After Shen Qingqiu pushed Luo Binghe into the Abyss, sure the System rewarded him with 10,000 points, but Luo Binghe's incredible heartbreak points broke the System a little bit. Not only did this render Shen Qingqiu's point totals back to zero, but, well…
"A qi deviation?"
"Yes, peak lord Shen had another one!"
"Has it affected his memory again? Or his personality?"
"They say he can't remember anything from the immortal alliance conference."
"That makes sense, he must be grieving for that favorite disciple of his."
"Shh! Don't speak of Luo Binghe around him! He might qi deviate again!"
It was true, Shen Qingqiu had another memory altering qi deviation. To others, it seemed to only make him forget the events of the immortal alliance conference— perhaps peak lord Shen had witnessed his disciple's bloody death at the hands of demons and his mind was too shaken to allow him to recall the scene ever again, a shield over his fragile heart. But the memory loss was deeper than anyone, save the author, could really understand—
Shen Qingqiu had forgotten he was in a story, and he had forgotten his role in the plot.
Modern life, what modern life, ah? Shen Qingqiu never remembered a Shen Yuan. He had always been Luo Binghe's master so far as he could remember! He remembered being harsher to Binghe in the beginning in a detached way like they were a script he read rather than his own experiences, but whatever. He couldn't remember what happened at the conference and it ate him up inside with worry whether Binghe was safe, alive or not. He couldn't remember Binghe dying, and no one found his body, so there could be a chance… .. right?
All the while the disciples worried Shizun wasn't eating, hardly sleeping, or sleeping too much, and walking in a daze in most things. He often kneeled at the sword mound he'd erected for Binghe.
Time passed, and soon enough it'd been three years, and still Shen Qingqiu mourned like it'd been yesterday.
Sometimes the sect leader sent Shen Qingqiu on missions— with plenty of help, of course— in hopes it would distract his shidi from his suffering. This time with Jinlan City was no different. Though he worried for Shen Qingqiu's safety in the sowers case, Mu shidi and Liu shidi would accompany him and keep him safe.
So Shen Qingqiu went, trying to focus on the tasks at hand one mystery at a time. Witnessing the effects of the sowers disease was— difficult, but Mu shidi was working on a cure, everything would work out fine. As he passed by a particular establishment, he froze dead in place as he thought he heard a familiar voice coming from inside.
"... Qingqiu?" Liu shidi asked. Shen Qingqiu didn't resume breathing until he felt his hand squeeze his shoulder.
"I- I thought… I heard…" Shen Qingqiu swallowed. He shouldn't even finish that sentence, it would sound ridiculous. Or it would sound ridiculous to Liu shidi, and Liu shidi would insist on taking him back to his inn room to sleep the rest of the day off instead of working on this case like everyone else. He wasn't some delicate maiden prone to faint at any reminder of Binghe! He was a peak lord cultivator, dammit, and the people needed their help in this epidemic.
"I'm fine," Shen Qingqiu shrugged off and resumed a placid smile. They walked past the establishment without ever going inside, to meet the Huan Hua disciples that would have awaited them upstairs.
Later, Shen Qingqiu would walk past alleys and swear he saw black curls, or a flash of red eyes. He would tell himself he was seeing things, hearing things, he must be a little tired and stressed is all, he'd feel better in the morning surely, oh he'd definitely feel better once the sowers case was solved and done with, and he was back in his— empty, lonely— bamboo house.
That night, feeling too fitfull to go to sleep, he left the stifling safety of his inn room and went for a night walk by himself. Liu Shidi would call it unwise, but Liu Shidi wasn't here to scold him. He was a peak lord and he could take care of himself.
Little did he know red eyes followed him from the shadows.
When Shen Qingqiu wandered, and the shadows grew longer and darker, and he found himself a little lost, he wound up in an empty alley.
Not as empty as he'd thought.
He whirled around.
A man stood before him. He bore Huan Hua disciples robes in a large and strong frame. Long black curls framed his face.
"Binghe," Shen Qingqiu gasped, certain he must be seeing things. But would his grief-stricken mind come up with this fantasy? He couldn't imagine how Binghe might look all grown after three years apart, and yet, something deep down in his brain recognized this is exactly how a grown Binghe should look.
