Shen Qingqiu had been waiting for the other shoe to drop for months.
His caution was earned, okay!? Between everything that happened to lead up to Maigu Ridge, then Luo Bingge cutting his way into this universe, and the general bullshit the System tended to throw at him, Shen Qingqiu knew better than to think he was safe from shenanigans! Yet, when months passed following his marriage to Luo Binghe and nothing came to threaten their safety or marriage (disregarding the stray wife plot that seemed to only strengthen Binghe’s devotion to him), Shen Qingqiu started to relax enough to reflect on things.
Despite his thin face and reticent nature, Shen Qingqiu was well and truly happy with Luo Binghe as his disciple turned husband. He split his time between Qing Jing Peak and the demon realm, both Peak Lord and Empress, and was almost always by his husband’s side. Binghe remained characteristically sticky after their marriage and his Protagonist Halo had finally kicked in when they were… intimate with each other.
Which occurred frequently enough that Shen Qingqiu preferred not to think about it. What else could he expect from a Stallion Protagonist turned devoted monogamist? And what was Shen Qingqiu going to do now that it didn’t injure him and he found himself enjoying being close to Binghe? Say no?!
So his life was rather charmed now that the threat of torture from the one he cherished the most was firmly off the table. Most days, everything felt perfect, like nothing could improve their situation.
But, sometimes, the guilt of his continued silence around his true identity weighed heavily on Shen Qingqiu.
He hated that Binghe thought he was the same Shizun who had poured tea on him and abused him for years. Shen Qingqiu couldn’t stand how much Binghe associated loving him with pain. He knew that some of that was his own fault, but most of it was not! Between Shen Jiu and the System threatening him with literal death, Shen Qingqiu never would have hurt his black lotus so much!
There were times when he was plagued by the thought of what he would have done differently if he had known what he knew now, or how he would have taken care of Binghe without the System’s mandates. It was a futile exercise, but could he have done something to save more of his love’s sanity? Could he have ensured that his only family had not died, that he did not have to tend to his corpse for five years on his own? Or could he have–
It was useless and Shen Qingqiu did his best to stop himself when his mind started to spiral down that path. It was done. They were already at this point and they both were happy with each other. There was no use dwelling on what he could not change.
Yet… could he tell Binghe who he was born as without the System threatening all they had built?
He questioned the System at odd moments, the interface only giving him the most infuriating non-answers known to man.
Can I tell my husband who I am?
[Thank you for contacting the System! It is currently down for maintenance! Thank you for your patience! Please keep working hard to unlock new content and achievements!]
Will you eject me back to my original body if I tell Luo Binghe I am not Shen Jiu?
[Thank you for contacting the System! Host’s question is not registering with the System interface due to an error. Please try again later! Please keep working hard to–]
CAN I STOP LYING TO OMISSION ABOUT MY IDENTITY TO THE PROTAGONIST?!
[Thank you for contacting the System! Host may do as he pleases as long as he is willing to face any System consequence for his actions! Please keep work–]
WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?!
The System had locked him out of the interface for a while after that interaction.
Shen Qingqiu lost patience with the System after his and Binghe’s wedding anniversary. They were still happy with each other, showed no signs of stopping, and Shen Qingqiu was fucking tired.
Tell me plainly: will you kill me if I tell Binghe who I am and where I come from?
If you do not tell me an answer, I will simply assume that I am allowed. If you kill me after that, you will ruin the story you forced me to live. What kind of ending is it to have the Protagonist marry his obsession only to have him die mysteriously only a year into their happy marriage?
[Thank you for contacting the System! Host may initiate New Hidden Quest: No More Secrets, worth +50 B-Points and unlocking new Quests reliant solely on the Protagonist’s Satisfaction Levels! Does Host accept this Quest?]
Shen Qingqiu glared at the interface as he accepted.
[Thank you for contacting the System! Hidden Quest: No More Secrets is now in progress! Please keep working hard to–]
Shen Qingqiu closed the screen, mind immediately turning to his husband. He had been so preoccupied with whether he could tell Binghe that he never really got around to the how of it all.
Like most things in his life, he ended up overthinking so much that it became moot.
