protagonist, he thinks as he avoids Binghe's eyes on purpose and continuously bounces the crying baby.
"Why is...why is it crying?" Binghe asks, his eyebrows furrowed.
He sighs and shrugs. "Why is HE crying? I don't know either. I figured it's because he was cold earlier so I warmed the room. But now he's…"
Binghe approaches him, making him freeze. It doesn't go unnoticed by Binghe, who stops in his tracks, face twisting into a myriad of emotions—was he sad? Angry?— before settling into cold indifference again.
"I won't harm the little one," he says and pauses. "I promise."
Shen Qingqiu purses his lips. He can't really say no to the protagonist. But at the same time, the way Binghe looks right now it seems like he doesn't exactly want to hurt them. Or him as in the baby. He sighs and adjusts the position of the baby so that he is facing Luo Binghe.
The baby cries and opens his eyes to see Luo Binghe towering over him. Despite that, his cries quieten down to sniffles. His eyes widen upon seeing his father.
The little one gurgles and tries to grab one of the stray lock falling off of Luo Binghe's shoulder. Shen Qingqiu is quick enough to grab his small hand. But at the same time Luo Binghe makes a move to grab the baby's hand too.
"Uhm…" Shen Qingqiu coughs and draws his hand back, red-faced. "This one apologizes for touching Lord Luo without his consent."
"It's...It is fine," Binghe replies, a bit dazed. "What is the little one's name?"
"I...haven't exactly thought of a name yet," I've only been calling him Xiao Bing in my head, he doesn't say. He then gives a small smile to him. "You are the father. Why don't you give him his name?"
Luo Binghe narrows his eyes at him. "How are you so sure that I am the father?"
Hello? Protagonist? Is that not your signature forehead mark on this Xiao Bing? The same one your touch accidentally activated? He wants to say but holds his tongue back.
"The mark on his forehead cannot be mistaken," he answers and strokes the baby's cheek. "You saw it yourself. Your touch activated his demon side."
"How do I know you're not lying?" His voice turns dark, signalling Shen Qingqiu's red alert. He grips the baby unconsciously. "If I am the father why are you so afraid?"
"If I am the father why do you hide him from me?" He continues, walking closer to him, making Shen Qingqiu step back. "Is it because you are aware of my kind as a heavenly demon?"
He says softly and before Shen Qingqiu knows it, his back is against the wall. "Or is my kind really just that cursed? For you to not even trust me with my own son?"
Shen Qingqiu closes his eyes and prepares himself for the worse. But then he hears Binghe's voice cracks. "Am I really that cursed to find someone with Shizun's face still deathly afraid of me? Someone with Shizun's face holds my supposed son and is afraid of me?"
"Am I really that cursed that you won't even be honest with me?"
[ -100 coolness points. User please work harder! ]
Something in his heart stirs as he hears his disciple. Binghe...This one truly did not mean it, he wants to say. He really... It's just that his entire life as a transmigrator, there is an omnipotent voice in his head holding his life over his head. Surviving this whole novel is all he knows.
Now that everything has been thrown to literal dogshit, he doesn't know what else to do but what he has always done: attempting to guess the next events of the novel based on memory. After all, like how the water is wet, Luo Binghe returns whatever is inflicted to him a hundredfold. Is that not a constant in this world?
He looks at Luo Binghe again, who is now looking at the gurgling baby in his arms. Is that not a constant in his world? He asks himself.
[ User! System recommends that User think of a reply quickly for his safety as System senses that Luo Binghe is not pleased. ]
"So even now, you still won't look at me and answer me honestly?" Luo Binghe's eyes go glassy and his voice cracks again. "I see...after all, it was this one's fault."
"I don't…" he honestly doesn't know what to say. "I am not lying to you Luo Binghe. Xiao Bing...this little one really is your child. I do not know how to prove it but I promise you. He is yours. Feel for his spiritual energy if you want."
"...that is not what this one meant."
Then what do you want? He wants to yell. It honestly feels like he's dealing with two babies who doesn't know what he wants. One is a literal baby and one is a grown heavenly demon ruling over a sect and other demons.
"How did you find the babe?" Luo Binghe asks instead.
Shen Qingqiu sweats nervously. "I found him in a mountain when I was travelling," it wasn't a complete lie. "Are you sure you did not accidentally leave any woman pregnant?"
Okay that one was a complete lie and it seems that Luo Binghe himself knows it. Binghe glares at him. "I would never! There is no one else. No one else except my shizun."
??? Shen Qingqiu blinks in confusion. Excuse him? Did he just hear that correctly?
"How could you accuse me of having a child out of wedlock when there is n-no one in my heart...except for my S-Shizun." He says, ending his passionate speech softly.
By this time Shen Qingqiu's brain has short-circuited. How can that be? The male protagonist of a stallion novel with 600+ wives...has feelings for him that isn't hate or platonic? But...But how? Wasn't Luo Binghe a straight as a nail stallion protagonist? System! Please answer!
[ This System has no answers for User unfortunately. Even as I comb through the data in my chip, there is nothing to accurately explain how this happened. ]
[ However, this System would like to say that according to multiple sources, there is just no single reason as to why one falls in love. If Used really wants to know, it is best to ask the protagonist ]
"Binghe…" He starts, tugging his hair free from the baby's grasp once more and not noticing he forgot to address him formally. Xiao Bing looks up at the two of them with wide eyes and with his mouth open. "I…"
"MY LORD! I CAN CONFIRM IT!" The door slams open revealing a very familiar figure that Shen Qingqiu had been waiting for. "PLEASE SPARE...the baby?"
Luo Binghe turns to him with a frown. "Shang Qinghua? What are you doing here?"
Shang Qinghua falls down to the floor in a lightning fast manner and kowtows in front of him, head touching the floor. That's right Airplane Bro, shiver and be scared, he scowls while looking at the nervous wreck of a cultivator in front of them. Not a minute after, Mobei-Jun appears and enters the room.
"My lord, Lord Luo," the An Ding Peak Lord starts, voice almost muffled by the floor. "The child really is yours. I can confirm it."
"You dare imply that I am unfaithful to my shizun?" Binghe asks. Or more like demands, he notes.
Shang Qinghua shakes his head vigorously. "No! No, my lord. I would never! This servant would never dare!”
“What do you mean then Shang Qinghua?” It seems that Binghe has completely dropped all formalities with his Shishu, Shen Qingqiu notes. A petty part of him takes joy in this. Good!
“It’s just that...this servant can confirm that the little one is your...uhm...thatheisyourson,” Shang Qinghua manages to get out in a hurry. Luo Binghe continues to stare at him coldly. “The forehead mark! The symbol of being a Heavenly Demon can only be unsealed through a powerful adversary like Xin Mo or my King. Or…”
Shang Qinghua tries to peek a look up and meets Shen Qingqiu’s gaze who glares at him heatedly. The peak lord squeaks and bows his head again. “Or by his father! This servant is a hundred percent sure of this my lord! This servant has done extensive reading and research about the demon realm and one of them gave insight about the Heavenly Demon race.”
“That was never in the novel,” Shen Qingqiu mutters. Shang Qinghua snaps his head towards him in shock. “That hack author, seriously.”
“That...what did you just say?” Shang Qinghua asks, fully turned towards him now.
[ +100 B-points for unlocking more backstory! ]
[ +100 B-points for filling up plot holes! ]
“To your stations! All departments listen to orders, to your stations!”
Luo Binghe and Mobei-Jun both turn to the entrance of the door. Luo Binghe's brows furrow even further and he reluctantly tears his gaze away from the man holding his supposed son. He grabs one of the running disciples by the back of his neck. “What is happening?”
“M-My lord! It’s Liu Qingge! He broke in again!”
“Broke in again? How many invasions has this been? Has there been one successful prevention?” Another disciple mutters. Shen Qingqiu scoffs. Well background NPC, whose fault do you think that is anyway?
Not even a few seconds later someone yells out, ““He went to Huan Hua Pavilion! Prepare the formations to stop Liu Qingge!”
“No need,” Luo Binghe interrupts them, his eyes glowing red. “I’ll deal with him personally.”
Damn it, he curses internally. Of course, of all times Liu Qingge had to come, it would be now. How could he even throw him to Luo Binghe just like that? Luo Binghe, who looked like he was one second away from throwing a fit and breaking down. He may be the designated villain here but he’s not heartless!
“Lord Luo, but your child!” He blurts out in an attempt to distract him. As if feeling that the man holding him needs help, Xiao Bing decides to scrunch his face again preparing for another crying session. He silently sends a cheer towards the little one. That’s it! Cooperate with this old man here! “He...It seems that he cannot keep calm without uhm, you near.”
Luo Binghe stops in his tracks and looks back at the two of them, his face twisted into...pain? He doesn’t quite know what to make of the look on Binghe’s face right now but it definitely isn’t pleasant. Binghe doesn’t look angry anymore but at the same time he still looks pained. Shang Qinghua, the rat, looks at the two of them back and forth.
“Mobei-Jun, change of plans. You deal with Liu Qingge.”
Shang Qinghua pales and scurries towards the ice demon. “L-Lord Luo? My King will, will face Liu Qingge?”
Mobei-Jun glares at him. “You think this king cannot handle him?”
“No! No! Not at all!” Shang Qinghua immediately retracts and lets out an ‘eep’ as Mobei-Jun pulls him up by the collar of his neck. “My king is strong! He definitely can take on Liu Qingge! It’s just that Liu Qingge is strong. He isn’t known as the War God for nothing!”
The ice demon king scoffs and throws him. Shang Qinghua pouts and pats his arm. He couldn’t have let him down gently? “This king will show you Qinghua. Not even the War God is a challenge.”
Oh shit, oh shit, Shang Qinghua thinks, panicking as he watches his king walk away. He has never quite pitted Mobei-Jun and Liu Qingge in the original novel or in this lifetime. He knows both of them are strong but he doesn’t know how they compare to each other since the only one whose strength he fully knows is his protagonist son. And both of them lost against Binghe!
“This servant bids his goodbye to Lord Luo.” He says with a bow and immediately scurries after the ice demon.
The door slams shut as the others leave the room and run towards the Huan Hua Pavillion. Luo Binghe stares at the door silently and then moves towards Shen Qingqiu. This time, Shen Qingqiu is prepared and stands his ground.
Xiao Bing in his arms gurgles and giggles as Luo Binghe comes to his area of sight again. The intricate red mark on his little forehead shines innocently as he tries to reach for his father. Despite the mark on his forehead, Xiao Bing didn’t get much of Binghe’s looks. Now that he can look at the baby closer, it seems like Xiao Bing only got Binghe’s nose and mouth.
Actually, he kind of looks like...he kind of looks like Shen Qingqiu, he realizes in horror. Those eyes, facial structure, and eyebrows. He quite sees his old self in the little one.
He snaps the thoughts out of his head. Xiao Bing is still young. He might still grow out of his looks, he tries to assure himself. Maybe when Xiao Bing grows out of his baby fat he’ll look completely different! A lot of babies do that right? Right, System???
[ Begging User’s forgiveness but this System does not know as this System is an AI! (*^▽^*) ]
Useless, stupid, and good-for-nothing System!!! He curses in his head.
“Are you still not going to be honest?” Binghe asks softly, raising his hand as if to touch the baby. He seems to contemplate doing it for a second before putting his hand down. But Xiao Bing doesn’t let him and grabs his finger.
Shen Qingqiu is rightfully indignant. “I did not lie! Even Shang Qinghua told you already! Xiao Bing is your son.”
Binghe, what else do you want from this old man?! He’s so busy with his internal fuming that he does not realize his slip up with the baby’s name.
“Xiao Bing huh.” Binghe mutters, the lone finger in Xiao Bing’s hand trembling.
Shen Qingqiu freezes. “Uhm.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m fine with,” he then turns his glassy eyes to his Shizun. “Are you still mad at me? Is that why you still refuse to come clean?”
“I’m not Lord Luo,” he shakes his head. “Not to you. Never to you. To you, Shizun, I’m just Binghe. So please…”
“I was wrong Shizun. I was wrong. It had been 5 years of thinking about it. 5 years of haunting me. But it seems like you still do not want to see me. I thought to try and coax you when I realized who you were. So please,” his voice cracks and Binghe smiles bitterly. “I just want to hear it from you.”
“I...I…” He hesitates and looks at the baby on his arm. If he comes clean, it’s a total goodbye to everything he worked on. It’s a goodbye to living as a nameless NPC somewhere far away and starting anew and far from a protagonist who wants to kill him.
But as he looks at this Binghe who’s crying silently now, his lone finger still trembling and being held by the son Shen Qingqiu woke up with, he cannot help but wonder just how accurate his novel knowledge is. System is suspiciously quiet, not even removing points despite the extreme divergence from the plot.
Luo Binghe was supposed to kill the scum villain, Shen Qingqiu as revenge for years of abuse and cruelty. Then he was supposed to establish a huge empire with this harem of wives and maybe have his children with them. It was never supposed to be like this. He already did his part of the plot by dying and giving Luo Binghe his revenge. He just avoided the torture part okay?
Luo Binghe was never supposed to have a child—a plant child at that!—this young when he was still in his early steps establishing his empire. The wives are nowhere to be seen and instead, Binghe treats some of them with contempt or outright ignores them. His part had already been played. Does he really want to go back into the plot?
“Abahaah?” Xiao Bing innocently babbles.
He closes his eyes. “I am. I am Shen Qingqiu. You...You caught me Binghe.”
okay so this is marked completed until i get all chapters out because I have learned my lesson with marking my works WIP and then forgetting to update bec my brain juices do not come out. Sometimes I write chapters but then completely delete them because I'm not satisfied with them that's why I made this into a series. Depending on my mood, the next one might be an additional chapter OR a separate work but still part of the series.
"M-My King! Eek!" Shang Qinghua squeals as he dodges another wave of energy from Luo Binghe. "My lord, maybe we should leave Liu Qingge to Lord Luo?"
Mobei-Jun glares at him with those cold eyes and he wilts. Okay, maybe that wasn't the right thing to say considering how prideful demons can be. But really, even if he had betrayed Cang Qiong, that doesn't mean he wants Liu Qingge to die!
At first he was worried for his king because he never quite knew the limits of Liu Qingge's power, only that Luo Binghe would never lose to him. But that's the protagonist! Who knows if Liu Qingge would actually be stronger than this king?
But now that Luo Binghe came and battled Liu Qingge alongside Mobei-Jun, he can't help but worry for his martial brother instead. Liu-shidi! Hang on! He cries internally. No matter what, he's also one of his sons. Even if he constantly gives him more work, he doesn't want to see his shidi beaten to death!
So Shang Qinghua does what he knows best. He falls to his knees and hugs his king's muscular legs, fake crying. "My king! My king! Let us leave now please!"
If his king's glare could get any colder, it probably would have. Shang Qinghua whimpers as his king smacks him in the head. Fine! Go die since you want to go between these two muscle heads! See if he cares!
"It really is useless to try to fight Liu-shidi," he tries to convince him and shields his head as his king kicks him. "This servant is not saying you can't take him on! It's just that Lord Luo is already handling him by himself! See?"
"Liu Qingge!" Luo Binghe roars as his shidi runs with Cucumber Bro's body in his arms as smoke fills the entire pavilion, cloaking his escape.
Ah, Cucumber Bro even in death you're causing extreme plot deviation! To have two of the most beautiful men--barring his king of course--in the cultivation world fight over your body...dead body rather…
He squeaks when Mobei-Jun looks at him flatly as if to say 'you were saying again?'
But how could Luo Binghe be defeated just like that? It doesn’t make sense at all! Liu Qingge had been on the losing side for five straight years. He has not won a single battle for Shen Qingqiu’s corpse ever since he died. So what changed that now?
Just as Shang Qinghua mulls over what could have caused this deviation, he feels a weight being dropped into his arms, making him yell in surprise. He feels some wind pass him by but he’s too busy freaking out about the baby Luo in his arms. He looks to Mobei-Jun for help in his panic and he would have slapped his face at this mistake if his arms aren’t full of well...a baby.
“What do you have there?” Mobei-Jun demands.
"My king!" Shang Qinghua freaks out. “A BABY!”
To be more specific, it’s baby Luo. As if holding a baby doesn’t make him freak out enough. If he so much as gets a single scratch on the heir of Luo Binghe, he’s not sure if he’ll be sharing the cell with the original Shen Qingqiu or if he’ll be treated worse. Mobei-Jun merely looks at him with a sour face, as if he cannot imagine Shang Qinghua holding a baby. Fair enough, Shang Qinghua cannot imagine himself holding a baby either.