"This disciple truly never expected to see," he said, taking a step closer, "Shizun in this place."
"Binghe…? Is it really you?" He scarcely breathed out. He lifted a hand, intending to touch Binghe's face to feel its warmth. Instead, Binghe snatched his wrist and looked down at it.
"Shizun has been careless," his voice stutters, "Shizun has been infected with the sowers disease?"
Oh, Shen Qingqiu thought. He'd almost forgotten about that. Mu shidi was working on a cure so he would be fine soon enough. It wasn't anything so bad to deal with in the meantime.
"Shizun must allow this disciple to heal it."
"Binghe!" Shen Qingqiu said a little louder. His breaths were getting quick now, and Binghe seemed to notice, looking at him with such an intense stare. "Where have you been all this time?! I've worried sick about you! I don't see you in three years and you— you turn up here! Have you been with Huan Hua this whole time? You wouldn't visit your old master and let him know you're still alive ?"
Binghe's eyes widened. His intense look gave way to confusion and bewilderment, and beneath it all, he looked a white lotus still.
Shen Qingqiu wrenched his wrist away and smacked Binghe's chest— lightly— like a kitten batting at its caretaker. "I- I don't remember what happened at the conference, but surely if you survived the attacks you could have come home sooner, or sent a message? Or have you stopped caring about your old master? Where were you hiding all this time?"
"S-Shizun," he said breathily.
"Why didn't my Binghe come back to me?"
Shen Qingqiu didn't realize he'd started crying until Binghe brushed tear tracks off his cheeks. Binghe was closer now, so much closer. He felt Binghe's hot breaths on his cheek. He closed his eyes.
"Shizun does not recall anything from that time?"
Shen Qingqiu shook his head.
"Shizun doesn't remember… how…?"
"...qi deviation…" Shen Qingqiu mumbled. "It's not so serious, I'm alright now, I just…"
Binghe took in a sharp breath. "Shizun. Shizun ."
He wasn't sure who started it but mere moments later, they were in a tight embrace, holding on to each other like their lives depended on it. Shen Qingqiu nearly felt that way, like if he loosened his hold any, Binghe might slip away from him again. He- he couldn't go through such a thing again. He was so hurt and angry thinking of Binghe taking another shizun at Huan Hua, of Binghe leaving again for that sect the moment the sowers case was solved. What could have made his sweet little sheep abandon him so thoroughly? What made his white lotus renounce him as shizun? And yet, the relief that Binghe was alive at all was so overwhelming, it flooded him from head to toe, and it almost made the rest of it not matter so much.
"Shizun needn't remember the conference," Binghe whispered, "It is nothing worth remembering. What matters is we are together again."
"You joined another sect…"
"And now that this disciple knows Shizun is alright," he breathes in shakily, "this disciple will not leave Shizun's side again, if Shizun will have me."
Like a balm on his once broken heart, the words fill Shen Qingqiu with warmth and much needed reassurance. "Of course you're welcome home," Shen Qingqiu sniffed. "You're still a disciple of Cang Qiong, you're still my boy."
" Shizun ," Binghe wept openly now, the tears dampening Shen Qingqiu's shoulder, not that he minded at all.
"I kept your room just as you left it," Shen Qingqiu whispered gently, "Your bed is still there, though perhaps it's a little small for you now, and you'll have outgrown your old robes, but we'll fix that for you once you—"
Shen Qingqiu was cut off with a hungry kiss to his mouth. It left him utterly blindsided, and in the shock he gasped open his mouth. This only allowed Binghe to slip his tongue inside, messily and inexperienced and eager.
Now, Shen Qingqiu felt indignant and awfully confused about this development. But maybe it was the emotionally charged atmosphere of this whole reuniting, but Shen Qingqiu… didn't have the heart to just push Binghe away . Binghe would feel so embarrassed and ashamed, to be rejected like that after such a heartfelt reunion. It would probably be better to just let this happen, and then they'd both blame the kiss later on as a "heat of the moment" thing they'd both forget ever happened, and all would be well.
Yes, Shen Qingqiu thought, this was a better way to handle the situation than just pushing Binghe away and making Binghe feel sad!
