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With You, My Heart Feels At Home

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Xiao Hei can understand his shifu’s hesitance, honestly, he can.

The situation was complicated to begin with even for himself, and he had no where near as much history as they did. He can recognize shifu’s anxiety with it, in how he avoids discussing it, avoids giving any detailed answers, and Xiao Hei understood.

But it’s been nearly two weeks now!!!! And every time he asks to go see Feng Xi, Wuxian tells him no and just disappears!!!! He’s not that much of a child!!!! He!!! Wants!!! To!!! See!!! Feng Xi!!!!!!!!

“Have you tried talking about this with him?”

Xiao Hei shoots his eyes open and realizes he’d been saying all of that out loud while curled up on Xiaobai’s lap, her hand gently petting through his fur and scratching at his ears.

The weather had gotten better within the last two weeks, and currently it was warm enough where no one needed to wear a jacket. The sun was shining high in the sky, indicating it was around noon, and they were both outside, enjoying the warmth.

With the recent almost nonstop downpours, Yunfei asked for Xiaobai’s help over the weekend with some sort of field work, honestly Xiao Hei hadn’t been paying much attention to that part. He had only been concerned about the opportunity to sunbathe lazily at the countryside.

He did try to help whenever he could, but he still knew next to nothing about any of this stuff, and with Argen being an elfin, there really wasn’t much of a reason for another one to jump in.

 

….. Okay, maybe he was a little lazy, but it wasn’t his fault. They didn’t give him any tasks to do, so the weekend was full of relaxation for the most part.

Xiao Hei stretched and yawned, his paws touching Xiaobai’s knee before curling back up in her crossed legs and getting comfortable. Once he situated himself, Xiaobai resumed gently stroking his fur.

“Every time I try to bring it up with shifu, he runs away,” Xiao Hei pouts, not much giving away on his face except for his tone of voice. “It’s really frustrating and annoying because he can’t even come up with a good excuse.”

“So why don’t you just go to see your friend without Wuxian’s permission?”

The two looked up and saw Argen walking over, holding some sort of tool that he balanced on one shoulder before throwing onto the ground and then letting himself fall to the ground as well, letting out a relieved sigh.

Xiao Hei felt his fur bristle at the idea and quickly shook his head. “No, I’m not gonna do that!”

“Well, why not?” Xiaobai asks, tilting her head. “I mean, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want, right? And this person is important to you, you should be allowed to see them.”

In the years he’s known Xiaobai and Argen, Xiao Hei never told them any of what happened almost 7 years ago. The most he explained was the loss of someone, and that his hair wasn’t always white. Beyond that, they never asked any questions about it, as they could tell it was something serious, and trusted that Xiao Hei would one day explain it to them when he was ready.

This also meant that they didn’t know about Wuxian’s connection with it all, so they didn’t understand the severity of the situation, even though Xiao Hei himself didn’t think they should treat it as such a big deal.

On top of that, he also held high respect for Wuxian and didn’t want to do anything behind his back. It felt wrong to do so, and he’d probably feel too guilty to keep it much of a secret.

“Maybe if you were to go, it would show him that he has nothing to be worried about,” Xiaobai tried to reason, using both hands to scratch at his cheeks upon sensing that his stress levels were rising, hoping that it’ll help him relax a little like it always does.

It’s successful because Xiao Hei closes his eyes in bliss, the only part missing is him purring, but that was something nearly impossible for Xiaobai to accomplish, so this would have to do for now.

Argen hummed in agreement from where he lay on the ground, arms now cushioning his head. “Sounds like he’s just scared, maybe you going would be the push he needs.”

“Shifu isn’t scared of anything!” Xiao Hei shouted, ears laying back and fur rising.

“Everyone is scared of something,” Argen said with a shrug, completely unbothered by the obvious killing intent from Xiao Hei. “No matter how powerful someone may be, there will always be something out of their control that they’re scared of, most of the time with matters of the heart. We may be able to cultivate and become stronger than anyone else, but we can’t control our hearts. Wuxian is no different, regardless of how high ranking he may be.”

Xiao Hei slowly felt himself relaxing as Argen’s words sunk in and he realized just how true they were, even without Argen knowing exactly what was going on. Maybe that’s just how obvious the situation was.

This entire situation was stressful and confusing, and Xiao Hei just wanted to go see Feng Xi. He wanted to do what they couldn’t do so many years ago. He just wanted to talk to Feng Xi. Even with the uncertainty of being able to bring him back, after so many years, Xiao Hei knows exactly what he wants to say and ask.

With a sigh, Xiao Hei lowered his head back down, resting it on top of Xiaobai’s leg. Argen and Xiaobai continued talking, but Xiao Hei wasn’t interested in their conversation at this point so he closed his eyes and just let their voices drown out.

