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With You, My Heart Feels At Home

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Ruination.

That was the name of Xing’s ability. An ability she had no control over.

 

Unlike other abilities, which had to be learned for the most part, Xing’s Ruination worked almost in reverse. It was something she apparently had since the beginning, when she was created, but because of this, she had no idea how to control it. Instead of learning how to use it, she instead had to learn how to not use it, but due to its massive, destructive energy, her ability, along with all her spiritual energy, was sealed away by the bracelets.

There wasn’t much information about it, but Ruination was said to bring death and destruction to everything.

 

 

All will fall to ruin if not stopped.

 

 

Luo Zhu and Xing were said to be on the outskirts of Long You, where they had been searching for Xiao Hei previously. Pan Jing wasn’t able to give them much information other than a brief rundown of Xing’s ability due to the fact they were racing against time here, and needed to get there in a hurry.

Standing before the scene, Feng Xi felt his heart ache.

The ground was cracked and split apart, ripping trees of their roots, making it extremely unstable to walk on the closer you got. The life and spiritual energy were being sucked out of all living things too close to Xing, making the plants wilted, brittle and grey. Around them, the wing whipped and screamed wildly, strong enough to slash into surrounding rocks, cutting them apart as if they were nothing.

As an elfin whose abilities were so closely tied to nature and the earth, watching it get harmed and killed like this made Feng Xi feel sick.

In a way, it was almost as if it was like watching his home get destroyed by humans, ripped up from the roots and chopped down, burned until nothing remained of the beautiful forest that once stood there.

In the center of the carnage was Xing, with her head held in her hands and looking as if she was struggling to stand. The bracelets on her wrists, which were meant to be a smooth silver metal, were broken and cracked, falling apart as if they were brittle and not the impenetrable metal that Feng Xi knew they were. As pieces fell, they dissolved into ash, picked up by the turbulent wind and scattered about until nothing remained of them.

Feng Xi felt something grabbing at him. Looking down, he saw Wuxian’s hand in his. Wuxian gave his hand a gentle squeeze, and Feng Xi looked up to see him giving him a worried look. Without even having said a word, Feng Xi knew that Wuxian was trying to tell him “I’m here”.

“We’re at the location,” Wuxain said, turning his attention back on Xing. “What’re we to do?”

Using the same trick as before, Wuxian gave Feng Xi a bit of spiritual energy in order to pick up on the transmission and hear Pan Jing’s reply. “You’ll need to find a way to reduce her spiritual energy and buy some time, while we figure out how to repair her bracelets.”

It was frustrating how, once again, the guild was left to be useless. How didn’t they take care of this before it got to this point? And how do they not have any sort of plan if this sort of thing were to happen to Xing, since Pan Jing seemed to have so much knowledge on her ability. Maybe he was pointing blame at them too quickly, but Feng Xi could never bring himself to trust the guild again.

Wuxian once again gave Feng Xi’s hand a gentle squeeze. “Alright, so we just have to do whatever we can. Xiao Hei, you’re with me.”

Xiao Hei nodded, looking a little apprehensive but determined.

“Feng Xi, go find Luo Zhu. His energy signature is weak, so I can’t pick up his exact location, but he’s over there somewhere,” Wuxian pointed in a direction, one that was far too close to Xing for Feng Xi’s liking, and he started to worry about Luo Zhu.

He was about to hurry off in the direction Wuxian pointed him to, but Wuxian’s hand in his pulled him to a stop, making Feng Xi turn around with a confused look, wondering what else he needed to say.

It took a few moments, but Wuxian finally let out a sigh, his shoulders tensing up a little. “Be careful,” he said, his voice strained a little as he tried holding back his concern. “Don’t get too close to Xing, we don’t know what she can do.”

Even though Wuxian had the more dangerous job, he was still concerned for him. It made Feng Xi’s chest twist a little at such a familiar feeling. He acted on old habits, bringing Wuxian’s hand up to his lips and planting a soft kiss on his knuckles. “I’m not the one about to run head first into the storm. You and Xiao Hei be careful.”

With that, they parted, their hands lingering for as long as possible before they could no longer reach each other. They were racing against a fast clock, and they already wasted too much time. They all had something important to do.

Feng Xi ran without looking back, hearing the sound of a loud roar before the ground trembled beneath him, but he didn’t look back.

Having seen what Ruination was doing to the plants and their spiritual energy, Feng Xi feared for what kind of state Luo Zhu was in. He was the one who was with Xing before this entire thing started, and was the first one there when it began. After being told that his spiritual signature was weak, Feng Xi started to fear that Luo Zhu may have had his energy drained like the surrounding plants.

