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You ruined everything

Chapter Text

In this unkind and rotten world ruled by Alphas, where might makes right the only fairness anyone could find was what they grabbed for themselves as they scratched and clawed their way to the top. Safety and comfort obtained while retaining one’s freedom and independence was a rare luxury that was jealously guarded by omegas like Shen Jiu who struggled so hard to achieve it.

Shen Jiu raised his fan to cover his nose when he passed by a glassy-eyed man who stumbled through the street coming from the other direction. Green eyes following the unstable figure as the overly sweet scent, like cakes or spun sugar, wafted off the wretched thing announcing for all the world the man's impending heat.

An escaped Omega whore, based on the fresh and still bleeding brand burned into the man's exposed hip he must have run away from black market slave traders. Shen Jiu tsked, turning up his nose when the distressed omega came too close before sneering and looking away, ignoring the phantom ache pulsing at his own hip as he continued on his way.

Flowy blue cloth fluttered in the air as his robes trailed behind him, picked up by the icy cold wind blowing in his direction that heralded an oncoming winter storm. He had more than enough problems of his own to deal with and he could not invite danger onto himself by trying to rescue every abused thing he saw or the uncountable shadows of who he was and the all too numerous reminders of what could have been had he not managed what he had.

“A-Jiu!” A female beta called. One of the long sleeves of her beautifully made but otherwise simple red and white robe fluttered in the wind as she waved at Shen Jiu from an upper window as he approached. She was the owner of this brothel, one that he frequented so much it had become more of a home to him than anywhere in Cang Qiong Sect, even his own bamboo house, as his short few years of ownership of that abode was still too new for him.

The stares of nosy people in the crowds milling about did not go unnoticed by Shen Jiu, nor did he miss the judgmental glares, or their haughty huffs. No matter, let them judge. Let them form their own conclusions and find him wanting, better that than the truth.

“Madam Zhou,” Shen Jiu greeted warmly, tucking his fan into place at his belt before offering his friend a small, but genuine smile.

“I’m so happy you’re here, we have missed you these past months,” Zhou Lifen greeted. The numerous ornaments decorating her dark hair jingled like little bells with every movement she made as she hooked her arm around Shen Jiu’s own and pulled at his elbow. She urged him deeper into the building and led him up to the second level before pushing him into a seat located in a sectioned off area. The beta woman began to fuss over him, patting at him with her smooth and impeccably manicured hands before softly pinching his cheek. “A-Jiu should take better care of himself, look at you, you’ve lost so much weight.”

For the first time in many months, Shen Jiu felt warmth fill his chest, the frigid numbness he had grown used to melting away like winters frost on the first days of spring at the familiar touch of his best and oldest friend. “It’s good to see you,” he sighed, both of his cheeks now cupped in Zhou Lifen palms as she squished at his flesh, an unsatisfied frown marring her beautiful features. “Have things been well?”

With the increasing raids on black market shops that catered to omegas such as him, he had been concerned for his friend's continued safety. As luck would have it, out of all the shops hit, none of them had been brothels. He owed these women so much, literally everything he has been able to do, the freedom he enjoyed, was all thanks to them.

“All is well and everyone is safe. There is nothing A-Jiu needs to concern himself with.” Zhou Lifen tilted his head back using the grip on his cheeks and pressed a kiss to his brow. Her petal soft lips sent the pleasant warmth of her affection zipping down his nerves and straight to his heart. No doubt the unnatural red of her painted lips had smeared off on to his own pale skin.

Skeptical of her reassurance, Shen Jiu said nothing, choosing to let his doubt be known through looks alone as he stared at his friend when she moved to sit across from him. Even during the best of times, there was always some danger or drama lurking around every corner. If it wasn’t their underground activities then their legal trade brought the usual havoc of upset Omega wives of Alpha noblemen, abusive patrons, and even the odd person with violent desires or murderous intent.

Prostitutes always made for a tempting target for those with violent appetites looking for someone they saw as disposable to take their urges out on. He had lost more than one dear friend to such violent ends and bloodied his hands each time as he ripped apart those scum responsible for their deaths. He made certain to inflict the pain the creatures had subjected his friends to thrice fold before finally granting the vile things the death he made them beg for. Sick pigs could never handle even a fraction of the pain they so loved to inflict on others. Sadists such as those that preyed on the weak and vulnerable were always cowards it seemed and they never failed to wet themselves long before Shen Jiu ended their pathetic little lives.

“Don’t look at me like that.” A hand over his chased the chill from his fingers, the warmth bringing attention to a long ignored ache in his bones. He had to clench his hand to resist turning it over and intertwining their fingers, his shameful burning need for human touch was not something he wished to acknowledge or give in to.

A server came by, dropping off food and drink, watching in bright eyed curiosity as Shen Jiu poured Zhou Lifen and himself tea before leaving them to their private meeting secluded away from prying ears and eyes when he shot the young beta boy an annoyed look.

”You’re too skinny,” Zhou Lifen complained as she insisted on filling up his bowl with the food she knew he favored. Despite his polite protesting, Shen Jiu couldn’t help the twitch at the edge of his lips as he fought against the smile that wished to form along with the swelling of his heart.

Finally, after nothing more than Shen Jiu’s continued look of doubt, Zhou Lifen sighed as she gave in. “The truth is, while we are indeed doing well, the raids have dwindled our supplies.” She paused, tapping her nails against the polished table before continuing, “without a fresh shipment, I’m afraid we will have to turn away all those who depend on us for...”

“What supplies do you need?” Shen Jiu interrupted before taking a sip of his fresh tea, eyeing the woman from over the brim of the cup as he drank. He set the cup down in the palm of his free hand, and cradled the hot porcelain between his fingers before sighing. “If you can provide a list I will get them for you.”

“Oh, A- Jiu.” She reached for him, but fell short as he pulled out of her range.

“Do not mistake me,” She Jiu said, taking another sip of his tea before continuing. “This is not a charitable act on my part. Without your wares, my life would return to whence it came and I do not relish the thought of losing all that I fought so hard to gain.”

“Of course,” She said softly, smiling warmly at him as she placed her hands in her lap. “It will only be a happy coincidence that our other patrons will not go without this month thanks to A-Jiu’s selfishness.” Shen Jiu pursed his lips at her coy tone, glaring at her as he drained the last of his tea from his cup.

And that's how Shen Jiu found himself on a hunt through many large markets arranging shipments, and traversing the wilds for the remaining ingredients that simply could never be found in the legal stores and marketplaces.

While returning from dropping off the final items on his list and picking up his purchase Shen Jiu had to pass through Huan Hua territory, the people of that sect were brutal enough in their pursuit of wayward omegas that they even set him on edge. He stuck to the cover of the brush as he made his way through, refraining from flying least it draws attention to himself and the bag of contraband in his possession. The bag slung over his shoulder and resting at his waist was heavy, filled to the brim with scent blocking soaps, lotions, and artificial Alpha pheromones disguised as perfume and mixed into special hair and bath oils.

Something had the Huan Hua Palace in an uproar he noticed as he passed by one of the smaller towns under their protection, their noisy panic was so distracting that Shen Jiu could no longer ignore his nagging curiosity. The brouhaha drew him to a town nearby. He stood on a rocky hill overlooking the riverside city and watched as Huan Hua's pathetic disciples ran amok, their torches dancing wildly against the dark of the night like frantic fireflies as their desperate angry shouting grated on his sensitive ears.

Seems like Huan Hua Palace had lost someone based on what Shen Jiu can make out from the cacophony assaulting his senses. His curiosity overrode his common sense that told him of the danger he would be in if caught with such contraband in his possession he found himself sliding down the gravelly hills. Everything was silent except for a few rocks that fell lose as he made his descent. Once at the bottom he crouched down, making himself as small as possible as he looked around for some decent cover.

Dense frost-covered foliage near the river seemed promising enough Shen Jiu decided as he crept over to it and hid amongst it. Shifting his weight he leaned forward to peek out from his hastily chosen hiding place and watch the yellow-clad noisemakers as the searched. “That woman is long gone by now, why are we still out here? It’s pointless, we will never find her,” one of the male disciples whined as he bent in half to pant and clutch at his knees in support.

She Jiu mentally snorted, a bunch of weaklings this pathetic lot are.

