Yue Qingyuan is taking an admirably long time to die.
Shen Jiu taps his foot impatiently, hovering by Yue Qingyuan’s bedside, his lips curled downwards in a frown. His arms are crossed over his chest in front of him, and though it’s been centuries since his soul had been kicked out of his own body — plenty of time in which he should have gotten used to being reduced to some lost spirit with no other purpose in this world other than to haunt his estranged childhood best friend while the intruder in his body decided to gallivant off into the sunset with his own disciple that half-demon brat Luo Binghe — it's still a bit jarring for Yue Qingyuan to open his eyes, look right over in Shen Jiu's direction, only to have his gaze pass right through him.
“Xiao Jiu…” Yue Qingyuan mutters, dazedly.
The irritation in Shen Jiu grows even more, perhaps accelerated by the way Yue Qingyuan was calling him, wishing to see him, yet refusing to die.
“Just die already, you stupid old man,” Shen Jiu says angrily. “If you want to see me that badly, then die! You’ll see me when you die! Stupid!”
He knows, of course, that Yue Qingyuan has no idea that an imposter has kicked Shen Jiu out of his own body, that the Xiao Jiu he has been longing for is already long dead.
He also knows the reason why Yue Qingyuan refuses to just die is likely because he is holding on to the last, tiny strand of hope he has that the imposter in Shen Qingqiu’s body will somehow appear before him, so Yue Qingyuan can see his Xiao Jiu one last time before he moves on.
Even if Shen Jiu knows all this, he still can’t shake off the irritation knitting his brows together. It has been an awfully long time since the day he woke up as a bodiless soul and decided there were worse things to do than to trail after Yue Qingyuan until the end of his days.
“Xiao Jiu…” Yue Qingyuan closes his eyes again. “I’m sorry. Everything I did wrong this lifetime, I will repay it to you in the next.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Shen Jiu retorts, though his words have no real bite to them.
After that, neither of them say another word. The two of them remain in silence, one of them on his deathbed, and the other waiting for him to die.
The concept of time has been all but lost to Shen Jiu by now, so he does not know how long it takes for Yue Qingyuan to finally pass.
All he knows is that his hand is itching horribly with the urge to smack the ex-Sect Master with a fan once he sees him again. Too bad he’s stuck in this stupid incorporeal form. What Shen Jiu wouldn’t give just to be able to give one good smack…
“Xiao… Xiao Jiu? Is that you?” A voice filled with disbelief snaps Shen Jiu’s attention back to the matter at hand.
Shen Jiu looks at the newly disembodied spirit and says coldly, “Took you long enough.”
“I-I don’t understand,” Yue Qingyuan stumbles. “What- I thought you were with Luo Binghe? How can you be dead?”
“That is an imposter,” Shen Jiu says drily. “An imposter that kicked me out of my own body. Shame on you, Yue Qingyuan, for not even noticing that your shidi had undergone such a vast transition in personality.”
“An- an imposter?” Yue Qingyuan is still fumbling for words. “Then, ever since the fever…?”
“Yes,” Shen Jiu replies simply.
“But that was… that was centuries ago!” A horrified look had dawned on Yue Qingyuan’s face. “Xiao Jiu has been waiting like this ever since then?”
“Don’t be daft!” Shen Jiu snaps. “Why would I spend all this time waiting for you? Do you think I had nothing better to do? I had no choice but to stay by your side and witness all the stupid things you were doing!”
Yue Qingyuan does not reply; rather, a soft look seems to have taken over the initial shock on his features.
After a while, Yue Qingyuan only opens his mouth to say, again, “Xiao Jiu…”
“What is it!” Shen Jiu replies hotly, turning to the side and away from Yue Qingyuan’s gaze. “Stop staring at me like that!”
For some reason, this only made Yue Qingyuan even bolder.
“Xiao Jiu… will you call me Qi-ge again?”
Shen Jiu does not reply verbally, instead choosing to completely turn his back on Yue Qingyuan and to walk out of the little hut.
Yue Qingyuan follows along right behind him, his eyes not on the path before them but rather fixed on Shen Jiu’s back. Shen Jiu’s refusal to answer did not discourage him, but rather bring him even more hope, so he tries again, “Xiao Jiu, where are we going?”
“I don’t know.” Shen Jiu continues to walk on down the mountain, persistently refusing to look at Yue Qingyuan.
“That’s fine,” Yue Qingyuan smiles. “Anywhere Xiao Jiu goes, I will follow.”
“So you’d follow me to the depths of hell, Yue Qingyuan?” Shen Jiu sneers, the twisted expression on his face all too familiar.
“Anywhere means anywhere,” is Yue Qingyuan’s simple answer.
Shen Jiu stops suddenly in his tracks, causing Yue Qingyuan to almost bump into him had he not reacted on time. He turns to face Yue Qingyuan, staring intently at him.
“You really…” Shen Jiu mutters, a strange sort of emotion in his eyes.
Then, he narrows his eyes and turns away again to continue walking down the path.
“Do whatever you want!” he says, huffily storming away.
And, like a fool, Yue Qingyuan follows right after him, a smile on his face.