Actions

Work Header

I just want to be an NPC, okay? Extras

Chapter Text

As Shen Yuan waits patiently for Luo Binghe to rescue him from whatever godawful trap he fell into...more like ruthlessly dragged by his tails by a band of shark-headed demons, he reminisces about the good old days when he was the one saving Luo Binghe from such traps. Secretly, of course. The protagonist should appear mighty and indomitable at all times, needing no help whatsoever. 

How did their positions change so suddenly? 

Quite frankly, Shen Yuan thinks Luo Binghe is cursed. He has no proof for this hypothesis, merely going by his knowledge of Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky's harebrained-plot devices. 

This "curse" was simple. Anything that could go wrong will go wrong in Luo Binghe's presence, but the one who would be endangered was a lovely maiden. A contrived damsel in distress plot to force Luo Binghe into action. Luo Binghe saves the damsel, the damsel would feel such great affection for her saviour and then they'd fuck for the next ten or so chapters until Luo Binghe moved on to the next girl and repeat the process until he collected his six hundred or so wives and concubines. 

So why did the curse apply to him?! Shen Yuan was neither lovely nor a maiden. He was just a fox demon NPC stuck into the knowledgeable older brother role (please note that such a role never existed in the original Proud Immortal Demon’s Way). Where were the hordes of women just waiting to be rescued as if they'd lost all sense of self-preservation the moment Luo Binghe came within a hundred li of them? Can they please fulfill their roles properly?! Shen Yuan isn't getting paid to do two roles at once, okay?! 

Shen Yuan squirms around, his ire building up as the Immortal Binding Cables bite into his bare flesh. At least the shark men had the decency not to hogtie him like an animal, though their way of binding was a little too similar to the decorative knotwork of shibari. Shen Yuan tried not to think too hard why that was.

What was the point of stripping him down to his trousers? It's not like his robes had protective talismans sewn in or any other special qualities. They were just robes that the System spawned in. Who wants to see a man's bare chest? He's cold and his fingers feel more like ice cubes than appendages because they left him on the unforgiving, rocky cave floor half-naked and he can’t even use his foxflames to warm himself because the Immortal Binding Cables were blocking his demonic energy. 

What's more, they even blindfolded and gagged him too, afraid that he would use his fox demon powers to charm them. As if Shen Yuan had a neat ability like that. Charming was a skill locked behind 10000 points. Shen Yuan still hasn't farmed out enough points to buy it from the System's shop. 

The entrance to the shark men's hideout explodes without warning, rocks smashing against the floor. The shark men yell at each other in their burbling language, weapons clanking as they prepare themselves for the invader. 

Shen Yuan tries to push himself up into a sitting position, but only manages to roll himself on his side, feeling like a blind fish on a cutting board. 

He hears Luo Binghe's furious voice above the screeching of metal and sounds of fighting. "Treating Yuan-ge with such disrespect, you really are looking to die!" 

Shen Yuan doesn’t know how Luo Binghe grew so attached to him that he was willing to come and save him time after time, even getting angry on his behalf for being kidnapped to be sold off to highborn demons. He’s just glad that Luo Binghe didn’t immediately try to kill him upon their meeting, his face apparently similar enough to Shen Qingqiu’s that he was initially mistaken as him.

The air soon reeks of blood and singed flesh, punctuated by anguished screams and the screeching of steel as Luo Binghe crosses weapons with the shark men. It's a shame Shen Yuan couldn't watch Luo Binghe in action with this stupid blindfold. 

Not much time passes before the cavern falls eerily silent. Shen Yuan feels Luo Binghe's presence as he moves closer, eventually coming to kneel beside him. Shen Yuan's lifted up into a sitting position, his blindfold untied. He blinks a few times, his blurry vision sharpening into focus. 

Luo Binghe looks at him as if he were about to cry, his hands shaking as he removes the gag. He crushes Shen Yuan to his chest, trembling with guilt. "Yuan-ge...this lowly one apologizes for being so inept…" 

Shen Yuan sighs and bumps his head into Luo Binghe's chest since he couldn’t pat him. "Get us out of here before you start crying. The scent of blood and fish guts is nauseating." 

Luo Binghe nods, sniffling. He shrugs his outer robe off and wraps it around Shen Yuan before picking him up in a bridal carry. He leaves the shark men's hideout, strewn with carnage like a pack of Black Abyss Wolves had gotten in and mauled everyone. 

Shen Yuan bites back his indignities, sinking into Luo Binghe's arms with a dark look on his face. 

As for Luo Binghe, a certain image brands itself into his hormone-addled mind now that Shen Yuan was safe in his arms. While the situation of how Shen Yuan came to be bound like that was extremely hateful and would never come to pass again so long as he lived, he couldn't deny that it was alluring. 

Blood red Immortal Binding Cables crisscrossing over Shen Yuan's lily-white skin, his arms tightly bound at his back in such a way that forced his chest to stick out, drawing attention to two pale pink buds. Oh, how Luo Binghe would love to take each bud into his mouth and suckle until they bloomed into bright red flowers, or to pepper that delectable skin with his marks, staking his claim upon the other demon.  

