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With You, My Heart Feels At Home

Chapter Text

He knew there was something wrong instantly.

In the fact that he could feel fabric under his fingers, that he could hear the soft muffled noises of talking beyond walls, that he could slowly blink his eyes open.

That he was alive…

The light hurt his eyes, making him shut them tightly once more. Everything felt like too much all at once, making him feel disoriented and confused. It was starting to fill his chest up with a bad feeling.

There was also the fact that he couldn’t feel his spiritual energy. It was just a small spark compared to the once raging fire that coursed through his entire being, something that came so easily to him. Without it, it felt like he was being smothered, and he hated the feeling. He absolutely hated it.

Why was his spiritual energy so low?

Why was he alive?

Why?

Why why why why---

“Feng Xi…?”

At that soft, familiar voice, he froze before opening his eyes.

The room was void of almost everything, the only things in it were the bed that he was laying on and a chair in the corner of the room, so he didn’t need to do much searching to find the source of the voice.

Standing there, looking as if he had just risen from the chair with a hand reaching out, was Wuxian, wearing a complicated expression that was hard to decipher. Was it anger? Somewhere along the way, Feng Xi found himself unable to read him.

Feng Xi went to sit up, but didn’t get very far, unable to move his arms more than a few inches off the surface of the bed. Looking down, his wrists were bound to the sides of the bed, along with strange looking bracelets that seemed vaguely familiar, one silver band wrapped around each wrist.

He let out a humorless laugh, shaking his head. “So, I’m a prisoner now?”

Moments passed, and yet he received no response. That’s fine. He didn’t need one. With how everything looked to him, he pieced it together without Wuxian having to say anything. The air between them was heavy, and Feng Xi couldn’t bring himself to look up, to look at Wuxian. He didn’t want to see whatever expression the other was wearing. It wouldn’t matter anyways.

There was a soft click, and the door to the room opened up.

“Gege? You’re still here?” Another familiar voice. “I thought I told you to go and-- Ah! Feng Xi, you’re awake!”

Xing smiled widely, her voice not holding back on any of her obvious happiness. “Why didn’t you tell me he was awake?” She turned to Wuxian, shoving him lightly with a pout on her face. “I told you to let me know of any changes!”

“I only just woke up,” Feng Xi answered, finding it much easier to talk to her. “I’m assuming we’re at the guild right now.”

“Mm, we are,” Xing answered as she walked over to the side of his bed and reached out, grabbing onto his arm gently and turning it in order to place her fingers on the inside of his wrist, “but not for very long. Oh, gege, I almost forgot, Xiao Hei was asking for you earlier.”

Until now, Wuxian had just been standing in the middle of the room, his eyes never leaving the floor. He had been almost as still as a statue, not even daring to take large breaths. Hearing this, however, he gave an abrupt small bow in thanks before silently leaving the room, making sure to close the door softly behind him.

Slowly, the heavy weight of the room lifted, and Feng Xi found himself able to breathe. He allowed Xing to examine him, keeping quiet to allow the other elfin to concentrate, but his eyes wandered down and saw how, on her wrists, Xing wore a very similar pair of bracelets, like the ones he was currently wearing himself.

A memory itched in his head, but no matter what he couldn’t remember why he recognized them or what significance they held.

“Xing.”

“Hush, you know I’m not that good at examinations. Don’t think that just because I haven’t seen you in so many years, I’ll go easy on you.” Her voice held a light playfulness to it, one he was familiar with, knowing that her threats at the moment were nothing to be taken serious.

That’s why he wasn’t afraid to speak. “What’re these bracelets?”

Her eyes shot open, blinking at him a few times before looking down to Feng Xi’s wrists. She dragged a finger down the surface of his bracelet, letting out a heavy sigh before looking back up at him.

“If you feel well enough, the guild leader wants to speak to you. Once he explains everything to you, you’ll be leaving the guild with me.”

 

 

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Officially, it was already spring season, but the air was still harsh and biting.

Trees were in the process of regrowing the leaves they had lost a few months prior, flowers were struggling to sprout from the still cold earth. Humans walked around still bundled up, but lost more layers as the days continued to gradually get warmer.

It was a time of new beginnings and birth.

 

“Ah-Ah-ACHOO!!”

And the time for illness!

Xiao Hei frowned, trying his best to hide his slight disgust. “I thought you said you wouldn’t get sick like this.”

Sniffling, Xiaobai shook her head. “I’m not getting sick! I promise!” As soon as she said this, she sneezed once more before sniffling. “It’s allergies from pollen.”

Elfins didn’t have this problem like some humans did, and Xiao Hei was still learning what exactly that meant. Either way, he was still concerned for his friend's health, so the boy removed the scarf he had previously been forced to wear and wrapped it around Xiaobai loosely. He didn’t need it anyways, the springtime air was actually refreshing to him.

“We better hurry up then, before you actually do catch a cold.”

“Ah, it’s so nice having a didi worry about me,” Xiaobai said with a laugh, quickening her steps to catch up to him as she fixed the scarf around her neck.

“It’s only because you have gross snot dripping from your nose.”

“WAIT REALLY?!”

“.........”

“That’s a cruel trick to play, Xiao Hei.”

Xiao Hei snickered, enjoying teasing the human girl. He opened his mouth to say something more, but suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked around. Xiaobai waited patiently, tilting her head a little in confusion as she watched him search for something.

His eyes must land on the target, because suddenly he’s beaming. “Shifu!!” He calls out, hoping a little bit in excitement before turning back to Xiaobai. “Shifu’s here, I godda go!”

“Leaving me for your shifu,” she said with a long, dramatic sigh before smiling. “Go ahead, I can get to school just fine without you walking me. See you later?”

“En!” He nodded before rushing off, turning around on his heels to give a large wave that Xiaobai returned as they went their separate ways.

Xiao Hei weaved through the crowd of people effortlessly, the years of training making him agile to avoid colliding with anyone or truly getting in anyone's way as he ran, unable to contain his obvious excitement. It didn’t take very long for him to spot Wuxian, and didn’t even bother to hold back as he crashed into, wrapping his arms around his teacher. There was only a slight movement from the impact, but no matter what Xiao Hei knew that Wuxian would always catch him, and would always be stable.

Wuxian ruffled Xiao Hei’s hair, a small fond smile spreading across his face without realizing it. “You’ve gotten better at detecting others, I think that was the quickest you found me.”

“I’ll always be able to find you in a crowd, shifu,” Xiao Hei said, his voice muffled from where he was pressed against Wuxian before looking up at him, wearing an expression of determination. “You can’t hide from me that easily.”

“Oh? Does that mean you won’t be able to detect anyone else? I guess that means you really haven’t made any progress, it seems.”

Xiao Hei’s eyes widened for a moment, the smile on his face dropping before being replaced by a pout, cheeks puffed out and eyebrows furrowed. The expression tugged at Wuxian’s heart, instantly overcome with fondness for his little disciple. “I’m not that weak, of course I can detect others, I just don’t care for them as much.”

Once again, Wuxian ruffled Xiao Hei’s hair as the young elfin pulled away, finally detaching himself from the other and followed by his side as Wuxian began walking.

Wuxian walked with his hands held together behind his back, his steps almost as smooth as if he were flying. Xiao Hei always finds himself trying to copy a walk like his, one full of confidence and grace. However, he still walks childlike, carefree, with his arms swinging by his sides. One day he’ll be able to walk like his shifu, but until then, Wuxian has told him to keep that carefree stride in his steps.

However, even after a few steps, Xiao Hei could tell there was something not quite right with Wuxian, and he frowned a little in concern. Wuxian’s shoulders were unusually stiff, and the graceful stride is replaced with one full of mild urgency.

“Shifu?” Xiao Hei called out, receiving no answer to his call but knew that Wuxian was listening intently, as he always did. “Did something happen? What’s wrong?”

There wasn’t much Wuxian could hide from Xiao Hei these days. The child, although having just turned 13 not too long ago, was extremely perceiving and the two read each other very well.

As Wuxian’s steps slowly came to a stop, so did Xiao Hei’s, who stood by his side and patiently waited for his answer. It might take a few moments for Wuxian to find the words, but he’ll answer when his heart has settled a little, once he finds the right words, as words weren’t something that came to Wuxian easily.

People passed by them like a flowing river around rocks, and the longer the silence dragged on, the more Xiao Hei realized just how much, whatever happened, affected him. With slightly trembling shoulders, Wuxian let out a breath before turning his head towards Xiao Hei.

It still took a few moments for Wuxian to speak, but finally he opened his mouth and said, “Feng Xi is awake.”

 

 

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The rain hits the building in a soft pattering sound, giving some noise to the otherwise quiet room. It had been sunny earlier today, but now it was grey, wet and cold.

Feng Xi looked around as his chest clenched in a very spiteful way.

He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be contained inside four walls, he didn’t want to be trapped. This felt suffocating, and he felt his head spin at the slight panic this brought about inside of him, tearing at his throat, wanting to be set free, telling him to get out of here as quickly as possible.

But he was tired of fighting. With no more energy to fight and protest, Feng Xi remained compliant and said nothing as he stood in the middle of the room, staring out the sliding glass door to the world outside, covered in rain. From where he was, he couldn’t see any green, only grey upon grey upon cement and steel and brick and it was wet and disgusting.

“Feng Xi?”

Slowly, he turned to look at Xing, who was standing a ways away from him under the entrance way of another room. She was frowning, showing her obvious concern for him. “Were you listening to me?”

He was so, so tired of fighting. “Sorry,” he said, giving a smile that must’ve looked more exhausted than it did apologetic, “I didn’t catch what you were saying. I must’ve zoned out for a moment.”

Xing shook her head as she walked over to him, that expression never leaving her face as she placed a hand gently on his shoulder. “I know this is probably not where you want to be,” she said, her voice gentle and kind as she spoke, understanding, “but this is the best solution to everything. And either way, I’m really glad that you’re back, Feng Xi.”

He didn’t doubt that, she had no reason to lie to him. It’s been many, many years since they last spoke, and it probably hadn’t been under favorable circumstances either. He can vaguely remember being locked up by the guild, and Xing being one of the ones to plead for his innocence. He never got to thank her for that time, but now was many years too late, many mistakes and regrets too late.

“I think I would like to be alone for now. I’m really tired from everything that went on.”

Nodding in understanding, Xing took her hand off his shoulder and took a small step back. “Like I said, I’m in the apartment right across from you, but in case I’m not there, this entire building houses only elfins, so feel free to go to anyone else with your questions.”

Giving a nod and waving to each other, Feng Xi was left alone in the middle of that cage that he was supposed to call home now. The silence brought from it was almost deafening, the white noise given by the gently falling rain giving absolutely no relief.

In the forests, out in the open, there was always some noise going on. The whistling of the breeze, trees dancing and leaves rustling about, the soft noises created by the call of an animal or an insect. Forests were live, breathing every minute.

Cities were artificial, lifeless and dull regardless of how many lives it held within. They were sharp and harsh. Painful. Suffocating. They lacked any true comfort and warmth, and the places that held living beings, the places they called home, were enclosed and separated from each other, as if no one could stand the thought of being anywhere near one another or even seeing each other.

 

 

But that doesn’t matter now, does it?

Feng Xi looked down at his right wrist, and the glittering of the silver band around his wrists was bright. Twisting his arm this way and that, there was no possible way he could remove it. It almost taunted him with how bright it looks compared to the bleak and dark situation he was in. Frustration started to bubble up from within, and he had to shut his eyes for a moment to ground himself and focus on his breathing. No matter how much he acted out, he’d only feel exhausted afterwards and would have made absolutely no progress.

Once calmed, he opened his eyes once more, and frowned in confusion.

On his right hand, wrapped around his middle finger, was a small metal band. It was a darker colour than the silver of the bracelets, and had a blue hue to it. He twisted the band around his finger a few times, trying to figure out if there was a reason for it being there, but no matter what he came up blank. Too much went on, going by so quickly, that he hadn’t even realized it was there until the grey light from outside touched it, making it shine softly.

