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Dàgē's Illegitimate Child

Chapter Text

"Will he really believe that you're his illegitimate child?" I asked, wanting to get our stories straight. He better not randomly call me Daddy or Gēge again. I didn't even know how to explain that away!

We were approaching the place Dàgē had written about in the letter he had left me. I couldn't prevent my hopes from rising even when I knew I could be setting myself up for disappointment. I'd traveled for so long and met so many obstacles along the way that reuniting with Dàgē, Junjun, Uncle, and Auntie seemed almost an impossible dream. It was more likely that I'd come across another crisis that I couldn't ignore!

But...

They have to be here! Dàgē said they'd be here waiting for me!

There really was no helping me. I was choosing to believe again.

My steps quickened. It didn't matter if it made me look impatient or frenzied. It didn't matter if I might attract aberrants. I wanted to see Junjun again, that darling sister of mine, even if it were only a second faster. I wanted to see Dàgē again, the one and only, even if I had to crawl my way back!

"He'll believe it," Xiaotian answered, leaning against my shoulder. "I've already told you so."

I nodded and patted Xiaotian on the back. Toddlers were really wonderful to hold. So soft and cuddly! Physically, Xiaotian was a toddler through and through, but the resemblance to his grown-up self was there. Just going by appearance, it wasn't a stretch that Xiaotian could be Dàgē's son. He looked exactly like a miniature Dàgē. Dàgē holding a miniature Dàgē. My gods, that scene would be way too much!

And with how hot Dàgē was, I didn't doubt that he must have had plenty of admirers before the apocalypse. Now, with half of humankind gone and the rest in deep peril, Dàgē's strength was even more captivating. Even his younger brother can't stop drooling!

So, I wasn't surprised by Xiaotian's implication that Dàgē had probably done it with plenty of people before, at least enough so that it wouldn't be strange for him to suddenly have a son show up out of nowhere. Besides, I was his younger brother, so I shouldn't mind so much. Isn't it a good thing to have a mighty older brother?

Still, I couldn't help but feel like Dàgē was being taken away... by another woman! A younger brother shouldn't think this way, right?

"Won't he ask who the mother is though?" I wondered.

What then? Surely you can't just name some random person?

Xiaotian said into my shirt, "We don't have to go into specifics. He'll jump to his own conclusion."

Really...

"But if he doesn't?"

"Then, I'll just say she's from some other continent. There's no way to check now."

Dàgē, are you that careless?!

But his words weren't wrong. After the black fog, there was no easy way to travel between continents. No planes flew anymore, not unless one could secure a private jet or was part of the government. Even then, there were avian aberrants to deal with. Traveling by ship wasn't ideal either. Plenty of sea aberrants lay in ambush. If I hadn't told Dàgē to return before the 20th, he would have been stuck on the other continent, just like Jiang Xiaotian.

No, it's not the same.

In that other world, it was likely that the entire Jiang family, Jiang Shutian being the only exception, had perished on the 21st. Without forewarning and preparation, Junjun, Uncle, and Auntie couldn't have survived being attacked by the nurse and Lin-bó. Jiang Shuyu had even less of a chance—he had probably still been confined to bed after getting hit by a tile, and died just like that, unable to survive through the moment of judgment. Jiang Shutian had spent ten long years before he could even return to the continent, only to find that his entire family had perished.

It's not the same. Even if Dàgē had been stranded in the Arctic, I'd protect Junjun to death and make sure the family stayed together so we could one day reunite!

I hugged Xiaotian close. You're part of the family too now, Jiang Xiaotian!

"You haven't seen Junjun for pretty much a decade, right? You'll be surprised! She's turned even more beautiful lately..."

Xiaotian snorted, mumbling something about how I was still spoiling our younger sister too much.

You will too, Jiang Xiaotian. I hugged him more tightly. I may not be your younger brother, but Junjun is Junjun. Stay, if only just for her.


Xiao Sha was the one who spotted us.

"Xiao Yu!" he shouted. He was only stunned for a moment before he ran up to us in rare excitement. "Xiao Yu, you're alive!"

In my arms, Xiaotian stiffened. I felt him lift his head and peer over at Xiao Sha. His tiny hands twisted my shirt.