Shen Yuan groans in his arms, Luo Binghe's thoughts grinding to a complete halt. His legs stop moving, rooting him into place. He looks down, immediately regretting it as he catches another flash of pale skin and Shen Yuan's face pinched with discomfort. 

"Binghe, it hurts. Cut the ropes, will you? I don’t think anyone will chase us even if there were any survivors back there." 

Luo Binghe ducks behind a cluster of large rocks, setting Shen Yuan down on one of the flatter ones. 

"Pardon my rudeness." Luo Binghe removes the robe preserving Shen Yuan's modesty, his desires ignited anew. He pulls a knife out of Shen Yuan's ever-useful qiankun bag. He places two fingers underneath a section of rope and tugs. 

"Binghe, n-not so hard…" Shen Yuan cries out, Luo Binghe freezing up with his eyes wide as saucers. 

"Forgive me…" Luo Binghe's filthy, opportunistic mind tucks that cry away for later. He places the knife under the rope, cutting up and away from Shen Yuan. Unfortunately, the Cables remain tightly bound, only cutting one portion loose. 

Luo Binghe tugs on a different section of rope, Shen Yuan groaning again. If Luo Binghe wasn't well-acquainted with his mentor/travelling companion, he'd think this sort of play was intentional, made to drive him insane with lust. But no, Shen Yuan really was this oblivious of his devastating beauty and natural talents for seduction. It was no wonder why the shark men decided to try and capture him, thinking he’d fetch a nice price. 

"Yuan-ge, I'll cut your arms free now." Luo Binghe gently turns him over, glaring down at the thick coils binding his forearms together, a length of rope looped around his neck. He lifts Shen Yuan's hair out of the way, slipping the knife under the ropes with the sharp edge facing up. Again, he cuts upwards, biting his lip when Shen Yuan lets out another noise. "I'm almost done, Yuan-ge." 

Shen Yuan huffs, his four fox tails thrashing in agitation, furry ears pinned flat against his head. "It's okay if you nick me a little, Binghe. Just get it off." 

Luo Binghe ignores him, finding the loosest section of rope and cutting into it. Thankfully, the ropes grow slack and he was able to unwind the Immortal Binding Cables easily after that, the bright red dulled into brown now that it’s been cut up so thoroughly.  

He rubs his hands all over Shen Yuan’s arms, trying to help return his circulation. There were deep marks from the Immortal Binding Cables, Luo Binghe feeling the urge to go back and set the shark men's hideout aflame to sate his murderous rage. 

Shen Yuan's demonic energy begins to flow sluggishly, Luo Binghe transferring a little of his own to boost his recovery. 

Luo Binghe wraps Shen Yuan back in his clothes, jealously covering him up. Whoever saw Shen Yuan in less than proper clothes deserves to have their eyes plucked out. (Of course, this doesn't include Luo Binghe himself.) 

Shen Yuan squirms against his embrace, pushing against his chest. "Binghe, there's no need to hold me like this!" This pose was way too similar to a maiden being comforted after a traumatic event, and Luo Binghe had no business trying it on Shen Yuan, no matter how fond Shen Yuan was of him! This was basically the start of the papapa scenes! 

Luo Binghe hugs him even tighter, even pulling Shen Yuan into his lap to pull him flush against his body. "Yuan-ge, my blood's still boiling, knowing how those beasts treated you. I'll kill whoever dares debase you like that ever again." 

Shen Yuan wants to hold his head in his hands as he listens to Luo Binghe's increasingly morbid descriptions of what he'd like to do to anyone who even looks at Shen Yuan funny. Binghe, even your PIDW counterpart wasn't this passionate when it came to defending his women. Was it Shen Yuan's fault this version turned out stickier than honey?

Shen Yuan wriggles his hands out from where they'd been pinned against Luo Binghe's chest. He cups his face with both hands, Luo Binghe falling silent, staring at him with a faint dusting of pink across his cheeks. "Binghe--" 

Luo Binghe leans in, placing the gentlest of kisses on Shen Yuan's lips. It barely passed for a kiss, for it felt like a butterfly alighting on a flower, almost weightless. 

Whatever Shen Yuan meant to say vanishes from his mind, wiped completely blank. He stares at Luo Binghe with wide eyes, his voice ripped from him. 

"...my apologies, Yuan-ge. I've been wanting to do that for a while now." Luo Binghe looks down, shoulders slumping with guilt. His voice was so, so fragile, his body curling up as if he was bracing himself to be slapped. 

Wait. Wait, wait, wait! How did the plot turn out like this?! Why was Shen Yuan in the female lead role now?! Why was Luo Binghe acting so unlike the dashing stallion protagonist he was meant to be?! Had Shen Yuan's transmigration caused this stallion novel plot (or lack thereof) to go completely sideways?

??????!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!