Without his spiritual energy, there was no way he could determine what it does, so he gave up and let it be. His main concern was the bracelets anyways.

Overcome by exhaustion, Feng Xi sighed and slowly walked through the apartment space, not paying enough attention to his surroundings to remember every detail until he found the bedroom. His mind was too much of a muddled mess for him to even think about anything else other than to lay down on the bed and stare blankly at the ceiling.

He hasn't felt exhaustion this extreme in so long that he couldn’t quite remember the last time. Without his spiritual energy, he felt himself tiring out quicker, mind and reflexes not as sharp, almost as if there was a fog surrounding him, disorienting.

Staring up at the blank ceiling, Feng Xi drifted off to sleep thinking of what the guild leader had told him…

 

 

 

 

 

Xing led Feng Xi through the guild halls.

It was much different than what it had been the last time he walked through the halls, and he wondered when and why they decided to change it up. There was some areas that look vaguely familiar to him, but overall it felt like an entirely different place, one that he was sure he’d got lost in if he were to attempt this alone. It would probably trap him within and lead him astray, as if he were running through a maze.

They walked through halls and up flights of stairs, all void of any elfins as they reached the upper floors. Feng Xi had no doubt in his mind it was because they all knew he was here and awake. No one wanted to cross paths with him. It was a surprise to him that he wasn’t chained and shackled up, like he was so sure they wanted to do to him.

“We’re here,” Xing said, her voice cutting through the bitter thoughts that had clouded Feng Xi’s mind. She stood before wooden sliding doors, facing him as she gave him an encouraging smile. “He just wants to talk with you and tell you some things. I’ll be right out here, so once you’re done, we can leave.”

Feng Xi was unable to find any words to say, as he was sure whatever he said now would be something spiteful and venomous, so he just gave a small nod in thanks and understanding before walking through the doors.

Sunlight poured into the room through a large, open balcony that looked down upon the entrance to the guild, showing off blue sky upon blue waters. The warmth and openness of the area made Feng Xi pause for a moment. He had been sure they would throw him into a dark room meant for judgement. It certainly wouldn’t surprise him at this point, as he was used to the guild lying through their teeth with empty promises and fake hospitality.

Now, they would have all the more reason to deceive him than they did years ago.

Next to the balcony was a small table with a set of chairs on either side, one of them being currently occupied.

“You don’t have to stand, come and sit. I’m sure your strength hasn’t returned to you just yet,” Pan Jing said, his voice calling out just loud enough for Feng Xi to hear.

So many emotions twisted inside of Feng Xi’s entire being, painful, dark, ugly. His fists clenched by his side. He wanted to get out of here, he didn’t want to be here, he didn’t want to be treated like this only to find out they’re going to keep him as a prisoner. If that’s what they wanted, then they should’ve just left him be, death would have been more of a blessing than whatever hell they were going to shove him in.

Blinding anger took hold of Feng Xi’s heart, and in a blink he was holding Pan Jing by the collar in a death grip. “What do you want from me?” he spat, not holding back any of the spite he held deep inside his heart. “I could destroy you right now and not have to go through any of the bullshit you plan on putting me through.”

Pan Jing frowned, but other than that his expression was calm and unbothered, as if his current position meant nothing to him. “Maybe you could have, once. But do you really have the energy to do so now? Do you still hold your will to fight?”

Feng Xi gritted his teeth.

Yes, he was angry. Yes, he held deep spite for the guild. Yes, he wanted out of this place and would do whatever he had to to do so.

 

But he really had no burning energy to fight. He just felt… Exhausted. Tired.

He really was tired, wasn’t he?

 

It was as if all the previous energy he had before was sucked away from him, and Feng Xi let go of Pan Jing’s clothes before sitting down, his legs unable to hold his own weight anymore. It would bring him a lot of satisfaction to punch Pan Jing in the face right now, but his limbs felt like they weighed a ton, and he couldn’t bring himself to move anymore.

Silence settled between them, only interrupted by the soft noise beyond the balcony and what Feng Xi thinks he can hear is Xing’s pacing behind the door. The boiling emotions from earlier cool and simmer down to small embers, almost completely extinguished by his exhaust and sudden fatigue.

Pan Jing takes a sip from a cup before pouring tea from the kettle between them into the empty cup in front of Feng Xi. “Some tea will help clear your mind,” he says as he places the kettle back down.

Feng Xi gives the cup a quick glance, watching as steam gently rises up from the hot liquid. There was absolutely no way he was going to drink it, regardless of the fact that Pan Jing made a show of it being completely harmless. He didn’t trust this place.

Seeing as though this entire conversation would go nowhere if they continued like this, Pan Jing sighed heavily. “I’m sure you may have many questions, so ask away.”

“What do you plan on doing with me?” Feng Xi asked quickly, wanting to know exactly what their plans were for him. He didn’t want to be lead on and pulled about anymore, he just wanted to know what was in store for him.

“We don’t plan on doing anything with you,” Pan Jing answered calmly, “all we ask is for your cooperation.”

“Cooperation in what?”

“We found that locking up your gang was not the best course of action not too long after… Well, after your plan. They were to serve their time here as punishment for many years to come, but we were given another idea that seems to be working more effectively.”

Feng Xi frowned. He was glad to hear that his friends weren’t locked up, that they seem to have spent their years without him happily, but… “What other ideas?”

“They are given freedom under certain circumstances depending on what they choose.”

“That’s not freedom,” Feng Xi snapped. “You’re just putting them all on a leash. In what way is this a better option?”

“Given that you and your group put not only elfin lives at risk, but humans as well, I don’t think you get to make any sort of demands. Especially since you came extremely close to killing Xiao Hei,” Pan Jing leaned back, unfazed by Feng Xi’s minor outburst.

Pan Jing’s words were almost like a physical punch to Feng Xi, tensing up and freezing. No, a physical hit would be much better than this, he knew how to handle that sort of pain, not the one that he felt deep within his body, because he knew that was true. He knew that everything that happened was because of his impulsive actions, and he left his friends to deal with the aftermath of it alone.

Slowly, Feng Xi’s body relaxed as he got over the shock of Pan Jing’s words and succumbed once again to fatigue. “So, is that what these are?” Feng Xi asked, his words mumbled and monotoned, void of any emotion that he had before as he lazily held up an arm, showing off the silver bracelet on his wrist. “Are these pretty much your leashes?”

Giving a small hum, Pan Jing shook his head. “No, those are something specifically meant for you. None of your friends wear those, except for you and Xing.”

Ah, well, at least he was glad they didn’t have to go through this suffocating feeling of not having their spiritual energy running freely. “Then I hope you’ll at least tell me what they are.”

“I was sure Xing would have told you upon your waking up, but I guess she figured it was best to hear it from me. Those bracelets are something we’ve been testing out for many years now. You may remember Xing mentioning them while you were still part of the guild, but they were designed to suppress an elfins spiritual energy and their abilities. They’re not completely cut off, but you’ll find that it’ll be much more difficult for you to even perform the smallest things you once did so effortlessly. This includes your ability Siege, which has been completely severed.”

So that’s what it really was, huh?

They figure he can’t be trusted anywhere, so they’re destroying and suppressing the part of him they can’t control. They’re afraid he’ll use Siege again and try something else, destroy more, maybe even successfully kill someone this time.

Just the thought alone, the thought of even planning something out, the thought of doing something as drastic as he did before, it made everything just hurt worse, and Feng Xi is starting to wonder just how much can he hurt before he’s torn apart from the inside out.

 

In a way, he couldn’t blame them.

He didn’t trust himself to run freely either.

“How long do I have these on for? Forever?”

“Of course not,” Pan Jing said, taking another sip from his cup. “You’ll be given back your spiritual energy and abilities once the one supervising you feels as though you can be trusted. Only they can remove the bracelets.”

Feng Xi wanted to ask more, ask who was supposed to be supervising him, but he found that he didn’t truly care enough to bother asking. And he was sure that, if he were to, they wouldn’t tell him. Feng Xi was an extremely powerful elfin with spiritual energy, without it he can only rely on brute force and even then he was still strong. They would think he’d try to force the other to remove the bracelet.

The silence dragged on for a bit before Pan Jing cleared his throat and leaned forward, clasping his hands together on the table. “Well, if that’s all the questions you have about the bracelets, then let’s move on to our next topic.”

Pan Jing then went on to explain to Feng Xi where he would be staying and how they would monitor him. The guild had decided that for elfins who didn’t want to join human society and were taken into custody for one reason or another, instead of isolating them within the guild they would instead either be tasked with working as an Executor for the guild, or willingly live among humans for the duration of their sentence. Only after their sentence will they be given the option to leave the guild, or to stay where they are.

Seeing as how Feng Xi’s case was special, in that he couldn’t be allowed access to his spiritual energy and abilities, he wasn’t given the freedom to choose between the options. The only options he was given was to be locked up within the guild as a prisoner, or to live in the city of Long You around humans and elfins alike.

He hated the city, and the thought of living in one made his blood boil, but he hated the guild even more and refused to be locked up, so it was almost a no brainer for him.

There is an apartment building that they give residency to elfins, Pan Jing explained. It was a bit of mercy they could give to Feng Xi for the time being, as adjusting to living near humans would be too much stress for an elfin like him, who had lived so long surrounded by only his kind, to handle.

Most of the information after that went right through one ear and out the other. Feng Xi found himself lost in a fog in his own mind, a static taking over his entire mind and being. There was something about finances, accommodation, he wasn’t sure and he couldn’t find it in himself to care enough to listen at any point.

 

Time passed weirdly within the realm of the guild, by the time Pan Jing was finished saying what he wanted, Feng Xi wasn’t sure how much time had passed since he entered this room. There was a noise that sounded like conversation, but his mind couldn’t make out the words being spoken or if it was even directed at him. What finally broke him out of his dazed state was a hand placed gently on his shoulder, and a soft call that sounded like his name.

Blinking a few times, Feng Xi finally turned and looked up to see Xing staring at him with concern. “Are you alright?” she asked, moving her hand to rub soothingly at his shoulder.

He didn’t know how to respond because he couldn’t feel anything at all, just numbness and pain and exhaustion.

Somehow, Xing must understand, because she’s gently leading him to stand from the chair and finally taking him away from the guild, speaking soft words of encouragement and support that Feng Xi really can’t wrap his mind around, but appreciates her trying either way.

As they’re leaving, all Feng Xi can think of his how everything would be better off if they just left him alone, let him succumb to the fate he had chosen for himself. Surely everything would have been better off that way.

Chapter Text

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.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

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.”

Chapter Text

“As much as I really enjoy having you here, you can’t hide in my guild forever, Wuxian.”

“.... I’m not hiding.”

Even without needing to see Ka Li’s eyes, Wuxian knew that the guild leader was giving him a look that meant “you expect me to believe that?”, and yeah okay, he had a point maybe, but Wuxian wasn’t about to admit it so easily.

“My Ling Xi guild can’t protect you against one as large and prominent as the Long You guild. Not to mention you’re an Executor for that branch, if Pan Jing calls for you, there’s not much I can do to stop him,” Ka Li stated before drinking from the cup he was holding. “There’s only so much I can do for you.”

Wuxian looked away.

Since Feng Xi woke up, he’d been doing nothing but avoiding Long You entirely, guild included. Every time he thought of going, just knowing that Feng Xi was somewhere within the city made him freeze and turn in the other direction.

Even after all these years, of thinking of what to say to him over and over again, of regretting so many things that had been said or done, or even of things that he hadn’t done that he should have, Wuxian still found himself unable to confront the elfin. He’s had so many lifetimes full of regrets and second-guessing. He even promised Xiao Hei that he would go and talk to Feng Xi, but…

But instead, here he was, avoiding everyone and hiding out in the Ling Xi guild because he was a coward.

Apparently, the years didn’t take that away from him.

“This has to do with that elfin in Long You, right?”

Wuxian blinked and looked back in surprise. Something about his reaction must’ve been funny, because now Ka Li was laughing and shaking his head. “Even if you weren’t going to answer me, your reaction just now was answer enough.”