“You! You! YOU!” He sputters, calling out to the bearded man or original babysitter of baby Luo while holding baby Luo at an arm’s length by his armpits.
“You dumbass don’t hold him like that!” Bearded man yells back at him once he sees how he is holding the baby. Shang Qinghua feels like the way this man yells at him is fairly familiar but he can’t quite put his finger on it.
“Then get back here and take him!” He says, desperately and shrieks when the baby attempts to throw himself backwards. He fortunately catches him and makes sure to support his head now.
The bearded man stands in front of Luo Binghe with a stern look on his face while Luo Binghe looks half-angry and half-ashamed. Mystery beard man continues his stern talking to Luo Binghe and occasionally points at their area. Shang Qinghua really does not know what to make of it but he’s pretty sure he’s only pointing to him because of the baby
Luo Binghe ends up looking chastised enough but the way he grips Xin Mo in his hand is enough to tell that he’s still mad that Liu Qingge stole the body. That’s fair though, he thinks. He had kept on fighting for that body for five years. Shang Qinghua wasn’t here in Huan Hua enough, often choosing to stay with Mobei-Jun’s palace, but he has seen enough of Luo Binghe in those five years to see how much the protagonist got protective over the body.
“And you!” Mystery beard guy hisses and speed walks to him. “What did you think you were doing, holding the baby like that?!”
“I don’t know how to hold a baby!” He wails.
Beard guy rolls his eyes and thrusts his arms in front of him. “Give me the baby Airplane Bro.”
“Sheesh, here you go, not like I wanted to be the babysitter anyway,” he grumbles. It takes a few seconds before the realization settles. The fan slamming onto his head sinks in faster than the realization though. “Wait what did you just call me?!”
“So you’re telling me,” Shang Qinghua says, slowly for the third time today. Shen Qingqiu rolls his eyes at him and goes back to tickling the baby’s stomach. “That you just woke up with Baby Luo. Just like that? How is that even possible?”
Shen Qingqiu glares at him. Baby Luo stares at Cucumber bro with wide-eyes and as if amused by the glare, he gurgles. “That’s what I’m supposed to ask you! You grew this body didn’t you?”
“I mean yeah but I didn’t really do anything.”
“Think harder Airplane. What else did you add while growing the body?”
Shang Qinghua hums and winces when baby Luo tugs at his hair. “Ow, ow, little one, please let go of your grandfather’s hair.”
“Who’s the grandfather?!”
“Me! Luo Binghe is my son therefore, ye-OW!” He whimpers. For a baby who looks like he isn't even a year old yet, baby Luo already has the grip of a toddler. These OP heavenly demons really, he thinks glumly. “Besides, I only added some fertilizer to hasten the growth. Didn’t I tell you that in my letter?”
“I don't know, I don't remember," he pauses for a moment then continues. "And I don't care. Your Chinglish was horrible by the way."
Shang Qinghua's chest flares in indignance. "Excuse you! It was smart! I didn't even have to add some fancy sealing stuff so others won't see."
"Yeah because in addition to your elementary grade level Chinglish, no one can understand your chicken scrawl writing on top of that."
"It's not stupid if it works," he sniffs and tries to gently untangle his hair from Baby Luo's little hands. "Bro, can you get him to stop doing this? He keeps on pulling my hair."
"Better you than me," the ever merciless Shen Qingqiu says. "Anyway, as long as he doesn't eat your hair it's fine. He won't actually make you bald. He just likes having something to grip on."
"How old is he anyway?" He grumbles. He can already see this little guy be the most spoiled baby in both realms. Heavens know that Shen Qingqiu is already indulgent towards the kids at his peak enough as it is. Luo Binghe probably won't spare a single coin for his official son either.
"I don't know. I woke up and he was this big," Shen Qingqiu confesses. "But he's probably six months old human-wise? How do half-heavenly demons age?"
"Never really thought about it bro," Shang Qinghua confesses too, which earns him a whack on the head. "Hey! I did some great world building in my drafts yes, but the developmental milestones of a half heavenly demon baby wasn't part of it! Luo Binghe already entered the story big enough."
"He won't drink any milk or anything. We tried getting a wet nurse but he won't drink according to her. Did you write heavenly demons to be so OP that they don't need milk to survive as a baby?"
"I don't think so. But your baby is also half human," the An Ding Peak Lord points out. Then he gasps. "That's right! He's not half human!"
Shen Qingqiu glares at him. "The next words coming out of your mouth better be good."
Shang Qinghua reassures him and pats his shoulder. "No, no! It's because he's not half human. But he still is half heavenly demon. I think it's because he's not really the same as your body right now. He's half mushroom baby and half heavenly demon. Your body was still grown for three years and watered with blood and qi for that time. His baby body wasn't cultivated for that long."
Shen Qingqiu stares at him with a suspicious look but he doesn't do anything to stop him so Shang Qinghua takes that as a signal to continue.
"I have this theory you see," he rubs his hands together excitedly. "That when you self-destructed you were sending qi to Luo Binghe to help suppress Xin Mo right?"
"Yeah…" he replies and motions for him to continue.
Shang Qinghua then clasps his hands together loudly, startling the baby. Cucumber bro glares at him as he tries to shush him. "But! What if as your spirit went to the plant body, it accidentally took some of Binghe's qi with it?"
"There's so many plot holes in your theory." He replies with a deadpan.
He deflates. "I tried! But it really is the only thing I can think of as to why Baby Luo might have been created. Maybe he's the result of you and Luo Binghe's qi. Luo Binghe was the last person you touched before dying and you are the first person baby Luo here got to touch."
"That doesn't explain his entire existence Airplane Bro."
"Eh, I mean, don't mushrooms do that sometimes? They accidentally reproduce more than they should? Like mushrooms do that right?"
Shen Qingqiu stares at him. "Do I look like a mushroom to you?" He then points at the baby. "Does he look like a mushroom to you?"
Shang Qinghua squints his eyes at Baby Luo, earning him a smack from his fellow peak lord. "I don't know anymore bro, I'm just trying to make sense of this world. All we basically knew was to plant and cultivate the mushrooms in soil rich with spiritual energy and then we watered it with blood and qi. It is an extremely rare seed so no one really got to document how it grows except well, you and Baby Luo here."
"But isn't it impossible to create a soul from the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed? We checked it already. All they're going to give are just empty vessels."
"Bro, Luo Binghe isn't your ordinary cultivator or demon. And the way you died isn't an ordinary death either. Xin Mo and Luo Binghe probably had something to do with it. I'm thinking that the seed or mushroom didn't create the soul. But you two did," he then wags his eyebrows at him. "Maybe some new sort of dual cultivation?"
"Oh shut up," he smacks his thigh with a fan. "Since Xiao Bing here isn't a fully grown mushroom flesh yet, does that mean we have to feed him...the same things this body was watered with?"
The two of them look at the baby and grimace. Shang Qinghua looks at the baby in pity. Oh little one, you're in for long and amusing baby stories when you grow up.
"Maybe...Maybe he doesn't need that much blood to drink?" Shang Qinghua offers.
Shen Qingqiu sighs. Giving the baby qi, he can work with. That explains why the baby would stop crying everytime he gives him qi. But feeding him blood? Does he need human blood or just blood in general? Don't babies drink a lot of milk while young?
Little one I am so sorry, he grimaces as he and Shang Qinghua wait for Luo Binghe to come back so they can tell him that his son needs to drink blood and qi to grow. Hopefully, he'll grow and cultivate faster so he can soon eat something other than blood.
Shen Qingqiu has no qualms that Luo Binghe will provide anything his--our son, his mind unhelpfully supplies--son needs to grow and survive. The thing is, Shen Qingqiu is worried that Luo Binghe has no qualms that he will provide anything their son requires to grow, including pints and pints of possibly human blood.
He's not even sure if blood transfusion or blood banks are already a thing here! He sighs again and steadily transfers qi onto the baby lying in front of him. He'll just have to monitor just how much the little tyke here eats so they can prepare.
"So, he really is mine?" Luo Binghe asks as he stares at the baby trying to reach up to Shen Qingqiu.
Luo Binghe has just returned with Mobei-Jun from whatever they did after the whole situation with Liu Qingge and Shen Qingqiu's corpse. There are obvious debris on his head and shoulders and Xin Mo is still on his waist, sheathed. Despite all those, Luo Binghe looks soft, which is definitely a surprise considering the state of Luo Binghe for the past five years.
This is the softest Luo Binghe has sounded like in the entire five years Cucumber Bro died, Shang Qinghua notes. He nods fervently. "Yes Lord Luo! This one can assure you he really is your son. Besides the mark of the Heavenly Demon on his forehead, his background is confirmed."
"And what is his background?"
Shang Qinghua doesn't know how to explain to the OP protagonist and currently strongest person and demon alive that his son is technically still a growing flesh mushroom without accidentally offending him or causing more misunderstandings. So he turns to his fellow transmigrator with wide eyes, silently begging him to explain it.
If there's one thing Shang Qinghua is sure now, it's that Luo Binghe doesn't want to kill Shen Qingqiu at all. Therefore, the safest way to explain this all to Luo Binghe is by having his co-parent explain it.
"Back then, Shang Qinghua and I...We planted a body from the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed," Shen Qingqiu starts. "It was a safety measure just in case I die."
It wasn't completely a lie but it wasn't too far from the truth either. The mushroom bodies were planted just in case he died but also because they knew that he was going to die novel-wise, specifically at the hands of Luo Binghe.
But they weren't going to tell him that now especially since Luo Binghe looks better than he has ever been in the span of five years.
"When this master died in Huayue city, my spirit went to the plant body which at that time was still growing. The Sun and Moon Dew Flower body requires a lot of care and is very specific and picky about their growth. It was supposed to grow for longer but Shang Qinghua added fertilizer to make it grow faster. We thought it would be fine so we continued that process. But it was only until this master woke up in his new body that I realized that increasing the growth of the mushroom body would have...an additional effect. It seems like the mushroom body not only grew fast but it also duplicated. When I woke up, this little one was beside me."
"But how is that possible?" Luo Binghe asks, his brows furrowed in confusion.
"L-Lord Luo! This servant has this theory that um, when Shen Qingqiu here was transferring qi to you, his spirit took some of your qi with him to his plant body. We're not entirely sure about it either," he explains and ends it loftily. "But it seems that biologically, the little one seems to be Lord Luo and Shen Qingqiu's."
Shen Qingqiu continues to avoid eye contact while Luo Binghe looks at the baby wide-eyed.
"Does this mean shizun is…" Luo Binghe trails off and gulps when the baby grabs his finger. "That shizun is also the biological father?"
"It seems so," Shen Qingqiu admits. Then he hastily corrects Binghe. "But not in the way you think! We didn’t! We never! You get what I mean!”
Shang Qinghua could only stare at the other man incredulously. In what other way could he even be the father? It seems that not even death could stop Cucumber Bro from the constant "no-homo" instinct of his despite very much being homo.
Shen Qingqiu was honestly so deep in the closet that if Shang Qinghua was to plagiarize N*rnia and add it as a subplot for this story, Shen Qingqiu would meet a talking lion.
"But yes, this master is...the father...too." Shen Qingqiu grits out, his face reddening.
Cucumber Bro, such a thin face ah, he thinks. Shen Qingqiu can show such a thick face really, he has seen it especially when he wants something. But like always, in the face of Luo Binghe, Shen Qingqiu's face becomes thinner than paper.
"Shizun, this disciple admits that he is shocked and confused," then Luo Binghe looks at him with watery eyes and an equally water smile, making Shen Qingqiu freeze. "But if the little one is a product of ours, this Luo Binghe will take responsibility and be the best father he can be."
He silently sends Cucumber Bro a thumbs up from behind Luo Binghe. There you have it bro! He internally cheers. This world has enough shitty and absentee parents as it is.
"You, Luo Binghe!" Shen Qingqiu stammers, his face red. Ah, what did this disciple just say?! Why is he making it seem like he knocked him up?!
Luo Binghe then places his forehead onto his. Shen Qingqiu could only sputter because the baby in his arms and between the two of them means he can't really move.
"This disciple...this disciple can't believe that he'll have a family finally," he murmurs. "And it's all thanks to shizun."
To the side, Shang Qinghua and Mobei-Jun look ready to spit out blood at the obvious PDA happening. Ptui! Ptui! Cucumber bro at least take your lovey-dovey reunion to another room! He sneaks a look at Mobei-Jun who looks as equally put-off with the display.
Shang Qinghua then kowtows in front of the couple. "L-Lord Luo, should Mobei-Jun and this servant leave?"
Please make us leave, please make us leave, he begs in his mind. He really doesn't want to be here for more cheesy reunion dialogues!
"Very well. You two may leave. But Shang Qinghua, shizun might need your assistance with o-our son," Luo Binghe says, stumbling over the word in happiness. He can't believe it's true just yet. But if his shizun says this is their child, then he won't refute it. He did promise to listen to his shizun from then on, five years ago in Huayue city. He does not intend to go back on it. "Mobei-Jun too, I shall need you back here to discuss things about the demon realm. Now that I have a son...an heir, certain plans might have to speed up a bit."
Mobei-Jun's jaw tightens at this and nods. He then opens a portal. Shang Qinghua could only squeak as he is grabbed by the collar of his clothes and dragged in. Afterwards, he expects to be thrown to the ground so he curls up but to his surprise, Mobei-Jun places him on the ground rather gently.
"The heir of Luo Binghe," Mobei-Jun turns to him. "You had a hand in creating him?"
Shang Qinghua blinks. Wait, what?! What exactly does he say? Well, he did technically help in creating Baby Luo--gods, that doesn't sound right, he shivers--but at the same time he didn't? All he did really was to add more fertilizer which sort of fucked up the whole process. But then it turned out that the fuck up ended up to be a good thing.
"Sort of? I-I mean! I only knew the process of how he was created. But other than that..." he trails off. "Other than that, it was all luck concerning Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe. Shen Qingqiu and I never expected something like this either."
Mobei-Jun's forehead furrows. "So you will not be unable to create another one?"
"Eh? My king? Not in the same way Lord Luo and Shen Qingqiu had Baby Luo. But there are ways though. Maybe with that Century Plant seed." He murmurs, counting on his fingers how many plants he made in the novel that can make babies. Surely, he made some as wife plots right?
Then he freezes and stares at Mobei-Jun wide-eyed. Wait, is Mobei-Jun planning to have an heir already? But that's still so far along the plot! He wasn't supposed to have kids yet! Does Luo Binghe having an heir speed up the plot yet again? Oh gods, Cucumber bro really threw a wrench in the plot. System! Help him out over here!
Oblivious to Shang Qinghua's internal panicking, Mobei-Jun nods, satisfied with Shang Qinghua's answer.
Perhaps with Shang Qinghua's mind, having an heir is already out of his worries, he thinks. He never really cared as to whether Shang Qinghua would be able to give him heirs but since Shen Qingqiu just gave Luo Binghe one, he thought that the issue with heirs will no longer be an issue. With an heir, Luo Binghe has solidified his position and empire. Mobei-Jun should follow suit as well considering his position in the Northern Kingdom. Perhaps an heir would shut up Linguang-Jun.
After all, if a newly revived Shen Qingqiu can do that, Shang Qinghua can do that too, he thinks as he walks to his throne room.
"System, System!" Shang Qinghua hisses. "You useless piece of shit! Why are you inactive now of all times?"
Luo Binghe stops by the door when he sees what’s happening.
“You are such a menace,” He hears his shizun say but there is only fondness in his tone. Luo Binghe can’t help but smile upon hearing it. “Didn’t we already feed you a while ago? And you want to eat again? Don’t tell me I’d have to tell your father again that we need more blood. ”
Luo Binghe cannot help the happiness that explodes in his chest upon hearing his shizun talk so fondly to their--their! His and shizun’s!--son. It had already been a week since Shen Qingqiu came back to him with a son in his arms. Some days, he can’t help but be scared. What if this is just a product of his imagination? What if Meng Mo is just messing with him and keeping him trapped in the dreamscape?
Nevermind that he had already overpowered Meng Mo long ago, but his treacherous mind can’t help but think of the what-ifs. What if this was never real? What if shizun didn’t actually choose him?
“This father prefers if you absorb qi more since I have plenty of that but it seems you prefer blood more. We’re going to have a hard time with you huh?,” Shen Qingqiu says dangling a rattle above their little one. “Oh, your father is here.”
Father! Binghe’s mind screams. To hear his shizun acknowledge it out loud…
“Yes, this disciple is back shizun,” he replies softly and goes to where they are. “This disciple apologizes for being caught up with work.”