[Host's mental faculties are unfortunately too damaged by this unexpected blow from the Protagonist, so this System will temporarily take over the narration until he recovers.]

[In order to understand this situation, let's go back a few years, shall we? Back to Shen Yuan's initial death, caused by his idiocy and inattentiveness. I mean, dying from expired yogurt is such a lame way to go. The so-called "Truck-kun" cannot be held complicit for Mr. Shen Yuan's death. Nope. Shen Yuan was killed by an evil yogurt cup.]

[Dear readers, please allow this System to regale you with the adventures of my idiotic Host in the Endless Abyss and how we came to be in this situation.]

Chapter Text

Shen Yuan rubs his chin as he paces around the entrance to some dilapidated ruins, racking his brain for any mention of them within PIDW. He remembers all sorts of spiritual rifts in the Human Realm, as well as the Holy Mausoleum, but as far as he knew, there were no ruins in the Endless Abyss. There were only hostile wastelands, deserts, mountains, forests and swamps, all filled with dangerous creatures. 

System, is there a reason why this place is so different from canon? This isn't like Li-er-ge's village at all. Luo Binghe explored this place in chapter 174. It was just a mountainous region. 

The System quickly tosses out a reason, trying to cover its ass. [It must be from Host interfering with the Protagonist's fate.] The real reason was of course the System lowering the Abyss' difficulty. 

Ah? The world corrected itself that quickly? So this place is meant to be Luo Binghe's first dungeon so he can level up? 

[...yes. Let's go with that.] 

Li Wei watches Shen Yuan pace around, sitting on top of a fallen bit of wall with his chin resting in his palm. "Are we going in or not? Usually, you don't even think twice and just rush straight into dangerous places like these." 

Shen Yuan turns to him, betrayal on his face. "I'm not that bad now, am I?" 

"Yes, you are." 

[Yes, you are.]

Hearing both responses simultaneously in the same flat and exasperated tone sends a chill down Shen Yuan's spine, his ears folding flat and his tails drooping. 

Li Wei snorts. "Stop that. You're making me feel like I'm bullying you." He stands up and dusts himself off before walking towards the entrance. "Let's get this over with then." 

If this was meant to be Luo Binghe's dungeon, they shouldn't just casually loot it. What if he comes after them and takes back what rightfully belonged to him? 

Li Wei steps inside then stops when he realizes Shen Yuan was still hesitating. "What's gotten into you? Have you finally learned to be cautious?" 

"The treasures in this place are cursed. I've heard that only those with Heavenly demon blood can use them." 

Li Wei lifts an eyebrow. "Aren't we here for your monsters?" 

That's right...as long as they don't take the treasures, all will be fine...right? It'll be like they never entered at all. Just a peek at the monsters inside to sate Shen Yuan's curiosity.  

Shen Yuan rushes up to walk beside Li Wei before he changed his mind. He lights their path up with floating fireballs. 

System, do you have a map of this place? 

The System changes its display to a minimap, marking out the treasure rooms, traps and individual monsters. 

Have you ever worked in a videogame before? 

[Once. It was rather relaxed compared to this world.] 

If it's because of me, please don't say anything. 

[...]

Along the way, they come across various insects, large rats, lizards, ghouls and spirits. 

Shen Yuan puts his bestiary back in the System's inventory, a little disappointed that the creatures here were just your run-of-the-mill videogame monsters. 

Instead of spending hours lovingly documenting every important detail he could observe or extract from the System, Shen Yuan sweeps through the rooms, culling the population of monsters while leaving a small group of each type alive. 

"...Shen Yuan?" Li Wei looks over at him, confused with this sudden change in attitude. "I thought you liked monsters?"

"I'm thinning out their numbers, Li-er-ge. Otherwise, they'll overrun this place." 

Luo Binghe's protagonist halo would save him, but it wouldn't hurt if Shen Yuan helped out a bit. Who knows how long it'll be before he even gets here? He'll probably get sidetracked by a random demon girl or something and leave the monsters enough time to return to their current population size.  

Besides, these monsters weren't anything special. 

The System activates a high-level attack buff without warning and places it on Li Wei. Shen Yuan steadies himself against the wall, his knees too weak to support his weight and his entire body feeling like lead. 

Li Wei (understandably frightened) carries him off to the nearest safe area and props him up. 

"Shen Yuan! What happened?!" He produces a flask of water and makes Shen Yuan drink from it as he roots through their supplies for medicine. 

Shen Yuan clutches his head, squeezing his eyes closed. "Everything's spinning…" 

[I worked hard on those monsters! Host does not appreciate my efforts!] 

You said this dungeon appeared for Luo Binghe. 

The System quietly refunds the buff and tries to make its window more transparent. 

Hey! Come back here and explain! 

The System refuses to speak again. It keeps the minimap up, using it as a shield to avoid Shen Yuan. 

Shen Yuan sighs and places his hand on Li Wei's, stopping him from emptying the medicine pouch out on the floor. "Li-er-ge, I'm fine now. I think I just moved a little too fast." 

"Are you sure?" 