“How do you know?”

“Rumors spread quickly. Also, Pan Jing told me about him.”

Ugh, that’s right, they get together and drink often, don’t they? There was no doubt there was gossip thrown in here and there, Wuxian just wished he was respected enough that that sort of thing wouldn’t happen to him. It was a little embarrassing.

“His name is Feng Xi, right? The one elfin who went rogue and was giving the guild troubles?”

“En…”

“I didn’t think he would be your type, Wuxian, I’m impressed.” Ka Li was wearing a wide grin in amusement, eyebrows raised. “I thought you’d go for someone more like yourself, quiet and collected. Is this what rebellion is?”

Just how much did Pan Jing tell Ka Li?!

It was even worse than he thought!!

Of course Pan Jing knew roughly of their history, it had been during the time both of them were Executors for the guild, and back then, the two of them weren’t entirely secret about it either. In fact, the other elfins in the guild had even placed some kind of bets! Yes, Wuxian hadn’t forgotten about that!!!!

Wuxian felt his face heating up in embarrassment. He couldn’t believe the two leaders have spoken about this, maybe even more than once.

“Sorry, sorry,” Ka Li laughed, apparently finding the entire situation amusing in some way. “I understand this is a serious situation for you, I just have a hard time imagining the two of you compatible. Then again, I wasn’t there to witness your relationship from the start, so I can only go based off rumors. Aren’t you happy he’s back?”

“Of course,” Wuxian answered quickly.

“Don’t you want to see how he’s been adjusting?”

Wuxian nodded. He was really worried about that part. He can't even begin to imagine how overwhelmed Feng Xi must feel.

“Then isn’t the answer to this simply to go and see him?”

That… really was the simple answer, wasn’t it? To just go and get it over with, whatever may come.

“Besides, wasn’t most of this your idea anyways?”

Wuxian winced a little. And that was why he couldn’t bring himself to go. There would surely be hatred and rage thrown at him, and Wuxian… He wouldn’t be able to handle that. His heart wouldn’t survive. Their last reunion 7 years ago certainly hadn’t been favorable, and he still blames himself for it. So, really, he was doing Feng Xi a favor by staying away, wasn’t he?

Ka Li at least didn’t ask any more questions upon noticing Wuxian’s hesitation to answer, letting them sit in silence only interrupted by the sound of the many trees in the Ling Xi guild swaying in the wind and the songs of nearby birds.

Wuxian really didn’t know what would happen this time if they were to meet again. If anything drastic happened this time, then Wuxian knew that he wouldn’t be able to reverse it again. So even if keeping away hurt his heart, it was for the best, in the end. Knowing that Feng Xi was at least alive and well with Xing by his side, then that was better than…

Well, the pain was much more bearable this way.

 

“Shifu!!”

The familiar call had Wuxian looking up in time to see Xiao Hei landing on the railing of the open hall, his black wings dissipating as soon as his feet touched, and he sat down. “So this is where you’ve been!”

“Xiao Hei? Who told you I was here?”

“Mister Fu!” Xiao Hei answered easily. “I overheard him complaining about a human being in the guild, and I know Xiaobai wouldn’t come here alone, so you’re the only one it could’ve been.”

“Hello, Xiao Hei. I haven’t seen you in a while, how’ve you been?” Ka Li greeted, giving the young elfin a kind smile.

“I’ve been well, Argen says he wants to visit sometime soon.”

“I’d be happy to have him.”

Once done with his pleasantries to Ka Li, Xiao Hei turned back to Wuxian, and already he knew what the boy was going to ask. Its been the same thing over and over again, and each time was a weight on his heart.

Before Xiao Hei could even ask, Wuxian answered with a quick no.

His heart hurt watching once again as his disciples face fell. “You didn’t--You don’t even know what I was going to ask.”

Wuxian let out a heavy sigh. “You’ve been asking the same question every time you see me now, and the answer is still no.”

Before, whenever he asked and Wuxian would tell him no, Xiao Hei would accept it and either change the subject or he would leave. This time, Wuxian watched as, instead of either of those happening, Xiao Hei’s eyes seem to darken as he clenched his hands around the railing, looking down at the ground.

Instead of just simply accepting it this time, Xiao Hei says, “Why?”

“What?”

“Every time I’ve asked, you always say no and don’t even really tell me why. So, why can’t I go to Long You?”

Wuxian was taken aback. Sure, Xiao Hei had his streak of rebellion and disobedience when he was younger, but that quickly went away once they officially become teacher and disciple, and their bond grew. In the recent years, Xiao Hei had been understanding and obedient, listening intently to every word Wuxian said. It was startling to have Xiao Hei talking back like this.

Xiao Hei must’ve gotten impatient with Wuxian’s silence as he looks up at stares at Wuxian. “Did you run out of excuses?”

“Why do I need to give you a reason not to do something?” Wuxian says, instantly on the defensive. “I don’t need to give you a reason.”

“No, you don’t, but I would think you’d at least not give me excuses and be honest with me.”

“Xiao Hei--”

“No!” Xiao Hei shouted, and his expression seems to darken, turning angrier, and the outburst makes Wuxian take a step back. “Can’t you just at least be honest with me? Can’t you just at least trust me? Just because you’re scared and indecisive doesn’t mean you can drag me down with you! I already told you years ago, I’m going to talk to him! Whether you’re there with me or not, I’m going!”

With that, the young elfin stands from his seated position on the railing and turns around, summoning his wings once more. Wuxian is left standing there, frozen and confused as to what to do. He wants to reach out to Xiao Hei, to stop him, but he also knows there’s truth to his words.

Before taking off, Xiao Hei looks over his shoulder at Wuxian once more. “I’m tired of avoiding the past, shifu, and you need to stop avoiding it, too.”

He doesn’t even wait for an answer, taking to the sky once again.

Wuxian couldn’t do anything but watch as Xiao Hei disappeared, breath caught in his throat. Why must children be so brave, so reckless? Why was Xiao Hei right? And why could he still not bring himself to do anything?

 

He really was a coward, huh…?

 

 

(Ka Li sat there and sipped on his tea silently, having been forgotten in the entire exchange. He’d never witnessed family problems first-hand before, it was a little exciting!)

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

There was a time in the past that was much simpler than it was now.

Or, at least it felt simpler. One without the weight of the present, without the fears and sorrows. But really, the past held its own tragedies as well, didn’t it?

There was a time of rising tension between the two of them, uncertainty of where the other stood and what direction they were going in.

At the time, Wuxian didn’t realize it, but looking back down, he knew he had messed up badly by not saying what he wanted to say, by not doing what he wanted to do.

Back then, he was driven only by the need to serve the guild, to give back everything it had handed to him tenfold. He couldn’t see beyond that, couldn’t see what his own wants and desires were, couldn’t see what his future was like outside of the guild. The guild had given him a place to live and grow, they taught him everything he needed to know, even if there had been elfins who absolutely despised the idea of a human child living in the guild, and learning how to use his spiritual energy, there were still those who treated him with kindness and understanding.

Wuxian felt like he owed it to them to fight for and protect the order of the guilds. That he would be betraying them if he were to do anything else with his life.

That’s what he believed in for most of his life at that point. That he was nothing if he couldn’t become an Executor, that he failed if he went astray from that path.

 

And then, he met Feng Xi.

Feng Xi was entirely determined to become an Executor not to protect humans, but to protect his own family and home. He absolutely hated Wuxian, at the idea of a human living amongst elfins, and that he had no place within the guild. He was convinced Wuxian would never be as powerful as an elfin could.

But meeting Feng Xi made Wuxian feel something, feel different about his life until that point.

He listened to no one, he didn’t follow anyone’s rules or allow them to tell him what he could or couldn’t do. Feng Xi took every situation into his own hands and went against fate. He was chaotic and impulsive, driven by emotions. Feng Xi was almost the exact opposite to Wuxian’s order and premeditated actions, logic overtaking every choice made.

Despite his impulsiveness, Wuxian could see the goodness in him, could see that Feng Xi was determined and passionate about whatever he set his heart and mind to. He felt strongly about what he believed in and stuck to his morals. He might’ve had a dislike for humans, but he never harmed them, and he didn’t hesitate to reach out to any elfins that needed his help.

Wuxian had found himself falling for Feng Xi quickly, and the rush of emotions was dizzying, as well as so freeing. Feng Xi was everything Wuxian wasn’t, but everything he wanted to become. He was like the wind, free and unchained, and Wuxian was in awe, terrified of the rushing winds that brought a disaster inside of him, but absolutely captivated by the beauty of it.

At first, he threw himself into the feelings headfirst, allowed himself to get swept away and caught up in them, holding onto Feng Xi tightly like a lifeline as he was wrapped up in something entirely new for him.

After Feng Xi invited him to the forest where he lived and met those that Feng Xi considered his family, Wuxian felt…

 

He felt scared.

He was scared by his own emotions raging inside of him.

He was scared by being able to envision a life now outside of the guild. A life where he didn’t have to be an Executor. So easily could Wuxian see himself by Feng Xi’s side wherever he went, wherever Feng Xi asked for him to be. It was so, so easy to see it, to almost be able to even reach out and touch it.

And it petrified him.

Never had he seen a life outside of the guild before. Never had he wanted something as badly as this. It sent his mind into a frenzied panic, and Wuxian was left not knowing what to do. For once, he was stuck without a plan, without a decision to make.

So, he did the only thing he knew to do.

Wuxian ran.

 

Wuxian ran away from his feelings. He ran away from his wants and desired and buried them under hours upon hours of restless training, as it was the only thing he knew how to do at a time like this.

His heart screamed and tore itself apart as Wuxian forced the distance between himself and Feng Xi, wearing a mask of indifference whenever Feng Xi confronted him, even when Feng Xi threw harsh words at him, accusing him of being heartless, that he was no different from any other disgusting human in the end before leaving.

Never before had Wuxian felt pain as terrible as he did upon hearing those words and watching Feng Xi walk away. Even now, so many years later, that pain was unlike any other, and continued to ache and throb within his chest.

He blamed himself for the events that lead up until now. If only he was stronger, if only he wasn’t so scared, if only--

 

Too many “if”’s…

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

Xing once more apologizes and thanks the bus driver as the doors close and the vehicle drives off into the distance, the sound of the engine disappearing and leaving Xing and Feng Xi on the side of the road, surrounded by the sounds of night.

The weather had been steadily getting warmer, making it so the night air wasn’t as biting and harsh, though in a few hours the temperatures would surely drop and make it harder to be outside without at least a light jacket on.

Feng Xi looked around, appreciating the break from the loud and constant noise that was the city and taking a deep breath. He felt calm here, free. “Why’d you bring me out here anyways?” he asked, noticing they were quite far from Long You, but was still able to see the lights from here.

“We both need to get out of the city for a bit,” Xing said as she began walking into the heavily wooded area behind them, Feng Xi watching for a moment in confusion before he followed behind. “Some elfins living in the city will get overwhelmed if they’re there for too long without some kind of relief, especially those heavily connected to the elements, so it’s good to come out here for a bit. Lucky for you, my friends and I are always willing to have another join our outing.”

“You spend so much time inside your apartment, I’m surprised you have friends.”

“Hey!” Xing whipped around and lightly smacked Feng Xi on the shoulder. “Get that stupid smile off your face! Of course I have friends, I’m pretty popular, for your information.”

Feng Xi raised his eyebrows as they started walking once more. “I remember you being extremely timid, whatever happened to that?”

Xing ducked slightly to avoid being hit by a branch, short enough to pass under it with relative ease as where Feng Xi needed to bend down to avoid being hit in the face. “Well, when you’re constantly worried about your spiritual energy becoming unstable at any moment and hurting those around you, you kinda don’t have a lot of self confidence and tend to distance yourself a bit.”

“You never distanced yourself from Wuxian and I.”

“That’s because I know you two are strong and would be able to handle it if something were to happen. Also, you guys kept getting hurt and I constantly had to treat you. A doctor really can’t distance themselves from their patients.”