“Nonsense, Binghe should do what is required of him both in Huan Hua and the demon realm,” Shen Qingqiu says and then his smile freezes when he realizes something. “Has Binghe been here the entire time?”
“Not too long.” Binghe tries to assure him quickly, knowing full well of how thin his teacher’s face can be.
Shen Qingqiu runs a hand down his face. There goes his dignity, the transmigrator thinks despairingly. “Binghe shouldn’t lie to this master.”
“...only since the part where you talked about needing more blood.”
“Binghe should warn this master next time so he won’t--won’t do such things again!” Shen Qingqiu sputters and tries to turn away.
Luo Binghe scrambles after him. “But shizun, this disciple likes it!”
“This disciple likes hearing his master talk to our son like that,” he admits, cheeks reddening. “I like hearing shizun call me the father of our son. I like hearing shizun refer to himself as the father. I like...I like hearing shizun tell our son of who his fathers are.” I like hearing how we’re a family.
Shen Qingqiu didn’t have his fan right now so all he could do is cover his face with his hand. Binghe can’t help but like this shizun right now. He seems...more free. shizun always held up a facade of aloofness. Sometimes he would just stare while people talk, making others think he was being arrogant. It was what made other people dislike him. They often mistook his aloofness for coldness and arrogance. He always looked like every bit of the immortal master he is.
But in this new body of his, shizun is a tad more expressive. He’s a tad more talkative. Sometimes he still sees his shizun staring at nothing with his mouth turned up but compared to before, he does it a lot less now. Moreover, he’s more willing to be with Binghe. And Binghe’s heart soars with joy. That’s why it doesn’t matter if Liu Qingge got his shizun’s old body now.
This shizun who sits beside him and plays with their son, this shizun who willingly stays with Luo Binghe in the Huan Hua palace, this is the shizun who chose him. It doesn’t matter if this shizun looks a bit different from his old body, this is still his shizun. This is the shizun who chose him and gives him small smiles.
It was everything he wanted really. To just have his shizun choose him. To have him smile and laugh with him like how he does with Cang Qiong Sect.
“That’s why, if shizun will allow it, may I request him to say it again?”
“Say what?” Shen Qingqiu asks, confused.
Luo Binghe replies, “Say to our son who his parents are again. I...I would like to hear it from shizun again.”
“Binghe! But you already know who his parents are!” Shen Qingqiu hisses. He’s pretty sure his disciple is doing this to torture him. Why else would he ask this of him? It’s not like he’s not aware.
“Do it yourself then!”
“If shizun says so,” Binghe isn’t one to back down from a challenge and his face is thick enough for both of them. “Hello little one. This is…”
He looks at Shen Qingqiu who still has his face turned away but it’s obvious he is listening.
“This is your father. Your fathers,” he corrects himself. “We never quite expected someone like you to enter our lives. Especially me. I’m scared. Very scared and terrified. Before this week, all I wanted to do was revive your father again. All I wanted was to see him again, breathing and alive. I never wanted anything else.”
Shen Qingqiu’s hand curls on itself as he watches Binghe talk to his--their? Their--son. Luo Binghe takes a deep and shuddering breath before leaning over the crib and gingerly carrying the baby in his arms. At first, Binghe was clumsy and nervous to hold the baby. It had taken days to teach him how to properly hold him while supporting the head. It had taken a few more days after that before Binghe could hold the baby without his hands shaking.
But now it seems that the shaking has come back.
Binghe continues, “I didn’t know how to feel about you at first. Having shizun back was more than enough for me. I didn’t think you or him were real. Sometimes I still think I’d wake up one day and you two would disappear. That I’d have to go back to hugging shizun’s body everyday to keep it from rotting. That I’d have to wait another five years.”
Binghe looks at him and gives him a small smile. “This father of yours...I’m not a good person. I’m a demon. A heavenly demon, one of the worst ones. I killed your father. Everyone keeps on saying it. Because I misunderstood him a lot. This father did a lot of wrong things. I know I was wrong. I know I don’t deserve to have both of you. I know why no one chooses me.”
“But for you I’ll try. I want to be better for you and for shizun. I don’t want to be just a filthy demon. Your lineage will already bring you a lot of pain and challenges, that I know. But I want to make sure you will never go through that. I want to be someone you can proudly call your father one day and someone who protects you and shizun.”
Shen Qingqiu suddenly turns to him. “Binghe that’s enough.”
“First, you did not kill me. You never killed me,” Shen Qingqiu says, emphasizing every word. “Never listen to what others say. What I did five years ago in Huayue city is my own choice. I did that for you. I did it because I never wanted to see a Binghe being so consumed by Xin Mo. But you didn’t kill me. And…you never will.”
It had taken Shen Qingqiu some time to digest the fact that maybe Binghe doesn’t want to kill him at all. That this is different from the novel he knows and has read. The baby in Binghe’s arms is one of the biggest proof of it all. Binghe never had a plant baby. Shen Qingqiu never self-destructed for Binghe in the novel.
Perhaps the System’s silence for the past week helped him internalize everything better. Perhaps it was seeing Binghe holding a baby so nervously to the point that his hands were shaking. Regardless of it all, he has thought about it. And has come to the realization that things aren’t the same anymore.
He’s not the same scum villain Shen Qingqiu anymore. His Binghe is not the same blackened stallion protagonist Luo Binghe. Luo Binghe in PIDW would never hug Shen Qingqiu’s corpse everyday to prevent it from rotting. He will never try to revive him either.
The Binghe in front of him bearing his soul out to his son would never turn him into a human stick either.
“Binghe says no one has ever chosen him. But I’m here aren’t I? And I’ll still be here tomorrow. And the day after that. I’ll always be here. I’ll raise Xiao Bing here with you. I’ll watch him grow into a man with you. For as long as you’ll have me.” He ends, softly.
“Shizun,” Binghe says, his voice cracking. “Is that true? Will you really?”
“Now let me speak to Xiao Bing here,” he says and smiles at the baby. “Hello Bing’er. You don’t really have a name yet because your fathers are a mess. So I’m calling you after your father for now. Your father’s name isn’t too bad isn’t it? Very handsome and mighty. I’m sure you’ll grow up like him just fine.”
Shen Qingqiu raises a finger to his mouth, shushing him. “Let this father have a few words for our son too. Now, where was I? I may not be your father in the conventional way. But you’re still mine. You’re still ours. I’m saying a lot of things that I cannot say to your other father straight to his face so I’m saying it through you because you have helped me understand a lot of things I didn’t about him. I’m not a father material. I’m not the best teacher either.
This father of yours isn’t good either. I...I did something unspeakable and unforgivable to your other father. I’m not sure why he can stomach being with me right now. At first, I blamed fate for it. But at the end of the day, it was still me. Fate is only what we make of it.
I have yet to apologize to your other father for it. For doing something so terrible to him. But that’s not for your ears right now. That’s our problem, just between the two of us. You, little one, are free of our sins like how Binghe here is free from the sins and evils other heavenly demons and demons have committed.” That he is free from what his novel self has committed.
He didn’t understand that at first. But he understands now. “You, my little one, should also be free of the sins I have committed as Shen Qingqiu. And I will make sure of it. I can’t tell you everything yet. Maybe one day when you’re older and can judge the situation for yourself. But as what people from my old hometown would say, children should not be used to fix the trauma of adults. And I will do everything to make sure of that.”
For so long, Shen Yuan has let a novel he read before dying to control and dictate his life. Granted, the System still exists. But he’ll be damned if he lets the System control the life of his son even. His son is real. His son is warm and looking at him with bleary eyes.
He committed a lot of mistakes because of the same novel he used as a guide in this life. But for their son, he wants to pave a new path. Following the same novel won’t do it anymore. His son quite literally needs him, more specifically, his qi, to survive. He cannot just disappear anymore or commit the same misunderstandings and mistakes that led to his death. There are no more plan Bs now.
“Shizun?” Binghe asks as Shen Qingqiu gently pulls him aside after putting Xiao Bing back in his crib.
He takes a deep breath. “I think it’s time to talk.”
“About everything. Jinlan. Huayue,” he pauses. “The Abyss.”
im back!!! and i still have backlogs in work!!! yay!
Why is the system inactive or silent?
They're fixing some errors. Plant baby luo has inhereted some protagonistic characteristics from the protagonist halo. He's not the protagonist in this story so system is having errors due to detecting that. If plant baby luo existed in a different novel or if sqq was finished with fixing the novel, it would've been fine. But since the novel isn't even 100% fixed yet they're trying to rectify the errors. I decided to answer this here bec i won't really be expounding on this in the fic. or will i?
Does baby luo need human blood or animal blood?
I'm not sure if blood banks or bags existed in xianxia so i just decided to leave it as it is. It's not really a turning point since baby luo would only need it for a month since he's already 6 months old and ready for solid foods. He really does just need blood and the qi of his parents (yes both binghe and sqq's qi) to complete his body. Also, yes afaik it is canon that the Sun Moon Dew Seed needs blood and qi to grow but correct me if it isn't (I'm going by felicity's translations for this one). Since he's a sprout of sqq's mushroom body and not really a body cultivated from the seed, he's not quite fully flesh yet. Yeah he also needs to be planted in high quality soil with high quality cultivation once a week ala a-yuan style. You know what? Yeah I'll write about that.
why'd you give bingqiu the talk already?
frankly i think that sqq would've been better at understanding binghe if he didn't have a damn system threatening his life for not following the plot. Even just a week would've been helpful. Canonically everything went too fast for sqq to truly appreciate not having a system anymore. That's also why SQQ has accepted having a son better. Xiao Bing is someone he has chosen for himself without the System's meddling. He may be biologically theirs but Xiao Bing is someone he chose to bring and take care of. If it weren't for Binghe's qi mixing with SQQ, xb would technically be his mini clone. He exists both because of binghe's qi and because
Binghe is also not without issues yet. He's still unsure about all this and insecure. Those traits don't make a good parent like at all. But he really wants to try for both of them. I'll prolly write a side fic or chapter with just Binghe and his son.
AS FOR THE NAME, if you have any suggestion on what can be the baby Luo's official name please suggest some. I'm also thinking of making a tumblr because I have a lot of meta questions about canon. And also if some of yall wanna talk or something or watch me talk to myself
When is the next chapter?
I don't know. When IS the next chapter?
"I have no good reason Binghe," he confesses, staring at his hands folded in his lap. "There is no and will never be a good reason to throw you into the abyss.
Shen Qingqiu knows he could've made any excuse and Binghe would probably have accepted it with no questions asked. He could've made up some story about how Binghe would be persecuted if he stayed in Cang Qiong or told him that he had to go to the abyss for his own good and for powers.
He considers it briefly actually. Then he slaps himself mentally so hard to get the idea out of his mind.
There was no good reason to throw Binghe into the abyss. None of those things he imagined as reasons were true. In the end, he threw Binghe into the Abyss for self-preservation. To save himself.
He was too afraid of the System sending him back to his original world, where he mostly likely would be in an urn, to even attempt to find any loophole. In the end, he cannot make up any excuses.
Binghe deserved better than that. Binghe deserved better than excuses. And if Binghe cannot be given the truth right now due to System, the next best thing would be an apology.
"I'm sorry. For throwing you into the abyss. And I'm sorry...for not having a good reason to throw you in there. There really isn't. You don't...You don't deserve excuses Binghe. I did it because I thought of myself first. I was afraid," he says in a way that would still convey what he wanted to say and giving bits of truth to shine while hiding the System-sensitive information.
"I believed that it was due to fate and destiny. Those two do exist. But the one I gave you. It was fate created by man. There are no excuses on my end. I may not be able to tell you everything for now. But for what it's worth, I truly am sorry."
Silence ensues for so long that droplets of sweat trickle down his neck due to the tension in the room. Is he nervous? Naturally. But there was also a huge relief upon saying it.
"This disciple understands," Binghe softly says and moves his hands as if to touch his hand but retracts it. "But forgive this disciple for not believing shizun fully. Shizun says that he has no good reason for throwing this disciple in the abyss. But hearing what happened to shizun after the event made me think. And this disciple had lots of time to think after shizun self-destructed too."
"Xin Mo has always muddled my mind. Ever since shizun pointed it out, I cannot deny it anymore," he admits, looking away from Shen Qingqiu. "But I have had time to think about things without Xin Mo humming in my mind. And it made me realize. Why would shizun throw me in the abyss and then mourn me for three years straight if it was simply for no good reasons as you have mentioned?"
Shen Qingqiu straightens. He is at loss for words. Truly, the protagonist is smart. Too smart. He's thankful the system is still somewhat offline or else he probably would've gotten some points deduction.
"Why would shizun throw this disciple simply for the fate of being a heavenly demon? This disciple had lots of time to think about these thoughts," he says. "So pardon this disciple if he doesn't believe that you are as bad as you make yourself to be. Shizun is...shizun is good. If it was fate that made shizun do it, then it was also fate that shizun went against ever since he took me in and cared for me.
Maybe I do have the fate of a wretched person. Fated to fight for scraps of food. Fated to lose my mother. Fated to be thrown in the Abyss. Maybe that is my fate. But shizun has always been so good. He always tried to save me from my fate. He took me in. Trained me. Taught me. He saved me from being eaten by Xin Mo. He cared for me deeply."
Luo Binghe pauses for seconds before his face heats up and he continues. "I know by now that even if shizun is simple, even if he prefers simple things like lounging around in the bamboo house and eating sweets, shizun is never as simple as he presents himself to be. I know by now, that there is something deeper than what you just told me. But I won't push. I've always pushed shizun in his last life ever since the day we met again. And look where it got you...us."
"Binghe, it was not your fault," he scolds his disciple. "It never was. I never held it against you. Not when I died. Not now that I'm alive. What I did then, I chose it wholeheartedly. I couldn't bear...I couldn't bear to see you like that."
It was true. Shen Qingqiu never planned to self-destruct actually. The plan was actually not to die. But the moment he saw Binghe being eaten by Xin Mo due to his betrayal, he cannot help but do it. It is the very least he could do.
"This disciple knows. He knows now," Binghe assures him. "That is why whatever shizun said, this disciple will accept it. This disciple will wait until shizun is ready to tell me everything. But for now, this disciple is content with being with shizun again. The only thing that ever mattered to this disciple is knowing whether shizun hated me truly."
"Never," he replies softly and then looks at his disciple with a small smile. "This master can never hate Binghe."
And it is true, he finds himself thinking. Even if he knows that Binghe has the capacity to be truly cruel like the Binghe he met in the punishment scenario, he knows that he can still never hate Binghe. Even if he knows what Binghe is capable of because of what he has read in his past life, he still cannot bring it in himself to hate Binghe.
Because that Binghe is not his Binghe. It had been something he had to come to terms with. That this isn't just a novel anymore. That these people around him are real living beings. A
lot of them like Ming Fan and the B grade villains may still act within the confines of the novel having an IQ of 40, but he can say for himself that this world doesn't follow the exact novel anymore.
Ming Fan seems to have an increased IQ now. Ning Yingying is no longer the girl with lovesickness clouding naive brain. Liu Mingyan is no longer interested in Binghe and he thinks she may have never been interested at all.
Liu Qingge didn't die in the caves. The wives in the harem are nowhere to be seen near Binghe except Sha Hualing who is more or less the overworked lackey of Binghe.
And most importantly, Binghe doesn't want to kill him. He never did. Instead, he mourned and hugged his corpse for five years straight. Binghe never wanted revenge apparently, that was all Xin Mo. He just wanted his shizun back.
There is also the infant in the crib. Xiao Bing never existed in the novel. Xiao Bing existed because he existed and decided to go off the plotlines by sacrificing himself for Binghe. Xiao Bing is perhaps the greatest example that this world is no longer simply a novel.
And it scares him.
Because for so long, he had perhaps thought of this world simply as a hurdle by the System. Something he just has to finish because that would mean he can go back to his old world. For so long, he thought of everyone else as fictional characters governed by the novel.
But with Xiao Bing existing, he knows it's not that simple anymore. He knows there will still be events confined to the plot. He knows Binghe still is because his protagonist halo undoubtedly still makes everything his way. Then again, it's not wholly true either. Because he never did get his wish to have Shen Qingqiu back in Huayue did he?
But he and everyone else is real. He and Shang Qinghua aren't the only real people here. Xiao Bing is as real as his sister when she was still a little baby.
"What…" he slurs out, his vision becoming a bit blurred and unfocused, his hearing becoming buzzed.
"It's okay shizun, breathe," Binghe coaches, drawing him into his arms, and pouring a steady stream of qi through his back. "This disciple is here. It's safe here."
