The sound of something crashing startled him awake.
Xiao Hei looked up from where he was curled on the bed, sleepiness still clinging to the edge of his consciousness and making him want to fall back asleep. Something had woken him up, but he was unsure if that something was real or not. It could’ve very well happened in a dream, he’s had such instances before.
Just as the little black cat was going to make the decision to fall back asleep, he heard muffled voices, ones that sounded like shouting. Shouting that sounded like it was coming from Feng Xi.
Instantly, he was wide awake.
He wasn’t sure what was going on, but he knew that Feng Xi was without spiritual energy, so if something was going on, if Feng Xi was somehow in trouble, Xiao Hei wanted to be there to protect him.
There was more yelling and something that sounded like more crashing, so Xiao Hei leapt off the bed, changing to human as he touched the ground, and threw open the bedroom door.
Xiao Hei had gotten to Feng Xi’s apartment earlier, and when he got here, it was empty. Both Feng Xi and Wuxian hadn’t returned yet, so the boy had made his way into Feng Xi’s room to take a nap and wait for them to return. When he was here earlier, everything was in order. Clean, tidy, as they always were.
Now, not even in the living room yet and just standing at the doorway of the kitchen, he saw how the kitchen alone was in disarray. The small table looked like it was ready to collapse in two at any moment, and one of the chairs was tipped onto the floor, the back of it completely snapped.
Xiao Hei stared at it for only a moment before moving on, confusion starting to swirl within.
In the living room, plants were knocked over, some of the pots had cracked and dirt was spilled over the floor, as well as a lamp having toppled over.
It looked like a scene resulting from a rampage.
There was heavy, ragged breathing, and Xiao Hei quickly turned toward the noise.
Feng Xi was leaned against the door, his entire body keeping it shut as if he was holding something back, keeping something from getting in, but Xiao Hei couldn’t feel any energy beyond the door, most definitely not of something trying to make its way in. Nothing was there, so Xiao Hei couldn’t understand why he was like that.
Either way, that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was figuring out what happened, and to help Feng Xi, so Xiao Hei rushed over to his side, his footsteps loud enough for Feng Xi to hear as he turned and looked at the younger elfin with a confused expression.
“Xiao-Xiao Hei?” Feng Xi’s voice sounded hoarse, like it hurt to talk. “When did you get here…?”
“I was asleep in your bedroom,” he answered, looking up at Feng Xi with a worried and confused expression. “Are you okay? What happened? Did someone hurt you?”
Pain flashed across Feng Xi’s eyes, looking like he winced for a second before shaking his head and looking away. “I’m fine,” he muttered before pushing himself away from the door.
Xiao Hei felt so confused. He had no idea what went on, and Feng Xi seemed so determined to not talk about it, but it was obvious something happened, something that upset Feng Xi. He silently watches as Feng Xi sits down on the couch and leans forward, his hands in his hair and looking so tired.
He’s seen shifu look this way as well.
He’s seen Wuxian look so exhausted, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders and he was too tired to carry it anymore. He remembered seeing it often during the time that Feng Xi was gone.
Now, Feng Xi looked as if he was exhausted. As if the entire world came crashing down onto him, and he was struggling to stay above the rubble.
“Feng Xi? What happened?” he asked again, taking a step closer to the older elfin.
For a few long moments, neither of them said anything, neither of them moved. Xiao Hei knew that Feng Xi had heard his question because they were the only two in a silent, still apartment. There was no way he hadn’t heard the question.
“Did you know?”
If Xiao Hei hadn’t been paying absolute attention, he might have missed Feng Xi’s question with how low the other elfin was speaking, as if he was afraid to get his voice any louder.
“Did I know what?”
“That bringing me back was all Wuxian’s plan. That the guild wanted nothing to do with me, but he decided to torture everyone and bring me back.”
As Feng Xi laughed humorlessly, Xiao Hei just stared at him with even more confusion.
No, he didn’t know about that. All he knew was that the guild had agreed to bringing Feng Xi back. He wasn’t told much else beyond that point, and Xiao Hei had assumed that it had been something entirely decided by the guild. He didn’t think to question it, didn’t ask too many questions.
