If Xiao Hei had been paying more attention, he would’ve noticed something was off instantly, and would have walked away. He wouldn’t have let himself in, he wouldn’t have caused this mess. Xiao Hei hadn’t expected Wuxian to be in Long You, so he had his guard down. He didn’t pick up on Wuxian’s spiritual energy until he was practically in the room.
By then, Feng Xi and Wuxian had started yelling at each other, and any pleas and attempts that Xiao Hei made to get them to stop were left unheard, falling onto deaf ears.
It always did. It did back then and it did now.
Before he could find a way to get them to stop, Wuxian was already out of the apartment, as quickly as the gust of wind that blew into the apartment, completely disregarding the rule about not flying over open areas where a human might see.
Xiao Hei felt guilty and a little hopeless. How long had he been here for? Before entering, he hadn’t heard any signs of arguing, nothing that would’ve given away that Feng Xi wasn’t here alone, so they must’ve been talking about something, right?
Then why did it seem like they instantly started arguing with each other once Xiao Hei appeared?
Feng Xi said nothing as he let out a tired sounding sigh and shut the balcony window, locking it. Without the noises from outside filling up this tiny room now, the silence felt deafening.
“I-I’m sorry,” Xiao Hei said after a few moments, looking down at the floor with his ears even more laid back than earlier. “I didn’t mean to make you and shifu start fighting, I should’ve--”
The young elfin was cut off when a gentle hand ruffled his hair a little before moving to his shoulder, making him look up. Feng Xi was knelt in front of him, a worried frown on his face. “Don’t apologize, none of this is your fault,” Feng Xi said, his words spoken carefully to get his point across as much as possible.
“But… You guys started fighting once I came in…”
Once again, Feng Xi let out another sigh and shook his head, giving Xiao Hei’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “That’s entirely between your shifu and I. We were bound to start arguing eventually, you didn’t cause it, I promise.”
Even with Feng Xi’s promise, he was still unsure, but he knew a little of their complicated past and how they had things to work out, alone and with each other, so Xiao Hei did his best to reassure himself that he wasn’t entirely at fault for this. They probably would’ve started arguing eventually, with or without Xiao Hei there.
Still, he would prefer it if they wouldn’t argue at all. Can’t they just talk things out and get along?
Feng Xi stood up, wearing a small smile now as he looked down at Xiao Hei and gestured for him to follow. “How much do you know about cooking?”
“Not a whole lot,” Xiao Hei said as he followed behind Feng Xi into the kitchen and saw a bunch of different foods on the counter. “I’ve seen Xiaobai and her mom cook, but I’ve never done it before.”
Nodding, Feng Xi walked him through some of the more basic tasks, such as cutting and asking Xiao Hei to grab things that he needed. It was a nice change of pace to what had happened not too long ago, the atmosphere slowly calming and turning into something pleasant as the guilt from before went away, making it so Xiao Hei was able to smile and laugh and enjoy this.
Looking over, Xiao Hei even saw Feng Xi smiling. It wasn’t like the ones he’d seen the older one show previously either. Most of the time, Feng Xi had small smiles that wouldn’t reach his eyes fully. Even years ago, from what Xiao Hei could remember, they had been small smiles as well.
He couldn’t help but wonder if there was a time that Feng Xi would smile fully.
Did shifu ever make him smile?
Did Feng Xi ever make shifu smile?
From what Xiao Hei could gather from the little bit shifu had told him, they had meant a lot to each other.
Xiao Hei loved them both, and knew that they both deserved happiness. They were both good, and those who did good deserved good things. Xiao Hei knew that they both have made mistakes before, and will probably keep making mistakes, but they were good.
He just wanted to see them happy.
As they’re cooking, Feng Xi explains that he had planned on having this done before Xiao Hei showed up, but he turned up much earlier than expected. Xiao Hei had been so excited to see Feng Xi again that he couldn’t wait, as well as Xiaobai dragging Argen with her to do more sightseeing around Long You, and to look for souvenirs for everyone back home, so Xiao Hei didn’t have much of a choice. He hadn’t been as interested in the city as Xiaobai was.
When the food was all done and plated, Xiao Hei had to use all his willpower to not drool, eyes sparkling and stomach rumbling at how good it smelled. He wasted no time in shoving as much into his mouth as he could, making Feng Xi shake his head with a fond smile as he passed the younger elfin a napkin to wipe his face off with. “You’re eating like you haven’t had a meal in forever,” he lightly chided. “Just how old are you supposed to be?”
He hadn’t meant to have terrible manners, shifu certainly taught him better than that, but Xiao Hei couldn’t help it, the moment he had the food in front of him, he wanted it so badly. It wasn’t often he ate a meal that wasn’t street food or from a restaurant, which where all nice and good and all, but he learned that there was something different about meals made by individuals, and even though Wuxian was a terrible cook, Xiao Hei tried it every time even though he was aware he’d spit it out within one bite.
Swallowing the food in his mouth, Xiao Hei reached out for the napkin and wiped off his face before giving a sheepish smile. “Sorry,” he apologized, giving a small nervous laugh. “I just got excited.”
“It’s okay, go ahead and eat.”
“By the way, Xiao Hei?”
“How did you get in? I thought I locked the door…”
“Oh yeah, you did.”
“The lock is made of metal.”
“...... Xiao Hei, please never do that again.”
The thing with big cities was that they never stopped moving for anything. They continued on, no matter if there was an individual having a great day and feeling on top of the world, or if there was someone who was suffering each day and struggling to get by. Cities, in their own right, were alive, and they never cared for anything. So long as there was nothing that would disrupt its usual day by day, it never stopped. It didn’t care.