He didn’t know if that was a thing that could happen, but elfins were made of pure spiritual energy. If Ruination was draining it all in order to use it as a weapon, then it made sense that it would target an elfin, especially if Luo Zhu had been weakened before then.

 

Feng Xi’s search didn’t take very long.

 

Luo Zhu was laying on the ground, looking tattered and bruised, with a large gash on his shoulder. Seeing Luo Zhu unresponsive, Feng Xi felt as if he was struck frozen to his core, his mind instantly jumping to the worst possible conclusion.

“Luo Zhu, Luo Zhu!!” Feng Xi called as he rushed over to his side, grabbing at his shoulder that wasn’t wounded and shook him, calling out his name over and over again. The longer Luo Zhu went without responding and waking up, the more desperate Feng Xi felt.

He didn’t have any spiritual energy to check on Luo Zhu, who was so weak that Feng Xi couldn’t pick up anything from checking his wrist. If Feng Xi had his spiritual energy, or if Luo Zhu’s was stronger, then he would be able to, but he couldn’t, no matter what he did, he couldn’t find anything.

 

This couldn’t be real, right?

 

There was no way this was real…

 

Just when he was starting to try and fix things, just when he finally decided on actually trying to live this second life given to him, things turn bad.

Of course, this must be his punishment.

 

This must be his punishment given to him by fate. He’d done too many terrible things, and now he’ll never be able to live nor rest in peace. Of course that’s how it would go.

Of course fate would try to rip his family from him.

Feng Xi feels his eyes stinging with tears as he’s overcome by helplessness. There’s nothing he can do. He can’t help Luo Zhu, he can’t help Wuxian and Xiao Hei. With these bracelets on, there was hardly anything he could do.

Never before has he felt so useless.

“Please,” Feng Xi begs, because that’s the only thing he knows how to do at the moment, the words coming out broken and strained past his tightened throat. “Please wake up, Luo Zhu…”

 

 

Hearing a soft groan, Feng Xi’s eyes snap open and he stills for a moment, wondering if he was just hearing things and his mind was just playing tricks on him, but before he could write it off as such, he hears another groan, and Luo Zhu finally stirs awake.

Blinking his eyes open with a grimace, Luo Zhu slowly looks up and Feng Xi, and some of the pained expression goes away. “Feng Xi?” he says, his voice sounding rough as he moves to support himself with one arm, the one without the gash in his shoulder, sitting up. “What’re you--”

Luo Zhu doesn’t finish his sentence, caught off guard by Feng Xi hugging him, pulling the other close to his body and holding on tight. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again.” Feng Xi can’t keep his voice from wavering, and really, he doesn’t try to. He’s too overcome by emotions, relieved that Luo Zhu woke up and seems to be alright for the most part.

With his injured arm and using the other one to support himself, Luo Zhu isn’t able to return the hug, but Feng Xi feels him lean into the touch, always the most physically affectionate out of all of them.

After allowing himself a few moments to sit there and calm down, Feng Xi pulls away, but keeps a hand placed on Luo Zhu’s shoulder. “What happened?” he asks, looking over Luo Zhu’s wounds.

“It was…” Luo Zhu sighs and shakes his head. “We were just searching for Xiao Hei when she suddenly stopped walking and looked like she was in pain. I asked her what was wrong, and I tried to help her however I could, but… I can’t remember much, there was some kind of explosion, and I felt her ability start to drain my spiritual energy. Xing attacked me in order to get me out of range. I…”

Luo Zhu turned his head to look at Feng Xi, and he was desperate in his eyes. “Feng Xi, Xing is scared, we have to help her, we--”

“Wuxian and Xiao Hei are here,” he reassures Luo Zhu. “They’re trying to buy some time.”

After making sure that Luo Zhu would be able to stand, Feng Xi helps him up and supports Luo Zhu with his arm over his shoulders. Like this, they slowly make their way back in the direction where Feng Xi came from, the noises from the ensuing fight getting louder and louder the closer they got.

Feng Xi believed in Xiao Hei’s and Wuxian’s abilities. He knew that they were both powerful, much like himself, and weren’t easily defeated. However, arriving back to where they were, to where the fight was going on, Feng Xi could easily tell they were struggling.

Whatever they were doing slowed the progression of Ruination, but from what he could see, Wuxian and Xiao Hei were exhausted and injured, as the ground rumbled from underneath Xiao Hei, who had turned into his bigger form, and the child had to quickly maneuver out of the way to keep from falling and possibly being crushed.

