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Slow But Sure

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"You-You want to do… what?"

"Braid your hair!!"

Feng Xi felt completely caught off guard and out of his element, as two human children stood before him, wearing wide, playful smiles on their faces.

He would've been confused as to why they weren't scared or fazed by him, if it wasn't for the fact that Xiao Hei was standing with them and had already been introduced to them already. In fact, while the two humans seemed completely at ease, it was Feng Xi who was actually thrown off guard by them. He still found himself having some troubles interacting with humans, but these two children were good, he knew that for a fact.

Maybe it was just because he was a bit awkward still with socializing with humans…

Xiao Hei seemed to pick up on this, stepping forward in front of his friends so create a barrier between them and Feng Xi. “We don’t need to ask him, we can just go see if shifu is around.”

“That would take too long,” Shanxin said, waving her hand as if to brush off the idea. “Besides, this one has more hair to work with, and the flowers would stay in his hair easier.”

At that point, Feng Xi realized that Xiaobai really did have her arms full of flowers, all of different shapes and colours.

It made him think back to when Luo Zhu used to do something similar, threading flowers through everyone’s hair and wanting to try new styles he saw that day while around humans. They were simpler, happier times that made Feng Xi’s chest hurt in nostalgia.

“Okay.”

The children broke up their bickering to look at him, wearing varying expressions from worry to expectant. “I’ll let you children have your way.”

Xiaobai and Shanxin smiled happily, with Shanxin looking as if she would have had her way the entire time. Xiao Hei turned around, looking unsure. “Are you sure? You don’t have to, you know.”

Feng Xi couldn’t stop the endearing smile from forming, giving the elfin a gentle pat on the head, ruffling his hair a bit. “I’m sure,” he reassured him. For once, he actually did feel very sure about this.

He allowed the human children to command and push him around a little until they were satisfied, with Feng Xi seated on the ground and the flowers scattered about, having fallen from Xiaobai’s arms.

Xiao Hei sat beside him, still looking a bit uncertain about the whole situation while the other two marveled at Feng Xi’s hair, commenting on how long it was, and just how much of it he had.

“Do you think I could have this much hair?” Shanxin said, envy clear in her voice with wide, adoring eyes.

Xiaobai laughed. “You already have so much of it!”

“Yeah, but not THIS much. Do all elfin have this much hair?”

“I dunno, but the ones I do know have a lot of hair…”

Suddenly, their gazes turned to Xiao Hei, making a shiver run down his spine at the intensity. “What? Why’re you looking at me like that?”

“You have to grow out your hair like this,” Shanxin said.

“Huh?!”

“It’s for science, Xiao Hei.”

“Science doesn’t do a lot of good in this situation, Shanxin…”

“It’s for science.”

Xiao Hei pouted, not saying anything more on the matter, knowing that Shanxin was too stubborn to reason with, and he was too stubborn to give in so easily to her wills. Besides, that wasn’t for another few years down the line.

Feng Xi decided he should help Xiao Hei, though seeing his face in a pout was too endearing and almost too tempting to let it go on. “Why did you all decide to braid hair anyways?” he asked, trying to get them back on track.

Xiaobai gasped, as if just remembering what they were here for, as Shanxin called Xiao Hei over to her side, who went a little reluctantly, as if he wanted to stay by Feng Xi’s side a while longer. The thought made him smile a little.

“Xiao Hei doesn’t know how to make braids,” Shanxin explained, “and I can’t really teach him on my own hair or Xiaobai’s.”

“And why is that?”

“I have too short of hair,” Xiaobai admitted, sounding as if such a fact was embarrassing. “So we needed someone else with long hair so we can teach him.”

Feng Xi nodded in agreement, only to get scolded by the two humans to not move.

After their brief little talk, they instantly dove into their lesson that mostly consisted of Shangxin teaching Xiao Hei, with Xiaobai braiding in complete concentration. Other than that, it was mostly silent, and Feng Xi had only had the one job of not moving, so he allowed himself to relax and let the children have their fun.

He really didn’t mind it. Although he was awkward still around humans, children were an entirely different matter. No matter if they were human or elfin, he had nothing against them, especially if they were good friends with Xiao Hei, and didn’t mind indulging them from time to time. He was particularly weak towards children, finding himself unable to tell them no or deny them of anything.

A loose flower caught his eye, and he reached out towards it without moving his head, holding the delicate thing in between gentle fingers and twirling it this way and that. He smiled. He could recognize Luo Zhu’s handiwork no matter what. Just how did these children convince him to give them flowers?

Ah, well, it mustn't have been very hard anyways. Much like him Luo Zhu couldn’t deny children anything either, and he was always willing to show off his flowers, always taking great pride in them.

With a soft smile, Feng Xi closed his eyes and silently listened to the children chatter and bicker playfully amongst themselves, his heart feeling at ease.