In a way, it was comforting to Wuxian. To have something moving so much, going by so quickly that in a blink of an eye you might miss something. There was always something going on, and he could blend easily into a crowd, or he could be by himself, and no one would care, no one would search for him. It was perfect for someone like Wuxian, who needed to be away from others, who needed to get his thoughts in order and to recharge his energy for whatever was to come next.
Right now, Wuxian was sitting high on the ledge of a building. He didn’t know what this building was used for, what its purpose was, but the windows were darkened, so he knew that no one would walk out onto its roof and spot him.
There was a tight feeling in his throat and a stabbing in his chest. Next to him was the now empty container that Feng Xi had handed to him before… before leaving earlier that day.
There was a time that Wuxian had accepted the fact he wouldn’t be able to experience the things he took for granted again. He had accepted it many years ago, when it was clear that him and Feng Xi weren’t bound to cross paths again unless it was on opposing sides. He accepted this fact, yet he was instantly overwhelmed by nostalgia and some other heartbreaking feeling the moment he got to taste Feng Xi’s cooking once again. It was such a small, minor thing, one Wuxian didn’t think would cause him pain. It brought memories he didn’t dare let himself think of, not now, not after how he got into yet another argument with Feng Xi that could’ve been resolved if he had just said something, if Wuxian had stopped being a coward.
Wuxian did his best to push down the painful choking feeling. He didn’t deserve to feel this way.
Feeling something rush up next to him, Wuxian quickly shot out a metal plate towards it. There was a loud cracking noise as he turned, ready to jump to his feet and fight.
“You’re slacking. You didn’t even realize I was here until I attacked.”
Luo Zhu called back the broken vine he sent out towards Wuxian, with it winding back and off the edge of the building, returning to the ground somewhere below them.
Wuxian didn’t know what to say, so he remained silent as the metal plate snapped back onto his forearm.
“I know you’ve been in Long You these past few years, but you never stuck around for long,” Luo Zhu continued, not waiting for the other to respond. In the past, Wuxian didn’t know much about Luo Zhu, but the two did interact rather often because of Feng Xi, but never before had Wuxian seen him wear an expression as serious as this one. “I didn’t approach because I didn’t care what you were doing, but now I want to know, what does the guild want with Feng Xi?”
Honestly, he wasn’t surprised. He knew this confrontation would happen eventually, but just like when facing Feng Xi, he didn’t know what to say.
“The guild doesn’t want anything from him,” Wuxian said eventually, standing up, and he hoped his voice didn’t sound as strange as he thought it did.
“Then why did they want to bring him back?” Luo Zhu snapped, taking a step forward as he spoke. “Why would they bring him back and then force him to wear those bracelets? Those things are suffocating, don’t you think it’s unfair to make him wear those things when us elfins are made of spiritual energy?”
“The guild didn’t want to bring him back.”
Luo Zhu looked confused for a moment before visibly faltering as he took in what Wuxian told him, realization slowly dawning on him as he shook his head. “Wuxian, you… You know this is going to crush him, right? He can understand the guild doing something like this, they have always been after us- after him-, but this--”
“Please don’t say anything.”
Wuxian couldn’t look at Luo Zhu anymore, couldn’t take the accusing expression on his face, so he looked down at their feet. He knew what was done was wrong, that Feng Xi was going to hate him even more once he found out, but Wuxian…
Wuxian couldn’t bring himself to feel guilty over it, and that was the most upsetting part about it all. That he felt absolutely no guilt, even though he should. “I’ll tell Feng Xi eventually, I promise.”
Nothing was said between them as the wind picked up for a moment, blowing loudly and harshly around them, yet neither of them faltered under its strength. Below them, the city continued to move and breathe while Wuxian felt like he couldn’t catch his breath.
“I hate you, you know,” Luo Zhu finally said after letting out a sigh. “You tore apart my family not just once, but twice. You keep hurting Feng Xi and destroy everything I love. Even this is going to tear Feng Xi up from the inside. Why should I do you any favors and give you the chance to explain yourself to him?”
The cold tone of Luo Zhu’s voice made Wuxian wince a little.
He had every right to hate Wuxian, he didn’t blame Luo Zhu. He’s hurt Feng Xi too many times, he really didn’t deserve the chance to explain anything, doesn’t deserve to even be talking to Feng Xi after everything he’s done.
Wuxian remained silent. There was nothing he could say.
After some time, realizing he wasn’t going to get an answer, Luo Zhu scoffed. He turned to look out at the city, but he wasn’t looking at any of the buildings. Instead, his eyes fell onto the large tree surrounded by metal and concrete, looking so out of place in an area created by humans. “You’re just going to end up hurting him again,” he muttered, Wuxian only able to hear it because he had no other option.
“I don’t want to hurt him,” Wuxian said before he could stop himself.
Luo Zhu quickly turned to look at Wuxian again, his fists tightening at his side. “Then stop being a fucking coward and do something about it. You left him when he needed you most all those years ago, because you can’t make up your mind about what you want. If you’re having problems figuring things out, then fine, but keep Feng Xi out of it. He doesn’t deserve to be caught in the middle of your indecisiveness, and neither does Xiao Hei.
Figure out what it is you want, or I’ll make sure you won’t have the chance to explain anything to Feng Xi.”
There was something more Luo Zhu wanted to say, but the elfin stopped himself and seemed to think it was best he didn’t, because after that he descended from the building and Wuxian was once again left alone.
Left alone with his thoughts and the stabbing pain in his chest.