There was another tremor, making Feng Xi hold on to Luo Zhu tightly to keep them both upright, and the sound of something hitting the ground hard. It wasn’t until the tremor was over that Feng Xi was able to look over and saw that what hit the ground had been Wuxian, who was sitting up and coughing.

“Wuxian!” Feng Xi called out, getting the humans attention.

He staggered a bit, but luckily they weren’t that far from each other, and Feng Xi met him half way. Now, up close like this, Feng Xi could see all the wounds on Wuxian’s body, how he was bleeding and bruised, panting heavily from exhaustion. Luo Zhu separated himself from Feng Xi, leaning against a nearby tree for support.

Wuxian falters in his step, and Feng Xi reaches out to catch him.

 

It reminded him of a time long ago, of a memory where he caught Wuxian, when Feng Xi first started to fall for him.

 

“You need to leave,” Wuxian said, looking up at Feng Xi, a pained expression on his face. “Now.”

Feng Xi looked at him with confusion, frowning. “What’re you talking about?”

“Pan Jing is evacuating Long You. We can’t get her spiritual energy to stabilize in time, her ability is going to destroy everything. You need to leave and get to safety, now!”

Before he had a chance to answer, the ground shook again, making Wuxian and Feng Xi hold onto each other tighter. The wind picked up speed, screaming louder along with Xing’s pained screams. Spiritual energy lashed out all around them, the force of it pressing against them, and then it exploded.

Feng Xi pulled Wuxian close, intending to block the force of it with his own body, but the explosion never came.

When they both looked up in confusion, Xiao Hei towered over them, blocking the brunt of it, but even it was too powerful for his much bigger size, as once most of the explosion was over and the winds picked up their speed, the child could no longer hold his form, getting swept away by the wind as he turned back into his small, black cat size.

Wuxian caught Xiao Hei and pulled him close. The child let out a groan, burying himself in Wuxian’s arms. “It’s okay, Xiao Hei,” Wuxian reassured the child in a gentle tone. “You can rest now, shifu will take care of the rest.”

 

What?

 

What did he mean by that?

 

Feng Xi watched as Wuxian walked over to Luo Zhu and passed Xiao Hei over. He listened to the child protest, claiming that he can keep going, but Wuxian simply shook his head and gave Xiao Hei a gentle pat. Luo Zhu said nothing as he held Xiao Hei in his good arm, looking as though he was ready to protect him from anything and everything.

“Wuxian, what are you doing?” Feng Xi asked, grabbing onto his hand.

“Take Luo Zhu and Xiao Hei to the guild, you’ll be safe there,” Wuxian said, pointedly avoiding Feng Xi’s question.

He wasn’t going to be brushed off that easily. “What about you? What’re you going to do?”

“I’m going to stay here.”

“What?! But she’s a ticking bomb!”

“That’s why someone needs to stay here and do whatever they can to prolong it, so that the city can evacuate and everyone get somewhere safe.”

“This is a stupid idea! What happens once Ruination explodes, what’ll you do then?”

Wuxian didn’t answer. He didn’t have a plan for that. He didn’t have a better idea. This was all he could come up with in order to make sure there was the least amount of casualties as possible. Of course his idea would be to throw himself in the middle of it, to put himself in possible harm's way. He didn’t answer because Feng Xi already knew.

Like this, there was a chance that Wuxian would die. In fact, that chance was much, much higher than him surviving.

 

This really was punishment, huh?

 

Realization struck Feng Xi. “Open communication with Pan Jing.”

“What?”

“Just do it, let me talk to him.”

He would rather not, he would rather be dragged through mud than to talk with anyone from the guild, but he needed to do this.

Wuxian was obviously confused, but did as Feng Xi asked him, opening communication with Pan Jing back up and giving Feng Xi just a bit more spiritual energy this time so he could talk.

“Pan Jing!”

“Huh? Feng Xi? How’re you--”

“That’s not important right now,” Feng Xi rolled his eyes, though he knew the guild leader wouldn’t be able to see it. “You mentioned cutting off Xing’s spiritual energy, how much would need to be taken for her to no longer be a threat?”

There was a brief moment of silence from Pan Jing before he answered. “About half would need to be gone, that would be the bare minimum.”

 

“So if I were to use Siege and take half of Ruination, that would be enough to keep Long You safe, right?”

 

Wuxian startled backwards, cutting off Feng Xi’s connection with Pan Jing once they were no longer touching, shaking his head. “No, no that’s out of the question,” Wuxian said. With his eyes wide and the way he was stepping back, he looked scared. Terrified, even.