“Husband?” Shen Qingqiu startled to awareness. He and Binghe had just had dinner and they were at the palace today. Rather than on Qing Jing, his husband had returned quickly after dropping the dishes outside of their quarters for their servant to take back for cleaning. He hadn’t been expecting Binghe to call him so seriously.
“Is something wrong?” Luo Binghe asked, eyes wide and pleading already. “Husband was distracted throughout our meal. Did he not enjoy it? Did this Binghe do something wrong?”
“Ah, silly. Binghe’s food was as delicious as ever. This master is most satisfied with the meal and Binghe himself,” he said gently, offering a head pat to his overgrown puppy of a husband.
“Then is it something else?” Luo Binghe asked, eyes turning dark. “Has someone upset this one’s empress?”
“Ah, no, no. This master…” Well, there was no time like the present, was there? “Binghe, I need to talk to you. About something important.”
“You know I am always willing to talk to you,” Binghe offered, quickly adopting Shen Qingqiu’s more casual tone. His husband was so attentive to him, so sweet. He found himself cradling his cheek, touched by his devotion, only to drop his hand and look away with embarrassment.
“Yes, I know. I… you know I won’t ever leave you unless you want me gone.”
“Then you won’t ever leave,” Binghe said decisively.
Shen Qingqiu sighed and reached out to take his hand hesitantly. Binghe held it fast. “Binghe, husband. I… haven’t been honest with you. And I very much want to be.”
Luo Binghe’s only response was to raise his hand and press kisses to his fingers. Shen Qingqiu glanced at him then away with a blush, unable to withstand the emotions in his eyes.
“I. I haven’t always been your Shizun, Binghe,” he said in a rush. “I. Maybe I should. Start at the beginning.”
He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. “The first time I died, I was nineteen years old.”
He looked up and saw true devastation on Binghe’s face. He hurried to say, “I woke up on Qing Jing Peak, with people calling me Shen Qingqiu and something I didn’t understand forcing me to act like him. From the time you were fourteen, when Shen Jiu had a qi deviation, I have been Shen Qingqiu.”
Luo Binghe frowned at him. “I know.”
“May I hold you?” Shen Qingqiu nodded, numb from shock, and Binghe easily pulled him into his lap. He kissed his cheek and said, “Husband, you may have been forced to act like him but I’ve had a lot of time to think about you. A lot. And Shen Jiu never would have sacrificed himself for me, never would have shown me kindness. He always looked at me with cold hate that I never understood. I was too young to realize at the time, but you, my love, never once looked at me like that.
“I may not know your origins, but I know who I married. You are my Shizun, my husband, my everything.” Shen Qingqiu didn’t know what to say. He opted for silence, tucking himself closer against his husband and hugging him right. “Would you honor me with your birth name?”
“Shen Yuan,” he said against Binghe’s neck. “I’m Shen Yuan, the ‘Yuan’ as in wall.”
“Shen Yuan. A-Yuan?” He nodded against his skin, breath catching in his throat. He half expected to never be called that again, to never be seen as himself. But Binghe had seen, had known.
He loved him so, so much.
He suddenly found his words. “I never wanted to push you into the Abyss, never would have killed myself in front of you like I did in Jinlan City, but I would have died otherwise. I knew you would survive, knew at least the Abyss would make you strong, but the thought of doing that to you broke me, Binghe. I didn’t understand what you felt for me, but—“
“You would have died, permanently?” Luo Binghe asked, going still. Shen Qingqiu nodded. Binghe held him tighter. “Then it’s okay.”
Shen Qingqiu pulled away with a gasp. “No, it isn’t!”
“Yes, it is,” Binghe insisted gently. “Anything is better than that. I only get to hold you like this, love you as your husband, because you’re here. I have lived without you; I will never do so again.”
“Binghe—“ Shen Qingqiu began, but Luo Binghe kissed him soundly. Somehow, despite learning to temper his actions, Binghe’s kisses always got across his eagerness and enthusiasm. He kissed Shen Qingqiu like it hurt him to not be constantly kissing him, as if it was his natural state of being. He had found it increasingly difficult to focus on anything other than Binghe when he kissed him after he had gotten more experience with it and specifically what Shen Qingqiu liked.
He made a low, embarrassing sound in his throat as he kissed him back. They were lost in each other for a moment, only Binghe’s ever-wandering hands bringing Shen Qingqiu back to the fact they were on the floor and he very much had things he still needed to say.