Chapter Text

Li Wei wants to put his head in his hands, but Luo Binghe was holding on to his wrists firmly, transferring small amounts of demonic energy with a determined expression on his face. 

He's pretty sure that almost a quarter of the energy flowing within him was Luo Binghe's, this child never failing to cleanse him of the remnants of poison multiple times a day. 

To be looked after so intently wasn't something Li Wei had experienced before; he's usually the one fussing over someone else. "You don't need to trouble yourself, Luo Binghe. I'm almost healed, I just need to rest for another day."

Luo Binghe squeezes his wrists lightly, offended. He looks at him with eyes like pools of water, hurt shimmering beneath the surface like a fish's scales. 

Guilt quickly worms its way into Li Wei's chest. He looks away, shoulders slumping in defeat. 

Shen Yuan enters the room, removing his disguise. "Binghe, the innkeeper said we could use the kitchen now." 

Luo Binghe beams. "Senior Li, do you have any requests for dinner?" 

"...can I request for Shen Yuan not to step foot in that kitchen?" 

"What's wrong with me wanting to cook for you this once, Li-er-ge?! You eat Luo Binghe's cooking all the time!" 

"You nearly burned the house down trying to cook rice." 

Shen Yuan's tails sway listlessly behind him. "...I put the fire out…" 

Luo Binghe turns away, hiding a grin behind his hand. "Yuan-ge, I'll go by myself. It's no trouble at all." 

Li Wei follows Luo Binghe but quickly gets stopped. 

"Senior Li, why are you coming along?" 

"You don't need any help?" 

"You're still injured! Please rest a little more. I can handle it." Luo Binghe herds him back to the bed, Shen Yuan sticking to his back to prevent him from getting up again. "I'll have dinner ready soon." 

Luo Binghe leaves the two of them alone, bringing the qiankun pouch with him. He's gotten quite fond of foraging and picking out tasty parts of monsters as if he's shopping at a market, storing them away in the pouch to use for cooking later. 

"Shen Yuan, are you alright?" 

"Shouldn't I be asking you that instead?" 

Li Wei untangles himself from Shen Yuan, turning to face him. Shen Yuan's dampened enthusiasm since his capture was plain to see. "About your clan...you're really alright? I'd imagine that wasn't something easy to hear." 

"Oh, that. I don't have strong feelings either way. Rather, I've been more worried about you, Li-er-ge." 

"Me?" 

Shen Yuan nods. He lowers his head, picking at his tails. "When I saw you in that state...I really thought I'd lose my mind." 

Li Wei ruffles his hair, a fond smile on his face. "So all I had to do to knock some sense into you is to get myself captured?" 

"Li-er-ge, that's not funny!" 

Li Wei gently pulls Shen Yuan's hands off his tail, white strands falling out from his fidgeting. He clicks his tongue, seeing the state of them. He was only unconscious for a day, how did Shen Yuan manage to mess them up so badly? Li Wei finds a wooden brush and drops it into Shen Yuan's hands. "Fix yourself up." 

"Li-er-ge, can I brush you first?" 

Li Wei brings his own tails closer to his body. As much as he'd like Shen Yuan to brush him, it feels inappropriate when their intentions were so different. "Worry about yourself first, Shen Yuan. You look like you've been tossed around in a tornado."

"Li-er-ge, you let Xiao Yun and Xiao Jian brush your tails but not me...is it because we're not blood-related?"

Li Wei looks off to the side, pretending that he couldn't see Shen Yuan's hurt expression, that he couldn't feel a hand closing around his heart and wringing it dry like a dirty rag. "That's not it."

"Then why not?"

Li Wei stands up. "I'll go check on Luo Binghe." He practically runs out of the room, guilt and shame chasing him like hellhounds.

Shen Yuan doesn't come after him, staying put inside Li Wei's room.

"Senior Li? Why are you standing out here?"

Li Wei jumps, looking up at Luo Binghe's concerned face. "...I was just coming to check on you."

"My apologies. I've kept you waiting." Luo Binghe balances the tray of food in one hand and opens the door to the room, standing aside to let Li Wei enter first.

Li Wei hesitates.

"Senior Li? Aren't you going in?"

"...Luo Binghe, switch rooms with me. I'm going to cultivate."

"You're not going to eat first?"

"...sorry. You and Shen Yuan go ahead." Li Wei disappears into Luo Binghe's room, shutting the door tightly.

Luo Binghe enters the room, Shen Yuan curled in on himself on the bed. "Yuan-ge? What happened?"

Shen Yuan shakes his head. He draws his knees up to his chest, hiding his face. He tucks his tails close to his body, ears pinned flat against his scalp. "I don't know, Binghe...did I make him mad?"

"It didn't seem that way to me."

Chapter Text

Li Wei catches Liu Qingge before he could fall flat on his face, mindful of the wound in his abdomen. He slings Liu Qingge's arm over his shoulders, carefully leading him back to their temporary hideout. "Idiot, who told you to fight that thing?" 

"It was getting too close." 