“So I’m guessing these bracelets are perfected to a T now, right?”

Xing hummed, silent for a moment before answering. “No, they’re not, but they’re more stable than they once were. They’re perfect for anyone that isn’t me.”

Feng Xi thought about it for a moment, and realized he had no idea what was so dangerous about her and her abilities. He never really asked about it when he was in the guild except for the one time when she explained she couldn’t leave, but that was it. Where there really elfins that could be that powerful that the guild restrained them? Did she really give up her freedom willingly, or did the guild somehow manipulate her into it?

It wouldn’t be too surprising if they had been underhanded about the entire thing, giving her no other choice. He opened his mouth to say more, but was cut off by the sound of voices up ahead and the faint glow of a flickering light.

Xing picked up pace a bit, a wide smile forming on her face in her excitement and gently encouraged Feng Xi to hurry up as he silently followed along behind her.

There was a small clearing in the thicket where a fire burned steadily, giving the area a small bit of illumination to see their surroundings. There were two seated around the small flame, laughing uncontrollably at something that had been said moments prior.

“Sorry we’re late!” Xing exclaimed as she bounded into the clearing and up to the fire before stopping and looking around for a moment. “Is no one else coming?”

“This is it,” one of them said, shaking their head. “Everyone else was too busy today. I guess they’ll go out some other time.”

“Ah, that’s a bummer, but at least I brought someone else,” Xing turned around and motioned with her arm for Feng Xi to come closer, who had been standing at the edge of the clearing up to this point. A little hesitantly, he walked further into the clearing and now stood before the fire. “This is Feng Xi! Feng Xi, this is Zi Luolan, and Ruo Shui,” she introduced, holding out her hand to gesture at each party member as she named them.

Ah, Ruo Shui… Why was that name so familiar…

“Feng Xi!?” The elfin in question leapt to her feet, expression unreadable.

Zi Luolan tilted her head in thought, frowning. “Feng Xi…. Where have I heard that name before..?” she muttered.

Xing looked back and forth between Ruo Shui and Feng Xi, eyebrows raised in confusion. “Ah, do you… already know each other..?”

The fox elfin seemed conflicted for a moment before seemingly deciding something and breaking out into a wide smile, nodding her head. “Yeah! Don’t you remember? Feng Xi and Wuxian were the ones who helped me so many years ago, before I joined the guild! I was really young back then!”

He had to think about it for a moment longer before Feng Xi remembered. A tiny orange fox elfin that he saved in the middle of a fight, who later on grew an attachment to him and Wuxian, following them around the guild whenever possible and always wanting to be around them. She hadn’t been very old at the time, so she obviously looked much different now than she did then. With everything that happened in the last few years, Feng Xi honestly had forgotten about that time.

At the fond memories, Feng Xi smiled softly, and his shoulders relaxed. “You’ve grown up well.”

“Ahh, I wasn’t aware you guys actually knew each other for a time,” Xing whined as she sat down in front of the fire, huddling close to the warmth it provided. “I just knew that he rescued you.”

“Well yeah!” Ruo Shui exclaimed as she once more sat down, leaning back with the support of her arms. “They’re the reason I decided to become an Executor to begin with!”

“You only ever talk about Wuxian! You never mentioned anything about Feng Xi!”

“Because Wuxian is a human!! I like humans!”

“Show me more respect, I was your doctor during that time!”

Sitting down and joining the small circle around the fire, Feng Xi silently listened to their back and forth bickering, filled with the warmth that fond memories brought, of a time much simpler, more pleasant.

Feeling eyes on him, he turned to look and saw Zi Luolan, whose gaze hasn’t left him since he joined the ground, her expression one of deep thoughts.

“Do you need something?” he asked, shifting uncomfortably from the gaze.

Zi Luolan blinked, seemingly snapped out of a daze and rubbed the back of her neck with an embarrassed laugh. “Sorry! It’s just that your name sounds familiar, and I can’t figure out why! I didn’t mean to be rude, honestly.”

“You have such a terrible memory,” Ruo Shui teased with an eye roll. “Can you even remember what you ate for breakfast today?”

“Yes!!” she insisted, even though she refused to go and explain what it was.

Xing laughed, wrapping an arm around her stomach as she did so. “It’s probably because I mentioned him before, when he first moved to the city. I told you guys we had a new elfin and that I would be busy helping them out.”

Zi Luolan nodded, giving a small oh sound in understanding. “That must be it… Maybe…”

“So how are you enjoying Long You so far?” Ruo Shui asked as she leaned forward towards him, interested in hearing his answer.

“It’s… okay,” Feng Xi said with a shrug. “I haven’t done much other than stay indoors.”

“That sounds so boring… Xing, haven’t you taken him out to sight-see a little?”

Xing held up her hands in defense. “I’ve been super busy with deadlines lately, but we’ve been out shopping a few times."

Zi Luolan frowned, shaking her head. “You can’t just stay inside all the time like Xing-”

“Hey-”

“You need to get out more. What about a job? Have you got one?”

Feng Xi frowned and shook his head. “I thought the guild provides money, why would elfins work?”

“It does,” Ruo Shui explained, “but most elfins get a job anyways. It gives them something to do, and a schedule to go by. We may not have to work like humans do, but it’s a nice rhythm to get into, and it gets you out and meeting others.”

He really didn’t know how to feel about that. He didn’t particularly like crowds, and everywhere you go in Long You seems to be crowded, not to mention the fact that being unable to tell human and elfin apart makes him anxious. With the bracelet cutting off his spiritual energy, it also cut off his ability to detect other elfins. He didn’t know who it was safe to talk to or not, as he would much rather prefer not getting into a conversation with humans.

Xing sat up, seemingly struck with an idea as she leaned forward towards Zi Luolan. “Hey, aren’t you the owner of that flower shop now? The one that had you making deliveries until the owner handed the place over to you? Are you hiring?”

Zi Luolan thought for a moment before her face lit up and she nodded. “That’s right, I forgot! We’re in need of someone to take care of the flowers in the greenhouse in the back. Feng Xi, you’re a wood elfin, right?”

The conversation was moving so fast, it was a little hard for him to keep up, but Feng Xi nodded at the question.

“Great!” Zi Luolan clapped her hands together, smiling widely. “You can start working at my flower shop then!”

“What--Wait I-Hold on,” Feng Xi felt dizzy by the rush of the conversation, having to take a moment to process what was being said and offered to him. “I don’t like humans, so I really don’t want to be working beside them, even if you are the owner.”

“The shop is elfin-run,” Ruo Shui added. “Only elfins can work there, it’s one of the few shops with that rule in place specifically for this reason. There may be both elfin and human customers, but it only hires elfins.”

Zi Luolan nodded. “That’s right, and I only hire elfins with a strong affinity for plants. The flowers grow better when surrounded by spiritual energy, that’s why we do so well and get so many customers and deliveries.”

Shaking his head, Feng Xi held up his wrist to show off the silver bracelet around it, the metal gently reflecting the light of the fire. “I can’t use any spiritual energy with these things on.”

Upon seeing the bracelet, Ruo Shui looked at Xing with wide eyes. Saying nothing, Xing shook her head. Some things are best off not being asked.

“That’s okay,” Zi Luolan explained, “I have pretty low spiritual energy myself. Just being near them helps them grow. Plants are extremely sensitive to that sort of thing.”

Slowly, Feng Xi lowered his arm, thinking for a moment. “Okay… But I don’t do well around crowds, at least not yet…”

“The job opening doesn’t require you to be around crowds. It’s actually a super early morning job, so it’s hard to find anyone wanting to take it, but you’ll be spending most, if not all, of your time in the back at the greenhouse. Everyone is required to help care for the flowers, but I need someone who can go in early, water them, whatever they need done.”

It seemed like a good thing, it really did. It didn’t require him to be around anyone for the most part, and it seemed like the type of thing where too much wouldn’t be required of him. However, there was that anxiety in his chest, stirred and wanting to hold him back, telling him not to do anything other than just lay around in the cage he was forced to call a home all day.

Noticing his hesitation, Xing reached out and put a gentle hand on his shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “You don’t need to decide right now, Feng Xi,” she said, her voice just as gentle and reassuring as her touch. “I have Zi Luolan’s number. Think it over a bit, and I can tell her what you decide, okay?”

Knowing that he didn’t need to make a choice right away, Feng Xi let out a breath of relief, a small weight lifting off his shoulders as he relaxed and nodded.

“I’ll leave the position open until I get your answer, but I know we’d be happy to have you working with us. A friend of mine was having trouble adjusting to city life as well recently, so I hired him and he said that being around the plants helps him to feel better. Us nature type elfins do so much better when we’re surrounded by our elements, so I know it’ll do you good. If not, you’re free to quit at any time.”

Zi Luolan’s words were comforting to hear, and Feng Xi found himself relaxing more. He appreciated the kind and understanding words, realizing that they, too, had to go through the same thing, even Ruo Shui who, though she’s an Executor for the guild, had to learn how cities work and operate in order to get around them.

It helped him to feel just a little less alone.

Chapter Text

He’d been playing with the idea in his head for a while now, but now he was tired of it just being an idea. Now, he was tired of sitting by idle and not taking any action.

The brief confrontation he had with Wuxian a few days prior was proof enough that nothing was going to get done any time soon, Wuxian wasn’t going to take the first step, and he was tired of waiting. Waiting was the worst part. He didn’t like it.

Xiao Hei was seated on the roof of the tall apartment building, looking out over the city of Ling Xi. It was early morning, and Xiaobai would be leaving for school soon, meaning he’d be leaving with her in just a little bit, but his mind was racing as he overlooked the city.

He sighed, curling his tail around himself.

It was a lot to think about, and he’d be putting a lot on the line, but…

But he needs to do it.

Something needs to be done. Someone needs to take the first step, or this game would just continue until something disastrous happened.

“Xiao Hei?”

He looked over, spotting Xiao Bai peaking over the edge of the roof and she smiled when their eyes met. “You ready to go?” she asked.

“En,” Xiao Hei said as he stood up and stretched, yawning loudly as he did so. He followed to the edge of the roof as Xiaobai climbed down and back onto the balcony, jumping onto her shoulder once she was back on stable ground.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she reached out and gently stroked his head and behind his ears, causing Xiao Hei to lean into the touch and close his eyes in comfort. It was calming. “You’re hardly ever up this early.”

He pulled away and looked at her with the best expression of un-amusement a cat could pull. “You make me sound like I do nothing but laze around and sleep all day.”

Xiaobai laughed, saying, “That’s because you DO! You’re such a lazy cat!”

Okay, he wasn’t THAT lazy! It was just nice to relax when he’s with Xiaobai and her family. Even though Xiaobai knows that he’s an elfin training to become and Executor, she doesn’t expect anything of him, doesn’t make him do anything. In fact, she pretty much treats him like he is a cat when he’s here, and it’s relaxing to be with her and her family.

Before meeting her and her family, Xiao Hei remembers always being on the move, either with or without Wuxian there with him. He’s Wuxian’s disciple, but Wuxian is an Executor for the guild, and some missions Xiao Hei wasn’t allowed to go with him on. There was no place for either of them to call home except for each other, and for the longest time, that was enough.

Now, knowing how much a place can feel safe and relaxing, Xiao Hei found himself wanting something like that as well. But no matter what, staying with Xiaobai’s family didn’t feel right to him. It didn’t feel like home exactly if Wuxian wasn’t there.

Xiaobai walked through her house, closing the door to the balcony as she collected her backpack and said her goodbyes to her parents before leaving the apartment, Xiao Hei remaining silent the entire time as he was deep in thought stretched across her shoulders.

“So will you tell me now what’s wrong?” Xiaobai said as she pressed the button for the elevator and waited for it to come up.

“I just have a lot on my mind lately, that’s all,” he sighed, ears laying back slightly.

“Is it about your shifu? You only get super secretive when it’s about him, unless you’re gushing about him.”

“I do not gush! And shifu is really really awesome, okay?!”

