Violent retching filled the bamboo house for the third time that night as Shen Qingqiu leaned over a bucket he had placed near his bed. Whatever was happening to him he could no longer deny that he was sick.
The symptoms came on slow at first, strong smells turning Shen Qingqiu’s stomach and his appetite abating bit by bit until it was all he could do to eat light soups and lightly flavored tea. Pickled anything seemed to help soothe the ache in his belly, and didn’t overwhelm his taste buds like most other food had been but nothing he did could stop him waking in the middle of the night and the early hours of the morning to empty out his stomach.
Shen Qingqiu was an immortal, how was it possible for him to be sick like this? Shen Qingqiu mentally whined as he leaned over the bucket once more. Had he been poisoned? None of his symptoms matched any poison that he had ever read about, and he knew them all. It couldn’t be a qi deviation, everything he knew told him his qi, while weaker and behaving oddly, was fine and any discrepancies matched with what he knew happened when one was ill.
Damn it, he was going to have to go see Mu Shidi wasn’t he? He hated troubling anyone over these types of things, but he wasn’t Shen Yuan anymore and persistent minor symptoms of illness meant a lot more when an immortal cultivator was experiencing them and whatever was causing the symptoms would need to be treated.
“Can you repeat your symptoms for me?” Mu Qingfang asked with a frown and furrowed eyebrows as he gently took Shen Qingqiu’s wrist in between his fingers and began his exam as the pair sat on the spare bed he kept in his rooms for patients that required his around the clock attention.
The kind overworked medic had answered his door despite the late hour, his hair attractively sleep ruffled and his inner robes wrinkled and askew as he blinked in drowsy and dazed concern at Shen Qingqiu who stood on his doorstep.
“Nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and general malaise,” Shen Qingqiu listed off with the dullness of someone who had to do this kind of task regularly.
Other people's scents were also causing him problems, but he brushed that off as an Alpha’s intolerance for other Alpha’s as it seemed the only people whose scents caused his stomach to turn and for a sense of wariness or rage to kindle under his skin were all Alpha’s. Only Luo Binghe seemed to be immune to the response, a sense of comfort and familiarity calming his nerves whenever it was just him and the boy in their home.
Confusion overcame Mu Qingfang’s face as his fingers twitched against Shen Qingqiu’s wrist before he gave him a contemplative look. “Forgive me for my boldness, but I have to ask, has Shixiong m..,” Mu Qingfang paused to look at Shen Qingqiu’s neck before looking into his eyes, “...had relations with another Alpha? It is exceedingly rare but it is possible…”
...What?...Sex, was Mu Qingfang asking if he had….Shen Qingqiu was known to be promiscuous, but it was with beta women, not Alphas. And what was rare? ...If he caught an std he was going to murder Airplane the second he could get his hands on that shitty author. See if he didn't.
“I...I Don’t know,” Shen Qingqiu answered honestly, whatever the original goods did or did not do in private was not something he was aware of.
“I see,” Mu Qingfang said, a hint of something sad in his voice as he spoke softly. “Could Shixiong lay back on the bed for me, I’d like to examine your stomach if that's alright.”
Dread nipped coldly at Shen Qingqiu’s nerves as he complied, giving Mu Qingfang a nod in lieu of speaking as the sensation tickled up his limbs. Usually, Mu Qingfang only ever had to take his pulse to discern what was wrong with him, for him to need to do a more hands on exam...It was concerning. Something must be seriously wrong. Had he made a terrible mistake waiting as long as he did before seeking medical attention?
“We had suspected Shen Shixiong might be suffering from some memory loss,” Mu Qingfang said, smiling reassuringly at him as his hand pushed and kneaded around his lower stomach.
“...” Shen Qingqiu’s heart began to race as his eyes moved to look at Mu Qingfang in observation and repressed fear before he managed to stifle the urge to run. “More than some it would seem,” he confessed before turning to stare at the wall as the medic did his work.
“Shixiong,” Mu Qingfang said carefully when he pulled his hands away, leaving Shen Qingqiu’s stomach feeling icy cold with their absence. “This one know’s that Shen Shixiong has made his reluctance on more intimate exams clear in the past, but…”
...Intimate exams? As Shen Yuan he had been through the wringer with all things medical exams, he doubted anything Mu Qingfang needed to do would faze him. “It’s fine,” Shen Qingqiu said like an idiot.
