a loving kind of boy

23 Jul 2020
Part of MDZS Modern AU Collection

5 Times Nie Huaisang Comforts Jiang Cheng Through the Power of Cuddles, Heart-to-Hearts and Cute Animals, and the 1 Time it was the Other Way Around

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 7
Words: 20,189

a loving kind of boy

Chapter 2



( 10 )


Light breeze tickles Jiang Cheng’s face. It’s a welcome balm for the heat of the Yunmeng summer, and he’s about to doze off for a peaceful afternoon nap right there on the grass by the lakeside when the cool sensation goes away and is replaced with a sigh.

“It’s hot.” he says, disgruntled. “If you’re tired, give me the fan.”

Nie Huaisang sighs again, then the breeze is back. “Jiang-xiong…” he starts, but trails off into a yawn.

Jiang Cheng closes his eyes again. “What?”

“How long has Wei Ying been gone?”

“I don’t know. I lost track when he didn’t turn up for lunch.”

“He told me to come here today.”

“Mm. He did.”

“I’ve been here three hours, Jiang-xiong.”

Jiang Cheng looks at him, then back up at the sky, frowning. “Well, I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with me for that long, Nie-xiong .”

“Ah, I didn’t mean it like that!” Huaisang says, and he stops fanning only to pat his friend’s arm with his fan. “But he said he’s got something interesting to show us today. And so far there’s been… nothing.”

“Well, you better give it up. He’s not getting out of that punishment for a while.”

Huaisang frowns, concerned. “Was it really that serious? His new talismans always blow up on his face. It’s nothing new.”

Wei Ying always claims that it was all just “part of the process”. His new inventions do work out eventually. Most of the time.

This time though, Jiang Cheng lets out a noise halfway between annoyance and resignation. “This one almost set all the clotheslines on fire.”

Huaisang looks at him. “Almost?”

“Almost all .” he clarifies.

“Ah, so there were some.” Huaisang nods. “Was it a lot?”


“Yikes, Wei-xiong.” He sighs again, then lays his fan open on his friend’s chest.

Wordlessly, Jiang Cheng takes over and resumes fanning for the both of them, with much more energy than how Huaisang had been doing. He’s careful, though. He knows the fan is special for the other boy. It’s a gift from Huaisang’s da-ge, who, compared to their parents, is much less likely to give Huaisang the pretty things he likes.



“About that thing I told you about.” Huaisang says, turning his head so he can look at the other. “Have you tried asking your parents?”

“No.” comes the quick answer. Jiang Cheng frowns. “I already know Father will ask Mother, and then she’ll say no, and then he’ll say no.”

“I’m just suggesting. Maybe you could try.”

“No, maybe you could try.”

Huaisang pouts. Jiang Cheng pointedly braces himself against its effect. “But you do want to go, right?”

“Of course I wanna go.” Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “But I can’t. It’s summer. No school. I have to take advantage of that and train as much as I can.”

Nie Huaisang has heard him say this many times before, word by word, as if it’s something someone told him and now he just recites it from memory.

“A-Cheng, it’s just one day… ”

“I already have Sundays off. To take a break.”

“But you also spend that here!” Huaisang says, arms in the air, exasperated. “Reporting! About the rest of your week! Is that really a break? It’s summer, A-Cheng…” He ends his short rant with a whine, then takes a deep breath and pulls out his trump card: “Meimei misses you.”

This time, Jiang Cheng finally turns to face him and glare. “Don’t you dare use Meimei to get me to skip on training.”

“Don’t you think you train too much?”

Jiang Cheng is quick to throw that right back at him. “Don’t you think you train too little?”

Nie Huaisang actually flinches, but he reminds his friend that he too can be just as stubborn. “Rude.”

“It’s true, though.”

“You sound like Da-ge. I literally came here to escape Da-ge. And even Da-ge takes breaks! We’re going to spend this weekend in Gusu.”

“Well, have fun in Gusu, then.”

“I will!”

Jiang Cheng thinks of a rebuttal, but he’s at a loss, so he tries to keep glaring. He tries, really hard, to be angry, but after a few moments he realizes that he also couldn’t keep that up, because this… this is new.