He turned his head away and gasped, “Binghe, there’s more I have to tell you!”
His husband was undeterred and Shen Qingqiu was really not in the mood to resist as he kissed his way to his neck, biting at him a little in his excitement. “Tell me, A-Yuan.”
“I…” Shen Qingqiu did his best to clear his throat and focus, not wanting to admit that having his husband touch him like this and call him that was too distracting for him to be completely coherent. “In. In my first life, I. I only knew you as a book character. A character that was exactly like the other Binghe that invaded our world.”
That had Binghe freezing. He raised his head and looked up at Shen Qingqiu with glowing red eyes, obviously not liking that news. “I am real enough now, but is that man’s story why you were convinced I would never love you as I do? Why you still doubt that you are enough for me, because of his harem?”
Shen Qingqiu could only look down from his Binghe’s too intelligent gaze. “I never presumed to think that my being here would have such an impact on you.”
“A-Yuan was wrong.” Binghe went back to kissing his neck with more intent now, hand coming up to caress Shen Qingqiu’s thigh.
Shen Qingqiu’s hands squeezed his husband’s shoulders a little, but he didn’t push him away. “I’m not the only one here from my world.”
Binghe paused again for a breath, then moved to actively begin to pull at the ties holding Shen Qingqiu’s robes together. “Hm, I see. That explains your odd friendship with Peak Lord Shang.”
Damn. He supposed he and Airplane hadn’t been the most subtle, but who possibly would have guessed they were transmigrators!?
“Is there anything else that A-Yuan has to tell this Binghe?” he asked, whispering in Shen Qingqiu’s ear.
It was all he could do to contain his trembling. Whether Shen Qingqiu was really out of things to share or if his brain had just decided to give up on complex thought was up for debate. He said, voice breathy, “No.”
“Then I believe it is time for us to retire.”
Shen Qingqiu didn’t protest as his husband cradled him close, stood, and strode to their bed.
Luo Binghe knew for a fact he was the luckiest man in the world. He was Shen Qingqiu’s, Shen Yuan’s, husband, after all, and he adored him utterly.
He had guessed for a long time that Shen Qingqiu wasn’t the Shizun who accepted him into Qing Jing Peak, but it was nice to have it confirmed. The end of his uncertainty around why his beloved had pushed him into the Abyss was also appreciated, but he was feeling some latent protectiveness over the fact that something unseen would have killed him if he didn’t comply.
He was also told once and for all that all that separated Luo Binghe from becoming the asshole who had ripped his way into his home and coveted his husband was Shen Qingqiu’s intervention. In so many ways, Shen Qingqiu had saved his life and given him more than he ever could have imagined.
Binghe very much wanted to have sex about this.
It appeared that his husband was in agreement with him, surprisingly pliant and openly affectionate (for him). Perhaps it was finally revealing this part of himself that he had kept secret for so long, or maybe an effect of using his birth name freely. Either way, Luo Binghe wasn’t complaining, accepting the kiss Shen Qingqiu pressed to his cheek with joy just before he set him down carefully onto their bed.
In the time since their marriage, Luo Binghe had learned a lot about pleasing his husband here. For all of his protests and modesty, Shen Qingqiu loved partaking in their marital activities. Luo Binghe could get away with just about anything he wanted if he asked the right way, and he would likely be able to do it again if Shen Qingqiu had a good enough time with it. Generally, he had learned three key things when it came to making love with his husband.
Rule One: be patient unless Shen Qingqiu isn’t. He had to work up to biting and fucking his tongue into his mouth and filling him with his cock and any special thing he had requested. But if his husband wanted him now, he had better be ready to respond or his Shizun would sulk and not voice his desires for the next week.
Rule Two: just because Shen Qingqiu wasn’t saying something didn’t mean he wasn’t communicating. His love had a thin, thin face and often acted like he was beyond wanting sex. But he leaned into Binghe’s touches, kissed him back with just as much love and lust, and lost himself in it as much as Binghe did. If Luo Binghe stopped after one round in an effort to “spare his hips,” Shen Qingqiu would worry that he had done something wrong or (stupidly) that Binghe wasn’t interested in him anymore. Binghe orgasming twice was the bare minimum for their nightly relations, and that was if they had already had sex earlier that day.