When he had blindly consented to this he had thought Mu Qingfang was talking about being naked or something not... Shen Qingqiu blushed furiously, his hands clenching tightly to the blanket Mu Qingfang had draped over him while the medic sat in between his spread legs. He valiantly ignored the slick press of fingers into him, feeling a small sense of gratefulness that it wasn’t cold like he had expected it to be.
Just what kind of std did he get saddled with? Shen Qingqiu wondered, mentally going over the novel from front to back in an attempt to figure out what the hell the original goods had been up to in those brothels.
“It is how I suspected,” Mu Qingfang said after he pushed on something that made Shen Qingqiu jerk in surprise before pulling away and helping him readjust his robes. “With your issues with your memories, I have to wonder...Does Qingqiu not know he is not an Alpha?” A gentle hand carefully placed itself on Shen Qingqiu’s shoulder as Mu Qingfang looked at him with concern, Mu Qingfag’s thumb gently rubbing against the side of his neck as if to comfort.
Not an Alpha? It would make sense for the scum villain to be a beta in disguise, the main villain was always hiding something or manipulating people.
Shen Qingqiu shook his head as he stared down at his lap. Beta’s were not allowed to be Peak Lords or high ranking leaders, if he was a beta...would he not be allowed to be a Peak Lord anymore? Would he lose his students? His Binghe? His hands trembled at the thought of losing everything he had grown to love.
“What’s wrong with me?” Shen Qingqiu asked, more for something to distract him from the possible train wreck he was heading into than actually wanting to know.
“Qingqiu..” Mu Qingfang started to speak before shifting to sit closer to Shen Qingqiu and running a soothing hand through his hair as a calming scent of cool mint and earthy herbs emitted from the Alpha physician. “Qingqiu is with child.”
…..What? Shen Qingqiu’s mind whited out, static ringing in his ears as he stared at Mu Qingfang like the man was insane. Beta men couldn’t get pregnant.
“That’s not possible,” Shen Qingqiu said in knee jerk denial as one of his hands went to press against his stomach. If he wasn’t an Alpha then the only way he could possibly be pregnant was… “I can’t be pregnant.” To be an Omega, let alone an unmated pregnant omega was not something he could handle.
“Qingqiu,” Mu Qingfang spoke calmly, his scent matching his words as he gently ran his hand through Shen Qingqiu’s hair before cupping the side of his neck and rubbing his thumb in soothing circles underneath his chin and ear. “A-Qiu, it’s alright, there are ways to handle this if you do not wish to have this child, none of us will find fault or judge you for whatever decision you decide to make.”
“I’m not...I can’t be an Omega...Mu Shidi,” Shen Qingqiu said ending on a choked whine as he reached out, clutching at Mu Qingfang’s arm as tightly as he clutched his middle before leaning forward and pressing his forehead to the medic's shoulder. “Omega’s can’t be Peak Lords,” He murmured into the safety of Mu Qingfang’s neck, breathing in whatever it was that was so soothing that was coming from the medic.
“No one is going to take away what's rightfully yours,” Mu Qingfang soothed, gently patting the back of Shen Qingqiu’s head before trailing his hand back down to rub at his neck. “None of A-Qiu’s martial siblings will tolerate anyone trying to separate our pack. I promise you, everything is going to be alright.”
How could any of this possibly turn out alright? He thought he had had it bad being landed as an Alpha scum villain in a world dominated by Alpha’s but for that villain to actually be and Omega...That was already bad enough, but also pregnant and without an Alpha? There wasn’t much worse you could get in a world like this.
“I can make A-Qiu some medicine if he would like, no one else need know this ever happened,” Mu Qingfang spoke carefully, the soft timbre of his voice laced with care and concern.
No one needed to know? Shen Qingqiu sniffed before he pulled away and looked into Mu Qingfang’s eyes as he tried to puzzle out what the Alpha was saying. Abortion, his mind helpfully supplied through the white haze his panic had laced over his mind like a fine net.
Jerking back, Shen Qingqiu clutched his stomach even tighter as he wrapped his arm around his middle as if to shield the small spark of life from Mu Qingfang. “No!” Shen Qingqiu snapped out as something raged inside him, building into a dull roar in his ears that turned into an audible growl.
Raising his hands in the air, Mu Qingfang hummed a soft rumbling coo as he put some distance between them. “Alright,” Mu Qingfang said as he slid off the bed before turning away to put around his house. ”If that is your wish, then I can make medicine to help with your morning sickness and a nutritional soup that should help aid in your baby's growth.”