As Wuxian backed away, Feng Xi stepped forward to grab onto him again, gently holding onto his hand. Having cut off their connection, he hadn’t gotten a chance to hear what Pan Jing’s answer had been. “Wuxian, what did he say?” he asked gently.

“He said no, he said that it wouldn’t work, Feng Xi,” Wuxian shook his head and refused to look up, staring at the ground, attempting to regain his composure.

Feng Xi sighed. “So there’s a chance it will.” It was easy to see through Wuxian’s lie. There was a chance that taking away Xing’s ability to stop it from destroying everything.

“Feng Xi, please,” Wuxian’s voice sounded so raw, pleading as he finally looked up. “Don’t do this, let me handle it. You don’t even like humans, you shouldn’t care if Long You gets destroyed.”

 

That was true.

 

He really didn’t care if Long You got destroyed. It would just mean there could be a chance of the earth growing and healing, it could mean the return of the once vast and beautiful forest this city must’ve cut down and demolished.

But, even if he didn’t care about Long You, there were people close to him now that did care about it, and whether it stood or not.

Luo Zhu was making his own life here, having been here for seven years so far, made friends and even got a job at Zi Luolan’s flower shop. The two of them were close friends now, and he knew that Luo Zhu would be upset if he lost another home. Zi Luolan would be upset at losing the flower shop she worked so hard on for so long.

Xiao Hei wouldn’t be able to come back here with his friends and relive memories of this place with them, and he wouldn’t be able to make any new ones. Memories were important to have and cherish as a child and growing up. Long You might not seem all that important to him now, but if it were destroyed, Xiao Hei would only be able to reminisce over the rubble.

Xing would lose the life she worked so hard to build up after decades of isolation and suffering. She’d no longer have a home to return to once this ordeal was over with and Long You fell. She would have to go back to the guild and live in isolation once again, for who knows how long.

Most importantly, Wuxian worked hard at his job as Executor, making sure everyone in Long You was protected and safe. To let it get destroyed would be destroying Wuxian’s lifelong work, making it all for nothing. Also, Wuxian spent seven years here to bring Feng Xi back, and that tree still stood among the buildings.

Feng Xi was selfish. He didn’t care about anyone else living in Long You. He didn’t care if it stayed or not.

But there was a part of him that wanted to return to it with Wuxian and Xiao Hei.

 

At some point, he started to think that maybe, if those two were with him, maybe he could see this place as home.

 

Feng Xi closed his eyes.

Long You had become home for so many, and he wanted to protect it now.

 

“You’re right, I don’t particularly care for humans,” Feng Xi sighed a little and smiled, opening his eyes and staring at Wuxian, realizing that with Wuxian around, he was always comforted and unafraid, even if taking on this task was the equivalent of staring down the barrel of a gun. “But there’s one stubborn human I need to protect, and if that means protecting an entire city of humans to keep that one safe, then I won’t hesitate.”

He watched as Wuxian’s eyes widened and his breath catch.

 

He remembered back to Wuxian’s confession, about how he didn’t know what to do if Feng Xi was gone. The look in his eyes made sense now. Right now, Wuxian was scared of losing him again, and this time, he may not be able to bring him back. But Feng Xi was confident this would work. It had to, if he wanted to protect those he loved and cared for.

Feng Xi looked down, looking at his own wrists and the metal bracelets wrapped around them, smooth, immaculate. “I figured out who can take these off of me.” There have been a number of times Wuxian would have been able to reach out and touch his wrists. Even now, he was avoiding the bracelets. At first, Feng Xi thought it might have something to do with Wuxian feeling guilty about the bracelets, but he figured it out eventually, remembering what Pan Jing had told him in their meeting.

“Wuxian, I need you to take these off now.”

His hand tightened in their hold. “What if… I refuse?”

“You’re not going to lose me. I’ll come back, I promise. I have a reason to stay now, I don’t want to throw it all away. But you have to let me do this, Wuxian.”

Wuxian’s hands were trembling as he pulled his hand away from Feng Xi’s. They were shaking so much as he held them up for a moment, looking as if he was unsure what to do, but after letting out a sigh and taking a moment to close his eyes, he finally nodded.

 

With a slow and hesitant touch, Wuxian guided Feng Xi’s arms so they were bent, the inside of his wrists were facing upwards. He paused for a moment, staring at the bracelets. Feng Xi could see that he did feel some sort of guilt. It was probably something he agreed in terms with bringing Feng Xi back, and he was probably blaming himself for it.