It didn’t matter to him why Feng Xi was being brought back or why, all he knew was that if they had succeeded, then he was excited to see Feng Xi again. That was all Xiao Hei cared about.
Still not saying anything, Xiao Hei looked around the chaotic apartment and he began connecting pieces together. He noticed the faint trace of spiritual energy that he was so familiar with that he didn’t think to seek it out, so used to it by now when he was around it, it just became something he didn’t have to look for.
Wuxian had been here at some point, and they got into an argument again, this time resulting in Feng Xi lashing out.
“I don’t think he meant it as torture,” Xiao Hei shook his head. “Did you ask him about it? Did you let shifu explain it to you?”
“Explain? What is there to explain?”
“Shifu would never do something to hurt others, I’m sure he had a reason for--”
“What does it matter, Xiao Hei?”
Feng Xi’s shoulder shook, and Xiao Hei couldn’t see his face to tell why. He couldn’t tell if Feng Xi was crying or laughing. Or maybe even both.
“You don’t know what it’s like being forced into a corner and not being given any breathing room. Wuxian knew that if I continued living, I would never be able to forgive myself for what I had done. I thought that he would at least be the one person who would respect what I had done, but he didn’t. He went and gave me no choice once again. My life is always being controlled by others.”
Xiao Hei felt frustration bubble up inside of him.
It was true, he couldn’t understand these things, but he knew that was wrong. “Shifu would never try to control anyone,” Xiao Hei said, looking down and grabbing at the hem of his shirt. “He isn’t the type to do something like that.”
“Then why would he go and do something like this to me?”
“I don’t know, but maybe if you let him explain then you would!”
Xiao Hei didn’t mean to start shouting, he didn’t mean to raise his voice, but he was frustrated at them. He might not understand the complexities of their relationship and their past, but at this point they weren’t making any progress. All he has heard from them so far is arguing.
He was tired of the arguing, tired of watching them tear each other apart like this, tired of watching them hurt each other again and again.
Why couldn’t they just talk it out and listen to each other?
Why couldn’t they realize they deserved so much better than this?
If they would just talk things through then things would be better for them.
Xiao Hei had hoped that coming here would help. That when Wuxian appeared, things would somehow work out, that they could work things out. Even if they couldn’t go back to how they used to be, did it really have to be like this? Did they really have to torture themselves and each other like this?
He was frustrated. So, so frustrated.
Clenching his hands, Xiao Hei wordlessly turned towards the door and started walking.
“Xiao Hei?” Feng Xi called out, making the younger elfin pause in his steps. “Where… Where are you going?”
He took a deep breath. He couldn’t turn to face Feng Xi. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself from screaming out his frustrations then, so instead, Xiao Hei turned his head a little to speak over his shoulder. “I’m leaving, I’m going back to Xiaobai and Argen. I don’t want to hear you and shifu argue anymore.”
“What? Xiao Hei, wait--”
But he didn’t. Not wanting to listen anymore, he rushed out the apartment, skipping the elevator entirely and rushing down the stairs. He heard Feng Xi calling for him, his voice slowly fading out the further he got, until Xiao Hei reached the bottom of the stairs.
Breathing heavily, Xiao Hei paused for a moment.
His chest hurt and felt heavy.
He didn’t want to leave.
He didn’t want to leave Feng Xi behind.
He didn’t want to avoid Wuxian.
He wanted to fix this.
He wanted to help.
But he didn’t know how. It was entirely up to them.
Without looking back, Xiao Hei walked out of the building and into the pouring rain. A flash lit up the city, and the sky rumbled.
It rained through the entire night, with the sky flashing and roaring periodically. As the night turned into morning and the sun rose, the sky didn’t let up. It continued to pour, as if the sky was trying to scrub away at the earth, trying to drown out everything on it.
Feng Xi got no sleep.