(Really, Binghe was only marginally more insatiable than Shen Qingqiu, but he would never, ever say that out loud. His husband was not afraid to ban him from their bed if he was overly embarrassed by something he did.)
Rule Three: always, always make sure that Shen Qingqiu feels loved and wanted as he is. Perhaps he didn’t realize it, but his husband was extremely turned on by Luo Binghe wanting him carnally. Whenever he started to feel insecure or worried in bed, all Binghe had to say was how much he adored him and Shen Qingqiu would calm down. It touched (and worried) Binghe that his husband so obviously enjoyed being loved by him, and he used that to his advantage.
With these things in mind, Luo Binghe immediately began to undress, Shen Qingqiu not quite doing the same but shrugging his loosened robes off of his shoulders when they drooped. He said, “You’ve done so much for me, my A-Yuan. Allow me to do something for you.”
Shen Qingqiu swallowed harshly and blinked up at him with a blush. As much as Luo Binghe enjoyed being dominated by his husband, his Shizun allowing him to really care for him was like nothing else in the world. In some ways, it was all the same to Binghe; he would serve his Shizun in whatever way possible, every way he was allowed.
But he couldn’t deny there was something delicious about the man who had spent so many years protecting him willingly letting Binghe take care of him so intimately. That he would allow his husband to see the vulnerability he hid from everyone else and Binghe was then able to protect him in return.
“What do you mean?” Shen Qingqiu asked.
Binghe dropped a few layers of robes to his feet and prowled over his husband. Shen Qingqiu’s flush deepened beautifully, and Binghe pressed a kiss to one warm cheek. “Let me please you as I wish. Let me take care of you.”
He skimmed his hands over his husband’s still clothed chest, needing to feel him. Shen Qingqiu’s answer was to relax under him and turn his face towards him so they could kiss. Luo Binghe felt like he was a very capable person, so he devoted half of his brain to kissing him while the other focused on touching his skin as soon as possible.
He had always admired his Shizun’s lean but strong body, but having it under him in their marriage bed made him feel like falling to his knees in supplication. He often did just that, kissing along his legs, taking his cock into his mouth, or licking into his hole. But today he felt it was a day to work up to that, wanting to take his time today and demonstrate just how grateful he was for Shen Qingqiu’s presence in his life.
Their road had been long and painful. But they were here, and Luo Binghe wanted to revel in that fact.
“Let me love you the best way I know how,” he said against Shen Qingqiu’s mouth.
“...okay,” he said quietly, his word not conveying how wide his pupils were or how hard he was against Binghe’s stomach from just a little kissing.
So Binghe got to work doing the best job in the world.
He marked his Shizun’s throat to his heart’s content, fingers steadily working his nipples as a distraction. They were so red and sensitive when Binghe worked his way down to take them in his mouth that Shen Qingqiu actually cried out when he flattened his tongue against one. Binghe drank in that sound, the jerks of his body, as he gently teased him further, admiring his husband’s mussed hair and bare skin.
Luo Binghe didn’t linger as long as he liked there, eager to give Shen Qingqiu his first orgasm of the night. His hands quickly undid his husband’s pants as he kissed his way down his stomach to his hips. The tip of Shen Qingqiu’s cock left a smear of pre on Binghe’s face as it brushed his cheek. He turned his head so his face rubbed against his shaft, hoping the scent marked him for everyone to know just who he belonged to.
“Ah, Binghe!” Shen Qingqiu said in a tone that was scandalized rather than pleasured. Binghe didn’t know if he would ever get over his amusement at Shen Qingqiu still being so embarrassed by the smallest things after every carnal thing they had done together.
Still, he had a role to play. “This disciple apologizes, Shizun.”
“A-Yuan, husband.” He took his cockhead in his mouth as he blinked up at the man with wide, teary eyes to really drive the apology home.
Now that was a pleasured cry. He needed to earn more of those.
He pulled back his Shizun’s foreskin gently and gave him head like it was his purpose in life. Shen Qingqiu had a hand tangled in his hair and his head thrown back in no time, fucking Binghe’s throat after he had made it clear it was what he wanted. His face was red and he knew he had to look like a mess, but he loved it, loved when Shen Qingqiu lost control like this and just took from him without thought.