The offer for relief from the nightmare that was his stomach calmed Shen Qingqiu’s nerves the low frequency growl fading away until it was only a tickle in his chest as he watched Mu Qingfang work.
“Many thanks,” Shen Qingqiu mumbled thoughtlessly as he accepted a bowl filled with some sort of liquid. He had just growled at someone...He had never growled the entire time he has lived as Shen Qingqiu. It was a weird feeling, both physically and mentally with how pure instinct and the need to protect overcame his rational mind.
“If Qingqiu wishes to keep this child then Yue Shixiong and the others must be informed,” Mu Qingfang said as he sat back down on the bed, hovering on the edge to give Shen Qingqiu as much distance as he could.
Holding the bowl in one hand and the spoon in the other Shen Qingqiu stirred the contents, tapping at the edge of the bowl a few times before finally taking a hesitant sip. It didn’t taste good, but it wasn’t bad, whatever this was it didn’t really have much of a flavor at all and it settled his stomach and filled his aching belly with its warmth.
“This Shixiong understands,” Shen Qingqiu said between small sips, pausing to look up at Mu Qingfang when the Alpha placed a hand on his knee.
“Since Qingqiu is carrying and the danger of his heat is no longer an issue Qingfang advises against consuming any more moon tea at this time,” Mu Qingfang said as he carefully inspected the things Shen Qingqiu told him he made use of every day.
With none of the original goods memories, Shen Qingqiu had no idea what was and what wasn’t things he had used to hide his dynamic and what was perfectly normal products. So far, Mu Qingfang had found that almost all his bath and beauty products were illicit goods, and he was currently holding up and inspecting a bag of tea that Shen Qingqiu made and drank every morning.
“Moon tea?” Shen Qingqiu asked before carefully taking another sip from a steaming bowl of soup, a nutritional blend this time, it was something given to all expecting mothers. It tasted really good, and he had downed three bowls so far.
“You…” Mu Qingfang blinked at Shen Qingqiu before sighing and dropping the hand holding the bag of tea down. “Qingqiu was not aware of what it was he was consuming?” The Alpha medic looked exhausted and guilty, his tired eyes raising to look at Shen Qingqiu had a look of pain inside them. “We have been more than simply negligent in our duties then, to think none of us noticed...A-Qiu is very talented at pretending he is fine.”
Setting the sachet of tea leaves on the table, Mu Qingfang sighed before coming to sit next to Shen Qingqiu on his couch. “Moon tea is used to prevent heats, and is not safe to consume while pregnant,” Mu Qingfang explained before taking Shen Qingqiu’s empty bowl and refilling it, ladling out another serving from the little pot of soup he had brought with him when they returned to Shen Qingqiu’s home.
“...Where is it, exactly, that you have been acquiring this tea?” Mu Qingfang asked when he handed Shen Qingqiu the refilled bowl.
Taking the bowl back, Shen Qingqiu eagerly took another sip, making sure to still be polite as he brought the spoon to his lips. Where? He tried to think back on where the little bags of tea came from, an odd comment from Shang Qinghua about the excessive amount he spent on tea at the last meeting flashed through his mind as he swallowed his food.
“It comes in with everything else that is delivered to my peak each week,” Shen Qingqiu answered as he placed his spoon back in his bowl. “Is it not something that anyone can purchase?” It seemed odd that something used to control heats wouldn’t be widely available, heats were terribly inconvenient from what he could tell and he would think just about everyone would be happy to have at least some control over them.
“...No,” Mu Qingfang said, hesitant, “Moon tea should only ever be taken under the supervision of a physician and it is not something just anyone can buy.”
Why didn’t he believe that? It sounded like the excuses that had been given for why women shouldn’t have easy access to birth control, a pinch of truth mixed with a load of bias and a desire to control.
“Qingqiu has an Alpha staying with him?” Mu Qingfang asked seemingly out of nowhere, his nose flaring as he tilted his head back and looked around the bamboo house.
“Mnn,” Shen Qingqiu nodded after taking another sip of his soup. “My youngest disciple, Luo Binghe.” The little protagonist had been staying with him just shy of a month now, and was finally sleeping soundly through the night.
“Shizun?” Luo Binghe’s voice called as his door slid open, one of his hands rubbing at his eyes.