"What?" He tries to ask again, but it doesn't sound right in his ears.
Binghe's brows furrow when he looks at him. "Shizun you...are you sure you're okay? Do you need me to get Mu-shishu here? You suddenly started breathing heavily. And you couldn't hear me either."
"Count with me shizun, one, two, three…" Binghe continues counting and when he sees that Shen Qingqiu is breathing normally now he stops. "That's good shizun. I'm glad. You taught me to do this before remember?"
Shen Qingqiu furrows his brows. When did he teach him that? Binghe seems to notice his confusion so he continues to explain. "There was...a time when this disciple felt so anxious to the point where he found it difficult to breathe and felt like he would explode. Then shizun helped me through it."
"Ah. That's...thank you Binghe."
"I'm glad that I could help shizun," he murmurs. "Shizun had always helped this disciple. How could I forget back then? But I suppose it's too late to try and change it. For now, I'm glad I could help shizun feel safe again."
"And you did. You knew how to. You always were the roundworm in my belly." He says, exasperated and fond.
Binghe pouts. "I don't want to be a roundworm."
"Okay Binghe, okay." He pats his student's arms.
And it is true. No matter how much they seem to misunderstand each other's intentions, Binghe still knows him best. He can read him in a way that not even Liu Qingge or Shang Qinghua can. He thinks that perhaps this is also another proof that his carefully curated mindset that this world is just a novel, is false.
Luo Binghe of the novel would never try to understand and endure for the scum villain Shen Qingqiu. And Shen Qingqiu would never do the same thing. Because there were circumstances between them.
We're different, he thinks as he cards his hands through Binghe's hair and frowns when it gets caught up in tangled hair. He combs through the hair again to get rid of the tangles.
He is not the Shen Qingqiu of the novel. Isn't that what he promised to do when he first transmigrated? Therefore, if he is not the Shen Qingqiu of the novel, the Binghe he took in and cared for and loved, is also not the Binghe of the novel.
Shen Qingqiu dearly misses the days when he can sleep in peace. He misses those days when he can have peace and quiet in his little bamboo house in his peak. Ah, but those days are long gone ever since he decided to fake his death and be transferred to a mushroom body.
Well, it's not like a man can dream. He sighs forlornly. He wishes he can sleep so he can dream. He can't even do that these days.
It's not like the piercing cries of the baby can let him sleep.
"I'm coming, I'm coming." He says, definitely not whining.
The life of a parent, he thinks with a sigh. In his past life, he has heard of older people wistfully telling their stories in forums and comment sections about sleepless nights just to look after their baby. He never really paid any attention to it. Now, he thinks he gets it as he rocks Xiao Bing to sleep.
With Xiao Bing so close and the only sound in the room being Xiao Bing's cries, he can't help but be able to look more closely at the infant. He knows Xiao Bing looks mostly like him but he also inherited some of Luo Binghe's features like his nose and lips and right now they look so prominent.
He unconsciously smiles at the baby. "Not to toot my own horn, but you're going to grow up to be such a beauty Bing'er. I can definitely see it. Who knows? You might give your father, the other one not me, a run for his money as the most beautiful person in the world."
"I admit. I still can't fully grasp the idea of being a father. I think Binghe has got it down better than me from what I've seen. I think he would have charmed the ladies if they saw him with a baby strapped to his chest," he chuckles, remembering the scenario. "But Binghe has always been better than me. In so many ways."
"He...He didn't even ask anything else or get mad when I told him I had no good reason to throw him in the abyss. That I did it purely out of self-preservation. Can you believe it? He's so... He's so!" He tries to say his thoughts. "He's so good. Too good."
"And in the end. I guess, I still decided to follow the fate of a scum. When he asked me what is fate during the day I self-destructed, I cannot help but think about it either. Luo Binghe...He is a son of fate. He says I tried to go against fate for him too. But he was the one who fought against fate the most actually. I was the one who followed System's orders. The bad things, bad fate he experienced. It was because of me."
It's been a daily thing with him and Binghe, talking to their baby at least once per day. He remembers his mom telling him while rocking his little sister in her arms.
"A-Yuan, it's important to talk to babies you know," she told him with a smile. He remembers looking up at her with wide eyes. "Science has myriads of reasons for talking to babies. But for me, it's so that they'll get used to their parents' voices. That they'll know we have been and will always be there for them."
"Did you talk to me too mama?" He had asked while taking a peek at his little sister, who still looked like a wrinkly raisin.
"Everyday darling, everyday."
Shen Qingqiu tickles Xiao Bing on his stomach, making the baby hiccup and then stare at him with his wide eyes. Back then, Shen Qingqiu would be so unnerved with those eyes because they were so big and sometimes it feels like he stares right into his soul.
Then again, babies do that, he tells himself.
"Xiao Bing," he coos. "Your father and I suck at communicating. It's only recently that I managed to talk to him properly. I can only hope you don't grow up like us."
Xiao Bing blinks and his face scrunches up again, signalling another crying session. Shen Qingqiu sighs and pats him on the back gently. His face freezes when he comes upon his rather damp diaper.
"Oh gods," he pleads. "Is this why you were crying?"
Xiao Bing whimpers.
"Sometimes I wish Ming Fan was still here so he can be on diaper duty instead," he says as he unwraps the cloth diaper. He wholeheartedly wishes someone invent actual modern diaper ASAP because changing cloth diapers is a lot more disgusting. "How the fuck does your poop smell so bad? You only drink blood!"
He's answered with bubbles forming in the baby's mouth. It's not like they can task a lower ranking demon or a Huan Hua disciple with babysitting Xiao Bing. There's just too much risk.
Huan Hua disciples may still be governed with fear but would probably take advantage of taking Luo Binghe's son as hostage and the same goes for demons. Shang Qinghua cannot be designed as the official babysitter either because Mobei-Jun also has his own kingdom to run.
Really, the only people he would trust with Xiao Bing are his Qing Jing disciples. It's not something he has talked to Binghe yet, afraid that it would still be a sensitive topic for Binghe. He knows Binghe has given up his old body to Cang Qiong, much to Cang Qiong's confusion. But there is still too much hostility between Binghe and Cang Qiong, though it's more of the latter directing hostility to the former.
Not to mention, how will he be able to explain what happened to his martial siblings?
Zhangmen-shixiong, this Qingqiu came back to life after my spirit got transferred into the plant mushroom body Shang Qinghua and I were growing. But I also found out I accidentally made a smaller body because Shang Qinghua fucked up with the fertilizer so now I have a son with Binghe, the same guy you and the rest of the peak have been antagonizing and blaming for my death.
Yeah, it doesn't seem proper at all, he thinks as he pinches the dirty cloth diaper, trying to minimize the surface area he's touching as much as possible. Injecting a bit of qi in his fingers, he flings the dirty and stinky diaper into the basket where other dirty diapers usually go.
"You're only this small and you only drink blood and yet your poop already stinks," he tuts, waving a finger in front of the baby. Xiao Bing stares at his finger, mesmerized, and tries to catch it. "My finger is dirty, no thanks to you. You can't put it on your mouth now."
He puts Xiao Bing back in his crib, ignoring the baby babbles and goes to wash his hands. What he really wouldn't give for someone else to change this baby's diaper.
He knows Binghe can do it perfectly unsurprisingly, but he can't always depend on Binghe for it. Not when Binghe juggles his tasks as Huan Hua palace master and a lord in the demon kingdom.
"Maybe one day, you'll be able to meet your uncles and aunts." Xiao Bing responds to him with a gurgle.
His answer comes to him in a form of chaos the next day. He's sleeping in his crib with Xiao Bing nestled on his chest, because the baby somehow decided he refuses to sleep unless it's with his father, when he hears shouting and...explosions?
He grumbles as he tries to stand up. As if on cue, Xiao Bing starts the waterworks again. He sighs and settles on the crib again. Xiao Bing cuddles in closer and he's so glad the baby can't walk yet or else he would probably drape himself over him. Xiao Bing is just as sticky as his father.
Whatever they're doing, it's not his business anymore, he decides. Clearly, he has a baby who refuses to be put down on the crib alone for god knows why. He tried to ask System for help last night but System is still miraculously silent.
It took him hours to get to a comfortable angle that doesn't end up with him doing all sorts of pretzel yoga. And it took him another hour to fall asleep because his back kept on screaming at him last night. This position caused him to sleep only for a couple hours. They can very much do whatever they want so long as they don't disturb them.
The baby's small inhale and exhales he can feel on his chest lulls him into sleep again. And when he thinks he can have peace again, the door to the room slams open.
Can a man not get any rest here?! He wants to slap every single one of them with his fake beard.
"What?!" He accidentally snaps, leading to Xiao Bing waking up.
Binghe looks partly chastised and partly in shock at the view. He supposes it is shocking to see a grown man sleeping in a baby's crib.
"Don't even ask," he grumbles and tries to stand up. Xiao Bing whimpers again. "Actually, there's your reason. Your son refuses to sleep alone again for some reason."
"I suppose that's a problem," Binghe says, frowning. "We'll figure it out later. For now, shizun must hide."
It's Shen Qingqiu's time to frown. "Wait why?"
"Liu Qingge attacked again. We don't know why considering that Cang Qiong already has the body. Either way, it's not safe for both of you. You have to go shizun. I contacted Mobei-Jun and you are to go there for shelter."
But it's so cold there, he wants to whine. "What about your palace?"
"Apologies shizun but it's still in renovation. I should've made them speed up the construction but no worries, I'll do it after I deal with Liu Qingge."
"It's fine. It's fine," he then realizes something. "That means Shang Qinghua is there too right?"
"Yes shizun. Shang-shishu will also be there."
Perfect! He almost dances in joy. "Don't worry about us too much Binghe. With Shang Qinghua there, we'll be fine."
"This disciple will always worry about shizun and our-our s-son," he stumbles over his words, reddening slightly. "I'll deal with Liu Qingge as soon as possible. Mobei-Jun and Shang-shishu are waiting in the pavilion. I'll escort you there."
Shen Qingqiu places Xiao Bing against his shoulders and Binghe throws a blanket over him to cover him. They both tried to minimize the amount of people who know about Xiao Bing's existence but there were some people with loose lips who managed to get a glimpse. Binghe tracked them down before and gave them some good old threatening before forcing his demon blood on them as a way to seal the deal.
Unfortunately, it seems like not all loose lips had been caught.
The journey to the pavilion had been pretty quiet and the Huan Hua disciples were too busy running around to try and stop Liu Qingge to even notice him. Besides, Luo Binghe's physique dwarfed his in this body and add in him trying to make himself as small as possible then, it wouldn't be a surprise.
Shen Qingqiu should've known that in this universe, anything that could go wrong, will go wrong.
"Bro!" Shang Qinghua, who is standing beside Mobei-Jun, waves at him. "Over here!"
Shen Qingqiu sighs in relief. He turns to Binghe and subtly angles Xiao Bing to him. Binghe stares at him blankly for a few seconds before getting what he wanted to say.
"Be good for a-die while I'm gone Xiao Bing," Binghe says softly and places a kiss on the little one's forehead. "I guess our little ice would experience being in an ice palace this time."
"It'll probably be a new experience for him. He'll most likely be in shock and curious, but mostly curious," he mutters and immediately grabs Xiao Bing's hand when he tries to grab for his demon father's thick locks. They both learned early on that Xiao Bing loved to grab Binghe's hair. "Send a letter to Shang Qinghua when everything is fine."
"I will shizun," he says and nods. "This disciple is looking forward to seeing you again."
Shen Qingqiu could see Shang Qinghua making fake vomiting actions from the corner of his eyes. No, he definitely is not pleased to see him squeak when Mobei-Jun looks at him coldly.
"Binghe," he hesitates before deciding to getting it over with quickly. "This master will be displeased if you get hurt."
Not even giving Binghe a chance to reply, he speed walks to where Shang Qinghua and Mobei-Jun are. Shang Qinghua mutters something about 'cliched tropes', which earns him an elbow to the side.
"Bro I'm just saying. We could've left like a lot earlier if--"
Shang Qinghua gets interrupted with a loud explosion. Shen Qingqiu immediately moves to shield Xiao Bing with his body by turning around so that his back gets the brunt of the explosion. Mobei-Jun grabs Shang Qinghua by the scruff of his collar and throws him behind him.
"Luo Binghe," a very familiar voice hisses just Shen Qingqiu hears another very familiar voice echo in his head. "You bastard!"
[ System update 3.0 successful! System would like to greet User again! ]
You!!! He would like to have some words with this pesky omnipotent parasite in his brain!
[ System would like to apologize for the unexpected disappearance! There were issues regarding the existence of OC: Luo Binghe's son ]
At the mention of Xiao Bing, he pales. He turns to Shang Qinghua to see if he too can hear what the system is saying but it seems like this is limited to his system only. He grips Xiao Bing and hugs him to himself. It does not go unnoticed by Luo Binghe.
You will not take him away from me, he hisses in his mind. I don't know what kind of update you did. But keep Xiao Bing out of this!
[ Apologies User. But OC: Luo Binghe's son is still technically part of this. The moment he existed as an OC in this world without our knowledge, we had to interfere. ]
The more Shen Qingqiu listens to what the System is saying, the paler he gets. His complexion, in addition to his rather absent stare into nowhere unnerves both Luo Binghe. Shang Qinghua frowns, realizing that Shen Qingqiu is probably talking to the System in his mind.
Shen Qingqiu is so deep into his frantic talking with System that he does not hear the shouting around him. "Liu Qingge! Leave!"
"Not until you give us your disgusting experiment," Liu Qingge roars back, holding Chen Lian tightly. "You think Cang Qiong wouldn't hear of your obsessive ways? His corpse was not enough? So you had to make a clone of him!"
"This lord does not know what Cang Qiong Sect is feeding its peak lords lately to have them spout such nonsense." Binghe retorts and assumes a fighting stance with his fists.
He and Shen Qingqiu talked before about Xin Mo and decided that perhaps it would be best to keep Xin Mo sealed until they can find a way to get it under control or until Xiao Bing is grown enough. He briefly laments not getting another sword but his fists would have to do for now. He would have to defeat Liu Qingge again but this time without a sword. He had been through worse.
"You truly have gone mad and arrogant," Liu Qingge scoffs. "Thinking you can fight me without a sword."
"It's not arrogance if I know I will win." Luo Binghe says with finality before moving to attack.
[ Worry not User! This System has talked with the higher-ups and they have seen that they cannot do anything about OC: Luo Binghe's son despite being him out of the novel's parameters. ]
The moment you took my soul to transmigrate into Shen Qingqiu, he grits out. Everything had gone out of the novel's parameters!
[ User is correct. But like how water is still water and still functions like water in alternate universes, there are still parameters this story should be limited into. One of those is Luo Binghe having a son. ]
What do you want? Cut to the chase.
[ Likewise, User is currently out of parameters too. Technically, you are also an OC. You would have been permitted to live as an OC should you have continued to live as one without interaction with main characters related to the plot. However, Used also broke those parameters. ]
There aren't exactly any Terms and Agreements I signed when transmigrating, fuck off.
[ This System only worries. This System is actually very lenient and kind compared to the Central System. Host should be grateful. ]
[ As System was saying, User under the disguise Peerless Cucumber shall be allowed to exist under one condition. ]
[ Yes! Isn't System so kind? As long as User is involved with the plot again, System will allow you to continue existing. After all, User hasn't finished fixing the novel yet. ]
Is that all?
[ Yes-- ]
I agree, I'm fine. Sign my name, whatever.
[ System is glad to see User agrees! ]
Yes. Now leave us alone!
[ Since User is back officially, you have a new side-quest! ]
Shen Qingqiu thinks maybe he should've asked for the fine print. Are you kidding me?! I literally have a baby to take care of!
[ Side quest: Return to Cang Qiong Sect. Reward: 100 B Points. Punishment: -500 B Points. ]
Okay...okay. I won't be stupid now. He has a little human mushroom who literally depends on him for survival. He can't afford to be stupid. What are the specifics? Like. Exact specifics. Do not hold back any detail at all.
[ User only has to go back to Cang Qiong Sect. User has to be seen by the Peak Lords in his current body. User has to tell them who he is. ]
Are these really necessary for the plot? What's the point of being able to stay in a disguise if I have to reveal myself anyway!
[ If User disagrees, we can simply deduct 500 B points. Or we can send him back to his old body as Shen Qingqiu. ]
No, no. I'm doing it. Does Xiao Bing have to come? He doesn't know right now where Xiao Bing would be safer. In Cang Qiong with him or with Shang Qinghua in the ice palace. Not to mention, Xiao Bing still needs to regularly drink blood and qi transfers from himself and Binghe.