A taller disciple holding a torch turned on the whiner and grabbed him, harshly pulling him up by the collar of his robes to come face to face with the sneering man, “If we don’t find her we are as good as dead you idiot!” The man tsked before shoving the trembling disciple away causing the boy to fall his ass.

“He, he wouldn’t...would he?” The coward mumbled with a tremble before hastily getting up and chasing after his disappearing senior.

Holding as still as possible Shen Jiu waited, and listened as he watched the torches disperse. The ruckus dying down enough that it no longer drowned out the slow-running river, or the creaking and groaning of its ice flows. An odd mewing noise drew his gaze as an oddly shaped black blob floated by as glacially slow as the slush surrounding it.

Curious, Shen Jiu crept closer, hissing when his hand snagged a thorn as he brushed the dense foliage out of his way. He ignored the injury after a quick glance at the plant, it was just a simple berry bush, nothing to worry about, and continued forward before reaching out to snatch the blob from the river.

Lifting the thing from the water it becomes obvious that it is a wicker basket of some sort, how the thing managed to stay afloat is a mystery. By all rights, this heavy waterlogged thing should have sunk by now. A sneeze coming from inside startled Shen Jiu so badly he nearly dropped the thing. He stared at it wearily cursing his damnable curiosity for leading him here before a hiccuping cough made him rip the lid off the thing.

Shen Jiu stared down at what was obviously a newborn, his heart raced as he frowned at the creature. It whined and kicked as it mewed weekly before its eyes as dark as the night around them blinked up at him and its blue-tinted lips trembled.

Oh no, no, don’t cry!

The baby hiccoughed again, a weak pathetic and rasping cry leaving the shivering infant as it reached up for Shen Jiu. He considers tossing the thing back where he found it and leave the infant to its fate and lowers the basket back down.

An ice-cold and so, so tiny hand grabbed onto his finger, and Shen Jiu stares into the infant watery eyes as the baby smiles weekly at him with its too blue lips. He stared at the baby frozen with indecision, a pang in his heart whispering in his ear, hadn’t he himself been in the same position as this baby, dumped and abandoned like trash? But look what happened to him? Would it not be kinder to let the pathetic simpering thing die, right here, right now?

Footsteps coming his way limit his internal debate, and staring wide-eyed at the small hand clutching to his finger Shen Jiu’s decision is already made. He lifts the baby from what should have been its death cradle and pulls the infant to his chest as he flits away back up the hill. He looks back down at the riverside as he tucks the infant, a boy, into his robes to press the baby against the warmth of his skin and shivers when the child's freezing skin meets his own.

There is what looks to be a local woman putting around the river in whatever task she set for herself at this absurd, and frankly dangerous, hour. The woman finds the hastily discarded basket and picks it up too inspected it before shrugging and taking her discovery along with her.

A small contented sigh and a spattering of coos sang out from inside the safety of Shen Jiu’s robes. The baby's face just barely peeked up at him as the boy kicked and smiled sweetly up at him and waved a slowly pinking hand up in the air.

Shen Jiu huffed a laugh which sent a breathy cloud flying away with the chilly breeze as he engulfed the baby’s little hand with his own and gently rubbed warmth back into it. “Let's get you home, hmm,” he says as he uses a finger from his occupied hand to brush across his baby's chubby cheek.

Chapter Text

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The high pitched wailing hadn’t ceased since the half-frozen infant Shen Jiu had stupidly fished out of the river had warmed up. He had tried desperately to feed the thing, ladling tiny spoonfuls of milk into its mouth when it first began to smack its lips. The baby just stuck its tongue out and pushed the milk out and made it trail down its chin in a chain of disgusting bubbles.

Shen Jiu rocked the hiccuping and crying child as the baby gnawed at its fist, the hours of failed attempts to feed the wretched thing fraying so badly at his nerves that he found himself wanting to cry along with it. He paced his home one more time before returning to his kitchen and trying to feed the infant yet again, this time he tried watered down congee, but that to, failed.

“Why won't you eat?” Shen Jiu asked as he returned to rocking the starving creature. He cuddled the wailing monster close to his chest as he looked down into its watery black eyes. “Stupid thing,” he softly scolded the baby as he wiped away the tears from its cheeks with a thumb. It is its own fault that it is suffering so, Shen Jiu had offered him all the things the infant care instruction book he had nicked from the library had said to try, and yet the baby rejected every last option.

At first, Shen Jiu paid no mind to the baby snuggling into his robes, focused only on rocking the thing as he paced, but then a sudden wet and tugging pressure at his chest sent him rearing backward as he stared down at the baby. The silly creature had somehow managed to latch onto him as if Shen Jiu was its mother.

He stared dumbly down at the infant suckling at him for what had to be hours before sighing.

Stupid, stupid thing, Shen Jiu smiled as he returned to rocking the now quiet baby, you won't get any sustenance that way. Once he got used to it he didn’t even feel the child useless suckling and he didn’t see any harm in comforting what he was now sure was a dying child.

At least the baby is mostly quiet now.

The wailing started up again after far too short of a reprieve, the baby pawing and kneading angrily at Shen Jiu in its frustration.

Shen Jiu tried again to get the infant to eat, offering all the recommended foods only for them to be spat out by that frustrating little tongue before letting the wretched thing latch again in an endless looping cycle throughout the night.

Come dawn the poor thing had become so weak it no longer cried, and only mewed pathetically every time it unlatched itself. She Jiu sat on his bed and slowly rocked the infant as he watched its every movement, desperate for any and every sign of life his baby would give him. A sudden and painful tugging pressure at his chest made him hiss as the baby in his arms suddenly began making loud gulping sounds.

When Shen Jiu tried to pull the baby away, the previously weak and dying thing came to life and aggressively hung on and continued to make that alarming noise as the pain in his chest intensified. Clenching his teeth against the new and alarming pain Shen Jiu returned to nestling the baby comfortably against his chest and swiped a finger over the tight seal that the infant's mouth had become.

Shen Jiu started horrified and relieved at the cloudy substance on his finger. It seemed, impossibly, that his baby wouldn’t be dying just yet.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

“An Alpha can not raise a newborn on their own.” Yue Qingyuan pressed a hand to his forehead and rubbed in self-soothing circles as he emitted a low, nearly inaudible growl. He had been arguing with Shen Jiu over this matter since he so rudely let himself into Shen Jiu’s home claiming Shen Jiu’s lack of response as an excuse.

“Typically, when someone doesn’t answer that implies either they aren't home or you are not welcome, not let yourself in and make yourself at home!” Shen Jiu had snapped as he hastily adjusted his robes and was successful in hiding that he had been nursing, but had been too late to hide his baby from the unwelcome intruder.

“Shidi, newborns require a bond with an omega mother to survive, that child won't last the week without such a bond,“ Yue Qingyuan said, with that nauseating, oh so reasonable placating tone.

That’s false. Shen Jiu had seen plenty of beta mothers raise their infants just fine, even widower beta fathers had managed the task all on their own.

“Besides, what will the child eat? That baby will soon starve if we do nothing,” Yue Qingyuan continued on in that tone, that soft tone that said I know better than you so why don’t you just do as I say.

When Yue Qingyuan tried reaching for his baby Shen Jiu turned away from him, tucking his baby close and shielding him from Yue Qingyuan view. “He won’t starve,” he snapped over his shoulder. He had managed to feed his baby its fill the past three days so far, the desperation of the first day fading by the next as his milk supply grew large enough to fill the infant's tiny tummy every four hours.

Every time Yue Qingyuan tried to reach around him Shen Jiu would turn away, and bring his baby away from Yue Qingyuan’s grasping hands. They ended up in an awkward spinning dance as he evaded the taller man at his back.

“Xiao Jiu,” Yue Qingyuan huffed.

Shen Jiu smacked the hand that nearly grabbed hold of one of his baby’s little feet as they kicked with his baby’s excited giggles. “Don’t call me that!” He lashed out, teeth bared as he just missed scratching Yue Qingyuan’s face by a breath, the alpha taking a step backwards just in time to evade the strike.

“Qingqiu,” Yue Qingyuan hastily corrected as he raised his hands up in a nonthreatening manner, and looked at Shen Jiu in wide-eyed confusion. As the red hot flare of anger receded Shen Jiu slowly became aware of first the rumbling sensation in his chest, and then the enraged and distinctive sound of an omegas protective hissing breaking through the pounding in his ears.