Xiaobai hummed as the elevator dinged, and she walked inside, pressing yet another button and the doors smoothly slide close as it began its descent. “You got into an argument with him, didn’t you?”

Xiao Hei startled a little, his ears laying completely flat as he looked away. She smiled and gently patted his cheek. “It’s a little obvious, honestly. There’s been building tension ever since you mentioned you friend coming back, and when you haven’t been out with him for the past few days. You’re not very good at hiding things from me, Xiao Hei.”

The elevator dinged once more as they arrived at the bottom floor and the doors opened up, Xiaobai walking out of the apartment and into the lightly chilled air of morning, the path to school one extremely familiar to her that she could walk it with her eyes closed at this point. Which she had tried before, two years back. It didn’t take very long for her to bump into someone, and Xiao Hei had to prevent her from walking out in front of a vehicle. She didn’t get very far with that little experiment.

As she walked, Xiaobai hummed a soft and familiar tune as she waited for Xiao Hei respond, knowing that he needed a moment to collect his thoughts and figure out what he wanted to say.

“We did get into a fight,” Xiao Hei muttered, his voice soft. It would’ve been difficult for Xiaobai to hear him if she couldn’t hear his voice directly in her head. “I think I.... I want to go to Long You and find him.”

“Oh, so you actually listened to gege?”

“Shifu obviously isn’t going to go any time soon, and I’m tired of sitting around and waiting. I don’t know everything that happened between them, but I’m not going to let their hesitation stop me.”

“So why haven’t you left yet?”

Her question went unanswered for a few moments, as Xiao Hei let out a sigh and lowered his head. His answer must be one he doesn’t want to admit, so she gives him time.

“I-... I don’t want to go alone. I haven’t been to Long You since-- well, all those years ago. It feels a little overwhelming if I were to go alone, but I know shifu won’t go with me.”

It was kinda ridiculous, wasn’t it?

Xiao Hei knew he wasn’t afraid of seeing Feng Xi, in fact, he was excited to see him again, after going so long that they’d never be able to, that Feng Xi was gone forever. He made a big show about not being scared and facing the past, but he found himself scared to face it if he was facing it all alone.

He gave Wuxian so much trouble for it, and yet he felt like a hypocrite for not being able to do the very thing he told Wuxian to do.

“What if gege and I were to go with you?”

“Huh?” Xiao Hei looked over to see Xiaobai giving him a soft smile.

“Gege and I can go with you to Long You.”

“But-- No, you have school, and--”

“I go on spring break next week, did you forget that?”

Xiao Hei doesn’t answer. Yes, he had honestly forgotten…

“And I’m sure gege knows someone who can take us to Long You. I’ve always wanted to go anyways! It’ll be like a fun little field trip!”

He didn’t know what to say. It crossed his mind to ask either Xiaobai or Argen if they’d go with him, but he had always quickly dismissed those wishful thoughts. This was something he didn’t need to drag them into, they didn’t need to worry about his problems and go out of their way for him. There was no way he could bring himself to ask.

But now, Xiaobai was offering to go with him, and although he felt a mixture of emotions, overall he felt really really happy.

In these last few years he’s known them, they’ve become close to him, and he could call them his best friends with ease. They gave him strength when he needed it and supported him. If it wasn’t Wuxian, then going with them was the next best thing.

Xiao Hei rubbed his head against her cheek, making the human giggle and comment briefly on how it tickled. “I would really like it if you guys came with me then! I can introduce you to him!”

“Okay, it’s settled then! We’ll find a way to get you to Long You and to reunite!”

There was still hesitance and anxiety, but overall, Xiao Hei was overwhelmed with happiness and excitement. He couldn’t wait to get to Long You now.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The little flower shop was located in a less busy part of Long You, but despite its location, it still dragged in a crowd and was more than well off.

There wasn’t much different about it from other big named flower shops except for one unique thing. In the back of the shop, closed off from the customers and only accessible to employees, was its own greenhouse that grew a small assortment of flowers that grew not just regionally, but from all over the world. With the help from the spiritual energy elfins working there would feed them, the flowers bloomed vibrantly all year round and even lasted a little longer than those grown by humans.

Of course, it kept up with the recent flower trends and what was considered popular at the time, but no matter what, customers were overjoyed with whatever they got. This is what allowed it to do so well despite being an independently owned business with this being the only location.

Even though Zi Luolan wasn’t the one who started the business, it was passed on to her by the previous owner, who had decided to give up the business in favor of travelling. Even though not many changes had been made from one owner to the next, Zi Luolan’s outgoing and bubbling personality made it so people came back twice as often and recommended the shop to everyone they knew.

It had only taken Feng Xi about 2 days before he asked Xing about the position. He thought of it over and over again, and every time his chest would feel heavy and something would tell him not to do it, but Feng Xi was tired of just spending his time locking himself up all day long. He didn’t even do that much either. Xing had tried to teach him how to use technology a few times, but it would always frustrate him too much.

Recently, she even tried to teach him how to use the touch screen phone the guild provided him with that had remained untouched to this point. She explained how it’s useful to have in case of an emergency and began explaining more in detail what they do, but Feng Xi had to interrupt her and tell her that he’d had a phone before, and knew how they worked, he just doesn’t like these newer models.

Xing had asked what kind of phone he previously owned, and when he went to explain how it looked since he didn’t know the name of it, for some reason, Xing burst out laughing and took her a good while to calm down…

(“You had a NOKIA?! A NOKIA?! HOW ON EARTH DID YOU MANAGE TO GET A NOKIA?!” She had to use the wall for support as tears gathered in her eyes from laughing so hard. Honestly, Feng Xi didn’t understand what was so funny about it…)

After pulling herself together, Xing taught him the basics of using the phone, forgoing any of the extra’s it provided like data and internet connection. She added Zi Luolan’s and her own number into his contacts, freezing for a moment to then add in Ruo Shui’s. She made him promise to take the phone with him whenever he went and to contact her if he ran into any troubles or needed something, and Feng Xi agreed.

Now, he sat in a quiet bus that was occupied by two others and the driver and watched out the window as the buildings and lights passed by. It was too early for the sun to rise, so the world was still covered in darkness, and not a lot of people were out at this time. It was a quietness in Long You he hadn’t experienced until now.

One of the other things Xing taught him and installed into his phone was music. She had shown him a wide variety of genres and artists until she determined that the kind he seemed to like most was soft, whimsical instrumentals. While handing back his phone after loading it up with a large list of music, Xing mentioned something about how music is therapeutic, it’ll help him to calm down if he finds himself overwhelmed by crowds, and can drown out the startling white noise caused by the city.

Feng Xi wasn’t sure he believed entirely that music would be able to do such things, but he had no reason to think that Xing was a liar.

Sitting on the silent bus, he took out the phone from his pocket as well as the earphones Xing provided him with. Putting the earbuds in, he was once again reminded of how uncomfortable it feels to wear them, but Xing told him about how he’d eventually get used to them. He struggled for a few moments as he forgot where to find the music, but once he found it, he pressed play.

Instantly, sound took over the quietness, yet it remained soft and soothing. As he listened, it helped to untangle the twist of anxiety within his chest, slowly but surely calming and relaxing his nerves. It was strange.

 

 

“So, how do you like it here so far?”

Feng Xi blinked, watching as Zi Luolan’s mouth moved, but not hearing a single thing she was saying. He took out his phone from the apron pocket and hit the pause button, giving an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” he said as he took the earbuds out and shoved them in his pocket, along with his phone.

Zi Luolan threw her head back and laughed, shoulders shaking from the force of it before setting down the flower pots she had carried into the greenhouse. “Don’t worry about it, it looks like you’re enjoying yourself! That’s all I care about.”

Nodding, he agreed. He didn’t think that he would be enjoying his time in the greenhouse as much as he was, but honestly, this was probably the best he was feeling in a while. He was left alone for the most part within the greenhouse except for the few times Zi Luolan entered to grab something, but she never stuck around too long, and the noises from the front end of the store were muffled by walls, making it so it wasn’t a loud, constant noise, but a dull humming. Though, that didn’t matter too much, because he’d been listening to music from his phone the entire time, helping him feel more comfortable and feel like as if he was truly alone.

Wiping her hands off on her apron, Zi Luolan walked around the greenhouse and looked at the flowers, inspecting them closely and making sure they were doing fine and were happy. After a few moments of silently checking, she turned to Feng Xi, wearing a smile. “I’ve never seen these flowers so vibrant before, and you haven’t even been here that long. Even with those bracelets, you must be extremely powerful.”

“You think so?” he said, but his voice showed how unconvinced he was about the entire thing.

Flowers weren’t his strong suit, but Feng Xi remembered a time where he could make an entire meadow bloom brilliantly with hardly any effort put into it. He could forest entire acres of land like it was nothing. Now, he would be lucky to get a leaf to sprout.

“Well, I at least think what you’re doing is amazing. This shop has never had such a powerful elfin in it before, even the previous owner couldn’t get these flowers to bloom like this. The only other person I know who can do this is--”

“ZI LUOLAAAN!! I’M BAAACK!!”

Even with the barrier of the walls in between them, the shouting voice was loud and easier to hear than previous voices that came into the shop.

Zi Luolan smiled, clapping her hands together and she smiled in excitement. “Oh! You haven’t met your coworker yet, have you? Come on, I’ll introduce you!” She waved for Feng Xi to follow her as she quickly left the greenhouse.

There was something out that voice that made Feng Xi apprehensive, but he knew he couldn’t put off meeting the other, so instead he just took his time to exit the greenhouse. He hadn’t realized it had been raining, as the soft thrumming of falling rain hit the building.

Once he exited the greenhouse, he could hear their voices much clearer, picking up on their conversation.

“Why’re you so drenched? Ah, you’re getting water everywhere!!”

“It started down pouring at one point, it’s not my fault!”

“Why didn’t you pull over and take shelter then? I’ve told you, you don’t have to ride around and make deliveries while it’s like this. Here, dry off.

“I was already close to the shop anyways-- Thank you!”

Walking out to the main part of the shop, Feng Xi looked around and realized there were currently no customers. Probably a lull in foot traffic due to the weather. He could see out through the large front windows to the street outside, and saw the large puddles of water rippling with each drop.

Whoever Zi Luolan was talking to, Feng Xi couldn’t see, as she was standing in front of them, blocking his view. Hearing him enter, she turned around and smiled. “There you are, now I can finally introduce you two!”

“Are you talking about the new worker?” The other said, their voice muffled into the towel over their head as they dried off their face.

“En! This is our newest member, Feng Xi! Feng Xi, this is--”

The other froze before knocking Zi Luolan’s hand off their shoulder and removed the towel.

Feng Xi felt like he had been punched in the face and took a step back.

 

“Feng… Feng Xi..?”

 

With his breath caught in his chest and hand clutching the towel as though it was a lifeline, Luo Zhu stood there, eyes wide in disbelief, pleading.

Chapter Text

“Is that… really…”

 

Luo Zhu reached out before retracting his hand, looking down at the floor for a moment before once again looking back up. “... Feng Xi..?”

His voice sounded so small and broken, a tone that Feng Xi had never heard him use before, and it broke everything inside of him, as if his heart was being shredded from the inside. If he looked closely, Luo Zhu looked exhausted, as if he hasn’t had a peaceful sleep in far, far too long.

He didn’t know how to respond as words were caught in his throat, refusing to move, so Feng Xi smiled softly and nodded.

At that, it was as if any restraint Luo Zhu had broken within an instant, tossing the towel aside as he rushed to Feng Xi in desperation, hugging his arms around the other and clinging onto his back tightly.

Luo Zhu pressed his face against Feng Xi’s shoulder as he trembled with a flood of emotions, and Feng Xi found himself not being much better off as hot tears blurred his vision and he clung onto Luo Zhu just as tightly.

It was as if something within his heart finally managed to settle as Feng Xi held onto Luo Zhu tightly, the first one from his family he’d seen since he came back. During all this time, Feng Xi had forced himself not to miss them, telling himself he didn’t deserve to miss them, didn’t deserve to go and find them. He didn’t deserve this, he didn’t deserve to feel this slice of happiness and relief, but for a moment, Feng Xi allowed himself this.