[ Although System would prefer if OC: Luo Binghe's son would stay out of the plot, System recognizes that he is vital to the protagonist's coolness and satisfaction points. As he has also inherited a bit of the protagonist halo, he is also somewhat untouchable to System. So yes, User can bring him. ]
That's good. He internally sighs in relief. Xiao Bing being untouchable to the Google voice in his mind brings him such relief that he cannot put it into words properly.
Xiao Bing would be safer with him but despite his criticisms towards Shang Qinghua, he knows his fellow transmigrator will protect Xiao Bing. Now his only problem would be how to sneak in Luo Binghe without Xin Mom
He and Binghe agreed to seal Xin Mo for fear of backlash and for their son's safety. If he still had Xin Mo, Binghe would be able to just teleport in and out. Ah, choices, choices…
System...do I have to go back to Cang Qiong immediately?
[ Yes. This mission has to be started between today and the day after tomorrow. Failure to start in that timeframe will lead to deduction of points. ]
I see. He somehow snaps out of his trance to find his son whimpering and Luo Binghe fighting Liu Qingge barehanded.
He pulls Shang Qinghua aside, ignoring Mobei-Jun's cold stares, and begins to talk to him about his plan quickly.
"With or without a sword, you will never be able to beat me," Binghe says darkly as he stands up. It took him some time to adjust to fighting a master swordsman with his bare hands with the addition of having to be careful with how much energy he puts into them to avoid destroying the pavilion and hurt his shizun and their son. But in the end he is victorious. "I do not like to repeat myself. Liu Qingge, leave."
"You mutt. Truly disrespectful of your shizun," Liu Qingge manages to still growl despite his bruises and wounds. "Despite everything he did for you, you still desecrated him! Give us your experiment."
"I have no time for your imagination Liu Qingge."
"Bastard! Everyone had been saying it! Even your Huan Hua disciples gossip about it," he scoffs. "The Lord Luo of Huan Hua and the demon realm, a half-demon bastard who got his shizun killed, creating a clone infant of his shizun after stealing his body for five years straight! Have you no shame?!"
"Enough!" Another voice echoes in the room.
Shen Qingqiu pulls his hood down and stares at Liu Qingge resolutely. In the side, Shang Qinghua quietly slips away into the portal with the infant in his arms with Mobei-Jun behind him. However, the portal remains.
Luo Binghe looks at him and the other demon lord and peak lord duo in confusion. Shen Qingqiu, sensing it, shakes his head while sending him a look that says he'll explain it later.
"Who are you?" Liu Qingge gruffly asks.
His shidi is as abrasive as always, he thinks with a deep sigh. "Who else do you think am I?...Liu-shidi."
Liu Qingge's eyes widen before hardening. "I do not know what game you are playing Luo Binghe. But you have gone way too far."
"There are no games," he says loudly. He doesn't even care if there are still Huan Hua disciples hiding somewhere around here. "It's really me Liu-shidi. Shen Qingqiu."
"Fat chance I'll believe someone who sides with that demon."
"This master has always sided with Binghe. And will always side with Binghe," he says and walks to him. Binghe tries to grab his wrist to stop him but he sends him a look. "You don't want to believe me?"
Liu Qingge merely continues glaring at him.
He sighs. It looks like he has to bring in the big guns. "Back then during the mission with the succubus."
"What?" Liu Qingge looks taken aback but he doesn't stop him so he continues.
"When I got my fortune told by Madam Meiyin. And then you got afflicted by succubus poison. You...You…"
To his surprise, Liu Qingge turns to a shade of red. Is he angry at him? He thinks. Liu Qingge then sputters. "What are you?! How did you know about that?!"
"Shizun! What did he do?" Binghe demands, now beside him and shaking his hand. "Shizun! Do I have to fight him? Did he dishonor you?!"
It's his turn to look at Binghe incredulously. "What fight? What dishonor?"
"But you said! Succubus poison!"
"Nothing happened!" He corrects himself when he realizes how it sounded earlier. "After getting afflicted by succubus poison, Liu-shidi here decided to act with his sword. The spiritual one. So I pushed into the rose pool."
"Is it true shizun?"
He pats Binghe's arms, as if placating a scorned wife. "Nothing happened."
"But Shen Qingqiu--your body," Liu Qingge tries to grasp for words. "It's clearly there. In Cang Qiong!"
"As you can see," he makes a motion to point at his whole body. "I have a new one."
Liu Qingge dashes towards Binghe with his sword, startling Shen Qingqiu but Luo Binghe easily intercepts him and sends him flying back into the wall.
"You monster," Liu Qingge growls as he struggles to stand up. "So you bastard found a way to revive him without using his old body. You even dared to revive him. You couldn't even let him rest in peace. You completely disregarded his sacrifice to you."
Shen Qingqiu exhales loudly. He has had enough of these sword brained men. Has no one been listening to him? "Nobody revived me except my own shidi. I revived myself. Shang Qinghua and I...We grew a plant body just in case something happens to us. And something did happen to me. My spirit went to that body after I self-destructed."
Liu Qingge's face shows struggle as he absorbs this information. His face goes through myriads of emotion before settling on something neutral. But the way it looks, it unsettles Shen Qingqiu.
"How long have you been alive again?"
Shen Qingqiu shuffles his feet from where he is standing. Shidi, calm down! Why does it seem like he's a husband being interrogated for having a mistress?! "Since you got my corpse back."
Liu Qingge exhales loudly.
"Then why didn't you come back to Cang Qiong?" To us? goes unsaid but not unheard.
The tension in the room goes. He knows he's going to step in a landmine if he's not careful. Even though he and Binghe had already talked, he knows that Binghe probably still feels insecure. Staying with Binghe helped him learn more about his disciple. Oh boy, does his disciple have some very mean abandonment issues.
He never quite thought about it before. How Binghe felt towards his relationship with his sect back in his past life. He vaguely remembers Binghe mentioning them in a fit of rage before when he was escaping the Water Prison. Or was that in Jinlan? He doesn't have a good pre-death memory about these things…maybe except for the things Binghe said to him before he self-destructed.
But ever since Binghe has quietly confessed to him before about how he felt during the Jinlan and Huayue city incident, about how he just wanted Shen Qingqiu to look at him, to smile at him. Yet all he did was either look at him with a scared expression, accuse him of things he didn't do, or ignore him, he couldn't help but feel despair.
And Xin Mo loved those thoughts and feelings. With Xin Mo affirming and feeding his destructive thoughts and feelings, he spiralled into being eaten by the sword and losing his mind.
"This disciple didn't mean to," Binghe confesses quietly, holding back his tears as if he thinks he doesn't deserve to cry. "I really...I really just wanted shizun to look at me. To be with me. I wanted to desperately believe that shizun doesn't truly hate me just because I'm a demon.
I tried to look at those signs in shizun. Yet I got none. I know this doesn't excuse what I did. I have never forgiven myself either for what happened. But I just wanted shizun to know. That all I wanted was for you to look at me."
Ever since that day, he has begun to be more thoughtful of what Binghe would feel. He's not a psychiatrist. Not by any means at all. But there's just too many misunderstandings even beyond the Abyss. There are still bad feelings left behind because of their past to just ignore.
And they cannot ignore it now. Not when they're raising a kid together.
He realizes that caring for Binghe in the way he does might not be enough if he's going to co-parent a child with him. He has to be better for Xiao Bing to grow up well.
"This master apologizes to shidi," he replies, his eyes meeting his shidi's betrayed ones. "But this master has someone else he has to prioritize now."
"More than the sect?"
"More than sect." He answers with no hesitation. He realizes that perhaps he sounds like a traitor, putting others above his sect. But he doesn't care.
"However, Cang Qiong is still my sect. I still...I still love my sect and see it as my family. It will always be part of my life. But I have another family now."
This makes Liu Qingge's eyes widen. "What do you mean?"
"The rumors are true. To a small degree. There is a small infant here in Huan Hua who quite looks like a clone of me. But he is not an experiment," he inhales deeply before letting it out. "This master has a son now Liu-shidi. That is why I cannot return to Cang Qiong. My...Our son needs me."
"Luo Binghe and I," he adds and looks at Binghe with a small smile. "Luo Binghe and I have a son."
Liu Qingge stares at him blankly before standing up and moving to him. Binghe drops into a defensive stance but Shen Qingqiu raises a hand to stop him. Liu Qingge stops in front of him.
Silence ensues for seconds before Liu Qingge grabs him, carries him, and tries to make a break for it.
"Shidi! Are you mad?!"
"Shen Qingqiu let's go!" Liu Qingge yells as he dodges Luo Binghe's attacks. "I don't know what this demon is feeding you to make you say these things but I'm sure Mu Qingfang will know how to reverse it."
"Shidi! Unhand me!"
"Give shizun back!"
Shen Qingqiu tries to wriggle his way out and thinks of another way when he realizes he can't get Liu Qingge to drop him like that. He gets an idea.
He remembers Xiao Bing's favorite move. He throws himself forward and yells. It's not really enough to throw the god of war off balance but it does get him off-guard which is what he just needed. He then proceeds to wrangle himself out of Liu Qingge's hold.
"Liu Qingge! I'm not joking!"
"You want me to believe your mad ramblings?"
"Yes!" He throws his hands up in frustration. "I really do have a son with Binghe. Remember what I said about a plant body? That's how I got our son. Shang Qinghua messed up with growing the body and when I woke up there was an extra body beside me, a baby. The baby activated his heavenly demon mark later on which means he is also Luo Binghe's son."
Luo Binghe then drops in, face contorted in rage and black, demonic qi surrounding his entire body. "Liu Qingge, I gave you enough chances already. Shizun may be merciful but not me!"
"Let's go before this demon goes berserk again and before you decide to self-destruct to save him. Again."
The last part makes Luo Binghe flinch. It is obvious to Shen Qingqiu that his shidi had been provoking his disciple since earlier. Every barbed word he said was one that flayed open the insecurities Binghe had confessed to him before.
"That's enough Liu Qingge." he says, his tone serious and deep. Liu Qingge scowls.
That's right shidi, he's using your full name! Now be quiet!
"No, no, shizun, let him go on. Clearly he has more things to say."
"Binghe, you too. Enough," he scolds his disciple too. He's supposed to be raising only one child here. "Liu-shidi. If you truly do not believe me, this master will go back to Cang Qiong to you."
This time Binghe's head snaps to him in shock. "Shizun?!"
He approached Binghe and gently pats his hand. "This master...will have to tie up loose ends if he wants to raise Xiao Bing with you in peace. Cang Qiong will forever hound you so long as misunderstandings and rumors continue. It is time for me to put an end to it. Moreover, Cang Qiong is still my family even if you and Xiao Bing are my priority now."
"But shizun…" He tries to protest. "This disciple doesn't care about rumors. Let them say whatever they want."
"But I don ' t want them to say whatever they want about Binghe," he replies, gripping his hands. "You don't deserve that. These rumors...are all because of me too. These are the results of my mistakes. And I will correct them."
He then takes a deep breath and turns to Liu Qingge. "Liu-shidi. I will willingly go to Cang Qiong with you by tomorrow. Let me...Let me rest for a bit and get ready. And if you still do not want to believe that Binghe and I have a son, I will bring him with me for you and the rest of the peak lords to meet."
"Shizun, is it wise to do that?" He asks and then corrects himself. "Not that this disciple thinks that shizun is unwise. But. Our son is…"
"He is a half-demon yes. And what's so wrong with that?" He replies and looks directly into Binghe's eyes.
"This master will be back with Xiao Bing as soon as he can. Do not worry, I will talk to you after this regarding my decision to explain it to you further," he turns to address Liu Qingge. "Shidi, meet me at Jinlan city by tomorrow morning. I will willingly come back to Cang Qiong with you and let you meet my son."
I tried to edit this in ao3 like four times with all of the leading to my phone browser lagging and shutting down on me. Which meant redoing everything.
Also, funny fact. I sat on the draft for ch4 for 2 weeks having no idea how to write it. I almost thought to end it at chapter 3 and write another one shot to add in the series instead but then yesterdag, the spirit of writing possessed me and I'm not exaggerating. I got like 2k done and finished the rest today. Still don't know how I managed to do it.
Idk if I've mentioned it already but I've always wanted to explore SQQ having to come to terms that he's not just in a novel anymore. That these are real people now, not just characters. Perhaps Xiao Bing is the biggest proof of that. He can't just act however he wants or however System wants because (1) there's a tiny human depending on him for survival. Literally. (2). System is not pleased with the existence of Xiao Bing but since it cannot do anything against him because he inherited a bit of Binghe's protagonist halo (it's a damn powerful halo everyone thank Airplane for making novel Binghe the Gary Stu of PIDW), nothing happened. This world revolves around Luo Binghe and System acknowledges that. Therefore, what Luo Binghe wants, he gets.
Nevertheless, sqq took it as a threat.
The talk with Binghe might seem cliched but yes. I decided to go the Yue Qingyuan way. The Better Yue Qingyuan way. Yue Qingyuan just kept on apologizing to Shen Jiu without even explaining why. It's admirable bec it means he's not willing to make excuses. But at the same time, it's not because he has a legitimate reason for not being able to save Shen Jiu. But his guilt stops him.
Now SQQ. He also has a legitimate reason to throw Binghe into the Abyss. But he cannot say it because of the system. System may have been offline at the time of their talk, but he's not willing to risk it. He's being an adult here and calculating his moves. He has a little one with him now. He can't just play it stupidly.
So he just tries his best at being honest. Because that's what Binghe deserves and there is no excuse he can think of to justify throwing a teenager into the abyss while saying those words to him.
The thing with Bingqiu is, even if you make them talk, the problems and misunderstandings don't just disappear. They don't need just one talk. They need counseling. That's why I write them to be constantly talking to each other, opening up and talking to Xiao Bing.
I know it might seem OOC to SQQ since he has such a thin face, but remember that this SQQ is a dad now. He might still be grasping how to do it but he acknowledges that this isn't like raising a peak full of kids. Xiao Bing is an infant who needs his qi to live. Who will see him as a blood family.
Also, changing this to incomplete again because I realized omg maybe I *can* finish this.
"Oh wow you truly are cucumber bro's son," he comments as the baby sends him a blank look, very similar to what Shen Qingqiu gives him. This baby is definitely a clone of Shen Qingqiu with only a few minor differences. "You even got his attitude exactly."
Baby Luo then decides he's no longer worthy of his attention and grabs the nearest thing to him. Which unfortunately ends up being Shang Qinghua's jade token. Which is the single thing he cannot lose or else he'll never be able to enter Mobei-Jun's palace by himself.
"Hey, hey, hey!" He yelps, trying to grab the token back before it could reach the baby's mouth. But alas, there's just something about babies being inhumanely quick with their hands. "This is not your chew toy! Oh my god. Are you teething? You're too young to teeth! Your parents are going to kill me if he knows I accidentally triggered your teething to happen earlier."
He makes sure to wipe his hands against his robes first--should it even matter? The kid drinks blood daily! Would a few bacteria on his hand even affect him?--before shoving his hand gently into the baby's mouth to grab his token back. He also gently feels around the mouth to see if there are any teeth growing and sighs in relief when he discovers there aren't any yet.
“Okay, you're not teething," he mutters and grimaces upon seeing his fingers coated in baby saliva. “Gah, that’s disgusting.”
The baby continues to gurgle and tries to grab the token back from him but Shang Qinghua immediately puts it away. Baby Luo then gives him the meanest glare a baby could possibly conjure. Sucks for Baby Luo but Shang Qinghua has seen scarier glares from other people, specifically from his fathers.
“You’re way too young to be scary kiddo,” he tuts and sighs, bored out of his mind. “When’s your father gonna come back anyway? I can’t believe he left me to deal with you while he fixes his drama.”
A beat of silence. Then some of the spit bubbles Baby Luo made hits his face.
“You know what. Come to think of it, I think it’s better this way. I’m not sure if Liu-shidi would’ve spared me from a beating if he saw me…I already get enough from my king as it is,” He grumbles and shakes his finger from the baby. “You need the xianxia equivalent of a pacifier or something. Wait. Hm, I wonder if they’ve invented baby essentials here? I could make a business out of that.”
He feels Mobei-Jun arrive before he can even see him. No, he literally felt him because the room suddenly turned degrees colder than normal. And it was already cool enough as it is. That could only mean that Mobei-Jun is coming.
The moment the door opens, he ows. “My king. You’re back!”