For most of the night, he just sat or lay there, unable to move or think. It was as if living had suddenly become something he was unfamiliar with. His mind was racing a mile a minute, yet he felt numb. After his outburst of rage, he didn’t know what to feel anymore.
And to have Xiao Hei leave as well…
He didn’t know what to do.
He didn’t know what to feel.
He felt betrayed. He felt like whatever he did had no meaning to anyone. It didn’t matter if he was obedient or rebellious, whatever he did, things were always decided for him.
The guild had once promised to protect his home before tearing up their promise right before his eyes and then claim he was a traitor for not agreeing with them. They had forced him into a corner, they had taken everything from him. In the end, they took everything until there was nothing left of him. No home, no place to go, no voice they would listen to. He hadn’t even hurt anyone, human or elfin, and yet they were convinced he was evil.
But he was used to that. He was used to the guild pointing their fingers at him, labeling him a bad guy. He was used to it, and eventually, he didn’t care about what they thought of him.
He had thought the guild brought him back in order to make him pay for his crimes. Of course, they wouldn’t let him off the hook. Of course, they wouldn’t just let him disappear and fade into nothing. He had to be punished, that was how the guild worked. So he didn’t care all that much. They would never let him rest, and he was used to that.
But, finding out Wuxian was the one that brought him back somehow…
He knew that Luo Zhu, Tian Hu and Xu Huai would respect his decision, no matter how painful. They knew how much he hated not having control of things, of feeling like he had no choice.
Wuxian did as well.
He could remember a time where Wuxian had supported him. When given two options, Feng Xi always found his own way to do things, and Wuxian would always support him, a stable constant by his side. Solid ground beneath his feet.
No matter what happened, he could always find Wuxian standing next to him. He never stopped Feng Xi, but always made sure to be there to catch him whenever he needed, as it was so easy for him to get swept away in his own whirlwind.
At first, Feng Xi had hated Wuxian with more hatred than he ever knew he could muster. When they first met, Wuxian was some stuck up human that acted like he was better than everyone else. He walked around as if no one else mattered, and he was the strongest within the room. It had pissed off Feng Xi to no end, and he wanted to wipe that arrogant look off his face.
But slowly, he began to learn more about Wuxian.
He learned that instead of arrogance, he instead carried around the weight of having to become the strongest in order to repay those who raised and protected him. He learned of the softness behind his expressionless face, and the drive to protect those who needed it, despite what they were.
It had been terrifying at first, falling for someone so stable and unmoving, afraid of being held back, but Wuxian never did, and so falling for him became something like being held upright and supported. In a place such as the guild, where Feng Xi was afraid of turning his back and showing weakness at any point, having Wuxian by his side was comforting.
So when he asked Wuxian to leave the guild with him, he wasn’t surprised by the rejection.
So when he found out that Wuxian was the reason he was back, he couldn’t handle it.
Wuxian, who always silently supported him, did something that was the exact opposite of what Feng Xi wanted for once. When Feng Xi just wanted to be left alone, Wuxian brought him back. Knowing that making his own choices was so important to Feng Xi, he still went and did something that went against Feng Xi’s wishes.
And that hurt more than anything Feng Xi has felt.
The sun rose up into the sky, not a single care for anything, and the world still remained in a bleek, grey colour, and Feng Xi had no idea what to do from here.
Slowly sitting up from the couch he had spent all night on, he looked around his destroyed apartment, now able to see some of the damage done. He was going to have to replant the plants that had fallen over and get some of them new pots. He was sure that the lamp that was tipped over was going to need to be replaced or fixed if there wasn’t too much damage. Definitely the kitchen would need a new table.
But why bother?
What does any of this matter?
It didn’t. Not really.
Was living really even worth it…?
Sure, he got this second chance, but what’s the point?
He was trapped now. The guild has him locked up and on a short leash. The bracelets limited his spiritual energy, and he knew he was being watched.
What was the point…?
There was the sound of something slamming, startling Feng Xi out of his thoughts and turning towards it.
Xing stood in the doorway of his apartment, the door having been flung wide open. She stood there with her shoulders hunched and looking as if she hasn’t slept in days.