That's why he kissed back. That's all. Yeah.
Mind you, Binghe was really bad at this. Really bad. He was all teeth and spit and no finesse. Not that Shen Qingqiu had much experience in this either, but. He knew the mechanics! Sort of, probably. And wasn't he Binghe's teacher in all things? It was practically his job to teach Binghe better than this.
He smacked Binghe's head just a little bit with his fan, to get his attention or make him pull back. But somehow smacking Binghe's head with his fan had the opposite effect. Binghe groaned, pressing his full body up to Shen Qingqiu's, backing them up against the alley wall. This made Shen Qingqiu hyper-aware of how much larger and taller Binghe was now. He felt hard muscle press up against him even under layers of robes. He also felt something else rather hard pressing against his stomach insistently.
Binghe! What! What is the size of that thing! What are you hiding between your legs and how do you lug that thing around!!! That's not a pillar, that's a whole third leg!
He would have said this out loud, maybe, but Binghe was still biting up his mouth like a dog.
And it was embarrassing, but his own pillar was, ah, responding a bit to all the, stimulation…
So it would only be hypocritical at this point, to call Binghe out for having an involuntary reaction. After all, boners happen all the time for the strangest reasons. It was only natural it'd happen while kissing, and in an emotionally charged situation too. Ah, now he really didn't want to make Binghe feel insecure about this, it was a natural bodily reaction he shouldn't have to feel ashamed about. So what could he do to help make the situation less awkward for the both of them? To make this less shameful for poor Binghe?
He could probably just, help Binghe rub one off quickly, as a gesture of goodwill…
Binghe growled like an animal when Shen Qingqiu touched the— sizable bulge. Binghe pulled away and a string of saliva connected their lips. His eyes were dilated. Shen Qingqiu gulped, breathing hard to catch his breath.
It all kind of short-circuited Shen Qingqiu's brain. So what came out of his mouth next was, not an explanation that he was doing this as a favor, but simply, "Let this master take care of you," he said as he squeezed the bulge gently.
"Please," Binghe whined, rutting his bulge up towards Shen Qingqiu's seeking hand, "please, please, Shizun please ."
Ah, how could he hold off any longer with his sweet, grown boy pleading like so? Binghe soon did away with— no, ripped away any clothing covering his pillar. Shen Qingqiu had half a mind to tell him he'd regret destroying his clothes in the heat of the moment, but was too preoccupied by the sight of that— that— that engorged monstrosity. The size of Binghe's pillar was incomprehensible, and he wondered how any woman he bedded could possibly take such a size inside her.
Somehow, thinking about Binghe with a woman made his stomach churn. The thought of Binghe playing around with women and bedding a harem for all he knew, while Shen Qingqiu was all alone on his peak, out of his mind with grief and worry….
"Shizun!" Binghe yelped, because Shen Qingqiu had just very suddenly gripped his pillar very tightly.
He was about to apologize— why did he just do that!!— but then Binghe's yelp turned into such a satisfied moan, and he thrust his pillar up into Shen Qingqiu's hands eagerly, loving the mean treatment.
...Was his boy secretly a masochist??
Well…. Shen Qingqiu thought, he supposed it wouldn't hurt if Binghe liked this…
So he spat in his hand and brought it back to that pillar, squeezing tighter than he'd think comfortable, and Binghe seemed to love it. Emboldened, he took his other hand to Binghe's stones, giving a light pressure there. Binghe moaned like a whore at that, and now Shen Qingqiu really felt himself blushing.
"No, no no don't stop, don't stop," Binghe begged with tears in his eyes the moment Shen Qingqiu got flustered and started to withdraw his hand back. "Squeeze them as hard as you like, it feels so good, I need it so bad, this disciple needs it."
Binghe! Do you invite all your women to squeeze your stones like grapes!
Thinking about Binghe's conquests again made him agitated and emboldened, against his better judgment, and so he did squeeze his balls harder. The sound Binghe made in pleasure went straight to Shen Qingqiu's own groin. By this point Binghe was leaking copious amounts of precome, it was almost alarming and inhuman. He just decided to go along with it though, it added more lube to go along with his spit slicked hand, and made the glide along Binghe's cock slicker as he pumped his hand in earnest now.