Argen was right, it was obvious to see that his shifu was scared, and Xiao Hei wished he knew of a way to fix it. He didn’t like seeing his shifu scared and running away. Shifu never ran away from anything.

 

He’ll just have to keep trying.

 

 

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A restless sleep, plagued by nightmares and many lifetimes worth of regrets. No matter what state he was in, awake or asleep, his mind left him with little to no comfort. His dreams replayed his regrets and mistakes caused by desperation and impulsiveness, things that countless “I’m Sorry”’s he uttered would never fix. Awake, he was crushed by the feeling of pain in his body, and the suffocating feeling brought on by the bracelets.

For two weeks he did nothing but sleep. He had no energy nor motivation to do anything else. The will to fight was taken away from him 7 years ago.

The will to live was taken away from him 7 years ago.

They should’ve just let him be. They should’ve just let his soul disappear. He didn’t want to exist like this. He didn’t want to exist. What was the point of it anyways? So long as he existed, the guild would never trust him, and now that they had captured him and placed these bracelets on him, there was no way they’d ever let him go.

He was a prisoner for life now, and there was nothing he could do about it.

As Feng Xi was drifting off into another restless sleep, the room was suddenly bathed in light, and he shot up in alarm.

Xing stood in front of the window with her hands on her hips and frowning. It was an expression that Feng Xi recognized from many years ago, when he did something that she didn’t approve of during a recovery process. He winced. He was certainly in trouble now.

“Two weeks,” she said, her voice losing the softness it normally carried and was now strong, demanding to be listened to. “I had to meet a deadline these past two weeks, and I was told that absolutely had neither seen nor heard from you in those two weeks. Explain yourself.”

Feng Xi opened his mouth to speak.

“No,” Xing cut off before he could even get a sound out. Feng Xi’s jaw closed with a soft click. “There is no explaining. You probably haven’t even eaten in these two weeks, have you? Unbelievable. Up, up! Get up!!”

There was absolutely no reason for Feng Xi to be even remotely intimidated by her, but the moment her voice raised, he found himself scrambling to get up and out of bed. Xing was noticeably smaller than him and probably never fought a day in her life, unlike Feng Xi who could still hold his own even without spiritual energy. Maybe it was due to the fact that, any other time, Xing would treat others with gentleness, but the moment she raised her voice you know you messed up.

For the next few hours, Feng Xi found himself being bossed around by Xing as she told him they were going to the store to get him some things, regardless if he actually wanted to go or not. He had no choice in the matter it seemed, so he might as well go along with it.

Stepping outside for the first time in a while, Feng Xi blinked at the bright sunlight and the harshness of the light reflecting off of buildings and glass. He felt strange in the new clothes Xing handed him to change into, something more modern than what he was used to wearing. It made his skin feel like as if it wasn’t his own. She promised that he would get used to it eventually, and that they’ll by him fabrics he was more comfortable in, but for now he would have to deal with what he was currently wearing.

Like in the halls of the guild, Xing lead the way, easily navigating through the maze that was the city of Long You as if it was nothing. However, unlike the halls of the guild from before, this place was full of noise and activity at every corner. No one looked at him or even batted an eye at his presence as they all went about their days, and Feng Xi found himself unable to tell human and elfin apart.

With Xing as his guide, making sure to be no more than a step ahead of him, the crowds were easy to get through. Feng Xi couldn't remember the last time he had been in a place this busy and condensed. A part of him was screaming to get out, to find a place quieter and more open, but he instead tried his best to keep up.

With little to no idea as to what was going on, they got onto a bus, and Feng Xi tried not to let his apprehension show as he sat down next to the window, with Xing sitting next to him.

"How are you doing so far?" Xing asked, giving him a smile. "You're handling this a lot better than some other elfins when they first join human society."

Feng Xi forced a small smile in return. He didn't think he was handling it well, but eventually he'd calm down, right? The bus wasn't that crowded either, and it gave him time to relax.

He half heartedly listened to Xing as she spoke about this or that as they passed by, and she mentioned something about teaching him the bus and subway systems, but Feng Xi couldn't remember more than half of what she was talking about nor could he completely understand it. Still, he let her explain things to him, and he nodded along, appreciating the brief distractions.

Everything passed by quickly through the bus window, and not long they were at their destination.

Xing had explained that this area of Long You had a variety of shops, making it a very popular spot for people to go to.

Following silently behind, Feng Xi realized this area was greatly more populated than where they had walked through earlier, and he found himself nearly unable to catch his breath. There was too little room to move around comfortably, and it was so loud he could hardly hear himself thinking. His throat began to close up, feeling like he couldn’t breathe, his head began to spin and all he could think of was how he wanted out of here, out of this place.

He didn’t want to be here.

 

He wants out..!

 

It’s--It’s too much!

 

Out!! Out!!!!

 

“Feng Xi!!!”