“Alright, I let you sulk for long enough,” she said as she entered the apartment, not even waiting to be let in. Feng Xi stood up in confusion, opening his mouth to say something, but was stopped when Xing shoved him, making him stumble back a step. “I heard the entire thing, and I’m tired of this.”
Feng Xi could only stare for a moment as his mind tried to figure out what she was talking about. “What are you-- what did you hear?”
“You and Wuxian once again being idiots and not talking to each other! That’s what!”
So she had just been listening in on their conversation the entire time? How much of it did she hear? Feng Xi frowned. “This doesn’t concern you,” he said, his voice on the edge of snapping.
“At this point, fuck it!!” Xing shouted as she once again shoved at Feng Xi. “You both refused to listen to each other, so I’ll do the talking!! Do you realize how much shit Wuxian went through to bring you back? How much he put at stake?”
“I never asked him to bring me back!!”
“No, you didn’t, but he knew that you deserved it! He knew that you deserved another chance! He spent day and night searching for a way to piece together your shredded soul, and he did it all alone! The guild offered him absolutely no help at all, not until Wuxian begged and pleaded with them!
He didn’t want you to have to wear these damned bracelets, but the guild wouldn’t budge on the matter, it was the only way he could convince them to help him! He put his title as Executor on the line to bring you back, and this is how you repay him?”
“So am I supposed to be in his debt? For having him do something I never asked for?”
Xing ran her hands through her hair in frustration. “No!! You know Wuxian would rather you stab him than for you to be in his debt!! But the least you can fucking do is let him explain himself! I don’t even know the full picture, I don’t even know the full extent of why he did what he did, but I do know that he did it because he wanted something better for you! He didn’t want you to have such a terrible fucking end! He wants you to find a new beginning, something to live for and to do with your life!”
No matter how it was worded, it still didn’t change the fact that Wuxian went and did something like this, practically betraying Feng Xi.
But, if what Xing was saying was true, then he couldn’t figure out why Wuxian would go through such lengths when it would’ve just been so much easier and simpler to let Feng Xi fade from the world.
Putting together a shredded soul wasn’t an easy task. In fact, Feng Xi couldn’t think he’d ever heard of such a thing being done before…
Xing was breathing heavily as she continued. “So how about you take my advice from before and stop wasting away this second chance, actually hear what Wuxian has to say! Stop being so damn--”
Suddenly, Xing stopped talking as her face twisted into an expression of pain, bending over with her arms wrapped around herself. Feng Xi didn’t know what was going on, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Xing?” he called out to her, and received no answer other than what sounded like a groan in pain. He reached out, gently placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t touch me!!”
She shoved him away, pushing with more strength than Feng Xi had thought she had, and the entire apartment trembled. He felt a burst of spiritual energy go through him, knocking the wind from his lungs as the apartment shook as if the earth was quaking. It was loud as various things rattled and fell over.
It only lasted for a few moments, and left as quickly as it came, leaving Xing looking as though she were able to collapse at any moment.
He was confused. Wasn’t the bracelets she was wearing supposed to suppress spiritual energy? Did that blast actually come from Xing, or did it come from somewhere else? And if from somewhere else, then where?
As Feng Xi caught his breath, he looked down to where Xing had her arms wrapped around herself, and noticed something strange about her bracelets.
There were cracks running through the silver metal, no longer making it smooth like his. He watched as smaller ones inched across the metal, growing slowly bigger and bigger.
With a groan, Feng Xi wrapped an arm around his stomach, feeling as though he had just been punched.
“Xing,” he called out again, this time his voice strained a little from the pain, “what was…”
What was that…?
“I’m sorry, I--I need to leave…”
Without answering, Xing picked herself up, hurrying away on trembling legs that seemed like they would give out at any moment. Feng Xi wanted to stop her, to get answers out of her and make sure she was okay, but the blast had left him disoriented and in pain. He didn’t have the luxury of having his own spiritual energy to block the blast, leaving him exposed and vulnerable to it.
By the time Feng Xi recovered enough to move, she was already long gone.