"You're never going to heal properly if you keep spending all of the spiritual energy you recover on killing everything we come across. This isn't the Human Realm, y'know?" Li Wei lays him down on the bedding, now frighteningly familiar with the fastenings on Liu Qingge's robes.  

Liu Qingge grumbles, but ultimately settles down and lets Li Wei peel his bloodstained robes off. They'd been in this situation far too many times; Li Wei was just as stubborn as Liu Qingge himself, so he doesn't even put up a fight anymore. 

Li Wei pulls up a bucket of water from the pool within the cave, heating it up with his foxflames. He dips a clean cloth into the warm water, wringing it out before mopping up the blood. 

Liu Qingge hisses, flinching at his touch. "Do it gently!" 

Li Wei only presses the cloth down harder, his brows knitted together and his lips pressed into a firm line as the white cloth quickly turns red. "You're going to kill yourself at this rate." 

Liu Qingge snorts. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?" 

"I'd just throw you into a den of Whip-tailed Cougars if I wanted you dead. You think you can fight back in this state? I can barely sense your spiritual energy."

Liu Qingge bites back his reply, turning his head away with a loud huff. 

Li Wei brings out the qiankun pouch, pulling a variety of medicinal pills and potions. He grinds up flesh-knitting pills into a fine powder, sprinkling it over Liu Qingge's wound. He wraps his abdomen up neatly, tightening the bandages more than necessary out of spite. "Stop wasting our medical supplies." 

"You don't have to bandage me every time." 

"I don't feel like travelling with someone who stinks of infection." 

Liu Qingge rolls his eyes. He watches Li Wei carry the bucket of dirty water to the entrance of the cave, tipping it out over some shrivelled-looking stalks. The stalks burst into bloom. Li Wei plucks three blood-red flowers, leaving the rest alone. He brings it back to Liu Qingge, holding them out expectantly. 

"What do you want me to do with those?" 

"Eat the petals. I can't make them into blood-replenishing potions without the other ingredients." 

Liu Qingge looks at the flowers dubiously. 

Li Wei sighs, plucking a petal and eating it as a demonstration. "You just watched me grow them, didn't you?" 

"All of it?" 

Li Wei nods, thrusting the flowers into Liu Qingge's hands. 

Liu Qingge tears out three petals and puts them in his mouth. They taste mildly salty but otherwise flavourless. He's eaten worse things than some flowers grown with bloody water while out on hunts. 

Li Wei digs around in the qiankun pouch again, this time pulling out a little pendant. The gem set within the metal backing alternated between blue and black, the two colours swirling together like ink in water. He clasps the pendant around his neck, his fingers closing around the gem until blue light spilled from the gaps between his fingers. 

He gently presses his hand over Liu Qingge's wound, feeding him spiritual energy. 

"How are you doing that?" 

"This thing can convert between spiritual and demonic energy." Li Wei sways suddenly, Liu Qingge reaching out to steady him. "The rate of conversion is terrible though. This only works well for Shen Yuan since his pool of demonic energy is stupidly large." 

Liu Qingge pulls him to lie down beside him, Li Wei meekly letting him manhandle him. "You lecture me on wasting my energy yet you're doing the same thing. Who's the idiot here?" 

Li Wei uses Liu Qingge's arm as a pillow, spiritual energy trickling from his fingers and seeping into Liu Qingge's wound. "Still you." 

Chapter Text

Li Wei finds Liu Qingge sitting on one edge of their camp, rubbing his hands together to warm them up. He looks at the perfectly good fire sitting in the middle, then back at Liu Qingge, shaking his head. He drapes a blanket over Liu Qingge's shoulders before taking a seat beside him. "I thought you were supposed to be a big, strong cultivator. Why are you getting cold now?" 

Liu Qingge clicks his tongue but doesn't shrug the blanket off. "You're well aware that I can't replenish my spiritual energy in this damned place." He bristles at the sound of Li Wei's soft laughter, the furrow in between his brows deepening. 

"But you're still sitting out here and not next to the fire. How's that ego working out for you, hm?" 

"You--!" Liu Qingge lunges, surprised that Li Wei doesn't dodge and instead lets him pin him to the ground. His eyes narrow into slits, suspicious of Li Wei's placid smile. He's not even fighting back, content to lay on the grass. "What are you playing at, demon?" 

"Nothing at all, Master Liu." Li Wei's voice curls around his title like heady incense, a shiver going down Liu Qingge's spine, heat building up in his body like a slow flame.

Liu Qingge's gaze drops down to where his hand was resting on Li Wei's throat. It would be so easy to apply a little too much pressure. His fingers twitch before he pulls away, not missing the little quirk of Li Wei's lips, the knowing glint in his eyes. 

Li Wei rubs his neck, imprints of Liu Qingge's fingers evident on his pale skin. "So rough...is this how you treat your women too?" 

"Dual cultivation is a crude method." 

"Please excuse this lowly demon's ignorance, Master Liu. Of course, a righteous cultivator like you would be above such indecent practices." 