The call of his name was enough for him to look up, not having realized at some point he stopped walking and was just staring at the ground below him. Xing had her hands on his shoulders, a gentle yet grounding pressure on them.

Some people were looking at them and whispering to each other. Feng Xi couldn’t understand what they could be saying or what expressions they were wearing on their faces.

“Hey, Feng Xi, look at me,” Xing said, once again gaining his attention. “Do you want to leave?”

He opened his mouth to speak, but his throat was still closed, he still couldn’t breathe right, so he nodded instead.

Without hesitation, Xing took his hand into hers and pushed her way through the crowds, forcing people to move out of the way and to give room when they passed by, as opposed to earlier where she was weaving her way through, not bothering anyone as she passed by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m sorry about earlier. How’re you feeling now?”

Feng Xi looked up from where he was seated on a bench, his breathe having returned to him and his head no longer feeling like he was spinning. “Better,” he said, reaching out to take whatever it was Xing was handing him.

“It’s ice cream,” she explained, taking a seat next to him on the bench. “I’m really sorry, honestly. I was so focused on just getting you outside that I completely forgot to make sure if you were comfortable.”

Feng Xi looked at the cone in his hands as he listened to Xing speak, frowning a little. He knew what ice cream was, but he’d never tried it before. Hesitantly, he lciked it a little, and was surprised that it wasn’t that bad. “Have you helped other elfins?” he asked. “You seem like you’ve done this before.”

Xing nodded as she took a bite (like a heathen) of her own ice cream, smiling. “En, I have. It’s kinda part of my job through the guild, but more importantly I do it to help elfins adjust to living in the city and around humans.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask, when did you start living in Long You?”

Humming in thought, she was silent for a few moments, taking another bite of the ice cream that was a strange green colour, as opposed to the almost white colour of the one Feng Xi had. “I hate to bring up bad memories, but it was probably not too long before what happened.”

Feng Xi winced a little and looked down. “I guess at least something good came out of that, huh?”

“It was just poor timing, honestly. The guild, they… They wouldn’t listen to me when I was telling them not to pursue you, to just leave you alone, you know.”

There was a bitter taste in his mouth, and Feng Xi ate more of the ice cream to try and get rid of it. There were many reasons why he didn’t trust and even hated the guild, and this just added on to the pile.

Realizing that she should change the topic, Xing smiled reassuringly. “Anyways, I had someone nice enough to teach me what I needed to know about the city and humans, so I decided the least I could do was pass on that kindness. You’re certainly not the first elfin who’s been overwhelmed by how crowded this place is, especially since you lived in the forests for most of your life.”

Appreciating the change in topic, Feng Xi nodded in understanding. “It’s nice to know I’m not the only one,” he says with a sigh of relief. “I was afraid it had something to do with these bracelets.”

“Hmmm, no, but the bracelets do make it harder for you to do some things.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, normally with your spiritual energy, you can go longer without eating or sleeping, you can regulate your body temperature better, all the things you did without even thinking about. Since your energy is almost entirely cut off now, you pretty much function almost like a human now. You need to sleep and eat more often to keep up your energy, which is why I yelled at you for not eating for two weeks. Speaking of, do you feel a bit better now that you finished eating that ice cream?”

Feng Xi popped the end of the cone into his mouth and nodded as he chewed, surprised that he actually did feel a bit better now, a bit less like he was suffocating and in someone else's skin. His head didn’t hurt as much anymore, and he didn’t feel as fatigued.

Laughing, Xing finished off her treat as well and stood up from the bench, holding out her hand to help Feng Xi to his feet. “Well then, let’s tackle one thing today and go get you some clothes. I’ll make some extra food for you tonight, and then we can go get you groceries. How does that sound?”

He took her offered hand and stood up, his head spinning for a moment before righting itself. He frowned at the thought of having to go through those atrocious crowds again, but Xing must read his mind and says, “I know some smaller shops that won’t be nearly as busy, some of which are run by elfins too, so we’ll go there instead.”

Without noticing it, Feng Xi let out a sigh of relief. He could handle smaller crowds, they had less noise and didn’t feel as suffocating, so this was a compromise he was willing to make. He looked around for a moment at the park they were in, not having noticed his surroundings earlier due to feeling unwell, when his eyes stopped on something.

The park itself was extremely beautiful and well cared for, the plants were happy and flourishing, and the noise level was almost as if you didn’t even know you were standing in the center of Long You. What really caught his attention, however, was a large, twisting tree that stood tall in the distance, at the edge of the park. It seemed to stand above the surrounding buildings, untouched.

“What’s that?” he asked, his own voice sounding rather foreign to himself as he spoke.

Raising her eyebrows, Xing followed his line of sight to the tree. “Oh,” she said, voice only just above a whisper. “That is… That’s the tree you made.”