In Xiaotian's world, Xiao Sha was dead, killed by Thirteen, who even kept the aberrant from his corpse as a pet. Xiaotian had never been able to avenge him, and then, Xiaotian had chosen to desert the future, as well as Lily and the rest of his comrades.

What must he be feeling now?

I patted Xiaotian's back. I'd yet to run into anyone I had personally known as Guan Weijun, but if I did run into someone I hadn't been able to protect... What would I feel? Would it be regret, or would it be relief?

If I were to meet my mom again, I... I would be happy that somewhere in the universe, she was still alive. No thanks to me, but even knowing that she's still living and well would probably bring me to tears.

"I'm back," I said, throat constricting. How am I supposed to talk like this?

I'm back.

Let me be able to save my family this time.

Let me be able to stay with them the entire way!

After Xiao Sha shouted for the others, he asked, "Xiao Yu... who's the kid?"

I sent my turbulent emotions packing and grinned, pulling at Xiaotian's hands. He easily let go of my shirt, no longer twisting my shirt so hard that he could probably rip a hole into it. As expected of the Ice Emperor. He already had his emotions back under check. I turned him around and waved Xiaotian's little hand as a greeting.

I was truly getting very daring, treating the Ice Emperor like an actual toddler. It couldn't be helped. Who told him to turn into a kid? Not only that, he didn't even take his own health into consideration, helping me power up instead, causing his situation to worsen. "This is Jiang Xiaotian. Jiang Xiaotian, meet Xiao Sha."

"Jiang Xiaotian...?" Xiao Sha blinked and peered at Xiaotian, startled. "He..."

Xiaotian stared fixedly back at Xiao Sha. That was truly an intimidating look coming from a toddler. I was wrong. Xiaotian doesn't have his emotions under check at all!

I couldn't fault him. Xiao Sha was dead in his world. I merely said, "He looks a lot like Dàgē, right?" I paused for a moment, letting Xiao Sha digest my words before dropping the bombshell. "That's a given. He's Dàgē's illegitimate child."

"...What?"

Chapter Text

A normal reunion should be full of hugs and tears, right?

Junjun would definitely hug me tightly and maybe even cry her eyes out until her face was a mess. Even Dàgē would probably join in and make it a group hug, and although he was truly as impressive as a general, even his eyes might grow moist, too. Meanwhile, I'd be so relieved that I'd melt into their embrace and let them spoil me to death.

So, what is with the current scene?!

"T...Throw him away!" gasped my cute Junjun.

While there plenty of teary eyes in the room, the child in my arms easily took the spotlight.

Xiaotian was nearly the spitting image of a miniature Dàgē if not for his long, white hair. When I said I'd picked him up on my way back, and that I'd discovered that he was Dàgē's illegitimate kid, Shujun's first reaction had been to throw him away.

Junjun, how can you bear to throw such a cute kid away? Come on, Xiaotian is the height of adorableness! There's no winning against a child's natural cuteness! Just look at him!

Junjun was indeed looking at him, but unlike I had hoped, she did not melt into a pile of goo from having a miniature Dàgē stare back at her. After Junjun pulled on my arm so that Xiaotian would be facing her, they were now having a staring contest. Neither was willing to be the first to look away. Both were way too adorable for words.

"Junjun, I know you don't approve," I began, "but he's only a child. He hasn't done anything wro..."

I trailed off. Oh hell, who am I kidding? Xiaotian has done plenty or else he wouldn't be stuck like this. Stupid Xiaotian for not caring about his own health! But since I couldn't say all that, I did the next best thing. I looked beyond Junjun and gave my dàgē a disappointed look instead.

He just shrugged helplessly at me. He probably didn't even remember all the people he'd slept with over the years, but he didn't look the least bit surprised at having a kid show up out of nowhere, just like what Xiaotian had predicted. Dàgē, we seriously need to put you on a leash! Junjun is right to want to you to settle down!

Eyes still locked on Xiaotian, Junjun addressed our dear brother behind her accusingly, "Dàgē, you promised us you would only have children with your future wife!"

Dàgē nodded, but there was nothing he could say in response, as there was clearly a kid in my arms who looked just like him.

It's a bit too late if Xiaotian already happened... Wait, why am I thinking of him as Dage's actual kid?