Binghe's chants of "Shizun, Shizun, Shizun," were really getting to him and he could almost overlook the pain growing in his wrists for how long this was taking. Binghe, surely you were close to coming soon now? How much more attention do you need, ah? This old man gets tired easily!
But only a moment later, Shen Qingqiu felt himself being lifted off the ground entirely, and pinned to the wall. He squawked and fumbled with what to do with his legs until deciding to just wrap them around Binghe's waist, just for somewhere to place them. This brought Binghe's pillar flush with his own (still clothed) hard on. And like an animal, Binghe ripped his clothing to fix that situation, and rutted his pillar against Shen Qingqiu's now-exposed cock. The cool night air on his skin, and the hot pressure of Binghe's massive length felt so overwhelmingly good on his sensitive cock. He let out an embarrassing moan— one that Binghe quickly smothered with a slobbering kiss. Unsure what to do with his hands now, Shen Qingqiu simply took the chance to wrap them around Binghe's neck like a sort of embrace at this point. Ah, he thought distantly, he'd missed the feel of Binghe's hair, he'd missed running a hand through those curls. So he couldn't help but run his hands through it now, even tugging on the strands a bit at times, only when Binghe was thrusting a little too fast or biting too hard. It seemed to only spur him on more though. Shen Qingqiu found himself coming all too soon, spilling all over his stomach and robes. He wondered faintly how he would get back to the inn in this disheveled state. Maybe he could draw up a bath for himself and Binghe when they got back, ah, Binghe would be a mess too. And they had already done this much, so bathing together wouldn't be weird. Yes, Shen Qingqiu thought, Binghe needed to come back with him tonight, he wasn't allowed to leave him after this and go back to sleep wherever the Huan Hua disciples were staying. With that thought in mind he bit Binghe's neck a little too hard, a little too possessively. Binghe (finally) came with a groan so loud he had half a mind to wonder if the whole of Jinlan had heard it, and then thought smugly that that would be just fine if they did . Binghe was his boy. His .
Binghe shuddered with his whole body through the aftershocks as he came and came, making a mess of their robes between them, hot and sticky and absolutely everywhere. Shen Qingqiu was almost alarmed at how long and how much Binghe came, wondering again how any human could do that. But it's not like Shen Qingqiu had ever been with another man before, obviously, he wasn't gay. So maybe Binghe was very normal and Shen Qingqiu just came very little in comparison? Possibly.
"Look at this mess," Shen Qingqiu chided affectionately, "Look at this mess my disciple made, you'll have to clean this up you know, you should come back to my inn room and do our laundry and run us a bath. And make me breakfast tomorrow."
"This disciple would love nothing more," Binghe's voice cracked with emotion on the words, an incredible smile breaking his face. "This disciple will prepare all of Shizun's meals for the both of us, and make Shizun's bed for the both of us, and draw Shizun's baths for the both of us."
"And tell your little shimei and shijie at Huan Hua that you'll be with your old master from now on."
Binghe nodded like an excited puppy eager to please. "This disciple will renounce that sect at once, Huan Hua meant nothing to me, nothing at all, Shizun."
Shen Qingqiu pressed his thumb on Binghe's kiss bitten lip. "Good. Very good. I have such a good boy…"
"I'm your good boy?" Binghe sniffed.
"My most good boy. My favorite disciple. You're coming home and you're not leaving me again." Shen Qingqiu sniffed.
"Never," he swore, squeezing Shen Qingqiu tight.
That night, Binghe carried Shen Qingqiu back to the inn, and thankfully no one saw them in that embarrassing state as it was the dead of night. Binghe drew up a bath for the both of them as promised, and even helped bathe Shen Qingqiu quite thoroughly, rubbing his large calloused hands on every inch of exposed skin. Brushing over his nipples and making Shen Qingqiu shudder. Playing with Shen Qingqiu's pillar more, probably just as a thank-you for Shen Qingqiu's earlier attempt at a hand job for Binghe. He drew another orgasm out of Shen Qingqiu that made a mess of the bath water. But Shen Qingqiu felt so relaxed and happy and near sleep that he couldn't mind much.