Sighing, Shen Qingqiu handed his bowl to Mu Qingfang before standing up and opening his arms, inviting Luo Binghe to him. Without hesitating Luo Binghe pressed close to him, wrapping his arms around Shen Qingqiu’s middle while snuggling into his chest.
“Did we wake Binghe?” Shen Qingqiu asked as he petted his little sleepy sheep, enjoying the soft fuzziness that was Luo Binghe’s hair. An impulse overtook him and he acted on it before his mind thought better of it, licking Luo Binghe’s brow without conscious thought before drowsily rubbing his cheek against the same spot. Mine, something in him purred.
“No,” Luo Binghe lied before yawning and blinking up at Shen Qingqiu with a cute look of bewilderment on his face. “This disciple couldn’t sleep and thought he heard voices….”
“And Binghe thought to investigate?” Shen Qingqiu huffed a chuckle, booping his nosey child on the nose before turning Luo Binghe around and coaxing him back to his bedroom. “As my disciple can see, all is well. Now back to bed with you, growing children require a good night rest and this master will not tolerate sleepy disciples in his classroom.”
Mu Qingfang was smiling when Shen Qingqiu returned after tucking a reluctant Luo Binghe back into his bed.
Nearly all of Shen Qingqiu’s bath and beauty products were confiscated and replaced that night. What he had thought was scented hair oil had turned out to be false Alpha pheromones, and the soaps were actually scent blockers that were designed to wash away a person's natural scent or temporarily block the scent glands from producing any scent at all. He had shuddered in horror when he learned that many of the soaps contained ingredients like aluminum or mercury, things he knew to be toxic.
Yue Qingyuan showed up the next day, knocking on Shen Qingqiu’s door minutes after Luo Binghe had left for his morning lessons with the hall masters. A look of barely contained horror bubbled just under the surface of the normally calm and collected sect leader as he stood in Shen Qingqiu’s doorway.
“Mu Shidi has spoken to you I presume?” Shen Qingqiu said coolly as he prepared some of the normal green tea Mu Qingfang had given him after letting Yue Qingyuan in, the Alpha had yet to say a word and sat silently at Shen Qingqiu’s dining table.
“Xiao Jiu…” Yue Qingyuan said, soft and sorrowful as he accepted the tea Shen Qingqiu poured for him.
Shen Qingqiu’s hand shook, a small jerk as he pulled the teapot up and the tea nearly spilled before he caught himself and carefully poured himself a cup. “Qingqiu,” He said, a quiet reminder, and silent plea all at once.
This was not the first time he had to ask Yue Qingyuan not to call him like that, it made him uncomfortable to be reminded of whatever closeness Yue Qingyuan and the original Shen Qingqiu may have once had. Based on the Alphas easy acceptance of Shen Qingqiu’s rejection it was not hard to guess that the men's relationship had been long since strained.
“Qingqiu...I…” Yue Qingyuan placed his hand on top of Shenn Qingqiu after he put the teapot down. Sad silver eyes tried to meet Shen Qingqiu’s own as Yue Qingyuan carefully took Shen Qingqiu’s hand between his own after gently lifting Shen Qingqiu’s hand away from the teapots handle. “I would take responsibility for you, if you would let me.”
“Responsibility?” Shen Qingqiu asked, confused and truly uncomprehending until the implications of what Yue Qingyuan was saying sunk in. “That is not necessary,” He said, rushed but cold as he tried to pull his hand away from Yue Qingyuan’s firm grip.
Were he and Yue Qingyuan secret lovers or something? Was that why he had a surprise bun in the oven...No, Yue Qingyuan wasn’t the type to sleep with someone without being mated to them.
YQY's yandere is peeking through, but he isn't going to force SQQ into anything.
Quick update. Depression kicked my butt this week and I am only just now getting my writing grove back.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Not necessary…” Yue Qingyuan said with a hint of incredulousness maring his nearly blank tone of voice.
The hand caging Shen Qingqiu’s own squeezed, Yue Qingyuan grip just shy of painful as he stared at Shen Qingqiu with an unfathomable look in his eyes.
“Qingqiu is an unmated Omega whose belly will soon grow to be obviously full with his pup, of course, it is necessary.” Yue Qingyuan’s calm facade cracked and his words trembled with the force of emotion the Alpha was suppressing.
Taking in a startled breath through his nose Shen Qingqiu tried not to panic.