Liu Qingge huffs but doesn't say anything else, simply drawing the blanket tighter around his body as if that would shield him from Li Wei's jabs. He flinches when Li Wei places a hand on his arm, an insult already at the tip of his tongue. 

Li Wei infuses warmth into the blanket using his foxflames. He smiles at Liu Qingge's baffled expression, his tails swaying behind him playfully. "If you won't sit next to the fire, what else can I do besides warm you up myself?" 

"That's unnecessary." 

"Yes, yes, the great Master Liu would rather die than accept help from a demon like me. Just turn your head the other way for a little while. Pretend I'm one of your disciples if that makes you feel better." 

"None of them would dare." 

Li Wei hums. He rubs Liu Qingge's shoulders, feeling him gradually relax underneath his touch. "No cute disciples following you around like little ducklings?" 

"If they have time to follow me around pointlessly, they have time to practice their forms." 

"So strict." 

"Cang Qiong isn't a playground. We--" Liu Qingge cuts himself off, realizing how easily he loosened his tongue around Li Wei with his wayward hands still roaming his back. "That's enough. Let go of me." 

Li Wei smirks. "I was just giving you a massage. You look like you needed it." 

"Just...go back to sleep." 

Li Wei bites back the urge to tease Liu Qingge a little more. If he goes too far, there's no doubt he'd be taking an unwanted trip down the river. 

Chapter Text

Li Wei straddles Liu Qingge's legs, a little amused at how quickly his hackles raised, his body already tensed for a fight. "Qingge, you said I had to be more forward." 

"Out with it. I’m not playing games with you, you damn fox." 

Hearing Liu Qingge's surly reply just makes him want to get under his skin even more. No wonder Li Xing likes teasing people so much. 

Li Wei dips his head down, sealing their lips together in a languid kiss. He slips his tongue inside, relishing Liu Qingge's startled gasp and the rigid set of the powerful body beneath him. He pulls back, a thin line of saliva still connecting them. He licks his lips to break that thread, satisfied with Liu Qingge's dazed state. He kisses the beauty mark underneath his eye, his fingers caressing reddened ears. 

“Is this forward enough for you?”

Liu Qingge shivers beneath Li Wei, his hands gripping his hips so tightly that he’s sure he’d find finger-shaped bruises tomorrow. "Y-you...are you poisoned?" 

"Do I have to be poisoned to want to touch you?" Li Wei moves in for another kiss, pleased that he wasn't thrown off. "I know where we could find some Thousand Nights of Yearning if you need some encouragement."  

As expected, Liu Qingge takes his bait, reversing their positions to pin Li Wei against the tree. "Who needs encouragement?!" 

This guy really is simple-minded. Li Wei loops his arms around Liu Qingge's neck, enjoying the angry, bruising kisses. Liu Qingge kisses the same way he fights; relentless and domineering. He robs the breath out of Li Wei's lungs, tearing out each gasp and moan and tucking them away under his belt like precious battle trophies. 

"Qingge, can I put it in?" 

"Put..." Liu Qingge turns crimson once the words sink in, his movements coming to a complete halt and his mouth opening and closing like a fish's. 

"We can do it like normal if it bothers you that much." Li Wei smooths Liu Qingge's hair back. "I just wanted to see what it feels like for you." 

Liu Qingge shakes his head. "You can...." 

Li Wei grins, peppering his jaw with more kisses. "Qingge is so sweet." 

"Don't patronize me, bastard." 

Li Wei hums, getting to work on undressing the peak lord. His blood thrums with excitement as he peels away the white robes, revealing defined muscles. He simply looks at the half-dressed man, nodding in approval.

Liu Qingge squirms under his gaze, slapping his palm over Li Wei’s eyes out of embarrassment. "Stop staring!" 

"This is the first time we're doing this clearheaded. Let me admire the view." 

"Y-you--!" 

"We're not in danger of dying if we don't dual cultivate this time. What's wrong with going slow?" Li Wei pushes Liu Qingge down, coming back to tease his ears a little more. He delights in his squirming, greedily taking in each shiver and gasp he made. 

He settles in between Liu Qingge's legs, guiding them to wrap around his hips. He half-misses the frantic energy that drove their previous trysts, their minds too focused on ridding themselves of the sex pollen to worry about feelings. 

Liu Qingge hides his reddened face with his arms, jolting every time Li Wei found a new place to mark up. "Hurry up before I die of embarrassment." 

"We've done way worse than this so many times now, how are you still shy?"

Chapter Text

Li Wei's skin prickles as he senses someone trailing after them. He grabs Shen Yuan's wrist, pulling him closer. His other hand comes to rest on the hilt of his sword. 

"Come out." 

A woman steps out of hiding, the pearls in her hair shimmering under the moonlight. She steps forward, but halts as Li Wei draws an inch of his sword, just enough for the steel to catch the light. He pushes Shen Yuan behind himself. 

"Stay where you are." With Shen Yuan's tendency to attract trouble, Li Wei learned that being too cautious is better than not being cautious enough. 