Is this a fight? Are they fighting? Is he fighting with Nie Huaisang? He never fought with Nie Huaisang.

People are always surprised to know how close they are. He once heard Huaisang’s da-ge say he had expected Huaisang to get along with Wei Ying better than with Jiang Cheng.

But Jiang Cheng actually has an answer to that. Wei Ying is an unstoppable force who can’t stay still in one place and tends to get lost in his own pace and forget that there are people trying to keep up with him. Though Huaisang enjoys his cleverness and energy, Huaisang also likes to stay still, to sit down, take photos and admire the pretty things around him. Jiang Cheng is good at that, he likes to think. He can stay still and wait while Nie Huaisang snaps a photo with that tiny camera of his, and then go back to walking with him when he’s done.

But the thing is, Jiang Cheng is not quite sure if he’s only good at being with Nie Huaisang because Wei Ying just moves too fast for them both.

As if to hammer his doubts home, Nie Huaisang continues his argument. “Wei-xiong doesn’t train this much, and he’s doing fine. Well. Mostly fine, I guess, not counting the punishments-”

“He doesn’t need to train.” Jiang Cheng snaps, finding his anger easier to hold on to this time. “He’s already good. It’s all easy for him. He doesn’t even work hard and he’s still better than everyone at everything.”

Nie Huaisang’s lips draw into a thin line, taken aback. “Jiang-xiong-”

“What? It’s true.” he continues, grumbling. He stops fanning and just looks up at the sky. “I train and train and I still can’t beat him. Probably never will.”

After a while, Nie Huaisang reaches out. He planned to take his fan, but Jiang Cheng’s grip on it is tight, tense, so he just ends up patting the other boy’s hand. “A-Cheng, I didn’t say that. I just said you could take it a bit easier-”

“Yeah right, so I can lose to him some more?”

“At least you’re trying, you know. Not like me.”

Jiang Cheng looks at him, anger softened by confusion. “What?”

“Da-ge is great. He’s amazing. He’s strong and everyone looks up to him. And well… I know I can’t beat that, ever.” Huaisang admits with a sheepish smile. “So I don’t even try?”

“A-Sang, that’s…” Jiang Cheng doesn’t know what to say to that. He felt bad snapping earlier, but now he feels worse.

He knows how people talk about how different the Nie brothers are. He knows that Huaisang has probably heard all of it too, especially back in Qinghe. He’s heard his parents talk about it. Nie Lihua is not a cultivator and that’s why her son has weak cultivation. That’s the reason why the two were in Yunmeng involved in business instead of sect matters in Qinghe.

It’s all so easy to forget because Huaisang is easy-going and is always good at letting everything slide. Nie Huaisang likes to be harmless and agreeable, but Jiang Cheng is not used to his friend talking like he’s… less .

“That’s different.” he says, finally. “You’re- Well. You’re… you’re good at… other things.”

He remembers Mother saying that Madame Nie, despite not being a cultivator, has other strengths, but that narrow-minded people would fail to see that and still look down on her.

Jiang Cheng has to take a second to come up with a list – they’re just not items in his usual criteria – but he manages.

“Like painting and taking photos and… and business.”


“You were able to sell Wei Ying’s cooking last Winter Festival. And that’s… Wei Ying’s cooking.”

“Oh, that…” That gets a little giggle. Good, Jiang Cheng thinks. They’re gonna be okay. Probably. “I did good there, didn’t I?”

“I’d say you did good scamming all those people. But I was the one counting the money so I’d have to turn myself in too.”

Nie Huaisang laughs. “It’s not a scam! I told them it’s something to help them keep warm!”

“Right.” Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes, but there’s a smile tugging on his lips too.

Huaisang realizes his hand is still holding his friend’s, so he gives it a little squeeze. “Thank you, A-Cheng.”

Jiang Cheng doesn’t say anything, but his hand slips free from Huaisang’s so he can resume fanning the two of them.

After a while, Huaisang perks up. “You know, Wei-xiong is not better at everything .”

“What are you talking about?”