Having never been faced with the prospect that only ever affected women in his own world he had not thought of the consequences of choosing to keep this baby would mean for him. It was worse here than his own world. Unmated mothers were seen as unrepentant whores in this world, shunned for their daring to love outside of a bond, or the crime of enjoying sex at all.
“This master does not require a mate,” Shen Qingqiu said cooly, giving another tug on his hand and frowning at Yue Qingyuan when the Alpha refused to let go.
“Xiao Jiu,” Yue Qingyuan sighed before finally letting go of Shen Qingqiu’s hand.
“Qingqiu,” Shen Qingqiu snipped, crossing his arms at his chest and slipping his hands into the safety of his sleeves.
Yue Qingyuna paused, looking at Shen Qingqiu with a frown before clenching his fist. “While I understand your hesitation Xiao Jiu does indeed require a mate.”
That name again. Shen Qingqiu dug his nails into his arms to stop him from slapping Yue Qingyuan. This man just wouldn’t learn, and now persisted in calling him so intimately despite Shen Qingqiu’s protests, he used to at least stop when asked but now.
Did being an Omega in this shitty world really make that much of a difference that even a saintly brother type would not respect his Omega sect sibling's boundaries?
He made to speak, to protest, but Yue Qingyuan stopped him with a raised hand and a firm gaze when he parted his lips.
“As it stands,” Yue Qinyuan said coldly before dropping his raised hand into his lap with a sigh. “Our sect and your Alpha’s will be hard pressed to keep you in your rightful position as Peak Lord, If you are not mated by the time your pregnancy becomes obvious…”
Was he being given a time limit to find a mate or being blackmailed into being Yue Qingyuan’s mate? Shen Qingqiu inhaled sharply, jerking back in his seat while staring at Yue Qingyuan.
“This master will not be forced into mating with anyone, if I am ever to mate it will be for love and love alone.”
His arms and legs felt numb, his heart skipping a beat before fear squeezed it in a tight grasp. Even as an Alpha, Shen Qingqiu held power only at Yue Qingyuan's whim. As an Omega...Yue Qingyuan had complete control over his life and his body, Yue Qingyuan could force him to marry anyone he pleased or have him secluded away in the name of honor.
“Force…” Yue Qingyuan blinked before muted horror played across his face. “Xiao Jiu no, no one would force you. I only meant to protect you and if you wish to keep this child a mate would shield you from the plotting whispering vermin who would see you ruined.”
A false sense of I know what is best mixed with good intentions and the name of safety then. Shen Qingqiu felt his body relax, the stiffness in his limbs easing. Whatever happened, at least no one here would force themselves onto him. A shudder ran through him at the true implications of his new sex, no matter if he paired with the acceptable male or female Alpha as an Omega he would be the one….the one...Where would it even go? Wait...How would his baby?
“Would...Would Xiao Jiu at least be willing to entertain courtships, if love is what you seek then surely there should be no issues?” Yue Qingyuan looked shyly hopeful as he hesitantly raised his hand and placed it on Shen Qingqiu’s forearm, a sad desperation pooling inside his dark eyes. “Perhaps, if all goes well, and Xiao...and Qingqiu finds the love he seeks in time everything will work out.”
“I do not,” Shen Qingqiu frowned, the feeling of Yue Qingyuan rubbing his thumb into his arm through the silken fabric of his sleeve distracting him. It was simultaneously annoying and soothing, calming his nerves along with the odd warm scent in the air. “I do not need a mate, but...I might consider a sincere courtship.”
Liu Qingge dropping the carcass of some rare beast at his doorstep and running off with a red face the next morning was the last thing Shen Qingqiu expected when he woke up that day. Luo Binghe was all too happy to remove the mess from his shizun’s sight and made quick work of butchering the poor beast. Guiltily, the soup and dishes made from the beast were the best food Luo Binghe had made so far. The boy practically glowed at Shen Qingqiu telling him so, praising Luo Binghe after each bite of a new dish.
YQY is going about it wrong but he is right, they will have to deal with a lot of horrible crap and attempts to ruin SQQ and CQ once it comes out SQQ is not only an Omega but an unmated pregnant Omega.
Sexist, and controlling behavior abound, but no one is going to force SQQ to mate.
LBH/SQQ happens when LBH comes back as an adult.
LBH also listened in, and is going to be not so secretly attempting to court his Shizun, and being a pouty secretly territorial Alpha who has to watch other Alphas like YQY and LQG try and court SQQ.