The woman lifts her hands up in a placating manner. "I mean no harm. I simply wanted to ask you and your companion for a favour." 

"Asking random men for favours at night?" Li Wei's eyes narrow. "Please find someone else, we're not interested." 

Shen Yuan peeks over Li Wei's shoulder, his curiosity getting the better of him. Definitely a high-class beauty. Is this one of Bing-ge's wives? "Miss, what were you going to ask us?" 

"Shen Yuan!"  

"Maybe I should have introduced myself first...I'm Ming Zhu, I own a clothing store in this town. I wanted to ask if you two could help me with my new designs." 

Well...I wasn't expecting that. Shen Yuan pulls Li Wei's arm down, stepping out from behind him. "Li-er-ge, if that's all she wants, I don't see the harm in it." 

"We don't know anything about making clothes, what help would we be?" Li Wei's suspicion hasn't lowered one bit. 

"Oh, don't worry about that. You'll just need to put them on so I can make adjustments." 

Shen Yuan tugs Li Wei forwards, intrigued. 

Li Wei digs his heels in, lowering his voice. "Shen Yuan, what if she's lying?" 

"Even if she does have bad intentions, you'll protect me, won't you?" Shen Yuan smiles, sending Li Wei's poor heart galloping like a prized racehorse.  

Li Wei nods, letting Shen Yuan pull him along. 


It turns out that Ming Zhu was telling the truth. She leads them into her workshop on the second floor of her store, bolts of fabric, scraps and balls of paper strewn all over like a tornado had blown past. 

"Did someone try and rob you?" Li Wei steps over the mess, careful not to put his footprints on the fabrics. 

"Ah…no, this is my fault." Ming Zhu lets out an embarrassed laugh, hurriedly cleaning up. "I've been having a hard time coming up with new designs, so I went out for a walk to get some inspiration. That's when I saw the two of you."  

Shen Yuan starts picking up the crumpled balls of paper. On them were half-finished sketches of what looked to be more modern styles of clothing. 

"Please sit down, there's no need to clean up after me!" Ming Zhu pulls out a basket full of more paper balls, making Shen Yuan dump them inside. 

"How can you work in such a messy place? It's no wonder you're at a loss for inspiration." Li Wei puts the bolts of fabric into a bamboo basket, grumbling under his breath. 

Ming Zhu covers her face. "I didn't think this through…how embarrassing..." 

Shen Yuan laughs. "Miss Ming, please excuse Li-er-ge's rough speech. He means well. We'll help you clean up first." 

Ming Zhu just nods, seeing that neither of them will let her refuse. The three of them manage to clean up the workshop within an hour. 

Ming Zhu brings out tea and snacks for them, setting them down on the large table in the centre of the room. 

"You wanted us to try on some clothes for you, right?" Li Wei asks. 

"Hm? Oh! Yes, that's why I brought you here." Ming Zhu stands up abruptly, rushing off to another corner of the workshop and digging around. She makes a mess while looking for the outfits, undoing their work. 

"She kind of reminds me of you somehow." Li Wei shakes his head, sighing. 

"What do you mean, Li-er-ge?" 

"It's nothing." 

Ming Zhu returns with her arms piled high with finished garments. She gives them each a bundle of clothes. For such a small woman, she manages to drag both Shen Yuan and Li Wei from the table through sheer determination, shoving them into separate rooms to change. "Please let me know if you're having trouble putting them on." 

Shen Yuan comes out within minutes, his plain white robes exchanged for a soft green and white ensemble with embroidered bamboo motifs. 

Ming Zhu's airheaded attitude fades away completely, giving way to a professional aura. She twirls Shen Yuan around to check the fit and drape at every angle, fixing his sash and pinning back excess fabrics that weren't flattering to his figure to cut away later. It's like Shen Yuan ceased to be a person and was simply a convenient mannequin. 

Li Wei's voice calls out, "Miss Ming, did you forget to give me the bottom half of this outfit?" 

"Please come out so I can see."

"...I'd rather not." 

Ming Zhu goes into the room, unceremoniously dragging Li Wei out. 

Shen Yuan lifts his hand up to his mouth, turning his head away. His shoulders shake with silent giggles.

"Shen Yuan, I'll slap that grin off your face! Stop laughing!" Li Wei tries to tug the bottom of the unnaturally short robes to cover more of his thighs, his face beet red and his ears pinned flat to his scalp. 

It seems that Li Wei ended up with one of Ming Zhu's more modern designs. It's less of a hanfu and more of a short black dress that looks vaguely like a cross-collar robe with pipa-shaped sleeves, and a pair of thigh high socks. 

Shen Yuan thinks this might be an influence of Airplane's anachronistic and perverted worldbuilding. That sliver of bare skin between a skirt (a robe in this case) and thigh high socks is irresistible after all. 

"Stop that, you'll tear it." Ming Zhu bats his hands away. She pulls Li Wei's sash off, tying it a little higher to make his waist look slimmer. "Ah, I knew this would suit you. You definitely have the legs for this." 