Mobei-Jun icily stares at him and then the baby on the bed. Shang Qinghua straightens his posture nervously as Mobei-Jun and Baby Luo seem to have a staring contest. Baby Luo stares at him with wide eyes while Mobei-Jun’s expression is difficult to decipher even for Shang Qinghua.
Well, it’s not like Mobei-Jun hasn’t met or seen Baby Luo before. But all of the times Mobei-Jun has met Baby Luo, he always ends up in an intense staring contest with the baby. The baby blinks at him, unperturbed and then blows out spit bubbles, making Mobei-Jun grimace in disgust and break his stare.
Honestly, mood. He didn’t see a lot of babies in his past life but he always assumed they were somewhat messy and disgusting but cute and he doesn’t know if he’s glad to be proven right. He wipes the baby’s mouth with his robes. Maybe he should’ve asked Shen Qingqiu for supplies before running back to Mobei-Jun’s palace…
“Are all halflings like that?”
He almost jumps out of his skin. “My king? A-Ah! Not really? I mean. I don't think so. It’s not really about him being a halfling but it’s more because of his human biology."
When Mobei-Jun doesn't reply and just stares at him, Shang Qinghua hastily explains. "Human infants just...do that sometimes. They can't help it."
"Hm." is all Mobei-Jun says before he approaches Baby Luo. Everything happened so fast and the next thing he knew, Mobei-Jun was holding Baby Luo up in the air.
Should he scold Mobei-Jun?! Fuck that! Mobei-Jun will kill him! But if something happens to Baby Luo, Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe will kill him! He knows his king won't hurt Baby Luo on purpose but he knows how demons get with their ahem...rough housing. Despite being a half Heavenly Demon, Baby Luo is still! An infant human! The lowest in the food chain!
For a baby who doesn't see anyone except his two fathers, Baby Luo is well-adjusted to strangers. Shang Qinghua doesn't know if that's good or bad. Baby Luo didn't cry when he was held by him and he's not crying either when Mobei-Jun lifts him. He immediately runs to Mobei-Jun's side when he sees how the ice demon is holding him.
"M-My King, you have to support his head," he tells him, adjusting the ice demon's hands and then immediately wincing when he realizes what he did. Does Mobei even want his advice? But babies are soft! And they can't control their head right? "Human infants cannot support the weight of their head just yet."
That's correct right? He remembers that in his past life. It's like the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell of caring for babies 101. Every adult knows that babies can't hold their heads up.
"He is weak," he pauses. "Weaker than humans."
Naturally he's weak! He wants to cry out. But instead he nods. "Yes my king. Human infants are perhaps the weakest among humans. That's why they need a lot of care and support."
"And mothers do that?"
He blinks. "Yes. Mothers care for their babies until the baby is older. For humans, caring for their child is a life-long duty. They raise their kid together for as long as they can or until their child can leave the house and marry someone else or marry into another family."
He recognizes that grunt. It's the grunt Mobei-Jun makes when he sees something as pathetic. This servant apologizes that humans are weak and codependent on each other! It's just the way they are.
He knows that demons are ruthless. Some demons already gain powers even at infancy. A lot of demons do not really understand the term familial bond. A lot has killed their own parents for leadership in their kingdom. Sha Hualing is doing exactly that. Or rather planning to at least until Binghe gives her his full support to ransack his father's kingdom so she can be the ruler. Hell even Mobei-Jun's uncle regularly antagonizes him and tries to kill him to no avail.
It's all about strength and power in the demon realm. He's not surprised that Mobei-Jun would find the concept of a person having to depend on their parents for as long as they can as something pathetic.
He continues to explain. "But that doesn't apply to all humans. Some humans are more independent and stronger than others. Some cultivators like us do not really have much ties to our biological family as we have chosen this path to reaching immortality. Many cultivators still choose to start their own family instead. It differs on what humans hold as important for them."
"What do you hold as important?"
Oh shit. Oh shit. Is this a test? Is his king testing him? Focus Shang Qinghua! Why is his king testing him now? Did he say something wrong? His mind is running at full speed but somehow the words don't come out. It's not until Mobei-Jun glares at him that he squeaks out an answer.
"My king is what I hold important!" He was totally going to add the word "serving" at the start but somehow his mind blanked out. It’s fine. It’s fine, right?
It’s totally fine, he pats himself on the back as he puts the baby down and leaves the room in a seemingly good mood.
“Weird huh?” He says to the baby, who makes spit bubbles again. “You know, I’m kind of surprised Cucumber bro didn’t name you something like Shasha at first. That bro, he’s pretty ruthless. You’re also sort of a hot commodity in the rumor mill in the demon realm right now so I’m surprised he’s going by a cute name that directly correlates to Luo Binghe.”
“That’s right, your baba,” he nods, sagely. “Your very scary baba who would probably turn me into a human stick if anything happens to you. I guess he really can’t help himself, especially with a child of Binghe. He’s very soft and biased towards him. He always did like the protagonist even in our past life.”
He really didn’t think that Shen Qingqiu would directly name their son after one of the rising lords in the demon realm and also the man who is infamous in the cultivation world for taking over Huan Hua and being accused of killing Shen Qingqiu. He supposes that no matter how much cucumber bro denies, he knows how much he loves and cares for Binghe to the point that he can’t even deny his existence through his child’s name. Even if it means people would immediately be able to connect the relation of the two.
So far the two parents had been able to hide Baby Luo’s identity but Liu Qingge’s knowledge about him just proves that there are still many loose lips in Huan Hua so it’s highly possible that demons know about his existence already too. A milk name would’ve only worked for so long.
Then again Luo Binghe is the protagonist with a golden halo. It’s not like anyone can stop him from rescuing his baby.
“Pabaa,” Xiao Bing continues to babble and then shoves his entire fist in his mouth. “Mppa?”
“Wait no! Take it out!”
The familiar sound of a portal opening wakes Shang Qinghua up from his nap and almost makes him drop the bag of melon seeds he’s holding. He immediately wipes the drool on his wrist and checks if Baby Luo is still okay. So far the infant is still asleep so that’s good. A few seconds later, two people step out of the portal.
Shen Qingqiu looks a bit haggard but overall, fine. Luo Binghe surprisingly has Xin Mo in his hands again.
“Gods, finally you’re back,” He sighs in relief as Shen Qingqiu moves towards him. He’s so tired from babysitting the halfling that he forgot to kowtow or greet Luo Binghe. “What took you so long?”
“You know how Liu-shidi is. Always so stubborn,” Shen Qingqiu replies with a grimace and then flutters to Baby Luo’s side immediately like a mother hen. “It took a while to convince him that I really am Shen Qingqiu but it worked out. How is Xiao Bing?”
“He didn’t cry at first but he did get his spit on me. You should really invest in a pacifier bro,” Shang Qinghua says. “Eventually, he decided he wanted to cry and throw a tantrum so he did. We didn’t exactly know what he wanted. He didn’t want to feed even if we tried to feed him blood. He didn't stop crying even when we tried to carry him. He just sort of...exhausted himself and took a nap.”
Shen Qingqiu nods, knowing exactly what he means from experience. “He does that. He’s a bit...spoiled.”
Spoiled, Shen Qingqiu would like to admit, doesn’t even begin to cover it. He slept in a crib just this night with Xiao Bing because he refused to not cry if he wasn’t anywhere near his father. He does try to set boundaries every now and then like sleeping separately when possible, but this is an infant who depends on him. He’s not an expert on parenting but he’s like 50% sure that when babies cry, they have a reason.
Binghe is even worse than him. If he so much as hears a single whimper, he goes to the baby and carries him immediately. If he could, he would be bringing Xiao Bing with him everywhere. Shen Qingqiu had to put his foot down so Binghe could do his work as a demon lord and lord of Huan Hua. Boundaries and independence Binghe!
He could only imagine how much worse Binghe would get with spoiling his son once Xiao Bing grows older. Where did Binghe learn that spoiling is the best thing to do anyway?
“You did well bro, we’ll take him now.”
Shang Qinghua freezes. “Excuse me?”
“Don’t make me repeat it,” Shen Qingqiu says blithely. “That’s your quota of compliments from me this week. Oh and thank you for babysitting Xiao Bing here. I’ll be taking him back since I’ll be going to Cang Qiong tomorrow.”
“Wait, wait, you’re going to Cang Qiong?” Did Shang Qinghua just hear that correctly? “But you’re! You know!” He waves his hands around him to emphasize what he wants to say.
Shen Qingqiu snorts. “You heard it correctly. It’s very...complicated and it has something to do with Liu-shidi’s stubbornness. It won’t be easy, that I’m sure of. But if we’re going to raise Xiao Bing here, I’d have to confront them. We can’t have Liu Qingge barging in to fight everyday for the entire time Xiao Bing grows up.”
“That makes sense. Did uhm, did,” he hesitates for a bit before speaking English this time. “ Did the lord allow you? ”
“ He didn’t want to at first but I managed to convince him, ” Shen Qingqiu answers back in English. Binghe's brows furrow upon hearing the foreign language. “ It’ll just be for a day or two after all. We’ll be quick.”
“That's understandable I suppose," he hums. "Good luck Shen bro, I think you'll be needing a lot of it. Fatherhood really matured you. I think Baby Luo here needs a pacifier. Seriously. "
Shen Qingqiu hits his arm with a fan. Shang Qinghua lets out a whimper. When did Shen Qingqiu even get that fan? " Shut up. I’ll see what we can do about it. We shall be taking our leave then. There's still much to prepare for our journey tomorrow."
Shen Qingqiu gingerly carries Xiao Bing so as to not wake him up. Xiao Bing whimpers for a bit before the feeling of Shen Qingqiu’s qi calms him down again. Binghe immediately walks to their side and places a hand on Shen Qingqiu’s waist to guide him through the portal.
But right before Binghe and Shen Qingqiu completely disappear into the portal, Binghe pauses and then addresses Shang Qinghua. “This lord will remember the favor Shang-shishu did, rest assured.”
Shen Qingqiu internally rolls his eyes at Shang Qinghua’s scared look. Well, he doesn’t blame him for still being scared. It took him like years, dying, and then actively talking and learning about each other to get over the idea that Binghe would want to kill him. Shang Qinghua doesn’t have the time to do that considering his job as the somewhat personal assistant of Mobei-Jun.
By the time he and Binghe returned to his room, Xiao Bing had woken up like the fussy baby he became ever since he began to live in Huan Hua. Binghe immediately shuffles to arrange the crib for Xiao Bing to lie on while Shen Qingqiu sits on the bed and places the now babbling baby on the bed.
“We’re back Xiao Bing,” he definitely does not coos to the baby. “Did you like it there in the ice palace?”
“Paabaa!” Xiao Bing coos back and tries to grab his robes. Shen Qingqiu gently tuts and tries to remove it but Xiao Bing merely pulls it and tries to use it to haul himself up.
“Aiyah, you’re seriously obsessed with wanting to sit up,” He comments but helps Xiao Bing sit up. Xiao Bing shrieks and immediately locks his terror grip on his hair. Shen Qingqiu, knowing what he’ll do already, sits him a bit farther so he won’t eat hair. “We have talked about this already. No eating hair.”
Xiao Bing only giggles and then falls on his chest. Xiao Bing had been trying to crawl ever since they got to Huan Hua. It’s a sight to see but usually it ends up with him flat on his ass or his chest. Binghe hadn’t talked to him about it yet but he’s assuming that he would like to see all the milestones of their kid so he encourages Xiao Bing practice crawling in secret so that Binghe would be able to see it. It won’t be difficult he supposes since Binghe always makes sure to go back to them for dinner no matter how long his work in Huan Hua and the demon realm may take.
“Shizun, Xiao Bing’s crib is ready now.” Binghe calls out.
Shen Qingqiu carries Xiao Bing again and places him on the now more presentable crib. Xiao Bing immediately whimpers the moment he’s let down, prompting Binghe to panic. Shen Qingqiu, already knowing what the little one wants, merely sighs and takes him back out.
“Is he hungry shizun?” Binghe asks, worried.
He shakes his head and ignores the wet patch on his shoulder as a result of Xiao Bing’s drool. He has half a mind to wipe it off but he knows that the baby will just produce more drool. “No, no. His feeding isn’t until two hours from now. It’s just how he is. He’s recently been disliking sleeping in his crib. He cries really hard when he’s alone there.”
“Is that so?” The demon lord murmurs. “Then would it be fine if Xiao Bing doesn’t sleep in the crib but with one of us?”
“Too dangerous. He might accidentally roll over the bed or one of us might accidentally roll on top of him,” he replies, wincing a bit when Xiao Bing’s mouth directly lands on his chin, coating it in baby drool. “Stop trying to eat me alive you little monster. I don’t think it’d be good to spoil him this much when it comes to sleeping too.”
Binghe deflates. Shen Qingqiu swears that if Binghe had dog ears, they would droop. “This disciple understands. But I really don’t mind spoiling him a bit. Xiao Bing and shizun should know that whatever they ask for, this disciple will always provide.”
Shen Qingqiu snorts and then places the baby on his lap. “Oh I have absolutely no doubt that you will provide and spoil Xiao Bing over here.”
Ever since day one, Binghe had gone above and beyond what was expected of him as a father. He had given him and Xiao Bing everything they could possibly need and more. Xiao Bing and him never grow hungry too. Binghe makes sure that Xiao Bing would have all the blood and qi he would need and makes sure that Shen Qingqiu eats his personally cooked meals everyday. How he does it while juggling his responsibilities as a ruler.
He once asked Binghe if he’s sure he should be doing this considering that he might be distracting him from his duties. But all Binghe said was, “Compared to what I had to do for the five years shizun was gone, this is very easy. I would never trade anything in the world for this. Besides, Xiao Bing and shizun are and will always be my first priorities.”
Binghe’s eyes soften upon seeing Xiao Bing reach for his hair. Unlike Shen Qingqiu, Binghe doesn’t automatically tug it away. The baby does have favorites, he thinks, as Xiao Bing merely plays with the hair as opposed to shoving it inside his mouth like what he usually does to his hair. It’s probably due to Binghe’s hair being soft. How does he do it really?
“Binghe,” he says, breaking the comfortable silence. “This master was thinking. Have you thought of a name you wanted to give to Xiao Bing over here? I know it hasn’t been that long since we had him but he’s very grown already. We have talked before how he is probably older than 100 days already.”
“But is shizun really sure he wants me to name him?”
Shen Qingqiu lightly hits his thigh. “Why would this master not want that? Are you not the father too?”
“But shizun probably has a name in his mind already.”
“I already gave him his nickname. Besides, this master knows well how much you wanted to celebrate his 100 days but Xiao Bing had been too old alread.” he replies.
It had been something they had talked about. Their first conversation about the baby’s name had been...rather tense to say the least with Binghe back then still being suspicious of him claiming that he’s the father. But after they had calmed down and cleared up the misunderstandings, they decided to talk about naming Xiao Bing officially again. It had been put on hold due to the multiple responsibilities Binghe had to do. They decided that since Xiao Bing is still hidden in Huan Hua palace with the two of them on tight guard, it wouldn’t hurt to stick with the nickname for now.
However, since the appearance of Liu Qingge and the sudden mission System gave him, he feels that this might be the right time to give Xiao Bing an official name. Xiao Bing had been something he thought of on the spot while he still didn’t know how exactly to react to a baby. With him going to Cang Qiong with the baby to fulfill the mission and hopefully, finally tie up loose ends, he will be introducing their baby to the world officially.
Xiao Bing, unknowing of what’s happening and entirely in his own world, looks up at Binghe with wide eyes. Binghe smiles at him and adjusts him in his lap. Xiao Bing notices the arm in front of him, holding him back from falling forward and then rests his head on it.
Shen Qingqiu coughs, his face red at the adorable situation. “As this master was saying, Binghe should get to name his son. He is within his right to.”
See, if Binghe really doesn’t want to, Shen Qingqiu is fine with that too. It’s just that. He doesn’t exactly have a good track record with creating names. His user ID Peerless Cucumber is still something he can’t believe he actually used and he’s actually mortified to hear it from other people. He’s pretty sure Binghe would be a lot better at this than he is.
“If shizun insists then. This disciple has to admit that he has thought of some names already,” Binghe replies bashfully. Shen Qingqiu wants to be surprised but he really is not. He can see how much Binghe adores Xiao Bing. It’s within his right and personality to want the best for him, even in name. “But it depends on whose name Xiao Bing will take on.”
“Bing’er here is your son. The mark on his forehead is something that one cannot deny and he has your lineage and blood too,” he says. “I suggest that he take on the name Luo as he would not have been born if not for Binghe. Without him, he would probably be just a husk of a body.”