He didn’t know just how much he had missed them, just how much the pain of not seeing them hurt, until he had Luo Zhu crying in his arms, and he allowed himself to cry as well.

Feng Xi could only remember one other time the both of them cried like this, and his chest swelled with unpleasant emotions full of desperation as he clung onto Luo Zhu tighter.

Any words he wanted to say were lodged in his throat, as the two of them held each other for an unknown amount of time, long since fallen to the floor as both of their legs gave out at the intensity of their emotions.

 

Luo Zhu sniffed, pulling away from Feng Xi just enough so he can look at his face, hands reaching up and placing them on either side of his face. “H-How,” his voice broke as his tear filled eyes frantically searched every part of him he could see, “are you back? You--They told us that you--Is it really you?”

Feng Xi smiled, one that looked both pained and overjoyed, as he once again nodded. “It’s really me, Luo Zhu,” he said, his own voice sounding tight and wet.

“How? I don’t--”

“Excuse me.”

Both Luo Zhu and Feng Xi looked over and saw Zi Luolan standing there awkwardly, her apron off and draped across her forearm. “This seems like a really intense moment, so why don’t we go upstairs?”

 

Oh, right… They were in the middle of the flower shop, weren’t they?

 

Luo Zhu laughed wetly as he sniffed and nodded, rubbing at his face with the back of one of his hands. “Yeah, you’re-you’re right, sorry.”

Feng Xi helped the other elfin stand up before Zi Luolan lead the way after having Feng Xi take off his work apron, explaining to both of them that she closed up the shop for the day, and how they wouldn’t get many customers for the rest of the day anyways.

Following them up the stairs, Zi Luolan let them into the space she used to live above the flower shop. It was nicely decorated, with almost as many plants in it as the shop just below them. It didn’t feel as suffocating as Feng Xi’s own apartment felt to him, as it looked well taken care of and lived in.

“You two sit and talk, I’ll go make some tea,” Zi Luolan said, understanding at least that they would need some space before walking into a different room, leaving the two of them alone in the living room.

Luo Zhu wasted absolutely no time in grabbing onto Feng Xi’s forearms and dragging him over to sit on the couch. “You have to tell me everything,” he said, not letting go even after they were seated. Feng Xi knew this was Luo Zhu’s way of coping, of grounding and comforting himself. Having spent so long living together, Feng Xi of course didn’t mind the touching. “How did you come back? The guild told us that… that your soul had scattered…”

Feng Xi sighed. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know,” he said honestly.

He really didn’t know how he came back, even after all this time. All he had been told was that it was someone’s idea to attempt at bringing him back, but that was during the brief conversation he had with Pan Jing and the guild leader didn’t feel the need to elaborate on anything to him.

Opening his mouth, Luo Zhu was about to say something more but froze. He frowned and looked down in confusion as his hand touched the silver bracelet on Feng Xi’s wrist. That confusion was joined by shock as he grabbed both of Feng Xi’s arms and twisted them this way and that, looking at the bracelets from every angle.

“Feng Xi, what are…?”

“They’re bracelets that limit my spiritual powers and abilities. The guild put them on me before I even woke up.”

Luo Zhu didn’t say anything more as he continued to look at the bracelets, running his fingers over the smooth surface of one, down to his hand, until…

“What’s this ring on your hand then?”

Up until now, Feng Xi had pretty much forgotten it was there. It didn’t bother him and it didn’t play any significance as far as he was aware. It didn’t even cross his mind to take it off at any point either. “I woke up with that as well. I don’t know why it’s there though.”

“Why don’t you just… take it off then?” Luo Zhu asked in confusion.

He didn’t know how to explain that he didn’t feel the need to. It was almost soothing in a way. He may have forgotten about it, but at this point, taking it off would just feel wrong, especially since he’s gone this long wearing it. It was strange, and calming, and warm…

Instead of answering, Feng Xi smiled and placed his other hand on top of Luo Zhu’s, catching his attention to look up once more and forget the ring. “Tell me what you and the others have been up to, Luo Zhu.”

Luo Zhu then went on to explain that he’s been living in the city all this time, and has been working for Zi Luolan for almost just as long inside this little flower shop. He explained the deal that was made with the guild, about how he was pretty much allowed to do whatever he wanted within the city, to live how he wanted, with only the occasional check up from someone within the guild.

He explained that the guild gave them the option of either living within the city, or to basically become an Executor and work for the guild, both of which would eventually timeout after a few years and they would be allowed to go wherever they wanted, with or without the guild.

“So, where’s Xu Huai and Tian Hu then?” Feng Xi asked in confusion.

Uncharacteristically, Luo Zhu gently pulled his arms away from Feng Xi, leaving him grabbing onto nothing but the air as Luo Zhu instead wrapped his arms around himself, looking down. “Things got… really, really bad without you,” he said, his voice low and broken sounding.

Feng Xi frowned. Bad? What does that mean? Even without him, they were still a family, he was sure they would’ve stayed together no matter what.

Luo Zhu breathed in a trembling breath before continuing. “Tian Hu was told that if he chose to live in the city, he’d have to take on a human form, and he-he really didn’t want that so… So Tian Hu agreed to work for the guild. Then it was just Xu Huai and I, and… We stayed in the city for a while together, I had begged him to and he agreed… It was such a stupid, stupid idea,” he laughed, but it was completely void of any humor and full of only pain, as Feng Xi could see the tears forming in his eyes again.

“We fought a lot… We fought over a lot of things, some of it over really stupid things, but… But I couldn’t forgive him for holding me back that day. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t forgive him…”

Feng Xi, he… He didn’t know how to react. He would have never thought that any of them would turn against each other, they’ve been through so much together already, he was sure they would be able to pull through this together as well. “Luo Zhu…” He reached out, intending to comfort him like he’d always done, but Luo Zhu instead flinched away and refused to be touched, absolutely refusing to look up at him.

“I couldn’t forgive Xu Huai. He said that it was your choice to make, but he knew that doing so would lead to nothing good. He knew, and yet he still let you go through with it. Why? … Why would you do something like that without talking to us first?”

“Luo Zhu, I--”

“Weren’t we supposed to always look out for each other? Protect each other? We swore that, no matter how hard the guild looked for us and tried to separate us, that nothing would come between us. We were supposed to do everything together, we were supposed to understand and help each other. So tell me, why?”

 

Feng Xi found it was becoming harder and harder for him to breathe, as his mind started racing as he thought back to that day.

 

He remembered feeling utter desperation and hopelessness. They had only just lost the one place they were ready to call home, that small island in the middle of the ocean, completely out of the way, out of the guilds way.

It had been reckless to go out, he had known that the guild was searching for him more than the others, it would’ve been simpler to have sent Luo Zhu out, but…

But watching Xiao Hei struggle after losing his home to humans and wander aimlessly, Feng Xi found himself wanting to help the young elfin more than anything. He wanted to go to him personally and offer a place to stay, a home. So he went, and because of his impulsiveness, led the guild right to them before they could convince Xiao Hei to use Realm and seal it off.

He had caused them to fall right into the guilds hands.

Even worse, it had been Wuxian that came and destroyed it all. If it had been any other nameless Executor that he didn’t care for, Feng Xi wouldn’t have become as desperate as he did, but because it was…

 

He could hear Xiao Hei’s pained screams even now, the look of confusion and betrayal on the little elfins face moments before. He could hear Luo Zhu pleading with everything he could, voice going hoarse from his shouting, and yet Feng Xi didn’t listen. He couldn’t. He was responsible for them losing everything, and he needed to atone for it quickly, he needed to make up for it, he needed to give them a new home quickly.

He couldn’t answer Luo Zhu’s question because he didn’t know why, exactly, he did what he did. Whatever answer he gave, he knew it wouldn’t be good enough.

 

“You betrayed us,” Luo Zhu said, his voice snapping Feng Xi back to the present and making his head spin from the whiplash. “You practically betrayed us, and then left us alone to deal with your mess.”

“No,” Feng Xi shook his head. “That’s not what--”

“It doesn’t matter what you tried to do! You left us behind to deal with your fucking mess!”

Luo Zhu’s rage was something Feng Xi can’t remember ever seeing and it left him unable to think, unable to try and fix the situation because he didn’t know how. He thought he was doing what was best, that killing himself would be the best for everyone, he didn’t mean to--

Without warning, Luo Zhu stood up and, with his arms still wrapped around his own trembling body, he quickly left the room, his footsteps rapidly disappearing as he rushed down the stairs. It took a moment for Feng Xi’s mind to wrap around what was happening, but once it did, he wasted no time in following after, calling out his name and begging him to wait.

At the bottom of the stairs, Feng Xi watched as Luo Zhu threw open the door to the front of the store and rushed out into the rain, not looking back at all.

“LUO ZHU!!” Feng Xi shouted as he, too, ran outside, feeling the coldness of the rain and wind hitting him hard, but he was too numb to bother with it as he frantically scanned the street this way and that, trying to figure out where Luo Zhu had disappeared to.

No matter how much he shouted, there was no response other than the howling of the wind and the thrumming of the rain. He panted heavily from the rush of the emotions he felt in only a few minutes, making him feel out of breath, like he was being suffocated.

“Feng Xi, get back inside!” Zi Luolan called out before hurriedly entering the downpour as well, a coat protecting her from the rain. “Come on, let’s go,” she grabbed his arm and pulled, Feng Xi resisting a bit, but he soon gave into anguish and he could no longer fight.

He’d long since lost the will to fight.

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

“So you’re really going to Long You for the entire break?” Shanxin asked, raising her eyebrows a little bit in question. “You’ve never gone before, why now?”

Xiaobai smiled, feeling bad that she has to lie to her best friend, but Xiao Hei told her that no matter what, others can’t know about the existence of elfins. Xiaobai was already a rare case, simply because Argen was an elfin. “A relative of mine just moved there. Gege and I are going to greet them!”

“Why aren’t your parents going as well? Or your gramps?”

“Since when did you ask this many questions?”

“I’m simply an inquisitive person, but you’re right, I really don’t care about the details. You just better bring me back a souvenir of some kind.”

“Of course!”

Luckily, it hadn’t been very hard to convince her parents to let her go to Long You. As soon as Xiaobai mentioned that she was going with Argen, they pretty much agreed right away, believing it had something to do with helping out with Yunfei.

Xiaobai really did feel bad for lying to so many people, but it was for a good cause. Xiao Hei really needed them for support, and she wasn’t about to let him face this alone. It was true, she may not understand entirely of what happened, but she could tell that this person meant a lot to Xiao Hei, so she was willing to do anything to help him, even if that meant telling a few white lies here and there.

Besides, she had Xiao Hei and Argen with her. If something were to happen, they would solve it without a problem!!

 

Ah, except for one problem…

Xiaobai looked over, and saw Xiao Hei being smothered by Huangshou. The grey cat wouldn’t catch a hit as he continued to rub himself against Xiao Hei, who could do no more than to try to keep the other off of him. She snickered, seeing the annoyance and desperation to get away clear on his face, regardless if he was in cat form. It wasn't that Xiao Hei hated Huangshou, but it was rather that the grey cat could be a little... overbearing at times...

“Xiaobai! Ready to go?!” she heard Argen call out.

“Coming!” Xiaobai responded before turning back to Xiao Hei and Huangshou. “Come on, Xiao Hei, it’s time to go!”

“Alright, come here,” Shanxin was Xiao Hei’s saving grace today, as she walked over and picked up her cat and held him securely in his arms. Somehow, it looked like he was pouting, being held like that and taken away so quickly.

As if he feared the grey cat would break free and jump on him again, Xiao Hei wasted no time in quickly rushing over to Xiaobai and climbing up onto her shoulders, using her pretty much as a shield between him and Huangshou.

It was amazing how Xiao Hei was an extremely powerful elfin, yet he was still defeated by Huangshou whenever they met!