Shen Jiu took a step back, swallowing down the damning sound, and turned away to stare intently out a nearby window. His baby cooed questioningly up at him, little hands grabbing hold of stray strands of inky black hair draped over his mother's shoulder before he suddenly began to wail. “Shh Shh Hush now,” He purred as he clutched his baby close, just under his chin, and bounced and rocked his baby as he quietly purred. Once his baby was soothed, its crying turned to happy coos as he rested his head against his mother's chest and played with his favorite toy that was his mother's hair, Shen Jiu turned back but refused to look directly at Yue Qingyuan as he murmured, “I can feed him.”
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Hands raised up and away from his body with his fingers splayed wide Yue Qingyuan took a tentative step closer to Shen Jiu. The omega cradled the babe close and brushed his nose across its hair and cheek, breathing its scent in deep, before his eyes darted up to stare intensely at Yue Qingyuan when he slid his foot across the floor to take another step.

Yue Qingyuan paused his movements, frozen mid-motion before carefully lowering his frame slightly, and hunching his shoulders in a submissive and nonthreatening posture. “What is the infant's name?”

Shen Jiu glowered at Yue Qingyuan, watching the alphas every minute movement, “I have yet to give him one. I wasn’t sure if he would even survive the week, the poor wretch had been near death's doorstep when I had found him.” Finally, Shen Jiu turned his gaze away from Yue Qingyuan to look down at his happily cooing baby, and smile as small barely there smile, his lips quirking as his baby reached to try and snag some hair from higher up his mother's head, before placing a lingering kiss to his baby's brow. The action allowed his baby to grab hold of his target, tiny fingers twisting into his mother's dark tresses near Shen Jiu’s ear and held on with all the ironclad strength of a determined infant.

“I found him in the Luo river floating amongst the ice, tossed away as if he were garbage,” Shen Jiu said as he looked up when Yue Qingyuan drew near, close enough to place a tentative hand on Shen Jiu’s shoulder. Angling his body to the side, towards Yue Qingyuan, Shen Jiu adjusted his hold on his baby and presented the infant to the alpha, allowing Yue Qingyuan to look at his babe.

Inhaling sharply Yue Qingyuan reached out carefully, pausing and looking at Shen Jiu as if to ask permission, before cautiously touching the infant's cheek. “The Luo river hmm.” Yue Qingyuan rubbed his thumb back and forth across the infant's plump cheeks.

“Luo Binghe,” Shen Jiu announced so confidently that it made it seem like that had always been the baby's name, even though just a moment before the baby had been nameless.

“Not Shen?”

Shen Qingqiu snorted as if he would curse his poor baby, his Binghe, with such a tainted and soiled name.

“The child, Luo Binghe needs to be examined by Mu Shidi.” A pair of large hands grasped Shen Jiu’s shoulders and held firm as Yue Qingyuan tried to coax him towards the bed. “You and the child should rest while I go fetch him, you look exhausted. When Was the last time you slept?”

“That is none of your business.” Typical Yue Qi, always fussing about like a rattled hen when he isn’t needed, and nowhere to be found when he was. Shen Qingqiu shrugged out of Yue Qingyuan’s hold, swatting at the Alphas hands when the reached for him as Shen Jiu walked away to sit on his bed.

Chapter Text

Hushed voices disturbed Shen Jiu from his light dozing, his baby clutched close and wrapped warmly in his robes as he laid on his bed curled up in the comfortable pile of blankets he had placed on the bed that first freezing night.

Blinking his eyes open as light assaulted his face, Shen Jiu watched as Mu Qingfan paused in the doorway of his home. “Do you need an invitation?” Shen Jiu asked dully as he slowly sat up, careful not to disturb the babe sleeping at his chest, tiny little whistling snores chimed with each of his baby's breaths.

Mu Qingfang glanced at Yue Qingyuan as he walked past, “Apologies, but if what I have been told is true, then yes.”

Shen Jiu tsked, annoyance flaring and taking a bite at the last of his patience. “Consider yourself invited then,” Shen Jiu lazily waved his hand indicating for Mu Qingfang to come closer. Yue Qingyuan leaning against the wall next to his bed served to shave away at his dwindling patience, the mans hovering and intent gaze fraying at his nerves.

An overstuffed bag plopped heavily on the bed next to him as Mu Qingfang got to work pulling many unfamiliar tools from it. What on earth was the man planning to do with all those tools? Wasn’t this supposed to be a simple check up to determine his baby's health? Shen Jiu shot a quick glare Yue Qingyuan’s way. “May I see?” Mu Qingfang asked as his hands hovered over Shen Jiu’s sleeping baby who was shielded under his mother's robes.

Swollowing back the beginnings of a protective growl, his lips forming a quick, twitching snarl, Shen Jiu reluctantly pulled the cloth keeping his baby warm away to reveal him to the curious medic. When Mu Qingfang’s hand drew too near for comfort, the unwelcomed alphas attempted contact riled up his barely repressed urges once more, and the only thing that stopped him from raking his nails across the alpha's face was the baby cradled in his arms.“Don’t touch him!” She Jiu pulled his baby away from Mu Qingfang's reach, twisting his body to block the alpha doctor's approach.

The sudden movement startled Luo Binghe awake, his wide onyx eyes blinking up drowsy at his mother as he yawned and stretched his little hand into the air before catching hold of one of his mother's fingers and holding it tightly in his tiny fist. Shen Jiu’s chest felt warm as he looked into dark curious eyes, a slight vibration in his chest breaking out as he cooed softly at his sweet baby who cooed back at him.

“Fascinating,” Mu Qingfang said in a mixture of curiosity and awe, “you said you found this child? He isn’t yours by birth?”

“Yes, as I told Yue Shixiong, I found my Binghe near frozen in the Luo river three nights ago,” Shen Jiu answered cooly, looking up from his now wide awake and happily babbling baby.

“I didn’t mean to offend, it’s just your bond with this child is so strong...It is a good thing, your bond likely saved the infant from certain death.” Mu Qingfang stumbled through whatever he had been attempting to say, not wanting to upset the anxious mother. “I was told you have been feeding the...Binghe yourself, is this true?”

“I can feed him,” Shen Jiu said as he nodded.

“Could you demonstrate?” Mu Qingfang asked gently, hands held aloof as he watched. If he could get the supposed omega to breastfeed it would help soothe the anxious and irritable man, and aid in the necessary examination of the infant.

“What, now?” Shen Jiu looked back and forth between Yue Qingyuan who stood silently nearby, and Mu Qingfang who sat on his bed.

“Please,” Mu Qingfang said and assumed a non threatening pose as he drew closer, “It would be beneficial for you and your child, and would aid greatly in my exam of you both.”

With great reluctance Shen Jiu brought his happily cooing baby to his chest, his child latching easily as the greedy thing suckled hungrily from him as if Shen Jiu hadn’t just fed him a short while ago. His Binghe always ate frequently, and so desperately, that it was as if he was half starved and thought each meal was his last.

When Shen Jiu’s chest began to rumble again, Mu Qingfang leaned forward into his line of vision as one of his hands stopped and hovered over Luo Binghe, refraining from touching by meer inches. “I’m going to check Binghe over now, I only need to hold his wrist while you continue to nurse him. Is that alright?” Mu Qingfang asked when Shen Jiu looked up and met his eyes.

Watching silently Shen Jiu continued to nurse his gluttonous Binghe before finally nodding his ascent. Mu Qingfang, after getting his agreement, gently wrapped his fingers around the infant's wrist that was not tucked against his mother's body and did a quick, but thorough check of the child. “He seems to be in perfect health,” Mu Qingfang announced happily giving Shen Jiu a warm and please smile before releasing Binghe’s wrist.

“Will that be all?” Shen Jiu hummed. The rumble in his chest growing deeper as he ignored the alphas in his home, preferring to watch his Binghe nurse greedily as he pets the back of the infant's head, and ran his fingers through the tiny dark curls.

Awkward silence pecked at Shen Jiu’s nerves as Mu Qingfan continued to hover instead of leaving. “I’m afraid not, I still need to examine you Shen Shixiong,” Mu Qingfang said, his tone picking up a slight timber typical of alphas who were attempting to calm or soothe.