 

 

It was very rare that Wuxian would feel rundown and tired. Physically, he’d be fine, he could keep going for a long time without the need of any actual rest longer than a couple of hours at most, but mentally, sometimes he becomes drained and would like nothing more than to ignore everyone for a few days, just to take it easy for a while and only surround himself with those he chooses to be around.

However, he isn’t granted that privilege very often. Times have changed, new and powerful elfin have climbed the ranks to Executor, yet Wuxian was still one of the strongest, so he isn’t allowed the luxury of taking it easy very often. Of course, he was used to this by now, never complained and never declined a mission given to him by the guild, but right now he could feel himself running on fumes.

Being an introvert really sucked sometimes.

He was contemplating just how he could get away with at least a few hours to himself without having anyone instantly come hunting for him, when the sound of familiar laughter caught his attention and made him stop in his tracks.

Having taken care of the boy for so many years, Wuxian could recognize Xiao Hei’s laughter instantly. Knowing that Xiao Hei was laughing happily and having fun made him feel warm inside, and he went to follow the sound. Xiao Hei was always an exception, no matter how worn down Wuxian felt, he would always welcome Xiao Hei’s company with open arms. It also helped that, as the child grew, he became more sensitive to when Wuxian needed a break, and he was more than grateful whenever Xiao Hei would pick up on it and let him rest if need be.

Xiao Hei was a good kid, and Wuxian was glad that he managed to make friends with equally as good children, rather than being surrounded by older elfin and taking on responsibilities bigger than him constantly.

His steps slowed as he neared before coming to a full stop, watching from a distance. Just as he thought, Xiao Hei was with those two human children he spoke so fondly of. Wuxian wasn’t watching for very long before Xiao Hei picked up on his presence and stood up immediately.

“Shifu!!” Xiao Hei exclaimed in his rush over, stopping just in front of Wuxian, remembering at the last moment that he wasn’t a small child anymore and couldn’t go charging headfirst into Wuxian’s arms. However, that hasn’t stopped him before, and Xiao Hei knew full well that Wuxian was always strong enough to catch him.

“Shifu, Xiaobai and Shanxin taught me how to braid hair,” he said, eyes sparkling. “Do you think I could try it out on your hair sometime?”

Wuxian smiled fondly before patting Xiao Hei’s head, “Did they? You may try.” It was such a small, trivial thing, one that Wuxian didn’t even consider teaching Xiao Hei, but he was glad that there was someone around to teach him of the small joys of being a child, and of learning new things, no matter how important or not they were.

“Come on, let’s show everyone else!!”

Hearing Xiaobai, Wuxian looked up, wanting to see just who it was that had fallen victim to the wills of children, when his breath caught in his throat.

The braids woven through his purple hair were messily done and looked as if they were one step away from completely coming undone, but somehow they stayed in place, along with the flowers that were woven through the unruly hair.

Feng Xi wore a sheepish smile as he allowed Xiaobai to drag him up on his feet. “You want to show others?” he asked.

Xiaobai smiled and nodded.

“Do you think we didn’t do a good enough job?” Shanxin put her hands on her hips, frowning. “Is that why you don’t wanna show anyone?”

Feng Xi blinked, thrown completely off guard by the child's accusing words. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, unsure of what to say, of what he should say.

“Oh! Wuxian is here! Let’s go show him!”

With absolutely no room to argue, Feng Xi was already being dragged towards where the two stood, mind reeling and slowly catching up to what was going on. Before he could get them to stop, he was already in front of the human.

Wuxian continued to stare, taking in the mess that was Feng Xi’s hair in twin braids and adorned in flowers, with two of them being tucked behind each ear.

The elfin felt his face heating up at such an intense and unwavering stare, unable to look Wuxian in the eyes. He felt embarrassed and had no doubt he looked absolutely ridiculous. “I couldn’t tell them no,” he defended weakly, as if that would justify anything.

As if he was knocked out from some kind of trance, Wuxian finally blinked and seemed to come back to himself. Still, he was silent for a few moments before finally speaking, a small smile on his face. “I would be worried if you had told them no. You look good like that.”

Feng Xi made a noise that sounded something similar to choking before smiling, letting out a breath of a laugh. “You’re lying just to save me the embarrassment.”

“You know I’ve always been honest.”

“Then you just refuse to tell me when I look ridiculous.”

“You never look ridiculous in my eyes.”
Xiaobai started to tug on Feng Xi’s arm insistently, demanding that they go off and show everyone now. He quickly told the children to hold on a moment before tucking the flower he had been holding earlier behind Wuxian’s ear, the colour a soft, pastel purple. “Meet up later?”

As if Wuxian could deny him anything. He nodded, and watched as the children dragged the elfin away, discussing over who to go to first. He couldn’t stop the smile that stretched across his face, or the warmth the bloomed deep within his chest.

Now, he could at least hold on for a while more, not feeling as worn down anymore.