And it is true. The Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed only creates empty vessels, not souls. Even though they have fucked up with growing the body, the infant body that sprouted beside Shen Qingqiu’s body would still be empty if not for Binghe and Xin Mo. The body came from him but the beautiful soul of Xiao Bing is a result of Binghe and him.
“Besides,” he continues. “If this master is to go to Cang Qiong to cut loose threads so I can raise our son together with you, they would need to know who the other father is. They would need to know that Xiao Bing is not just a clone like what rumors say. He’s...He’s yours. No, he’s ours.”
The silence in the room is broken by Binghe speaking again, “For so long...For so long shizun never looked at me. He kept on smiling at everyone else but me. For Cang Qiong, he had smiles for them. And to know that shizun had given up so much for me and is willing to give up even more by going to Cang Qiong to let them know about his existence again and clear up everything for this disciple’s sake and our son. Shizun has no idea how happy this disciple is. But at the same time, I never thought I would feel sad too. I thought this was everything I wanted. To have shizun simply for myself.
Back then my only family was shizun. Now it’s bigger. I have only had Xiao Bing for a short time compared to other parents who have been raising their kid for years. But he has taught me what it’s like to be one. This disciple really, really wants shizun to just stay here. But shizun, I haven’t been a good parent have I?”
He wants to protest. What does he mean he hasn’t been a good parent? If anything, Binghe seems to be getting this whole parenting thing more smoothly. Xiao Bing has been nothing but good whenever he’s around, having memorized how to calm their son. Binghe has always made sure to go back to them for dinner. Even in his own time, not many fathers would be like him.
“This disciple may be good with our son, but even now shizun teaches me what it’s like to be a parent. It’s not just being good at caring. It’s also about sacrifice and compromising. I know how much Qing Jing means to you. But shizun is willing to give it up? Just for us? That’s why...That’s why when shizun goes to Cang Qiong, I want him to remember that he’s free to do what he wants. This disciple has been selfish for so long. But now I know shizun is coming back to me. Shizun doesn’t have to give up anything if doesn’t want to.”
When did my Binghe grow up so well? Is his first thought. His next thought is to give Binghe a piece of his mind.
He snaps this time. “Of course this master is willing! Am I not Xiao Bing’s father too? Did this master not promise Binghe that he will be here to raise Xiao Bing with you? It’s not what this master expected that is true. But despite the cruelty I have shown you before, I am not so heartless to leave you with a child. Xiao Bing...He is ours. He literally needs us. If this master needs to cut ties with Cang Qiong for his safety, then so be it.
How matters will proceed with Qing Jing, that’s still for the future to decide on. But first and foremost, this master understands that Binghe and our son needs me the most. That’s why if Binghe is afraid that this master is doing something outside of his will, he needs to snap out of it. Everything I do now, it’s out of my own free will. I want to be here Binghe. With you.”
By the time Shen Qingqiu is done with his rant, his entire face is red. He can’t believe he just said all that. Given any other circumstances, his thin face would have prevented him from saying all that. But he needs Binghe to understand that he’s not leaving them. Not now or ever. He doesn’t know how to be a father just yet. But he’s trying and doing what he thinks would be best. And he would need Binghe beside him for that.
“Abapaa!” Xiao Bing suddenly shrieks and tries to chomp on Binghe’s hand.
The two of them calm down upon remembering that there is still an infant with them. Shen Qingqiu throws Binghe an apologetic glance. He truly did not mean to burst out just like that.
“This disciple’s heart is overjoyed,” Binghe says, pulling his hand away. Xiao Bing gives up on trying to eat his hand and instead rests his head on it. Shen Qingqiu grimaces as some of the saliva stick to his head. He’ll need to clean him up later. “But shizun should still know that this disciple is sincere with what I said about returning to Cang Qiong. I know now that shizun smiles for us first and foremost.
And I know now that shizun will always smile at us at the end of the day. Shizun doesn’t have to give up Qing Jing or Cang Qiong. After all, Qing Jing still has my home, the bamboo house I’ve shared with shizun for so many years. That’s why Xiao Bing...if shizun is fine with it.
I want Xiao Bing to have the name Luo Weifeng. Wei for rare jade and feng for peak. Should shizun still proceed with his plan, I want you to know that you will always have a part of Qing Jing here with us. Qing Jing is mine too just as it is yours. Qing Jing is ours. Like how Weifeng is ours.”
As if understanding what he said, Weifeng looks up with wide eyes from his position, still resting his head on Binghe’s hand, and gives him a wide gummy smile. Binghe returns the smile tenfold and tickles his stomach, leading to the baby giggling.
Binghe is a great father, he thinks. It’s not something he has ever considered. PIDW didn’t exactly show Binghe as a righteous father who cared for all of his children. With the number of women in his harem and the constant papapa, drama and plotting among the wives for the throne became inevitable. It’s another difference of his Binghe from the novel. One that makes him feel all warm and tingly inside.
It must be the temperature in this room, he thinks as he begins to fan himself.
“Weifeng,” he repeats and then smiles at the father and son in front of him. “It's a beautiful name, Binghe.”
The rare jade in the peak. He thought that Binghe and Cang Qiong had cut ties with each other for sure. The two haven’t exactly been friendly with each other to say the least. But for Binghe to name their son as a remembrance to the peak they used to live in, it means a lot to him. He knows he’s willing to give up the peak for the safety of his son.
It’s not easy to suddenly prioritize a tiny being’s life over his but he’s trying. His peak had been something he had grown to love but Weifeng is someone he knows he loves and who needs him more than his peak. His peak is still running even if he has already been dead for half a decade. It’s no contest to see who needs him more.
Want though, is a different story altogether. In his ideal world, he can live in his peak as a peak lord while caring for his son. But as many events have told him already, this is his reality now. And reality involves making hard decisions.
Weifeng, he thinks as he sits beside Binghe and wipes the drool on Weifeng’s mouth. He’s not the best dad there is. But for Luo Weifeng, he will try. He has lived for himself the entire time he transmigrated, treating Binghe as a fictional character. He knows he tried to be kind but deep inside him, he also knows that kindness was conditional at some point. He knows he truly cared about Binghe but there is no denying that.
In his second life, he will definitely treat Binghe right and dedicate himself to his child. He knows the system is still there, just more eerily mute nowadays. He’ll roll with it should he need to go back to fixing the plot. But Wengfei and Binghe comes first now, he promises to himself.
The name Weifeng comes from 玮峰. Some names I considered were Jianya (as suggested by one of the readers) and Zhibao. I almost went with Zhibao because of its meaning but I can't find anyone else with the name besides that one researcher in google scholar so I went with Weifeng instead. I went with Weifeng because there are lots of people in linkedin and google researchgate with that name. At first I thought of making his name unique but I decided to play it safe rather than butcher it up. Besides, Weifeng has a nice meaning to it too.
I was supposed to add the going to Cang Qiong chapter here but I wanted to establish some emotional maturity for BInghe first. Binghe in the novel is very insecure. In the novel Binghe does still stay in Qing Jing with him in one of the extras but he's not exactly welcome there. He and SQQ even gets kicked out bec Bai Zhan disciples kept on wanting to challenge him. I think it shows that he's not exactly bothered with him OR SQQ leaving Qing Jing but he'd be okay, if not happy about it too. But in here he's mature enough to accept that SQQ having ties with other people doesnt break his ties with him. That's fixed bec SQQ has shown his want to stay with him and even commits to that. SQQ in the novel kept on running away from him, which is understandable bec Binghe wasn't exactly accommodating in his past life.
The difference with SQQ here too is that he's willing to go over and more to stay with Binghe and their son. Of course he still loves Cang Qiong but as a parent, he has different priorities now. Qing Jing was able to run without him for five years. Xiao Bing wouldn't be able to live a day without his qi. Cang Qiong has proven to be able to live without him. Xiao Bing cannot.
Xiao Bing is also lucky that he got picked up much older or else he would've been called Shasha (傻傻) or dummy by Shen Yuan thanks to that tumbr post i found about milk names hehe. Weifeng is already 6 months old by the time SY found him so it saved him a lot of late night crying and diaper changing. That's also why Weifeng can shove things inside his mouth. In three months he'll be in the infamous "no" phase of toddlers.
Also BTS released a new song hehe pls check it out, no I totally did not match my update with their song release: https://youtu.be/WMweEpGlu_U
It definitely had been a shock to Ning Yingying when she heard Liu-shishu. At first she thought she might have misheard him because Liu-shishu was not the type to joke around. In fact, between him and her shizun, her shizun would be the more crafty and mischievous one.
Then again she does not know the peak lord the same way her shizun did so there might have been a hidden depth to him. But still! Peak Lord Liu doesn't look like the type to joke at all!
That's why she doubted at first when she heard him say that Shen Qingqiu is alive. She knows people call her naive and foolish behind her back but she has learned since she was young. She might have been like that back then but she knows better anymore to simply believe things. She knows better now than to just believe anyone.
Despite it all, Ning Yingying can't help but want to believe that her shizun is still alive. She clearly saw Liu-shishu carry her shizun's body back. She nearly wept both in relief and mourning.
Relief for having her shizun's body back and being able to give him the proper rites finally after five years. Mourning because it's really a reminder that her shizun who spoiled her, who had been kind to her, really is dead.
She didn't want to admit it but there was something deep in her that hoped A-Luo would've found a way to really bring him back. But there was also a part of her mourning for A-Luo because she knows how much he loved, no, loves their shizun.
Everyone else in the peak hated and scorned him for taking their shizun's body away but she always knew how he looked at him. A-Luo always had this look in his eye that screamed admiration and devotion. She used to have a crush on him, she admits.
To be fair, practically half the women in their peak had a crush on him. It especially got worse when he blossomed from this skinny young boy who kept on being bullied into a fine and strong young man who also showed his sensibilities to them and their shizun.
But one look at how A-Luo looked at their shizun painted the entire landscape for her already. She might have been ditzy, naive, and foolish as a young girl but she wasn't naive to the matters of the heart.
Luo Binghe looked at their shizun as if he hung the stars and the moon in the sky. He looked at him with such adoration and devotion that it was impossible to not notice if you looked. And A-Luo didn't just look. He wanted to be closer to their shizun in every way that he could.
She remembers him fighting with other disciples for chores that involved the bamboo house or chores that involved their shizun directly. He even took the sweeping duties from her! Luo Binghe was not satisfied with just looking far away in devotion but he wanted to show it too.
She doesn't know what happened to Luo Binghe in the three years he was gone but she wishes he had seen their shizun during that time. The way their shizun went to the sword mound every day and acted lost, it was proof that her A-Luo's love and adoration were not one-sided. She knows that A-Luo loved shizun in a way a lover does and she's not sure about her shizun but she knows that her shizun loves him too in his own way.
Then the Jinlan city plague happened and it all fell down so quickly. Their shizun died unjustly, accused by other sects of colluding with demons and causing the plague. Oh up to now she still definitely hates that spoiled Little Palace Mistress and the Old Palace Master. If it weren't for them...if it weren't for them then their shizun might not have died, she used to think back then.
But then Liu-shishu told her, "It wasn't just them. He died because of Luo Binghe too."
And she knows that. She has heard of how her shizun self-destructed for Luo Binghe, who ended up being revealed as a half-demon. She doesn't know what A-Luo went through but she felt his cold indifference to their shizun back then when they accused him of abusing him. She didn't want to believe it at first. There was no way Luo Binghe of all people would believe that!
She thought that Binghe lost any sort of affection for their shizun after that. But then their shizun died. She saw how Binghe fought their Liu-shishu for the first time for their shizun's body. She saw how Binghe fought the other cultivators just to keep his body, yelling that he could fix this. That he's his shizun.
She thought he was half-mad with grief.
For five years, their Liu-shishu fought him for their shizun's body. For five years their Liu-shishu, the renowned war god, kept on losing. Every day he would come back wounded. He would come back with regret and with a stronger resolve to go back for his body the next day.
For five years, Luo Binghe fought Cang Qiong for their shizun's body. Some part of her hated that he kept him away from them. But the bigger part of her told her that she of all people knew how much their shizun meant to Luo Binghe. It wasn't right to keep him from getting a proper burial, that is definite. But A-Luo was someone who loved deeply and passionately.
To the rest of Qing Jing disciples, their shizun is great, to Luo Binghe, their shizun is the only one who is great. To Qing Jing disciples, their shizun is the sun, to Luo Binghe he is his galaxy.
That's why when Liu-shishu came back with their shizun's body, her first thought was that Binghe might have gone mad with rage. But then when their Liu-shishu said that he got away safely and Binghe didn't tail him, she still was on edge along with the rest of the mountain.
They waited for days for Luo Binghe to come and take back the body. But he didn't come. And now their Liu-shishu came back again with a conflicted look on his face saying that their shizun is actually alive.
She went to Jinlan City with Liu Qingge and Ming Fan, expecting disappointment and an empty heart. She convinced herself that maybe their Liu-shishu was just hallucinating. She told herself she’d escort their martial uncle to Mu-shishu right after they get this done with. She removed all possibility of a happy ending.
They were going to Jinlan City after all. This is a place that she doesn’t hold any good memories or hopes in. Though, it has improved ever since the plague was cleared. For her this was what triggered everything. If their shizun didn’t go to Jinlan to help the incompetent Huan Hua, he wouldn’t have been imprisoned. If their shizun didn’t go to Jinlan, then those false accusations against him wouldn’t be put forward. If their shizun didn’t go to Jinlan then Binghe wouldn’t…
She shakes her head as she and Ming Fan sit in the tea shop in silence, waiting for their martial uncle to come back.
Their shizun would still have sacrificed himself for Binghe. That was just the type of person he was. Sometimes she gets jealous of how much their shizun favors Luo Binghe, knowing that she used to be his favorite until he distanced himself a bit due to the unsavory gossip surrounding his favoritism towards her.
She doesn’t know if Binghe would still have that meltdown if their shizun didn’t go to Jinlan. She doesn’t know the exact details but she heard how it was his sword who caused his meltdown. If shizun wasn’t there, would Binghe still have experienced that? She wonders.
But it doesn’t matter now. What happened has already happened. And she has no doubt that their shizun would do it all over again for Luo Binghe in a heartbeat.
Her and Ming Fan perk up when they hear a commotion in the entrance of the tea shop. Ming Fan stands up and she follows but holds him back so they won’t add to the commotion. They make their way out of their booth to see what is happening.
Her eyes widen.
Others accused Binghe of doing 'things' to their shizun's corpse. Most said it in a vile way while some would say it as if it was something romantic. But she still remembered what Binghe yelled at them when their shizun died. He would fix it all. That he would bring their shizun back. And she didn’t doubt that he would try. She knows that he would do anything for their shizun.
She just didn’t think he would actually be able to do it.
“Yingying,” the man who looks quite like shizun greets her. “Ming Fan. It is good to see you again.”
Ning Yingying doesn’t quite run when goes to him but it’s close. Ming Fan would later deny crying but Ning Yingying would proudly say she cried upon seeing him again.
She’s about to hug him when she notices the baby in his arms. She gasps as she takes a closer look at the infant and sees a very familiar face.
She never quite believed the rumors surrounding Luo Binghe. A lot of the disciples in their peak don’t exactly hide their hatred towards him or their gossiping about how he cloned the Qing Jing Peak Lod. She knows he can get a bit...obsessive with his love for their shizun but she knows her A-Luo. The same obsessive Luo Binghe people keep on talking about is also the same Luo Binghe who used to hold himself back so many times out of respect for their shizun no matter how much he loved him.
But as she looks at the baby in her shizun’s arms, she can’t help but wonder how the baby came to be. The baby looks so much like their shizun but some parts of him seem different like his nose. She can’t quite put her finger on whose nose it looks like but it’s on the tip of her tongue.
“Shizun is this…”
Ming Fan gasps loudly. “Shizun! Oh no! Did that beast really clone you?!”
She sighs. Shixiong, any louder, and everyone in Jinlan would hear you. “Shixiong!”
“Shimei! How else can you explain shizun holding a baby who looks like him?!”
Liu Qingge appears behind Shen Qingqiu with a frown. “What’s going on here?”
As she looks at their martial uncle, a lightbulb in her brain lights up. That’s right! Didn’t Liu-shijie and the other martial sisters in Xian Shu talk about something like this before in their book meetings? One of them brought it up when they talked about the Resentment of Chusan before. If she could remember properly it was…
“Shizun!” She cries out and holds his free hand. “Congratulations! Oh! Oh! I just knew those rumors about A-Luo weren’t true! He loves you too much to be that cruel!”