The two humans gave their farewells and, after promising to video call at least once, parted ways. Xiaobai rushed over to the beaten and worn down truck, looking it over for a moment with skepticism.

“Are you sure this will get us there?” Xiao Hei asked, his voice holding the same doubt as Xiaobai felt. “It looks like trash.”

“Hey!” Argen shouted, his head popping up from the other side of the vehicle. “This truck here may not look like much, but it’s very reliable!” As he said that, he hit the side of it, and a large metallic noise sounded from it.

 

Both Xiaobai and Xiao Hei looked at him with raised eyebrows.

 

“You two hang out too much, you’re giving me the exact same look, hahaha it’s kind of scary… Come on, let’s get going!”

Argen wasted no time climbing into the driver's seat of the truck, and despite their skepticism, Xiaobai and Xiao Hei climbed in soon after, Xiaobai seated in the passenger seat with Xiao Hei on her lap. She looked around the interior of the vehicle as she buckled in, saying, “Did you borrow this from one of the uncles?”

“En! He was nice enough to lend it to us for a few days, I just have to be sure not to wreck it.”

As Xiaobai watched Argen buckle up and start the engine, a thought came to mind. “Gege…”

“Hm?”

“Do you have your driver's license?”

“Nah.”

“.........”

“As long as we don’t get pulled over, it’ll be fine.”

“I would just be better off flying to Long You alone…”

 

With the morning sun steadily rising in the sky, they made their way out of Ling Xi together and started towards their destination.

Xiao Hei felt himself steadily growing more and more restless from a mixture of emotions. He felt terrible for betraying Wuxian like this, the guilt slowly eating away at him, but this needed to be done, he knew it had to be.

If he had to wait around any longer, he was sure he’d go crazy.

There were too many misunderstandings between them that he couldn’t let go on, it needed to be fixed. He needed answers more than anything. This was a second chance, and he wasn’t going to let it slip away.

He wasn’t going to hesitate.

 

 

 

“So, Xiao Hei, do you know where to find your friend?”

“.................”

“..... I guess that’s a no.”

Chapter Text

Music drowned out the noises of children screaming and playing, of horns honking off in the distance. It was a bubble between him and the world, cutting him off from it.

Feng Xi stood staring up at the large tree in the middle of the city, untouched by humans itself, yet the surrounding area had become something beautiful. Concrete was long replaced with vibrant flowers and soft grass. It felt like a small paradise in the middle of such a hellish and harsh place, and he felt himself repeatedly drawn back to it.

However, no matter how often he came here, he never went up to that grand tree. Something stopped him each time, unable to bring himself to get close to it. Something aches each time he did, and so he would turn back around and walk away from it.

With the wind blowing through it and rustling the leaves, it looked as if it was breathing, alive.

“I noticed you’ve been coming here often.”

He looked over his shoulder and saw Xing approach, standing next to him and looking up at that same tree. “You know, they named this park after you,” she said after a moment of silence. “This area used to be a construction site, but they could never agree on what to build here, so it went unused for years, collecting rust and looking like a complete eyesore. Really, this was sort of a blessing in the end, now it’s not gross to look at.”

Feng Xi at least had the courtesy to pause his music and take out the earphones, though he was merely only half listening to whatever she was saying as he looked down, hands buried deep in his pockets.

Something hostile twisted in his chest, and he gritted his teeth, taking a moment to breathe before speaking. “You knew where Luo Zhu was this entire time, didn’t you?”

Xing shifted her weight on her feet, still looking at the tree.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Why did you suggest that I get that damn job if you knew he was there?”

Finally, she sighed and turned to face him, frowning. “What good would it have done if I told you? Would you have reached out to him, or continue to hide away?”

He tried to control himself, he really did, but Feng Xi felt himself giving away his control to his impulsiveness from emotions as he turned to face her, hands now by his side and fisted tightly. “Why the hell did you deceive me? What did you gain from all of this?”

“Why are you so quick to jump to the conclusion that I did this for my own gain?”

“I would’ve never gone to that stupid flower shop if I knew Luo Zhu was there!”

“And that’s exactly why I didn’t tell you. You would’ve continued to wallow in self pity and refuse to reach out over some kind of belief that it’s your punishment, when in reality you’re just being a coward. How often do you think it is that someone gets a second chance?”

“What I do isn’t for you to decide!” Feng Xi shouted. He felt pushed against a corner, even though he was out in the open. He felt raw, exposed, and he tried everything he could to keep his throat from tightening from the emotions, to not lose control.

Xing sighed and shook her head. “No, it’s not, but I’m not going to let you waste this second chance, not after everything that was risked to bring you back.”

“Risked? What are you talking about?”

“I’m going to take a wild guess and figure you haven’t reached out to Wuxian since you’ve been back, have you?”

Feng Xi startled a little. What did Wuxian have to do with any of this? Wuxian hates him, Wuxian has hated him for so many years now, why would Feng Xi reach out to him? Why would he claw and reopen his own wounds, his own feelings, that he was trying desperately to ignore since all those years ago when Wuxian made it perfectly clear to him that he wanted nothing to do with Feng Xi anymore?

Silence filled in between them for a few moments as the two stared each other down, the only noise breaking the silence was the world continuing on without them, completely oblivious to the raging emotions and turmoil going on. The sun continued on shining, the wind continued to breathe, and humans cared not for the troubles of others.

Shoulders sagging with an invisible weight, Xing sighed once more as she closed her eyes. “I’m not the enemy here, Feng Xi. You’re standing in your own way, I can tell. You deserve this second chance, and I’m trying to make sure you don’t waste it. Anyways, I didn’t come here to start an argument.”

“Then why did you come here?”

Opening her eyes, she turned around and looked behind them, and Feng Xi followed her line of sight. He didn’t know what she was looking at, and just as he was about to open his mouth to ask, he heard someone call his name.

 

A familiar voice, the call of his name being something he had grown familiar too even if it was for a short time, one he always found himself wanting to reach out towards and wanting to protect. Even now, after all he’s done, after all the terrible things he did that couldn’t be excused or forgotten.

 

“Xiao Hei…”

 

 

Even after 7 years, Feng Xi could still recognize him, even though the small elfin was no longer so small and has grown since then, carrying himself proudly and with confidence. He was less round, more agile looking, yet when Xiao Hei’s eyes fell upon him, they were still the same, full or adoration and wonder. They still shone brightly as Xiao Hei broke into a wide smile and ran with all his might towards Feng Xi.

Xiao Hei crashed into Feng Xi without hesitation and wrapped his arms as far as they could go around his waist. Feng Xi was startled for a moment, wide eyes staring down at Xiao Hei as he remained unmoving, and then, like a damn bursting, all sorts of feelings came to him and he was able to will himself to finally move. It was so easy to wrap Xiao Hei in his arms, still small even if he’s grown well, and he could hear the excited laughter close to his ear as Feng Xi knelt down and pulled him close, with Xiao Hei adjusting to wrap his arms around Feng Xi’s neck.

“Feng Xi!! You’re back!!!” Xiao Hei exclaimed, voice sounding just a little off as Feng Xi felt his shirt slowly dampen with tears.

“En, I’m back, Xiao Hei,” he reassured the boy, squeezing just a little bit tighter as his chest hummed with fondness and adoration for this little one.

He didn’t deserve this. He definitely didn’t deserve to have Xiao Hei laughing in happiness, not with what he did to him. Out of everyone, Feng Xi knew he wronged Xiao Hei the most, yet here he was, unhesitating in throwing himself in Feng Xi’s arms, as if everything has been forgiven.

 

He didn’t deserve this, but he wanted it so, so bad…

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

Xiao Hei explained how he and his friends had been hunting for Feng Xi for the last day and a half.

He hadn’t been to Long You in a while and didn’t know any elfins who might know something, so the beginning of their search was the hardest, however he did know a few that he had seen interact with Wuxian before, and figured that would be the best place to start. He remembered an elfin with strange bracelets that Wuxian had spoken to before about it, but had no idea what her name was nor where she might be in Long You.

What Xiao Hei did remember was Zi Luolan and her working at a flower shop, but he didn’t know the name of which one, so Xiao Hei and Xiaobai teamed up, while Argen went alone, to each flower shop inside of Long You, which… turned out to be a bit more than they expected, but it was still a manageable number.

And thus, the hunt was on!

Luckily, the hunt didn’t actually take as long as they thought it would, because Xiao Hei had been drawn to a particular shop that was a bit more out of the way than the others, as it gave off a strong amount of spiritual energy.

They had just almost missed the shop being closed when they got to it, but luckily Zi Luolan recognized him and allowed them to come in as she closed up the shop.

She willingly answered their questions, telling the children that the elfins name was Xing, as well as giving her address and phone number. It had been a shot in the dark that she would know who it was they were talking about, but it paid off in the end.

It had taken a few hours for Xing to get back to their messages sent from Xiaobai’s phone, but once they got through to her and explained the situation, she arranged a time and place for them to meet, knowing that Feng Xi would be at the park instead of his apartment.

 

Feng Xi smiled as he listened to Xiao Hei tell his story, his heart feeling lifted that the little elfin did whatever he could to find him. It was nice to know that someone who knew the terrible things he did still wanted him around, even when he knew he didn’t deserve it at all. Especially not from Xiao Hei. “It sounds like quite the adventure you and your friends had,” he said, patting Xiao Hei on the head, ruffling his white hair--

 

 

White.

 

 

He pulls his hand away as if he was burned, shoving both of them into his pockets.

The action doesn’t go unnoticed by Xiao Hei, staring at Feng Xi for a few moments before taking a large bite of the sweet treat Feng Xi bought for them.

“I think the most dangerous part was my gege driving,” Xiaobai says with a large smile.

“Hey!” Argen shouts. “It wasn’t that bad! I think I did pretty well!”

“We almost went off a cliff at one point, I don’t think that counts as ‘pretty well’.”

Xiao Hei turned around to face the two, frowning. “Next time, we’re taking a bus if we need to go anywhere. Or I’ll just go alone. I threw up at least three times. Three!”

“You just have a weak stomach,” Argen waved off, though he looked down in embarrassment.

Listening to the children banter, Feng Xi slowly calmed himself down. He didn’t want to make Xiao Hei worry, especially since he spent so much time and effort already searching for him. It wouldn’t be fair. He didn’t have the right to make Xiao Hei worry either, so he just silently listened to the children talk among themselves and went wherever they wanted, as it seemed as though Xiao Hei’s two friends have never been in Long You before.

Eventually, Xiaobai must’ve realized that Xiao Hei would be fine on his own, and should have some time with Feng Xi, because suddenly she’s dragging Argen away from them insistently.

Xiao Hei waved to them, feeling a bit nervous, but he was happy they had made it with him this far, and there were still things he didn’t feel comfortable enough disclosing to them, so he was glad for this chance to talk with Feng Xi in private.

“You’ve made some good friends,” Feng Xi says, giving a small smile. “A little surprising when I realized that one of them was human though.”

Nodding, Xiao Hei smiled. “They’re really good friends, they’ve supported me through a lot.”

“Last I knew, you didn’t like humans.”

“Hmmm, I’ve gotten used to them, they’re not all bad. Xiaobai is really nice, and she mentioned something about wanting to become a wildlife conservationist when she gets older!”

“Sounds exciting.”

Realizing that Xiao Hei’s view point on humans had changed, it made Feng Xi realize just how much time he had lost, how much different Xiao Hei was now compared to the last time they saw each other. The world had continued moving without him, it will continue to move with or without him.

 

It was startling.

In the end, it didn’t really matter if he was around or not, did it?

So far, he’s just brought people pain and made mistakes.

Maybe he should…

 

“Feng Xi?”

Blinking, Feng Xi looked down at a worried Xiao Hei, who was tugging lightly at his sleeve. “Are you okay, Feng Xi?”

His chest felt shaken up and rattled around, he didn’t trust himself to talk at first, so he nodded his head and tried to give Xiao Hei a reassuring smile. “I’m okay… What do you want to do now?”