Binghe got him dressed for bed, and Binghe made his bed, and Binghe tucked him in for sleep, and Binghe joined him on the mattress, as there was only one bed in the inn room and he wasn't about to make Binghe sleep on the floor. He found he didn't want Binghe moving more than a few inches away from him. Having Binghe so near, being able to touch him and know he was really there and real , was so healing on his years of loneliness without him. And Binghe was such a sweet boy, hugging Shen Qingqiu in an embrace while they slept and letting Shen Qingqiu hug him back just as tight. By morning he'd almost forgotten about the sowers plague at all, he was so caught up in happiness to have his sweet wonderful Binghe back.
When they later came across Huan Hua disciples, some shimeis and shijies that glared at Shen Qingqiu for taking their Luo shixiong, Shen Qingqiu just held Binghe's hand and glared right back at them, as if daring them to steal Binghe back. As if daring them to prove their pretty looks and ample bosoms were worth more to Binghe than his own Shizun. Binghe, for his part, was smiling so stunningly at their joined hands that he didn't even spare his own Huan Hua martial sisters a glance. He told the martial sisters he was leaving them behind, in a voice as icy as his namesake. And he told his Shizun, in a warm and loving voice, that he didn't care for their opinions on the matter.
Later, Mu shidi was about to administer a cure to Shen Qingqiu when they both noticed his infection had miraculously disappeared. Shen Qingqiu had hardly even thought about it since before he ran into Binghe, he wondered what on earth had healed him. Actually… in a lot of ways he felt healthier than ever lately, aside from Without a Cure. Maybe it was all the good food Binghe was cooking him? Maybe Binghe had put something special in his food without worrying Shen Qingqiu about the details? And even with Without a Cure still in his system, Binghe had so graciously offered to help clear Shen Qingqiu's meridians for the time being so that Liu Shidi could focus on other things. Shen Qingqiu was rather relieved, he hated to burden his shidi with the task so often after so many years. Binghe even seemed happy to do it, so it was a win for everybody.
And later still, when the sowers situation was dealt with, the oddest plot twist happened: the Old Palace Master was put on trial! Apparently, he had been plotting to blame Shen Qingqiu for the sowers epidemic, among other made-up crimes like killing the Qiu's and "trying to kill his own disciple at the immortal alliance conference." Of course no one of his own sect believed any of it for a second, but what sent a thrill in his heart was how vehemently Binghe defended him, and how Binghe singlehandedly turned the whole trial around on Lao Gongzhu. Somehow he'd acquired a truth telling artifact that forced Lao Gongzhu to admit to his wrongdoings going back decades. He was found guilty of plotting against Binghe's own mother, and something else about an old heavenly demon, but Shen Qingqiu hadn't been around to hear that part of the trial— he'd had a sudden bout of nausea, and Binghe offered to take him to leave the premises while everyone else concluded the trial.
In any case, Binghe explained to him how the story wrapped up, and Lao Gongzhu was going to get justice served to him. Shen Qingqiu apologized for his anger at Binghe for joining Huan Hua— he understood now, Binghe must have been seeking out the truth about his birth parents and found out about Su Xiyan somehow. He must have been waiting all this time for an opportunity to seek revenge on the Old Palace Master for taking his mother away from him. How could Shen Qingqiu blame Binghe for being away from home so long, for a reason like that? Even if he didn't know all the details, Binghe might tell him more in time. And if not, no matter, because he had Binghe back and Binghe promised not to leave again.
It would be a while still before their relationship would develop more, until the day they'd dual cultivate for real. That day, Shen Qingqiu will get his memories back the moment Luo Binghe releases inside of him, which will also be the day he is cured of Without a Cure. And that day, Shen Qingqiu will have already come to understand Binghe truly loves him and never sought revenge on his Shizun for anything— so Shen Qingqiu will have nothing to fear once he remembers Binghe is half Heavenly Demon. And Shen Qingqiu will tell his Binghe he remembers, he knows, that Binghe is a demon, and that it's ok, he doesn't hate Binghe for his blood at all— and Binghe will weep openly, finally letting go of the last of his anxieties: that Shizun would hate him again if he ever found out. No, Shizun didn't hate him at all, and never could. Binghe was his boy. His favorite, sweet boy he loved so much.