"Why don't you wear it yourself? This is meant for a woman, isn't it?"

"It's hard to make adjustments on myself. Besides, this is much better than that unflattering outfit you were wearing earlier." Ming Zhu sounds personally offended by Li Wei's normal attire, her tone acidic enough to burn holes through fabric. She twirls Li Wei around in the same way as she did with Shen Yuan earlier. 

Li Wei looks like he's waiting for the chance to crawl into a hole and hide there for the rest of his life.

Shen Yuan couldn't resist teasing Li Wei when he's already so flustered. "You look great, Li-er-ge. You should show off your legs more often." 

"How about I show them off by kicking you into that pond outside?" 

Ming Zhu suddenly sways, both Shen Yuan and Li Wei reaching out to steady her, their banter forgotten.

"Miss Ming, what's wrong?" 

Ming Zhu presses the heels of her hands to her eyes, her face growing pale. "Could you help me to the pond in the back?" 

Shen Yuan picks her up, Li Wei opening the doors ahead of him. 

"Lower me into the water, please." 

Shen Yuan does as she says, Ming Zhu's hair slowly turning an emerald green, her skin turning moon-white and scaly as soon as she touches the water. 

"I forgot it's been a day since I was in water. I've been so caught up in my work..." Ming Zhu kicks her feet, or more accurately, her large fish tail, creating little waves in the pond. She submerges her entire body into the water briefly.  

"Aren't you a little far from the ocean?" Li Wei asks. 

"A lot of other mermaids sell their fabrics in the port towns, so I came further inland to start my own store." 

Shen Yuan grabs Ming Zhu's webbed hands, looking at her as if he'd found a comrade. "I admire your tenacity, Miss Ming. If you're passionate about something, you should be willing to risk everything for it." 

"Yes, I agree wholeheartedly! My mother and sisters tried everything to stop me from coming here, but I managed to run away and build a life for myself here."    

Li Wei sighs, feeling a headache starting to form. 

Chapter Text

Shen Yuan takes a seat beside Luo Binghe, watching him chop dried pork belly into thin slices, rice cooking in the clay pot beside him. 

By the river, Li Wei helps Liu Qingge wipe the blood off his body, a whole set of medical supplies sitting near them. Shen Yuan could see Li Wei's agitation from his raised tails and pinned back ears. Liu Qingge's definitely getting a lecture right now.

"Binghe, do you know if Master Liu always gets injured like this back at Cang Qiong? It feels like Li-er-ge's fixing him up every other day." 

"I heard from the Qian Cao disciples that he's one of the hardest people to treat. Mu-shishu often had to tie him down just so he'd rest properly." Luo Binghe continues to chop the preserved meats. 

"That can't be right. He willingly goes to Li-er-ge to get treated and scolded every time. You think he just got nagged into giving in?" 

"Yuan-ge, could you raise the flames?" 

Shen Yuan adds a little of his power to the campfire, the blue flames growing stronger. 

"I'm not certain...but I think Liu-shishu acts recklessly on purpose so he has a reason for Senior Li to treat him." Luo Binghe arranges the sliced meats on his cutting board, preparing them for the pot. Beside him was a bowl of flowering cabbage and a bottle of soy sauce.

"I don't think he does. He gets way too angry if Li-er-ge coddles him too much." 

"Yuan-ge, let's pretend you're Liu-shishu." 

Shen Yuan lifts an eyebrow, but plays along, wanting to see where Luo Binghe was going with this example. 

"Not many would dare to treat you gently because you're supposed to be one of the strongest men in the Human Realm. With that status, wouldn't you get angry at looking weak in front of Senior Li but continue to do it because it's the only care you've received in quite some time?" Luo Binghe pulls the cauldron off the fire, arranging the sliced meats on top of the cooked rice and placing it back on the fire.

Shen Yuan holds his head in his hands. The War God of Bai Zhan's just a massive tsundere? For Li Wei? What kind of development is this? It's just as bad as the scenarios in PIDW! No, it's even worse because Li Wei's his big brother! That's almost as unsettling as watching your divorced parent bring home a new significant other! 

"Binghe, you have quite the imagination." 

"Yuan-ge, your imagination is more advanced than mine." 

"What's that supposed to mean, hm?" Shen Yuan reaches out and pinches Luo Binghe's cheek, his tone more exasperated than angry. 

Luo Binghe laughs, gently plucking Shen Yuan's hand off and bringing his knuckles to his lips. "Nothing at all." 

Shen Yuan snatches his hand back, turning a faint shade of pink. "Stop messing around, you'll burn our food." 

Luo Binghe grins teasingly. "You're the one controlling the fire. If it burns, isn't it your fault, Yuan-ge?" 

"So cheeky, do you want to sleep alone tonight?" 

Luo Binghe immediately latches on to Shen Yuan with the stickiness of a burr, looking up at him with pleading eyes. "Yuan-ge, I'll behave. Please don't kick me out."