Shen Qingqiu looks at her in confusion. “What?”
“Shimei, what are you talking about?” Ming Fan asks, equally confused. Ah, her dumb shixiong, she thinks fondly.
She puts her hands on her waist and harrumphs. “Isn’t it obvious? Xiao-shizun over here is his child!”
“That is correct Yingying,” He says with a smile. She preens under the praise. “This little one is no clone. He’s his own perfectly healthy person.”
“That’s right, shixiong,” she scolds him, raising one finger in front of his face. “Was it not obvious?”
She then turns to shizun with a beaming face. “This disciple congratulates Shizun for his healthy pregnancy! Although, is it too late to say that now? Since shizun’s child had already been born? Ah, it doesn’t matter. Still, congratulations shizun! I’m sure your pregnancy was hard because it was conventional but I’m so happy to see you and the baby made it!”
“Oh! Oh! I can’t wait to tell Liu-shijie in Xian Shu! She will be so happy! She also believed that A-Luo loved you, you know! She and the other shijies would be so overjoyed!”
“Ah, shizun! I know your baby looks older than 100 days now but can we still please throw a celebration for him? He looks so cute! I’m sure he will be so spoiled! I wonder what kind of father A-Luo is. Oh! Oh! Shizun should tell us! And don’t worry. This disciple will always be free to babysit for shizun!”
Shen Qingqiu sighs for what feels like the nth time this day as he hauls Xiao Bing, er, Feng’er up to burp him. He doesn’t even know how this works since Feng’er only drinks blood but he doesn’t want to think too deeply about biology in Airplane’s universe. His current body was grown from a mushroom so he can’t exactly judge his own son.
He takes in his surroundings. It has been so long since he last entered his own house. Feng’er whines and starts to gnaw on his shoulder.
“Was the whole thing too stressful for you?” He asks, patting his back gently while rocking him. “Please don’t puke on me…”
He knows that babies puke milk sometimes when burped or after feeding but if he remembers correctly, that’s only for newborns. Feng’er is way too big to have difficulties with taking in what he drinks but sometimes accidents happen. Accidents ruin his robes and get him drenched in blood. He’d have to get Feng’er checked by Mu-shidi while he’s here, he notes.
Mu Qingfang may not be a doctor for demons but he is the best and most knowledgeable doctor there is. Perhaps he’ll know what’s wrong with his son.
He’s so deep in his musings that he doesn’t hear the door opening. It’s only until Feng’er gurgles on his shoulders that he realizes that they’re not alone anymore.
He turns around and gapes. “Zhangmen-shixiong.”
Yue Qingyuan looks like he’s one step away from bursting into tears. It’s not emotional for Shen Qingqiu at all. It feels all awkward. One of the most popular theories in Proud Immortal Demon Way forums was that the original goods had a history with the sect leader given how lenient he was towards the original goods.
Some theorized that Shen Qingqiu probably had blackmail material against him. Some sub-theories mentioned it was about his sword. But of course, as with every novel, every media, fiction or non-fiction, there were also shippers in the fandom. A lot of them were straight and horny men who fought over who was the best girl among the 600+ and counting harem. There was a constant bloodbath in the forums to the point that moderators had to make it a rule not to talk about ships in the harems.
But of course, there were also the gay shippers. He didn’t see much of them besides the Yue Qingyuan and Shen Qingqiu shippers during his time as Peerless Cucumber in the forums as he was often busy typing up pages long scathing reviews on Airplane’s updates. But he had seen them. A lot of them actually rooted for the original goods and Yue Qingyuan’s relationship.
At first, he thought it might have been bull because why would Airplane write a gay couple in this ragingly straight stallion novel? But ever since he transmigrated into the novel, he had to keep on telling himself that Yue Qingyuan doesn’t have feelings for him just so he doesn’t believe it. It’s easier to forget about it since they don’t cross paths much due to their responsibilities but when they do, he always has to remind himself of that.
Now, with Yue Qingyuan standing in front of him, he can’t help but think that maybe...the shippers were right. He’s still a straight man himself, that’s for sure. But perhaps it’s the resurrection that’s giving him a new outlook on life. And one of those new outlooks is that the sect leader definitely looks at him in more than just a brotherly way.
And it’s definitely making him feel even more awkward.
“Zhangmen-shixiong,” he repeats, trying to keep his voice normal while still burping his son. Fascinating to see you here? Nice seeing you here? What can he even say? “You’re...here.”
“I thought they were tricking me,” Yue Qingyuan whispers and steps closer to him. He tries to reach out but stops himself. Thank god, because Shen Qingqiu would’ve definitely stepped back and made this even more awkward. “But you’re here. I can’t believe it. I thought...I told myself I wouldn’t hope anymore. That I wouldn’t imagine that it’s just a big nightmare anymore.”
Technically, I still died but I just got back because I planned my death and I already had a body waiting for me. It just took me like 5 years to revive myself which is way later than what was scheduled. He wants to say but he doesn’t.
“You are...Xiao Jiu is here,” He says tearily. And uh-oh, it seems like he’s moving to cup his face, he thinks panicked. “Qi-ge is so happy to see Xiao Jiu again.”
“Shixiong, please step back a bit,” he blurts out right when Yue Qingyuan is in front of him. “I have...ah…”
Oh gods, he sweats nervously. Everything just seems like it’s just one step to more awkwardness. He wishes that lightning would strike outside his house, Liu Qingge to wreck his door, or Binghe to appear at the last minute. Anything to help him get out of this situation really.
“Is that…” Yue Qingyuan trails off. “Why is Xiao Jiu holding a baby?”
He perks up. Oh Xiao Bing, you truly are father’s lucky charm, he thinks in amazement.
“This is Xiao Bing, er, Weifeng I mean,” he says, proudly and adjusts his hold on the baby so that he’s facing the sect leader properly. The baby looks at him blearily, obviously having gotten comfortable with his shoulder. He must’ve fallen asleep again. It’s a talent of his really. “But I call him Feng’er. I used to call him Xiao Bing but I officially named him recently so it’s still taking some time to get used to.”
“Feng’er,” he breathes out and reaches a hand towards him. “Weifeng. That’s a pretty name.”
“It is, isn’t it? He’s the rare jade in the peak,” he says fondly and places a soft kiss on the tuft of hair on the top of his head. It’s growing quite thick and well, just like his father’s. “His father named him.”
Yue Qingyuan smiles at him. “Xiao Jiu chose his name well.”
He coughs into his free hand. Well, there it is again. They’re back to the awkward talk. Should he break it to him right now? It’ll probably be better to tell the sect leader right now, right? Now that he has an inkling of the depth of Yue Qingyuan’s feelings towards the original goods, he won’t be making the mistake of thinking that the sect leader won’t kill him and his son right here because his son is Luo Binghe’s biological son...right?
“Actually,” he trails off. As if sensing his hesitance, Xiao Bing grabs one of his fingers and tightens his hold on it. He smiles at him. “I didn’t choose his name. His other father did.”
Rip it off quick Shen Qingqiu, he thinks. Like a band-aid. “His other father. Luo Binghe. Weifeng’s full name is Luo Weifeng.”
Oh gods, did he break the sect leader? Well anyway, he can handle that. He ripped the band-aid off already. Maybe he’s mean for thinking that Yue Qingyuan can handle himself and this news like an adult but he won’t let others shame him for doing this. If he had it his way, none of this would be happening. But he has a child to prioritize first. Yue Qingyuan can mend his heart, he’ll have plenty of time to do that. He doesn’t need him anymore.
There’s this sour and guilty feeling inside him reminding him that technically he took away the original goods from Yue Qingyuan. But whatever there was between the two of them, it’s all gone now. He never asked to be transmigrated and held hostage by a google voice god. Blame him all you want, but he’s literally just doing what he can to survive.
Whatever there was between the original Shen Qingqiu and Yue Qingyuan, it’s gone and there is no chance of making it come true in this lifetime or in the original PIDW timeline. Their story ended tragically in PIDW too with Yue Qingyuan dead and Shen Qingqiu broken and going mad over Yue Qingyuan’s death. He can’t do anything about that and he wouldn’t. That’s not his priority and it’s not in his power either.
Xiao Bing is. Ensuring that he grows up healthy, loved, and in peace is his priority.
He is Shen Qingqiu now. Shen Yuan is Shen Qingqiu now. If there is one thing he has learned since he woke up in his new body, it’s that things are vastly different now. The original plot practically doesn’t matter anymore. He had learned to accept that even though he was not originally Shen Qingqiu, he is now. As long as he’s still in this lifetime, there is no separating Shen Yuan and Shen Qingqiu. Shen Yuan is Shen Qingqiu. He can’t let sentimentalities or guilt about the original goods get in the way especially not when he asked none of this.
“It’s why I came here to Cang Qiong. To Zhangmen-shixiong.”
This seems to snap him out of his trance. “Xiao Jiu?”
“This one...This one is unsure of how he can be a father and the Qing Jing peak lord," he says, slowly. It's hard to say even for him. Being a peak lord is all he has ever known after all. He also likes being the peak lord. "I have a son now Zhangmen-shixiong. He will always come first. I want him to grow up without any threat to his life."
"Shidi!" Yue Qingyuan exclaims, grabbing his hand. "Shidi...Xiao Jiu...You don't have to go this far! Xiao Jiu--"
"Qingqiu can be a peak lord and a father," he doesn't let the correction deter him. "Whatever Qingqiu needs to raise his son, I will provide. He does not have to leave the sect or his position."
Shen Qingqiu sighs and looks at his son before looking back at the sect leader. "Will shixiong still say that even if I say that my son is a half-demon? I have already mentioned that Luo Binghe is the other father. He is not the father only in name. My son is a half heavenly demon like his father. Moreover, he is not a normal human either. He is cut from the same plant that my current body is in. He grew from my own plant body.
So shixiong, will you still accept Feng'er and I into your sect knowing full well of what he is? Of what we are? Because I will not settle for anything but full acceptance for my son.”
"Nevermind that," he sighs, already knowing the answer. He wants to curse the original goods so badly for letting a man as devoted like this go and for hurting him whenever he could. "Will the other peak lords agree? Zhangmen-shixiong is the sect leader but he cannot expect everyone to have the same opinion as him."
"Liu-shidi will agree," he immediately responds. Shen Qingqiu smiles wryly at that. Because of course Liu Qingge will agree too. "As for those who do not agree, shidi shouldn't worry. As long as I am here, I will protect you and your son."
"While I appreciate it, it is not zhangmen-shixiong’s duty to protect Feng’er,” he corrects him. “It is mine as one of his parents. This one is happy to know that there are people Feng’er can depend on besides his parents but for now, it is up to us to ensure that he will be protected.”
He has already failed one child through Luo Binghe when he pushed him into the abyss. He will not make the same mistake with his son. It was his selfishness to want to live through this novel that made Binghe suffer. Now, he cannot be as selfish as before.
Yue Qingyuan looks at him with misty eyes. He clutches his hand in his. “This shixiong begs Qingqiu to think about it over. Stay here for a couple of days and see if you and your son will be able to adjust. This is a decision--”
The door slams open. There is only one person so eloquent enough to be doing that.
“Liu-shidi,” he sighs. “Would you please tone it down? You’ve startled Xiao Bing here.”
“What do you mean you’re planning to step down?”
"You can't step down!" Liu Qingge glares. "Do you seriously want your disciple to be the next peak lord?!"
"Did that ingrate do something to you?!"
"If shidi would let this shixiong talk," Shen Qingqiu loudly interrupts his yelling. "Then he would know that this shixiong didn't plan on having Ming Fan succeed me. He is too...immature at the moment. His mouth will get him in trouble in no time. I was planning to switch the position of Head Disciple to Ning Yingying though it would be troublesome as she has not been trained to be one or to replace a peak lord. Although, there will still be ways to go before the Qing generation steps down, giving her enough time to be trained."
"That’s exactly what I mean!" Liu Qingge’s nose flares. “The peak lords step down together. Even if you leave your position, it will still be empty with no one to fill it to train your disciple.”
"I plan on focusing my time on raising my son. He doesn't deserve anything less than my full attention. He doesn’t deserve not to see his or live with his other father either. He deserves both of us," he says, smoothing over the baby's hair. "That for sure is the only thing permanent. But if the peak lords have anything else to suggest, then they should say it now. If you can suggest anything better that will not let Cang Qiong be seen as demon sympathizers and let Binghe and I raise our son, then feel free to say so.”
The ensuing silence answers bitterly for him. He knows. He knows that he has to choose. For years after all, it has been the only thing he has done. Choose his life over Binghe’s. Choose Cang Qiong over Binghe. Binghe had mentioned before that he has always smiled at Cang Qiong, and has always chosen Cang Qiong over him. At the time he did not understand it. But now he does.
He refuses to let Binghe feel that way again and he refuses any path in the future that may possibly let their son feel similarly.
“Binghe is still...Binghe is still seen by the cultivation world as evil,” he says, closing his eyes. “Do not get it wrong. We are not husbands. We are not married. But we are a family especially since we have Feng’er now. Cang Qiong is my family too but Cang Qiong has survived without me. If I had it my way, I would stay in Cang Qiong, raise my Xiao Bing to be a little disciple of Qing Jing. That is the ideal scenario for me. But as it is, I cannot take any risks with Xiao Bing. Cang Qiong’s name cannot be smeared either.”
Yue Qingyuan’s face does not smooth over. “Then this shixiong suggests shidi mention it to other peak lords. It is not a decision I can approve on my own.”
That’s not what you’ve been doing to me and the original goods for years but okay, Shen Qingqiu thinks and suppressed the desire to roll his eyes.
“I agree,” Liu Qingge intones. “And if you step down, I will step down too. The Qing generation steps down together.”
Shen Qingqiu does not suppress the desire to whack him in the head with the nearest fan his hands find. “You are too hasty shidi! This one’s retirement should not affect yours. The Qing generation still lives on regardless if I step down or not. Despite this being a selfish and personal decision of mine, this one cannot deny the fact that it would also be for the good of the sect.”
“How is a peak lord stepping down for the good of the sect?”
“This one’s body is not his old body. I do not have my old face. The rest of the world still views Shen Qingqiu as dead and Luo Binghe as the murderer even though those are false. And what will the sect say should the world learn I am alive again? Zhangmen-shixiong, how will you explain it to the other sects? How will you explain that the once dead peak lord now occupies a new body and is carrying an infant who has a mark similar to Luo Binghe?”
“Is this what Luo Binghe told you to say?” Liu Qingge growls.
Shen Qingqiu snaps at him. “He did not coerce me into anything. This is all my own doing shidi. I have discussed it with Binghe before and he even stated that I am free to choose whatever I want and do whatever I feel like. He knows where I am and what I planned to do.”
After that, the room erupts in silence. Liu Qingge is still simmering in what he said while Yue Qingyuan furrows his brows together. Shen Qingqiu ignores the thick tension between the three of them and carefully pours himself tea. Weifeng tries to reach for his cup but he simply pulls it away from him. His son has slowly but surely gotten more attracted to normal human food but since they are not sure yet when it would be safe for them to wean him off of qi and blood, they decided not to feed him normal food yet.
“Is that so shidi?”
He blinks and nods. “Yes, zhangmen-shixiong. This is all on me.”
“This shixiong...This shixiong is afraid that he cannot let you go just yet,” Yue Qingyuan replies and smiles bitterly. “Not just as your Qi-ge but also as your sect leader. You are...Qingqiu is needed and important to his zhangmen-shixiong just as Xiao Jiu is needed and important to his Qi-ge. But I cannot deny you of your wishes to raise your son either. To rip Xiao Jiu away from his son would be cruel of me.”
“Nevertheless, I still hope to have Qingqiu here in the sect. He has worked hard for his position. I admit, ever since your death I have not seen Luo Binghe in a good light. But just as Qingqiu is willing to make sacrifices for his family, I am willing to do so too. I’d like to ask for an audience with you and Luo Binghe to discuss how we can go about this decision. You do not have to give up being a peak lord. Let us discuss this,” he says. “Would Qingqiu indulge me on this one?”
so uhhh 2 months delay? ehe. this really had been written in full for months but i didn't know how to end it. I've been busy with work and genshin impact too. The game is fun enough. let's play co-op when we can!!
Compared to canon, SQQ is more observant of yqy's feelings but that's bec he had more time to internalize and understand everything rather than see everyone as a novel character. also, mxtx is releasing physical copies of her novels in English, I'm hoping to buy svsss and mdzs since the translations for tgcf are already stellar. tho i still plan to buy them one day. hopefully.