Growling, and giving Mu Qingfang a glare filled with as much ire as he currently felt at having an alpha try and calm him for the first time in his life Shen Jiu snapped irritably, “Me? Whatever for? I’m fine, I assure you.”

The sickening tone was joined by an uncomfortable pressure in the air, duel presences lapping at Shen Jiu’s skin and burning irritably at his nerves before a hand was placed on his arm.“I’m sorry Shixiong, but it is necessary, for both yours and Binghe’s health,” Mu Qingfang implored softly as his herb like scent began to fill Shen Jiu’s nose.

“Stop it,” Shen Jiu snapped, tugging his arm out of Mu Qingfang’s reach while still supporting his Binghe with his other arm. “Don’t think I don’t know what you are doing, it won't work on me.”

“I meant no harm,” Mu Qingfang said as he held still, “but I do need to examine you, would you be comfortable with Yue Shixiong holding Binghe?”

Shen Jiu narrowed his eyes, watching Mu Qingfang with suspicion. “Why?”

Folding his hands in his lap as he sat up Mu Qingfang sighed. “I do not wish to cause you any alarm, but this exam will be very thorough and...intimate, it would be best if you were not holding Binghe, and,” Mu Qingfang paused, looking at the silent Yue Qingyuan before delicately placing his hand back on Shen Jiu’s arm. “You may wish for privacy.”

“It’s fine,” Shen Jiu tsked. He would prefer Yue Qingyuan to stay, rather than be left alone with Mu Qingfang. When Luo Binghe finished suckling, signaling his full stomach with a loud contented burp, Shen Jiu leaned forward and nuzzled his cheek and smiled when his baby giggled and played with his mother's hair. “Take him,” he lifted Binghe up, and hurriedly passed him to Yue Qingyuan who startled but took the baby without question. “Wipe that idiotic look off your face,” Shen Jiu huffed at the shocked look on Yue Qingyuan’s face as he stared down at the curious infant held awkwardly in his arms. You would think the man had never held an infant before with the way his stupid face lit up with awe.

“Xiao Jiu,” Yue Qingyuan said, his eyes so wide Shen Jiu almost worried they would pop right out of their sockets.

Mouth twitching, and hands clenched tight into the blankets beneath him Shen Jiu said icily, “Qingqiu.” It was like the man was dull-witted or something with how often he insisted on calling Shen Jiu like that, only he knows the man is not, the alpha was practically a genius at literally anything else that didn’t involve Shen Jiu.

Shen Jiu twitched as Mu Qingfang leaned close and took a large open mouthed breath. “Remarkable,” Mu Qinfang said as he indicated for Shen Jiu to give him his arm before taking another large breath as he smelled Shen Jiu’s wrist, ”There is not a trace of omegian sweet scent to be found.” His body stiffened when Mu Qingfang hesitantly leaned forward, pausing long enough for Shen Jiu to deny him before inhaling close to his neck, his breath burning Shen Jiu’s ear as he slowly exhaled. Leaning back, Mu Qingfang had the look of an excitable child, his eyes alight with wonder. “If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t be able to tell the Alpha pheromones where false. How was such a thing achieved?”

Shen Jiu remained silent, watching the far too interested medic wearily. As if he would willingly share that information he mentally huffed, the protection of his priceless treasure and his expensive bottles and soaps of false pheromones where hard-won secrets.

“When was your last heat cycle?” Mu Qingfang asked, carefully hiding away his fascination and returning to speaking softly with that annoying timber.

“I haven't experienced a heat since I first presented,” Shen Jiu answered honestly, they already know the truth and he no longer felt inclined to lie.

Twin gasps, more akin to loud inhalations came from the alphas in the room at his answer. “You had to have been no older than sixteen,” Mu Qingfang said somehow keeping that calming timber despite his shock and awe. “Using suppressants for so long is dangerous.”

“Then it is a good thing I’m not using any,” Shen Jiu said, and nearly laughed at the expression on Mu Qingfang’s face.

“How?” Mu Qingfang asked quickly, his excitement spilling over and tainting his professional and calming persona. “It shouldn’t be possible for an Omega to control their heats without suppressants, even those poor souls who have been cruelly sterilized by illegal brothels continue to experience heats.”

Brothels, Shen Jiu grimaced at that word, as a slave he only narrowly avoided that fate himself. It may be illegal to have an omega as a slave, and the crime of sterilizing an omega punishable by a slow and painful death, but that didn’t stop that lucrative trade. Harming an omega in any way was supposed to result in the offender's hand being lopped off, but that didn’t stop the Qiu’s from their sadistic treatment of him even though they knew full well what he was and repeatedly threatened to sell him to those hellish brothels to be nothing more than a drugged-up toy.

“As if I would tell you anything,” Shen Jiu huffed and turned away from Mu Qingfang.

The herbal scent thickened, becoming almost cloying as it filled Shen Jiu’s nose and tasted bitter on his tongue. “Shixiong.” Mu Qingfang rubbed a thumb into the underside of his wrist, “ As your physician, I need to know.”

“An implant,” Shen Jiu started reluctantly, covering the crux of his elbow with his hand as Mu Qingfang continue to rub soothingly at his wrist, “in my arm.”

Slowly pulling up Shen Jius sleeve and coaxing the shielding hand away to examine his arm Mu Qingfang asked, “And the alpha pheromones? How is that achieved?”

Licking his lips, Shen Jiu shot a glance at his bedside table that Yue Qingyuan stood next to, “A bottle of artificial pheromones I purchased, there is one in my nightstand.”

“Shixiong knows he can not keep using that anymore correct?” Mu Qingfang asked as he gently palpated Shen Jiu's arm, searching out the implant.

Staring at the wall, resolutely ignoring the alpha as he poked and prodded at him Shen Jiu growled softly. “And why can’t I?” He has always used the same false scent, he doesn’t even remember what his true scent smells like and would prefer to never know.

“The infant, your Binghe, will need to know your true scent if you wish to raise him,” Mu Qingfang explained while he rummaged through his bag while still holding onto Shen Jiu’s arm. “And false pheromones are detrimental to developing brains.”

Alarmed, Shen Jiu sat up straighter and squeezed his hands into fists, his nails digging into the palms of his hands. “You mean it can harm him?” What if his Binghe was already hurt? Could three days of exposure to an old dose permanently damage his baby? It figures that any attempts at doing something good would turn back and slap him in the face, it always had. Please, someone, tell him his baby was going to be alright.

“Shh,” Mu Qingfang patted his shoulder before coaxing Shen Jiu to lean against him, Shen Jiu’s forehead pressing against the crux of Mu Qingfang's neck where the herbal scent was strongest. ”Your baby is unharmed, but you should not expose him to such things again.” Once he calmed Mu Qingfang spoke again, “I do not wish to upset you, but it is necessary for me to excise the implant in your arm.”

“No!” Shen Jiu tried to jerk away, but the hand at his back shot up to the back of his neck and held firm and the deft fingers of a medic quickly rubbed at the glands in his neck, the action flooding him with foreign endorphins. A pleasant and sleepy calm the likes of which Shen Jiu had never experienced before overwhelmed him, warming his body and making his limbs heavy as he blinked his eyes and every breath brought with it a strange soothing and terrifying scent.

“Hush now,” Mu Qingfang soothed, the timber in his voice growing deeper when Shen Jiu whined and weakly struggled against the hold at the back of his neck. “It’s for your own good. Suppressing your body like this, using such harmful false pheromones, it is no wonder you have experienced so many setbacks, unexplained fevers, and your infamous unstable moods.”

Cold antiseptic was rubbed carefully on Shen Jiu’s arm as Mu Qingfang held firm, his fingers still kneading into his neck and clouding his mind. No one had ever done such a thing to him, not even Yue Qi. Shen Jiu whined again as something pricked his arm and he slowly lost all feeling in the area.

“There we are,” Mu Qingfang said as Shen Jiu felt a painless tugging in his arm before he felt a pop as his implant was pulled free from his body. “All done.” The hand at his neck squeezed tighter as Mu Qingfang rubbed his cheek against Shen Jiu’s own, providing an unfamiliar and almost forgotten sensation of comfort as he rubbed his familiar scent into his skin, reaffirming their rarely acknowledged pack bond.