“No one works harder than you.” Huaisang says, simple and matter-of-fact. “You’re better at working hard.”

Jiang Cheng tries to find a retort to that, but he stops, realizing that he doesn’t really want to.

Maybe he’ll take it. No one’s ever said that to him before. Not Father, not Mother, not even A-Jie who’s always patient and supportive, but can never really understand how Jiang Cheng feels, not entirely.

So Jiang Cheng just nods. “Yeah. I guess so.” After a while, he stops fanning. “You know what, Wei Ying will probably just go straight to A-Jie and tap out for the day.”

“Yeah.” Nie Huaisang says, looking at the sky thoughtfully. “Meimei is at the office.”

Jiang Cheng gives him back his fan and sits up. “Let’s go.”



A week later, Jiang Cheng finds himself walking to his mother’s office after being told his parents called for him.

He had looked to Wei Ying first as if to ask “Is this going to be about something you did?” and Wei Ying, mouth full of treats A-Jie has just made for them, shook his head and threw his hands up.

“I haven’t done anything yet, promise!”

Jiang Cheng is wary of that ‘yet’ , but he has to focus on something else now, so he tugs his shirt and makes sure his hair is neat as he turns up outside Madame Yu’s office.

When he is let inside the room, he is surprised to find not only his parents, but also Nie Lihua, Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang.

Jiang Cheng bows properly to their guests and his parents, but he is not above squinting at Nie Huaisang as if to ask “Is this going to be about something you did?”

Nie Huaisang just beams sweetly at him, and Jiang Cheng braces himself for what’s to come.

What does come, right after Jiang Cheng takes his seat, is something he never saw coming.

Jiang Fengmian turns to him and says, “A-Cheng, Second Young Master Nie will be training with you and other Jiang disciples for the rest of this summer.”

“What?!” Jiang Cheng exclaims – then his mother’s eyes flash and he immediately straightens up. He tries not to scowl when he hears Nie Huaisang giggle. “I… I mean-… Um. R-Really? But… the Jiang Sect doesn’t… use sabers-”

“He won’t be cultivating with the saber.” Nie Mingjue says, hardly containing his scowl, obviously not very happy with the fact. “Not with the sword either.”

Jiang Cheng turns to look at his friend, but Nie Huaisang has hidden half his face behind his fan, as he always does when he’s nervous.

“He won’t be training with you full-time.” Madame Yu explains. “He will only be joining you in the basics, like practicing with spells and talismans, but for the rest, he will have a special instructor from Meishan.”

“Meishan?” Jiang Cheng blinks. He knows Meishan Yu as his mother’s sect, but he doesn’t understand why someone from there has to be brought in for Huaisang…

“He will be trained in fan combat.” Madame Yu elaborates. “The best instructors for that are from Meishan Yu. In fact, as you know, we welcomed some of them to Lotus Pier a few days ago while they were passing by on their trip. They indulged Nie Huaisang to join them on their exercises and they said that the boy might have a proclivity for it. Apparently, he learns quite fast.”

Jiang Cheng just looks at his friend again, who is blushing pink behind his fan as his mother pats his head, practically glowing with pride. Even Nie Mingjue is not scowling that much anymore, nodding approvingly at the words of praise for his brother.

Something clicks in Jiang Cheng’s memory. Yes, Nie Huaisang did come over the other day. He arrived late to a picnic with A-Jie and Wei Ying. He was out of breath, but when they asked, he only told them he had to run. They all assumed the other boy just overslept or something.

That’s where you were that day?”

“Oi, Jiang-xiong, I wasn’t that late.” Huaisang says, indignant, then he sees Madame Yu frowning at them for disrupting the discussion, and hides behind his fan again.

“Anyway, I talked to Madame Nie about it, and I offered to contact Meishan Yu if they might be interested in taking this step for Nie Huaisang’s cultivation training. It seems they have arrived at a decision and they came here today to inform us and make arrangements.”

“As long as he’s practicing cultivation and working on his core.” Nie Mingjue says, looking to his brother with a mix of both sternness and relief. Jiang Cheng has only met Sect Leader Nie once before, but he can tell that Nie Mingjue does look and act a lot like his father. “That’s good enough.”