No matter what he looked like, he definitely wasn't a real kid.

I mean, this was the Ice Emperor we're talking about. The Ice Emperor! Although his body was that of a child's, he really didn't act like one at all, especially when he got to speaking. What kind of kid goes around telling his "dad" not to fall in love early? And please, never call me your dad again! Not only was the content too strange, the tone was just as bad.

Just like now, Xiaotian opened his mouth and lamented, "Junjun, you've grown up so much."

Way to sound like an old geezer! Just like some elderly relative you only ever see at family gatherings, cooing over you and going, "Look at you! You're all grown up! Are you married yet?" Although Xiaotian is more likely to shout, "No puppy love!" than want her to get married.

But I couldn't blame him for marveling at how much she'd grown. This was his lovable younger sister he hadn't seen in ages. In that other world, he'd never gotten to see her again after the apocalypse arrived. He'd given everything to have the chance to reunite with her and his Shuyu. While I couldn't give him his Shuyu, at least I could let him meet Shujun again.

I tightened my arms around Xiaotian. Gods, Xiaotian, don't make me cry buckets here.

Our "lovable" younger sister, however, pursed her lips and snapped, "You don't get to call me that!"

She even walked over and plucked him right out of my arms to put him on the floor so that she could throw her arms around me instead. All of a sudden, I had an armful of Junjun, who squeezed me so tightly that I could barely breathe. Since when has she gotten so strong? I could only pat her on the back as she told me how much they had all worried about me and missed me.

On the floor where he had been placed, Xiaotian looked stunned. It took him a moment before he lifted his head and caught my gaze, seemingly asking, "Since when has Junjun gotten so fierce?"

Come on, Dàgē, if you had been home more, you would know that Junjun is no dainty wallflower! But again, I couldn't blame him. Ten years. It'd taken him ten years and a trip to an entirely different world to get to this point. Even if he'd been home more often, his memories of Junjun would still be ten years out of date.

I couldn't even bear to imagine what those years had been like for him. If I had been in his place, estranged from my family for ten years.... If, after getting kidnapped by the bird, I ended up not able to make my way back to my family... Dear gods. Ten years without Dàgē? Without Junjun? It'd be unbearable.

I squeezed Junjun back and murmured into her hair, "Èrgē missed you too, every single day."

Shujun just nodded and buried her head against me. She even sniffed. There's the hug and tears I thought this reunion would come to. Even though I had been expecting it, I still couldn't bear to hear Junjun cry.

Nor could I bear Xiaotian's forlorn gaze, watching us like an outsider. He's part of our family, too!

I whispered, "Junjun, won't you accept Xiaotian? If he hadn't been with me, I don't know if I'd have been able to make it back."

"Don't even speak about not making it back!" Dàgē growled.

I just shrugged helplessly at him, but shrugging was pretty difficult with Junjun imitating a koala.

Okay, "not making it back" was stretching the truth a ton, since if Xiaotian hadn't been with me, I'd probably have left the MORC alone altogether and returned much earlier. But by doing so, I'd have missed out on pertinent intel for our future safety, and I'd be much weaker than I was now without the training he put me through.

"But..." Junjun protested and turned her head to glare at Xiaotian. Xiaotian stared up at her, his gaze still forlorn. Such a look on a little kid would make anyone's heart go out to him! But all Junjun did was turn and bury her head harder against me and turn to shoot smug glances at him, as if she had won some battle over Xiaotian for being the one in my arms instead of him.

Junjun, you're not a little kid... no matter how hard you ram your head against me, I can't carry you like how I was carrying Xiaotian earlier!

I shared a glance with Xiaotian, a silent question in my eyes. Can I tell them?

I really wanted to tell them. I wanted them to know how much Xiaotian had suffered to come to us. I wanted him to be a true part of our family. I wanted there to be no secrets between us. Even when I had been deathly afraid of Dàgē, afraid that I wasn't Jiang Shuyu, I had still told him what I thought was the truth. Dàgē and Shujun were too important to me to let secrets come between us. I never wanted another case of bitter coffee.

But Xiaotian just shook his head at me. Even with Junjun's rejection of him, he wasn't going to change his mind.

He didn't want them to know who he truly was.

Ice Emperor Jiang Shutian, are you really all right with this?