At the back of his mind he knew he should be panicking, a voice whispering words of anger and violence muted by the warm, and overwhelming fog that blanketed his mind. “What?” Shen Jiu mumbled as he wobbled, and was slowly lowered to lay back against his stack of soft pillows and blankets.

The mournful look Mu Qingfang gave him as he hovered over his prone body made She Jiu want to slice it off his face. His hand was caught by Mu Qingfang when he tried, the attempted attack amounting to nothing more than a soft and pathetic swat that never met its target. Mu Qingfang flipped his wrist and quickly found his veins before doing a slow and thorough check of his body.

Growling unhappy at whatever it was he found, Mu Qingfang released Shen Jiu’s hand, and gently laid it on the bed next to him. “The next part of this exam is going to be very...intimate and alarming, would Yue Shixiong assist in keeping Shen Shixiong calm.”

“Yes, yes of course,” Yue Qingyuan said as he sat on the bed next to Shen Jiu, holding a sleeping Binghe in one arm, and running his free hand through Shen Jiu’s hair.

Feeling his legs being parted and his sleeping gown being rucked up as Mu Qingfang coaxed him to bend his knees Shen Jiu tried to sit up. “What are you doing?” He growled weakly before Yue Qingyuan pushed him back down, and leaned over him to block his view of Mu Qingfang as Yue Qingyuan’s metallic ink like scent flooded his senses and a thumb pressed into his neck, rubbing firmly into the gland behind his ear.

“Yue Qi,” Shen Jiu gasped out a whine when cold air washed over his most private of places.

“Shen Shixiong is without a doubt an omega.” He heard Mu Qingfang say as a finger brushed over his sex.

Shen Jiu jerked back and kicked his legs at the startling sensation. “Are you sexually active?” Mu Qingfang asked.

As if. “No,” Shen Jiu answered as he tried to close his legs.

“Have you ever had intercourse before? Not just with an Alpha, but with any partner?” Mu Qingfang asked, his tone implying his disbelief. “Shen Shixiong’s trips to the brothels are well known, there is no need to be shy.”

Heat rising in his chest and head, Shen Jiu’s anger managed to break through the fog in his mind as he kicked at Mu Qingfang, “I already said no, I’ve never lain with anyone.”

“Yue Shixiong, please,” Mu Qingfang implored as he restrained Shen Jiu’s legs. The hand that had gone lax at his neck moved to wrap around awkwardly at the back of his neck, cradling Shen Jiu’s head like a pillow in Yue Qingyuan’s oversized hand as he began to press his thumb and fingers at each side of his neck and dunked Shen Jiu back into the warm fog.

With his body limp, barely able to move as the warmth spread quickly through his body like poison, Shen Jiu could only whine and curse softly as Mu Qingfang pressed a slick finger into him, breaching his body with the disinterest unique to medical professionals as he began the first steps of a pelvic exam. “I’m going to insert a speculum now, it will feel cold but it shouldn’t hurt,” Mu Qingfang warned, waiting a few minutes before resuming.

Shen Jiu choked at the sensation of the cool device being inserted into him, and reached desperately for Yue Qingyuan, wanting and craving comfort, the poison the alphas had coaxed into his blood chasing away any shame or anger he would normally feel at such desires. Yue Qingyuan allowed him to latch on as Shen Jiu wrapped his arms around Yue Qingyuan’s neck.

“Would you like to hold Binghe,” Yue Qingyuan asked, directing Shen Jiu’s attention to the sleeping babe still held safely in Yue Qingyuan’s arm. As soon as Shen Jiu nodded, and release his death grip on Yue Qingyuan’s neck, his Binghe was back in his arms, pressed safely to his chest as he cooed at the sleeping infant.

Hands now free, Yue Qingyuan focussed entirely on keeping Shen Jiu calm and pressed his forehead to Shen Jiu’s when he hissed at Mu Qingfang when the man probed uncomfortably into Shen Jiu as he finished the far too intimate exam.

“Remarkable,” Mu Qingfang muttered as he extracted the speculum and dropped it onto a nearby tray, “An omega was not only able to cultivate but also managed to achieve such high cultivation as this without duel cultivation, it’s unheard of.”

“Mu Shidi,” Yue Qingyaun interrupted an annoyed and impatient growl rumbling beneath his words.

Coughing, Mu Qingfang rearranged Shen Jiu’s clothes to their original state before continuing, “He's in perfect health, he will need periodic check ups so I can monitor his development and the inevitable return of his heat cycle.”

Heat? Shen Jiu’s mind registered as the poison receded from his veins, and the endorphins started to lose their hold on him.

Yue Qingyuan nuzzled against Shen Jiu’s face and neck, rubbing his scent into his skin, and hid a smile into Shen Jiu’s neck when he wasn’t pushed away. “And the child?” He asked as he reluctantly pulled away from Shen Jiu to sit up, and rubbed a thumb across the sleeping babe's chubby cheek.

“The bond is strong, any attempt to separate them now will only result in undue stress for them both,” Mu Qingfang said with a hint of warning marring his otherwise polite tone.

“Separate?” Shen Jiu’s mumbled as he collected his scattered mind, and clutched Binghe closer, arms locking tight around his baby.

“Xiao Jiu,” Yue Qingyuan soothed, a hand rubbing up and down Shen Jiu’s arm. “No one in their right mind would separate an omega from their child. If anyone dared to try I would...”

“You would what!” Shen Jiu snapped, “What? Are you going to protect me? Just like you did before Qi ge.” Shen Jiu snarled on the verge of hissing as he tried, and failed to push Yue Qingyuan away.

Chapter Text

“We should go,” Mu Qingfang said as he packed up his supplies, “omega mothers are volatile during the first few weeks of bonding with their infants, and I suspect our continued presence will only rile up Shen Shiniongs protective instincts.”

Yue Qingyuan pulled Shen Jiu close, hugging him tightly as he also messaged the back of his neck one last time. “Xiao Jiu,” he said into She Jiu’s ear, sounding as if he were holding back tears. “I have failed you far more than I had realized.” Yue Qingyuan pulled away to lay a kiss to the dazed omegas forehead.

“Leave,” Shen Jiu demanded, managing to spit the word out viciously through the drunken feeling permanating his body and mind. Yue Qi had promised it was just a quick check up, and stupid him had believed him. Shen Jiu huffed out a bitter laugh, he should know better by now than to trust any promises Yue Qingyuan made to him.

Shen Jiu ignored the alphas as Mu Qingfang packed up and Yue Qingyuan sat on Shen Jiu’s bed like an idiotic puppy that had just been kicked by its master and didn’t know what it had done wrong but continued to seek attention and praise anyways. He turned his head away when Yue Qingyuan reached for him, his hand brushing down Shen Jius cheek and neck before he sighed and got up to follow after Mu Qingfang. He paused to rifle through the nightstand to confiscate the beautifully decorated perfume bottle filled with false alpha pheromones before finally making his exit, leaving without another word.

He spent hours fussing over his bed, tossing off the blankets that smelled of Mu Qingfang, only to be dissatisfied with the coolness of the fresh clean blankets and pulling them back on, then tossing them off again when the scent irritated his nose and soured his mood until exhaustion finally forced him to sleep.

When morning came, the sun rising to peek through Shen Jius window to stab painfully at his eyes, he woke to a happily babbling Luo Binghe. His baby was nestled safely in a makeshift nest with his mother curled protectively around him as the baby kicked its feet into the air and blowing spit bubbles to entertain himself as Shen Jiu slept.

“Good morning,” Shen Jiu cooed as he propped himself up on one elbow and smiled down at his baby. Luo Binghe squealed happily in response and reached up for him, his little hands opening and closing, demanding for his mother to pick him up while smacking his lips indicating his desire to be fed.

Once they both were full, Shen Jiu opting for a more nutritious meal compared to the normal light fare he preferred, and Luo Binghe greedily draining all the milk his mother had to give, Shen Jiu brought them outside. With the weather so good relaxing and playing in his secluded gardens would be good for his baby.