Jiang Fengmian smiles at the two brothers first before he turns to his son. “We are only lending part of Lotus Pier’s grounds and facilities to Second Young Master Nie’s cultivation training, as you know the Nie Sect doesn’t have those here in Yunmeng. A-Cheng, as sect heir, we called you here so that you are the first to know this. We will inform the rest of our disciples soon.”

Jiang Cheng bows his head obediently. “Understood, Father.” Then he also nods at their guests, well-trained and formal, trying to make sure Mother will find no fault in his manners. “We hope Second Young Master Nie’s training with Yunmeng Jiang Sect will be fruitful.”

“Aw, A-Cheng-” Nie Huaisang starts, sounding genuinely touched, then stops when his brother nudges his side. “Ah! I mean- Thank you… Young Master Jiang?”

The next few minutes are spent finalizing the arrangements and schedule for Nie Huaisang’s training. It’s much less rigorous than Jiang Cheng’s, of course – only four out of seven days a week, but it’s still an improvement to Huaisang’s previous almost-nonexistent training schedule. Then the children are ushered out the room so the adults and Nie Mingjue can talk among themselves.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jiang Cheng asks as soon as they are out. “How did it happen anyway? You just went and… what, joined the Yu Sect disciples during morning exercises?”

“No!” Nie Huaisang says, horrified, as if the very thought of him willingly joining morning cultivation exercises is a scandal. Well. It kind of is. “Your mother made me do it.”


“Well, I arrived on time, okay? I was passing by the training grounds and I saw the Yu disciples going through their fighting forms… And it’s the first time I saw people use combat fans in person so I thought I’d go watch for a while because it looked so nice! They were so graceful!”

Jiang Cheng nods. He’d seen those exercises before. They were indeed very graceful. “Like dancing.”

“Like dancing! And… and I had my fan with me? And no one else was there, and they can’t see me from where I was, I think. So… I tried to do one of the forms? Just the super simple one!”

Jiang Cheng tries to hold his laugh, nodding. “Okay. Then?”

“And then there was your mom! Behind me! I swear, she just appeared right there! She was like,” – at this, he lifts his chin up and gives his best attempt at a sneer. “Your posture is all wrong, Nie Huaisang, and you’re not holding your fan properly.”

Jiang Cheng wheezes. “Is- Is that supposed to be Mother?!”

Yes. Shut up.” Nie Huaisang pouts. “So… So I went like ‘Hahaha, I know, Madame Yu, I was just playing around… Sorry to disturb you~’ But then she goes ‘Come with me’ so what was I supposed to do? I followed her! And. A-Cheng…”

Jiang Cheng watches, rapt, as his friend’s face crumbles in embarrassment. He doesn’t even bother with his fan. He just hides his face in his hands.

A-Cheng , she took me to the Meishan Yu disciples and told them to run me through the basic stance and I just tried my best to keep up with them even though I didn’t know what I was doing…”

Jiang Cheng laughs, but tries to be sympathetic, all-too familiar with how terrifying his mother could be. “H-Hey… They said you did fine, right?”

“They let me hold an actual combat fan for the most basic stance. It’s the most basic, A-Cheng, and I broke it! I broke a fan!”

“Wait. You… broke a fan?”

“Y-Yes, I can’t forgive myself-”

“A-Sang, those fans are nearly unbreakable. What did you do?”

“I lost my grip and it flew across the yard and into a wall?”

Jiang Cheng tries to take that in. Those fans, in addition to being nearly unbreakable, are known to be notoriously heavy. And Huaisang made it… fly?

“Yeah. Okay.” he nods, filing that for later. He has a bigger concern – “Do you actually want to train, though? Or did someone push you to do this?”

“Ah, I do want to do it, I think.” Huaisang answers, smiling sheepishly. “It looks fun. Like dancing! I like dancing! I just need to practice so I don’t-” he sniffs. “-break another fan. Besides, Da-ge will finally stop trying to make me train with a saber! I won!”