Quickly, Wuxian gathered himself up, realizing that they truly were running out of time here and that there was no point in stalling. He placed his hands on the bracelets, right on Feng Xi’s forearm, and instantly, Feng Xi could feel the build up of pressure as Wuxian flooded the bracelets with his own spiritual energy.

Unlike Xing’s, which were currently flaking away and turning to ash, Feng Xi’s bracelets began to glow a soft light, growing brighter and brighter until, finally, they burst.

 

It felt like a rush of fresh air after so long of feeling suffocated. Feng Xi felt the spiritual energy run through his being once more, reinvigorated and anew. The trees swayed at the burst of energy created, stirring the air, and making it seem as if they were cheering.

Looking down, he saw Wuxian’s hands still covering his arms, and underneath, the bracelets were gone, as if they had never been there in the first place.

Feng Xi smiled, leaning forward and gently touching his forehead to Wuxian’s, closing his eyes. He could feel Wuxian’s spiritual energy, strong but warm, as it buzzed all around and through him.

“I’ll come back,” he reassured once again, this time in a softer, more private tone. A vow between just the two of them, and one he intended to keep. “You should get somewhere safe.”

Wuxian’s hands tightened a little on his arms. “I’m staying, to make sure this plan of yours doesn’t backfire. Just like every other time.”

He couldn’t help but to laugh a little at the reminder. Wuxian was always there in the past to help him through every impulsive plan and action he took, and apparently this one was no different. Either way, he didn’t mind. He wouldn’t have it either way.

 

They’ve taken up too much time, and the longer they stall, the stronger Ruination gets, so finally, Feng Xi pulls away, giving Wuxian one last reassuring squeeze on his arm before turning away, only to be stopped by Wuxian reaching out and turning him back around.

“Wait…”

Wuxian reached behind him, fumbling for a moment, and Feng Xi watched as his hair became unbound, cascading around him softly. As Feng Xi stared in awe, Wuxian wrapped the white band he used to tie back his hair around Feng Xi’s forearm, right where one of the bracelets had been. It was on the same arm that he wore the metal band around his finger.

“You said once that you like when my hair is tied back, so you can see my face better,” Wuxian muttered as he wrapped it around, tying it off tight so it wouldn’t have a chance to fall off. “Return this to me.”

Feng Xi blinked, and once again, he couldn’t help but smile softly. “I don’t need any other reason to come back.”

“Maybe not, but this is to assure that you do. Feng Xi…” With a gentle hand, Wuxian reached out and caressed Feng Xi’s cheek. It was something he used to do so often, something that he did without thinking. “Be careful.”

 

There was no more time to waste, so Feng Xi finally departed, leaving Wuxian, Xiao Hei and Luo Zhu behind.

With the plant life surrounding Xing dead and void of any spiritual energy, it was a bit harder for him the closer he got, but luckily, he was strong enough to where he didn’t need to rely solely on his surroundings, he could create life easily from his own spiritual energy.

The roaring winds threw whatever it picked up at him, and the spiritual energy cut at him. Feng Xi was tossed and thrown around, but no matter what, he didn’t give up. He couldn’t give up. Not when so much was at stake, not when he promised to Wuxian.

 

 

In the middle of it all, Xing looked ready to collapse.

Not only were the bracelets almost completely gone, but her body was chipping away as well, exposing a bright, burning fire deep inside, as if it was her very soul being exposed. The heat from just the little bit exposed was intense, almost searing. It was like she was a living star.

“Xing!!” Feng Xi shouted, trying to make himself heard through the rushing winds.

Slowly, she looked up, her face an expression of pure stress and pain, and Feng Xi felt his heart aching.

“It hurts,” Xing said, her voice strange and distorted, and it took a moment for Feng Xi to realize that she was speaking elfin. “It hurts so much.”

“I’m here to help you,” Feng Xi answered back, speaking elfin as well, his voice caring further this way. He reached out a hand towards her, struggling to get closer, the winds threatening to sweep him away and erase all progress he made. He can also feel his spiritual energy steadily being drained. It was exhausting fighting against it, making his limbs feel as though they weighed a ton. “Grab my hand, and I’ll get us out of here.”

Xing just stared at his hand for a moment, as if she didn’t know what to do with it, before slowly, she reached a hand out towards him, as if it also took all her strength to do so.

Suddenly, her face contorted in agony and she drew back. Xing screamed, blood curdling and full of suffering as more of her body tore itself apart and the bracelet fell away.

Realizing he was nearly out of time, Feng Xi lunged forward with as much strength he could muster, calling out her name. Somehow, despite all the pain she was going through, Xing reached out and grabbed onto his hand.

 

 

After that, Feng Xi’s vision went dark...