Shen Jiu reclined in a long chair, the kind designed for relaxing outside, with his knees up and his bare feet planted firmly on the chair so he could support his Binghe who was cradled safely in his mother's lap in a reclining position as Shen Jiu cooed incoherent babble at him and Binghe tried to copy him. Luo Binghe watched intently as his mother stuck his tongue out and held it that way for a long moment before retracting it and repeating. Soon Luo Binghe's tiny tongue poked out of his own mouth as he tried to imitate his mother making Shen Jiu laugh at each successful attempt his baby made and laughed harder when Binghe blew a cute unintentional raspberry at his mother when he giggled while his little tongue was still poking out.

“So it’s true,” Liu Qingge said, appearing from nowhere and startled so much life out of Shen Jiu he could practically feel the grey hairs forming on his head. Not that he did more than twitch and forced himself not to scowl, he didn’t want to upset his happy raspberry blowing baby.

“I thought the oh so great Bai Zhan war god was above such mortal things like gossip,” Shen Jiu said with an odd coo as he smiled at his Binghe and made it seem to his baby as if he were speaking to him and not the intruder come to ruin Shen Jiu’s day.

Boots crunching and kicking his decorative rocks made Shen Jiu twitch with each sound as it took a monumental effort to stay focused on his Binghe and not beat Liu Qingge with his fan for ruining his garden. “Mu Qingfang said nursing mothers need nutrient dense food,” Liu Qingge said as he dropped something heavy on the ground next to Shen Jiu.

Shen Jiu leaned over to the side and looked down at whatever Liu Qingge had just defiled his garden with and recoiled with a tsk, a dead coarse furred beast lay on the ground as its vibrant red blood seeped onto the grass and flowers it had been dumped into. "Bringing your disgusting catch to me like this, are you a cat now?” Shen Jiu’s nose twitched and furrowed as the smell of filthy wet fur made him want to retch.

“Its liver is said to be the best for pregnant and nursing mothers,” Liu Qingge said plopping on the free space at the end of Shen Jiu’s reclining garden chair.

“I don’t want it," Shen Jiu said before he pulled his bare feet closer to himself. “Liu Shidi has never brought me such...Gifts before, why start now?” And why so close? Liu Qingge had always went out of his way to keep as much distance as possible between the two of them in the past, growling threateningly when Shen Jiu strayed to close.

“It's an alphas duty to provide," Liu Qingge nodded to himself as he spoke, “and you need the nutrients if you are to feed your infant, and nourish your body as it recovers."

Snorting, Shen Jiu turned away from his brutish shidi and smiled when Binghe cooed at him before sticking his little tongue out again.

“Peaches?” Liu Qingge leaned close, placing a hand on Shen Jiu’s knee for support as he took in several deep breaths. “Your scent smells sweet,” the alpha said as he sat back up, and pulled out of Shen Jiu’s bubble, "like peaches, and milk.”

“So? What of it?” Shen Jiu kicked at Liu Qingge, the blow far too soft as he couldn’t put any true force behind it without jarring the baby cradled in his lap. He hadn't even noticed his natural scent overtaking the false one and thought the smell of peaches in the air around them came from the nearby treas.

Removing his hand from its place on Shen Jiu’s knee, Liu Qingge dropped it into his own lap as he stared down at it. “I always thought you were weak for an alpha, unworthy of your status as peak lord, but it turns out it’s like this.”

Sneering, a growl growing in his chest, Shen Jiu turned away so his baby couldn’t see the look on his face. “Like what? Liu Shidi always made it clear how much he held me in contempt, not that I ever cared." From the moment they met Liu Qingge never missed an opportunity to rub in his face how unworthy and dishonorable he believed Shen Jiu to be.

Liu Qingge squeezed the hand in his lap into a fist. “It turns out that you are not a weak and unworthy alpha,” he paused to take a slow shaky breath, “Instead, you are the strongest omega I have ever known."

Chapter Text

“What is that supposed to mean?” Shen Jiu picked up Luo Binghe and pressed his baby's head to rest against the crook of his neck so he wouldn’t see his mother sneering at Liu Qingge before kicking harshly into Liu Qingge side, no doubt leaving a bruise.

Frustratingly, despite the blow he received, Liu Qingge did not budge and stayed firmly seated near Shen Jiu’s feet. “I wasn’t good enough in your eyes when you thought I was an alpha. A detestable cheat you said. Weak, and unworthy. But now? Now I’m suddenly strong and worthy of your praise?” Shen Jiu tried to kick Liu Qingge again only to have his ankle caught in a firm and annoyingly gentle grip.

The hand trapping him squeezed tighter before carefully setting Shen Jiu’s foot back down on the chair and holding it there as Liu Qingge had the gall to give Shen Jiu a wounded look. “That’s not…I’m trying to apologize!”

“You can take your lame excuse of an apology and shove it.” Shen Jiu tugged on his trapped leg, struggling to release himself from Liu Qingge’s grip. The struggling jostled Luo Binghe, and combined with the loud and upset voice of his mother, caused him to first whimper and then wail loudly in distress.

Shen Jiu stopped trying to break free and focused entirely on his baby, “Shh, shh, it’s alright.” Patting his Luo Binghe’s back in a soft and slow rhythm, hushing with each pat, Shen Jiu shot a glare at Liu Qingge from over his baby's head once he stopped crying before placing a quick peck on top of Luo Binghe’s soft curly tufts of hair.

A pressure spread out and surrounded Shen Jiu and his baby as it pricked oddly at his skin, and alighted his nerves with a strange sensation. At the same time the scent of fresh cut foliage, a grassy wood like smell, along with something else that left a tang on the back of Shen Jiu’s tongue as he breathed in, filled the air and grew in intensity until it was all he could perceive. “Don’t you dare,” Shen Jiu hissed weakly as his body grew warm and heavy.

Liu Qingge finally released Shen Jiu’s captured foot before he pulled his legs up to kneel on the chair, moving to push Shen Jiu's shoulders and forcing him to lay back against the incline of the chair. Shen Jiu watched with wide eyed horror as Liu Qingge placed himself over him, pinning Shen Jiu to the chair bellow as he lowered his weight onto him, making sure not to jeopardize his hold on Luo Binghe as he did so.

That horrible rumbling whine alphas made in an attempt to comfort came from Liu Qingge as he leaned closer and cupped the side of Shen Jiu’s head where his skull met his neck, and his other went to help support Luo Binghe. Shen Jiu choked when Liu Qingge rubbed his cheek to his, placing his scent on Shen Jiu for the second time in their lifetimes as the alphas nose and breath tickled his neck. “I’m sorry,’ Liu Qingge said in a pained mumble as he rubbed his thumb behind Shen Jiu’s ear.

Dazed as he was, Shen Jiu still managed to spit out, “screw you,” before his mind clouded over. Liu Qingge’s weight pressed more firmly against him as Liu Qingge continued to rub his scent onto him and picked up some of Shen Jiu’s own, marking them both as the siblings they were supposed to be but had only been acknowledged this way once before all those years ago when they ascended together as peak lords.

Purring? Shen Jiu noted as a very odd purr met his ears as something deep in his chest came to life. The sound was different than any purr he had heard in a long time, it sounded like someone was hurt and trying to self soothe. The last time he heard such a sound was when he witnessed an older omega, one from those infamous illegal brothels, curled up in a corner of a room when the Qiu’s had dragged Shen Jiu there to witness what could become of him if he did not behave to their liking before using their illegal purchase to slake their desires.

Chapter Text

Concerned eyes stared into Shen Jiu’s own as he clutched Luo Binghe tighter against his chest, the slight vibration coming from it causing the baby to giggle and babble up at his mother.

“Are you alright?” Liu Qingge asked, his eyes roaming over Shen Jiu’s face before he pressed their foreheads together while crooning in concern. The scent all around them thickened as Liu Qingge tried to comfort, and the peach like scent took on a sour note, growing more and more bitter with each passing second.

When Liu Qingge rubbed his cheek against Shen Jiu’s own he nipped at the alpha, his sharp teeth just missing Liu Qingge’s ear as his teeth clacked together. “Get off of me.” Shen Jiu weakly snarled, lifting a knee to push at the heavy weight above him.

Finally, the hand rubbing at his neck, and the weight pressing Shen Jiu down abated. Liu Qingge pushed himself up, supported by his arms on either side of Shen Jiu’s head, and frowned down at him. Shen Jiu’s breathing picked up, faster and deeper as the light purring persisted on rumbling away in his chest, the longer Liu Qigge hovered over him like that, staring down at Shen Jiu without saying a word. “Get. Off.” Shen Jiu kicked, and pressed a knee up into Liu Qingge chest before releasing a small blast of qi to aid him in pushing the heavier man off him and knocked the alpha to the ground.