Binghe scooped his ass up with his hands, forcing Shen Qingqiu’s cock as deep as it could go.
Then he swallowed.
Shen Qingqiu shouted as he came, hand tugging at his hair and face full of overwhelming pleasure as he looked down at Binghe. He pulled off enough to taste his come, letting it fill his mouth. He did his best to swallow everything his husband offered him, moaning at the taste and what it meant.
When Shen Qingqiu collapsed onto his back, Binghe pulled off him and gently licked him clean. His husband hated being dirty.
“Ah, Binghe,” he sighed, petting his hair then face. He leaned into his touch, taking the praise for what it was. Shen Qingqiu would only openly praise him when Binghe was the one actively receiving pleasure, but he still did so subtly when it was the other way around. Luo Binghe still would bask in whatever praise his Shizun would give him.
Bask, and then seek more of it.
He turned his head to kiss his palm then moved properly onto his knees to kiss his A-Yuan’s legs. He had only made it halfway down his body, and he wasn’t one to leave a job undone.
Shen Qingqiu didn’t know what it was about telling his husband he had been lying to him the entire time they had known each other that moved him to this point, but his brain had melted beyond the point of questioning it. Luo Binghe, as the Stallion Protagonist he was, had a very high sex drive that was a struggle to keep up with on normal days.
But, every so often, there were days like this where Binghe decided it was his duty in life to make him orgasm as much as possible before he even started fucking him. Usually, Shen Qingqiu could at least guess what it was that caused this kind of reaction. Now, he was at a loss.
He had been prepared to ask his husband for forgiveness, to deal with Binghe getting truly angry with him. And, deep down, he had maybe feared a little that this last thing would cause the crack in his happy life; that everything really was too good to be true, too good to last.
Instead, he was already two orgasms deep when Binghe finally slid into him to the hilt. It was a lot, so much, and Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help crying out and clawing into Binghe’s back.
For his part, Luo Binghe watched him with rapt, almost worshipful eyes. “A-Yuan,” he breathed. “Can, can we—?”
“Yes,” he whispered, not completely clear on what his husband was asking him but also not willing to deny him.
Immediately, a gentle surge of spiritual energy from his husband began to flood him. Shen Qingqiu, unprepared, threw his head back with a shout as every part of his body clung to Binghe.
True dual cultivation, not in the euphemistic sense but that which could only be done between powerful cultivators who shared a deep relationship, always left Shen Qingqiu emotionally exhausted the next day. It wasn’t the energy usage, just the act of essentially baring his soul to someone else. It required all kinds of barriers dropping between them, though it only went as far as the two cultivators pushed it.
Binghe, his lovely, greedy husband, always pushed as far as he could, wanting all of Shen Qingqiu. They never hid their love for each other but like that, it was inescapable and all encompassing in a way that was scary as hell. Shen Qingqiu surrendered himself to it, unwilling to reject his husband so intimately, but he limited how often it could happen.
After their first time dual cultivating, Shen Qingqiu had found himself uncontrollably sobbing. It was deeply embarrassing and forced him to actually talk about his feelings to keep Binghe from having an absolute meltdown out of guilt and concern, unused to seeing such an outburst from him. Luo Binghe had gone from worried to cautiously elated when Shen Qingqiu had managed to explain how he wasn’t hurt but touched and overwhelmed by how he had felt Binghe’s love for him. How he was unable to hide the depth of his own.
That conversation had left Binghe walking on air for days but he did refrain from asking for them to dual cultivate often. Perhaps he felt like this was a special occasion, and Shen Qingqiu supposed it was.
Shen Qingqiu welcomed his husband’s energy and answered it with his own, feeling his pillar twitch inside him from the sensation. Binghe breathed his name reverently then proceeded to fuck him most disrespectfully.
He would never admit it out loud, but Shen Qingqiu loved it when Binghe lost himself in his body like this. His husband fucked him like he needed him more than air, seemingly a selfish plundering of his body that (as it was no longer painful) thrilled him. Now that they were together and married, he loved being wanted like this even as the act embarrassed him.