It’s then that the door opens and Nie Mingjue says, “Won what?”

Huaisang is quick to stand straight beside Jiang Cheng and blink big innocent eyes at his brother. “Nothing, Da-ge! Are you finished?”

“Yeah. You’ll start next week.” Nie Mingjue says as he exits the room.

He is followed by Nie Lihua, who immediately cups Huaisang’s round cheeks in her hands. “Your instructor will be bringing fans you can use to start training with while your baba and your da-ge get a pair made for you in Qinghe. Isn’t that great, A-Sang?”

“That’s amazing, Mama!” Huaisang beams, then after a moment, he asks, “Can I paint them?”

Nie Mingjue and Jiang Cheng roll their eyes and groan in unison, which surprises them both and ends up with them looking warily at each other.

Nie Lihua laughs and says she’ll ask Baba if that can be arranged.

The Nies say goodbye to their hosts for the afternoon. As they turn to leave, Nie Huaisang, still with one more surprise up his sleeve, goes back and looks up at Madame Yu.

“Auntie,” he starts, and that almost immediately sets off Jiang Cheng’s flight or fight response. Yes, Nie Huaisang usually calls his father ‘Uncle Jiang’ these days, but his mother is… a different story.

To his surprise, Madame Yu doesn’t completely sneer. If anything, she looks curious as she replies, “Nie Huaisang.”

Nie Huaisang sends the woman his sweetest smile and biggest puppy eyes. “Da-ge and I are gonna go volunteer at the animal shelter this weekend. We saw the fliers where they’re looking for people to help feed and take care of the animals. Can A-Cheng come with us? Since he’s really good with them? He’ll help a lot.”

Madame Yu stares Nie Huaisang down, then looks at the boy’s mother, who meets her gaze head on and shrugs lightly. Jiang Cheng opens his mouth to speak even though he doesn’t know what to say, but his father beats him to it.

“A-Cheng,” Jiang Fengmian starts. “Do you want to go with them?”

“I…” Jiang Cheng swallows, looking to his parents, then to Huaisang, to Nie Mingjue whose eyes are narrowed at him, and finally Nie Lihua – Auntie , he calls her that, she allows him – who is smiling kindly at him as always.

He has wanted so badly to go, from the moment Huaisang shoved that flier in his face weeks ago now, but then he knew he can’t just do those things. He has responsibilities, as Mother always tells him, that’s the difference between him, and Wei Ying, and Nie Huaisang.

“I have training that day…”

Jiang Fengmian nods, then turns to Huaisang. “Sadly, our A-Cheng is quite busy with his cultivation training-”

Jiang Cheng looks down. That’s just about what he expected-

Then his mother says, “-so it’s very kind of you to invite him to come with you.”

Both father and son look at her in surprise, but she looks back at her husband with a perfectly cool expression, “It’s community service, Fengmian. We don’t stop Yanli from volunteering in donation drives and soup kitchens.”

Then she looks at her son and nods. “Take a day off, A-Cheng. It’s summer, and you are working hard enough.”

Jiang Cheng stares at his mother. Did he hear that right?

Then Huaisang jumps and oh-so-happily exclaims, “Yay! Thank you, Auntie!” He beams and gives Jiang Cheng a thumbs up, and Jiang Cheng reluctantly gives him one back.

Jiang Cheng watches them leave. Nie Huaisang is latching on to his very amused mother, who casually tells Madame Yu to come over for tea more often, and a disgruntled Nie Mingjue, who is complaining that he didn’t think he’d be spending his summer in Yunmeng scooping dog and cat poop.

When the Nies have left, Jiang Fengmian turns to Jiang Cheng. “Are you sure you’re okay with this, A-Cheng? I know how hard you value your training-”

“It’s done, Fengmian.” Yu Ziyuan says. “Leave it be.”

For the first time, Jiang Cheng realizes that though Father might be more open with his concern and affection, perhaps Mother, despite her… Mother-ness, understood him better, after all.

But no, he’ll think of that another day.

For now, he feels good.

He’ll be spending his birthday taking care of rescue animals, and he’s looking forward to it.



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