Liu Qingge fell into the bloody grass below with an “oof,” missing the carcass he had so carelessly tossed there earlier by inches. “Wha?” Liu Qingge mumbled as he pushed himself up. His hair was a tousled mess that poked out every which way, blown free of its usual neat ponytail by Shen Jiu’s mostly harmless blast.

Shen Jiu snorted at how ridiculous Liu Qingge looked, the flabbergasted look on the mans face adding to the amusing sight. Served him right. The brutish man never seemed to listen to words, and only action got through his thick as a rock skull.

“I...’ Liu Qingge blinked like an idiot while he moved to sit at the end of Shen Jiu’s chair once more, and rubbed a hand through his messy hair in an attempt to tame it. “Is it because it's me? Should I get sect leader Yue to help instead? I know the two of you are close.”

“What nonsense are you blabbering about?” Shen Jiu slapped away Liu Qingge’s hand when the alpha reached for his neck again causing the other man to whine at him. What kind of bizarre sound was that? Shen Jiu wondered, he had never heard anything of the like before.

“You’re distressed,” Liu Qingge said with his hand hovering in the air as if he was unsure what to do with it.

Distressed?

After having his decorative rocks kicked about?

His garden was trampled, and the plants he painstakingly cared for where sullied!

There was a stinking and disgusting dead animal bleeding all over the place!

And then! To add to that wonderful series of events, he had been violated by an Alpha who had until today claimed Shen Jiu as his worst enemy within their sect.

How shocking it must be that he was less than pleased. Shen Jiu could practically feel his sarcastic thoughts trying to burn the offending alpha through the glare he gave Liu Qingge.

Sneering, Shen Jiu’s twitching lips curled over his teeth as he swiped at Liu Qingge’s face when the man leaned near him, but unfortunately, it was not close enough for Shen Jiu to reach. “If I am distressed it is because you are making me so!” He kicked at Liu Qingge again, but his attempt to de seat the alpha from his lounging chair failed and Liu Qingge refused to budge. Shen Jiu snarled in frustration and gave Liu Qingge one last shove for good measure.

Luo Binghe started crying again, whimpering at first when he was jostled and then wailing his little lungs out when the movements didn’t stop.

The entire world shrank down at the sound, Shen Jiu’s full attention going to his baby in an instant. Ignoring everything, even the concerned croon and the hand Liu Qingge placed on his knee, Shen Jiu Quickly pulled open his robe and brought Luo Binghe to his chest.

The crying came to an instant stop when Luo Binghe latched himself, his little sniffles taking longer to soothe as his mother comforted him.

A louder, but softer purr sprang forth like a lullaby from Shen Jiu’s chest as he rocked his nursing baby. Luo Binghe’s little hands grabbed at the fabric of Shen Jiu’s robes, and his tiny fists opened and closed as he kneaded at the cloth.

Chapter Text

Thankfully the brute finally took a hint and left Shen Jiu alone. Although Liu Qingge was still on his peak, the suddenly eager to help alpha wandering off to butcher his kill and make some meal out of it. It is going to be disgusting, he knows it. Liver, as unpalatable as it already was, throw in some medicinal recipe intended to nourish...Shen Jiu might just die.

Leaving seemed to be the best choice.

Shen Jiu barricaded the front door of his bamboo house from the inside as he hastily packed anything of value he could find along with any needed clothing. If he was quick about it he could be at his friend Zhou Lifen’s private estate by nightfall. He could resupply while there as well, and try and source another implant before his time ran out and he was forced to face the indignity of another heat.

He filled every interspatial item he had as full as he dared with all his hidden treasures he squirreled away over the years, things he never reported finding to the sect like he was supposed to and instead kept for himself. After he had finished, he slipped on some of his robes that blended better with the rich district he was going to, and left behind anything that would out him as a peak lord of Cang Qiong.

Scooping up the napping Luo Binghe, Shen Jiu adjusted his bay into a sling, making sure his babe settled before hopping out the window of his room. No sooner had he done so did he hear knocking at the barricaded door.

Shen Jiu ran swiftly, keeping to the forest floor and avoiding flying as he made his way down the mountain. He avoided all the trails, and went around the odd disciple messing about expertly. His footfalls not making a single sound as he moved.

He wondered how long it would take the others to break down his door and find him missing. With how often he had locked Yue Qingyuan out of his home and refused to answer him for hours if not days, he had a small hope that it would be some time yet before they discovered he was missing.

He ran for hours on end, forcing himself to continue on and not give in to the temptations to take the easy way and just fly when his lungs burned in protest at every breath. It was nearing sundown, the sky turning a dark orange overhead. There were no signs that he was being followed, but it was best not to test his luck, that never went well for him.

The lights from the town flickered from below the forested hill he stopped on in order to catch his breath. The quickly darkening sky turning the vague flicker of the lanterns into beacons of hope that shone as if to guide his way out of the dark.

With one last breath to soothe his aching chest, he made his way down. He fiddled with his cape, pulling the hood down and revealing his face so it did not seem as if he were trying to hide who he was or what he was doing. One must act like they belong if they want to hide in a crowd. Or break into places, guards and servants never suspect him of lying on the rare occasions he got spotted and casually took up conversations with whoever came across him.

“A-Jiu!” Zhou Lifen rushed to him when he hopped through her open window. “What happened?” She patted down his arms, before looking into his eyes. “Oh, A-Jiu.” A soft thumb whipped against his cheek catching a stray tear as it fell.

“My friend,” Shen Jiu said. Reaching up to cup the soft and familiar, safe, hand against his cheek, he took a deep breath, closing his eyes on the intake and opening the on the release. “My dearest friend, I am in desperate need of your aid.” Luo Binghe, who had been a good and unnaturally silent baby all day, began to kick up a fuss, tugging at the cape he was enclosed in.

There were no implants anymore. The maker had been executed for the crime of distributing them to omegas, and endangering their health and their coveted fertility before he had even joined Yue Qi’s sect. Shen Jiu was the very last of the small group fortunate enough to receive such a priceless treasure all those years ago that was still alive, the rest being short lived mortals. He had to make do with ingested suppressants, that were admittedly of the highest quality, but simply could not compare. One missed dose and it was all over.

Zhou Lifen and the others of the black market that catered to omegas helped him sell some of his things and purchase a property in Huan Hua’s territory. What better place was there to hide than the one place Cang Qiong would never suspect an omega to go?

“This...This one can never thank you enough,” Shen Jiu said, pausing to look back at Zhou Lifen as he stepped out of the carriage at the gates to his new home.

“A-Jiu need never thank me,” Zhou Lifen crossed her arms. “But I know you. A-Jiu always hates to feel indebted or useless. So if it would help, we are always in need of fresh supplies. Providing for all our patrons is no easy task with all these raids.” She leaned over, placing a hand on the seat for support and placed a lingering kiss to his brow.

The new home was spacious enough, the supplies he had ordered and paid for had already been settled in, and the courtyard freshly cleaned and refurbished. He paused at the pond, watching the colorful fish swim as he gently rocked Luo Binghe. A nice touch, the pond resembling one from Cang Qiong.

“This is our home now Binghe,” he crooned down at his baby. Luo Binghe's hands reaching for his face, and catching on his hair instead. The familiar action made him laugh as he took the first steps into the building they would be staying in for the foreseeable future.

Chapter Text

This was not the first time Shen Jiu had to pass himself off as a beta, but the lack of any discernible scent bothered him. He missed the familiar, safe, alpha scent he had grown accustomed to. A steady scent of bitter green tea with soft hints of bamboo.

The treatment he received from most alphas he encountered since he settled here, was one of indifference, or the odd entitled bossing when one felt the need to assert their dominance. His choice to pass himself off as a rich and successful business owner, and recent widower, served him well enough in avoiding too much trouble from the alphas whose influence he lost the ability to shield himself from with the confiscation of his implant, and spoiled bratty omegas. There where omegas who were worse than alphas in their treatment of their beta servants and slaves. Treating the more vulnerable under them as an emotional outlet.