Dual cultivation hid nothing. He felt his husband’s love that was tinged with madness and obsession. Binghe got off on the fact that Shen Qingqiu was his , and they were both lucky that Shen Qingqiu happened to be into that. Of course, dual cultivation was a double-edged sword and Binghe didn’t need him to say anything to realize how much this pleased him. It created a feedback loop that was probably the stuff of a stalker’s wet dream but, gods , it worked for them.
Because just as Shen Qingqiu was Luo Binghe’s, Binghe was his and his alone. He would not lose his beloved to a mass of faceless women or a sword that destroyed his mind. Their love for each other consumed them both, absolute and hedonistic, and Shen Qingqiu couldn’t deny like this how perfect that was to him.
One other benefit of dual cultivating was it often left Binghe too overwhelmed to do his usual running commentary of events and his thoughts. Shen Qingqiu could handle feeling everything but he couldn’t deal with hearing what they did together out loud. It left him more willing to be shameless, to push his hips to meet Binghe’s thrusts and pull the man down to kiss him sloppily.
The energy and pleasure between them rose and Binghe whispered against his lips, “A-Yuan.”
Shen Qingqiu came suddenly and pushed his pleasure at his husband. Binghe shouted, then sunk his sharp fangs into his shoulder, a spike of pain that he only enjoyed in the moment of orgasm. It satisfied some ancient animal instinct in him that his conscious mind was too fucked up to enjoy at any other point, and Binghe knew him well enough to work around this.
They were both lost for a moment as they slowly came down from their pleasure. Binghe withdrew his fangs from him and licked at the small wound affectionately. Panting, Shen Qingqiu petted his husband’s hair and loosened the grip his legs had on his waist.
Binghe kissed him, slow and deep, and Shen Qingqiu responded lazily. He was worn out from all their foreplay and was really ready to sleep. Of course, he had married a fated harem master; he wasn’t going to get to rest any time soon.
Luo Binghe pulled away, but not far. Shen Qingqiu blinked his eyes open and met his husband’s red stare. He gave into the urge lightly tilt Binghe’s head down so he could place a lingering kiss to his demon mark. Cutely, Binghe whined and curled over him to nuzzle into his neck.
He lifted his head and blinked big puppy eyes at him. Shen Qingqiu was begrudgingly charmed. “Let me have you.”
“Don’t you already?” Binghe kissed him then pulled out. He then turned Shen Qingqiu over and the man settled in for round two.
Loving Luo Binghe was hard work, but a job he was more than willing to do for the rest of his life.
Later, after Luo Binghe had ensured their bed had fresh sheets and that his A-Yuan was clean and comfortable, he held his husband in his arms as they prepared to sleep.
Rather than drifting off immediately as Shen Qingqiu usually did, he traced spirals on Binghe’s chest with his finger. “A-Yuan? Is everything okay?”
“Yes. I only…” Shen Qingqiu turned his face into Binghe’s skin, hiding cutely. “Thank you.”
“...husband is welcome?” Binghe said tentatively, confused.
Shen Qingqiu said nothing more as he hugged Binghe back tightly, far more demonstrative than he usually was, even after sex. He fell asleep and Binghe drifted off, never understanding his husband’s expression of gratitude but also knowing he didn’t need to.
Luo Binghe was Shen Qingqiu’s. Nothing he did for him needed thanks. And what would he not give his husband?
Shen Qingqiu woke up as Binghe left the bed the next morning. Binghe kissed his face a couple of times, telling him he was going to make breakfast, before leaving him alone with a, “Rest, A-Yuan.”
Unlike every other morning, Shen Qingqiu did not go back to sleep, his name registering to him as something new yet very welcome. He snuggled into Binghe’s pillow with a smile on his face, heart full.
Less welcome was the sudden mechanical sound of the System.
[Congratulations! Congratulations!! Congratulations!!! Important things must be said three times! Hidden Quest: No More Secrets, COMPLETE! +50 B-Points!]
[Host has now unlocked a number of quests related specifically to the Protagonist’s Satisfaction Levels! These quests include: Back to the–]
Shen Qingqiu closed the interface with a groan and pulled the covers over his head. He didn’t much care about the quests as long as his husband was happy, and could investigate them later.
(Shen Qingqiu forgot to investigate them later. However, the System did not forget about him.)