He once witnessed such an omega, a traditional omega cultivator and wife of a prominent clan head, beat one of her servants nearly to death before abandoning the young beta girl in the street to die. His stupid heart ached for the girl laying limp like a broken doll in the wet mud, and he ended up hiding her at the Qiu estate, sneaking around and scrounging for money to pay for the medicine she needed. Three weeks had passed before the Qiu’s found him out, and sold his friend he had so diligently nursed back to health off to a brothel. They even had the nerve to compliment him on the quality and unparalleled beauty of his find, giving him rewards that stung worse than any whip of theirs ever had.

Zhou Lifen and he would not meet again until he left the Qiu household behind, and fell in with Yue Qi’s sect. She proved to be adept at the cultivation he taught her whenever he could afford the cost of a night with her, and she practiced hard from the manuals he had given her that he nicked from those unworthy bastards who dared look down on him. Liu Qingge’s manual had proved to be useless, but watching him run around like a chicken with its head cut off looking for it was well worth the wasted effort. So was the endless, often loud, and violent scolding that haughty wanna be righteous teen had been subjected to by his equally brutish shifu.

“Master Shen,” called one of his new servants. An omega girl disguised as a beta he had taken in at a friend's request. Not suited to cultivation, unfortunately, but eager to serve and didn’t shy away from an honest day's work. “There is a man at the gate looking for his friend Xiao chen.”

“Ling’er may Let him in,” he waved her off, ignoring how much the joyful girl reminded him of his female beta disciples. Not a single alpha disciple defiled his peak while he was in charge, he wondered how long it would take for the other lords to find an Alpha head disciple to take over his duties and ruin his hard work.

He chatted with one of the Friends Of Xiao Chen, an Alpha male he had only met in passing, and arranged for the shipment of the necessary goods each of their brothels were in dire need of. At his level of cultivation, procuring such ingredients was a simple task, it was the distribution that proved difficult. It required his friends combined efforts and intense collaboration to pull off the delivery of such hot goods, what with the near paranoid checks of all the carts going in and out of each major city. It cost them an absurd amount of money to bribe the right people, and made the cost of their products nearly unattainable for any new customers.

“One of Cang Qiong Sect’s peak lords has gone missing, they put out quite the handsome reward for any information on his whereabouts,” the nameless man said as he handed him a poster. “Now the rest of the world is aware of why Cang Qiong has been in such a panic of late. Best to keep your head down.”

Shen Jiu took the poster and frowned at the large chain of numbers listed over his visage. It was a rather poor likeness. He rocked his baby as he sat down and just stared at the paper in his hand.

There was nothing on his recently exposed status. Why were they keeping the fact that he was an omega secret? If the other sects knew the truth about him they would surely be all too eager in assisting Cang Qiong hunt him down.

No matter, he wouldn’t dwell on it. Let the fools needlessly cripple their efforts.

A bath served as a good way to relax and take his mind off everything. He held Luo Binghe close to his chest as he leaned against an edge of the large bath carved into the floor of the room, its smooth decorated tiles so different from the wooden tubs he was used to. Wonderfly warm water came all the way up to his sternum if he sat down properly, and he could lay completely flat with his arms stretched out in the middle of his bath and still not reach either end of the large pool like bath.

His Binghe had grown more playful and energetic since their move, but now insisted on comfort nursing non stop. He suckled at his mother's sore breast while trying to simultaneously play with the water. His mouth holding on with a tight seal and tugged the nipple painfully with each turn of his head. “Binghe!” Shen Jiu hissed at the next painful tug, and tried to break the stubborn boys latch on him only for his baby to look up at him with wide watery eyes, looking at him as if he had somehow betrayed his child. Wailing soon came, Luo Binghe altering between desperate pulls at his mother and terribly sad sobs.

Damn it! Shen Jiu plunked his head back against the raised edge of the bath, and gave in, as he always did when it came to his baby. He patted Luo Binghe’s back and hummed, a soft purr joining in, and his humming turned to trilling croons as he instinctively comforted his baby.

He ended up having to make use of the goat milk he had been purchasing as part of his cover as a widowed beta father. Luo Binghe was growing so fast, and Shen Jiu could no longer fill the greedy child's stomach. Watching Luo Binghe chug down another bottle of supplemental goat milk, Shen Jiu ignored the rising sense of failure that threatened to strangle his heart, and simply enjoyed pinching gently at Luo Binghe’s soft and plump cheeks and arms. Each giggle spit out between gulps of milk lightened the strain pressing against his heart.

Chapter Text

It was a normal day out, spent wandering the stalls lining the market when it happened by chance. Nobody had been looking for Shen Jiu and his Binghe in this city and Qi Qingqi had simply been passing through on unrelated business when she had caught sight of him on the overcrowded street purchasing a small trinket for Luo Binghe. Barely eight months had passed since he had successfully left the sect, he didn’t even make it a year all thanks to pure chance.

Unaware of the alpha woman's gaze following him around the market, Shen Jiu smiled at his baby that he held securely against side, Luo Binghe’s little legs wrapped loosely against his mother's hip as Shen Jiu teased the new toy in and out of his little hands reach. Cats and babies, it seemed, had a lot in common he mused as Luo Binghe let forth a new round of raucous laughter each time the toy was pulled out of his range. The wildly curly hair his baby had always sported bounced around as Luo Binghe strained to swat at the toy, the curls had grown tamer the longer they grew, and their length now reached just above Luo Binghe’s chin.

He had just finished putting Luo Binghe down to sleep that night, and was hovering over the crib watching his baby's chest move slowly up and down when an arm wrapped around his waist. Before he could do more than gasp, a hand latched onto his throat and pulled him firmly back against the intruder so a nose could nuzzle lightly against the side of his neck as his assailant breathed in a deep breath. He instinctively grabbed at the hand at his neck, catching the deceptively delicate wrist in his grip. “Qi shimei,” he greeted calmly when she lifted her head away from his neck, her grip on him unyielding.

“Huan Hua territory,” Qi Qingqi huffed, ending with a small snort of laughter. “The one region no one would think to look for a runaway omega, smart. One hell of a gamble though, you’re lucky it was one of your own pack that found you and not one of those Huan Hua perverts.” A musty scent of old flowers, the kind of flowers that had long since been plucked and dried and had nearly lost all their natural smell, with a hint of musk invaded his senses. It was comforting rather than muddling, his mind remaining blissfully clear for once with the lack of a thrall behind Qi Qingqi’s overpowering presence.

They stood at a standstill for some minutes, when no attempt to struggle came from him Qi Qingqi let go of his neck, sliding her hand down to join its twin at his waist. ”Cute kid,” She said, resting her chin on his shoulder as she looked down at the sleeping babe in the crib in front of them. “It’s too bad I didn’t get to see him before that idiot chased you away, I bet he was even cuter as a newborn.” A whine of complaint followed her words, the noise making it easy to imagine a pout on his shimei’s face. “Disturbing a new omega mother like that,” she tsked, hugging his waist tighter. He relaxed in her grip, the warm sense of comfort easing his tense nerves, and he placed a hand limply against the noose of Qi Qingqi’s arms.

A sense of panic raced through his blood and pounded against his heart when Qi Qingqi tried to pull away, a desperate, pathetically needy whine slipping out of his traitorous throat as he dug his fingers into her arm. The foreign, near silent purr that vibrated inside his chest when Qi Qingqi wrapped her arms tightly against his waist again caused shame to burn through him, its flames licking at his face and stinging his eyes.

Qi Qingqi let out a low croon as she nuzzled lightly at his brow, an alpha’s attempt at comfort that Shen Jiu had never experienced before. All other affection or comfort from an alpha he had ever been offered had come with the strings of control attached, even Yue Qingyuan’s so called comfort was tainted with it. Yet another promise he had broken.

He turned in Qi Qingqi’s arms, wrapping his own around the alpha as he hid his face in her neck and choked in surprise. Peaches, he breathed in again, his natural scent clung to Qi Qingqi’s skin. The milky scent stark and fresh. Clinging tighter with his growing unwillingness to let go of this undemanding affection from a bonded pack member, his fingers dug in so desperately that his nails scratched into the skin of his shimei’s back. It must have been painful, but Qi Qingqi didn’t pull away or chastise him.