The young elfin didn’t seem convinced by his words, even less so when he changed the subject, but luckily for Feng Xi, Xiao Hei didn’t ask any more questions about it. Looking down, he thought for a moment before looking back up, an excited smile on his face. “I wanna see where you’ve been living.”

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

Darkness was taking over outside, no longer the hours of golden light as the skies were now a dark purple to a black, specks of little white stars shimmering as they poked out one by one in the veil of darkness.

Entering the apartment, Feng Xi clicked on the light, and the place was instantly illuminated in a soft glow. After having seen Zi Luolan’s apartment, Feng Xi had very slowly been adding to his extremely barren and dull living space. It was still a work in progress, but now there were a few plants here and there, growing abundantly despite the short amount of time he’s had them.

Xiao Hei looked around curiously, an excited skip in his step. Feng Xi allowed the younger elfin to rush around and explore the small space. It didn’t have much to offer, but he seemed interested nonetheless.

“Did the guild give you this place?” Xiao Hei asked, poking his head back into the main living area once he was finished with his exploration. “It’s really nice!”

Feng Xi nodded, amused by his enthusiasm. “Is it really that nice? I can’t tell.”

“Well, it’s a lot nicer than some of the places I’ve been to and seen. Sometimes, shifu and I would have to stay in gross motel places if we couldn’t find anywhere else. Humans can be really disgusting sometimes.”

He listened to Xiao Hei’s rambling as he sat down, feeling a rush of exhaustion from the day.

 

Wait…

Wait, shifu?

 

 

“Who’s your shifu?” Feng Xi asked, frowning a little in confusion. A part of him already knew the answer, and it made him feel a little cold, a little conflicted.

Xiao Hei seemed to pick up easily on these emotions as he slowly looked away from Feng Xi, looking instead out to the window that showed the illuminated city before them, bringing light all around while the sun was absent.

“It’s… Wuxian is my shifu.”

Something really cold and conflicted twisted in Feng Xi’s chest. He didn’t really know how to react to that news, other than he truly wasn’t surprised. Wuxian was a highly skilled and powerful Executor, and with his help, there’s no doubt that Xiao Hei will become one of the strongest elfins known.

Feng Xi did his best to swallow around the lump that formed in his throat. “I see… Does that mean he’s in Long You as well?”

There was a moments pause before Xiao Hei shook his head before once again looking at Feng Xi. “I came here without telling him. He didn’t want me to come see you,” the child explained as he made his way over to the couch and sat beside Feng Xi, who flinched slightly.

The panic that was curling up began to even out upon hearing that Wuxian wasn’t in Long You, but it was now replaced with something else. Something hollow and bitter. Feng Xi scoffed. He didn’t need Xiao Hei to explain to him why Wuxian didn’t want Xiao Hei here, near Feng Xi. Wuxian made it very obvious what he thought about him so many years ago.

 

“I don’t… I don’t hate you, you know…”

Hearing Xiao Hei speak again, Feng Xi looked over and saw that Xiao Hei was clenching his hands and looking a little unsure, as if what he’s saying wasn’t the right words, or as if he was having a hard time speaking his mind.

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did though, what I did was unforgivable--”

“But I don’t!” Xiao Hei raised his voice a little, the outburst causing Feng Xi to jump a little. The uncertainty in his voice was now replaced with a determination to get his words across. “Maybe in the beginning, after everything that happened, I had some complicated feelings towards you, towards everything. I didn’t know why what happened had happened, but eventually I realized that I-that I really don’t hate you. I don’t! I just… want to understand.”

There was some kind of resolution in Xiao Hei’s voice, as if he had thought long and hard about this for a long time. And Feng Xi supposed he didn, Xiao Hei had 7 years to think about this, to think about everything that happened.

“Even if I explain, it won’t make what I did any better,” Feng Xi shook his head, closing himself up in all ways that he could, wrapping his arms around his waist and making the space between himself and Xiao Hei bigger.

He doesn’t get the right to explain, he shouldn’t be given the chance to. No matter how one looks at it, what he did was wrong, it was cruel, no matter what ways one would try to justify it, in the end it was unjustifiable, especially to a child who just wanted a home, a child that had placed all his trust and belief into to give him that home and protection.

Feng Xi didn’t deserve this, he didn’t deserve Xiao Hei smiling around him as if all was forgiven. He didn’t deserve Xiao Hei spending so long searching for him and even going behind Wuxian’s back to find him.

Feng Xi wasn’t worth it. In the eyes of the Guild and to most elfins, he was a hazard to be restrained and kept away from others. He was the worst kind of monster.

Something small and warm touched his arm, causing Feng Xi to open his eyes that he didn’t even realize he had closed tightly. Xiao Hei had moved across the distance between them and reached out, resting his hand on Feng Xi’s forearm, right above where the silver bracelet was located.

“If you don’t want to talk about it now, that’s fine, but you already told me the reason you did what you did was because you wanted to finally have a home, but you never explained why you did it, what lead up to it and how you were feeling to do that. I just want to understand, I want to know if… if it was something I did, if it might’ve been my fault.”

“What? Xiao Hei-- No, none of this was ever your fault, I was just--”

 

Just, what?

 

No matter how he tried to word and piece it together, it all felt like one big lame excuse. Feng Xi was just left feeling frustrated, trying to figure out what to tell Xiao Hei, but nothing- NOTHING- was good enough because he wasn’t good enough.

Scoffing, Feng Xi shook his head and leaned forward, propping his elbow on his knee and holding his forehead. “I was scared,” Feng Xi spat out, teeth clenched in his self-rage, “that’s all there is to it. The damn Guild wouldn’t leave us alone--for YEARS they had been following us, backing us into a corner. That island was the last piece of hope I had and I had to find some way to protect it from the guild, to make it so they couldn’t ever find us again.”

Xiao Hei listened intently, silently, a hand still placed comfortingly on Feng Xi’s arm.

Feng Xi sighed. “You were just dragged into something you weren’t supposed to be a part of. Originally, we just wanted you to live with us on the island because you reminded me so much of myself once. Alone, confused, wandering aimlessly for a home that was stolen from you. Honestly, I just-- I wanted to give you a place to call home, Xiao Hei, and I hoped that once you called it home and liked it there, then you would want to join me in protecting that little bit of sanctuary we had left…

But then the guild had to show up once again, and that was my fault. I had gone to get you personally, and I led them straight to us. If it had been anyone else, I would’ve been fine, if it- if it just hadn’t been Wuxian-- …. In the end, I was desperate. I wanted the guild to leave us alone, I felt responsible for destroying the island, and I knew that you would be told things that would make you no longer trust me. The consequences of my actions didn’t fully set in until after I had already used Realm, and at that point I couldn’t go back. I didn’t know how to go back.”

 

He let out a trembling sigh and closed his eyes. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Xiao Hei.

It all just felt like one big excuse in a weak attempt to justify his actions, but he wasn’t. In no way did Feng Xi want to justify himself. He knew what he did was extremely wrong, how he ended up almost manipulating Xiao Hei and almost killing him, how he hurt others in the process, and then left everyone behind to deal with the mess he created because he couldn’t see the point in fighting anymore, didn’t see the point in anything. The running, the fighting, the stress and the desperation-- there was no point in it, he’d never be given a chance to settle. He’d constantly be on the run.

Even now, he didn’t think he deserved to be here.

They should’ve just left him alone, let his spirit scatter apart. It would’ve been the best for everyone in the end. He hurt the ones he was trying to protect the most.

Desperate or not, they deserved better. They deserved better than him.

 

“You don’t need to shoulder so much on your own. From now on, you don’t need to face things alone anymore. We can work through things together, Feng Xi, because I know you’re good and want to protect everyone, but you have to let others carry the weight with you. Whatever happens now, we’ll work through it together, I promise.”

It was strange, being comforted by a child while he was decades older, had decades worth of wisdom and experience. Yet here Xiao Hei was, telling him the same thing Luo Zhu had told him, to lean on and depend on others.

Feng Xi shook his head with a breathy laugh, running a hand through his hair as he looked up at Xiao Hei, a small, broken smile on his face. “How did you become so wise?”

“I have an amazing shifu, and someone who cared for me and did their best when no one else was there,” Xiao Hei said with a smile, one that looked hopeful.

“You’re around Wuxian too much, he’s rubbing off on you,” Feng Xi reached out and ruffled Xiao Hei’s hair adoringly. “Create some mischief every now and again, isn’t that what children are supposed to do?”

“I’m creating mischief now by coming here, since he really didn’t want me to see you alone.”

Slowly, the smile on Feng Xi’s face disappeared.

 

Ah, that was right.

 

Wuxian hates him and thinks he’s dangerous.

He had probably been there that first day Feng Xi woke up in order to make sure Feng Xi wouldn’t do anything, wouldn’t end up hurting anyone.

Wuxian had probably been against the entire idea of bringing him back in the first place.

This will probably be the only time he’ll get to see Xiao Hei again, as he’s sure Wuxian will find every way possible to keep them apart.

 

Feng Xi can’t even find it in himself to be mad either. It’s what he deserves, isn’t it? To be treated like a monster like elfins were feared to be so many years ago, when the world still knew about them, and they would curse at their existence.

Chapter Text

They talked for a while more before Feng Xi sent Xiao Hei on his way back to his friends, despite the young elfins protests of wanting to stay longer. In order to appease him, Feng Xi promises Xiao Hei that he can stay the night some other time, and that right now he should return to his friends to reassure them that he’s fine.

With a heavy sigh and a newfound determination to keep Feng Xi’s word true, they walk to the elevator, where Xiao Hei throws himself at Feng Xi in a tight hug, one that he is all more than happy to return, before they parted ways.

The elevator doors slid close, and Feng Xi felt empty inside.

He was happy to see Xiao Hei again, he was happy that the young elfin was doing so well, was able to grow strong and kind, and didn’t let the past hold him back. He’s made friends, and no doubt has a very promising future. Xiao Hei deserved it, he really does, and Feng Xi was so happy that Xiao Hei was doing well.

But he also had to come to terms with the reality that was, after this, he probably won’t be able to see Xiao Hei for a long time, or maybe even ever again, and Feng Xi wasn’t ready for that.

He sure as hell didn’t deserve to keep Xiao Hei in his life, but a selfish part wanted the child around, wanted to watch him grow and to be a part of his life in whatever way he could. Feng Xi didn’t want Xiao Hei to have to sneak around Wuxian, so eventually he’ll have to tell Xiao Hei to not come around anymore. It’s going to break his heart to have to tell him, but for now, he’ll be content with this.

Turning around, Feng Xi walked the hall to return to his apartment, only to have the door across from his to open up, and instantly he scowled.

Xing leaned against the doorway with her arms crossed, looking completely exhausted, which made Feng Xi pause for a moment before he continued walking. He was still upset with her, afterall.

“Listen,” she said, followed by a heavy sigh, “I just want you to know I’m sorry, okay?”

Feng Xi scoffs, reaching his door and intending to slam it shut, but is stopped before it can close. Turning around, he sees her foot wedged at the bottom of the door, only protected by a pair of slippers. “I don’t expect you to forgive me, but just hear me out, alright?”

Not wanting her foot to get hurt any more than it probably already was, Feng Xi opens the door wide and waits for her to continue, frowning.

“What I did… I had good intentions, but I know it was wrong of me to do that to you. I shouldn’t have kept the truth from you like that, and I’m honestly sorry. I wronged a lot of people so far this way.”

“Who else did you drag into this?”

“Pretty much just Luo Zhu as well. He’s not too happy with me either, especially after finding out I had known you were back for a while now and never said anything to him.” Xing let out a humorless laugh as she rubbed the back of her neck, looking down for a moment. “I can’t blame either of you for being angry with me, honestly. But, just please know that I really don’t have ill intentions. I just wanted to try and help you, and-- Wait, are you feeling okay?”

While Xing had been talking, Feng Xi started to feel dizzy, the words she was saying sounding more and more like they were muddled under water as his entire body felt like it was being submerged, unable to think correctly and needed to lean against the door for support.

He tried to insist that he was fine, but even speaking felt difficult to do. It was as if all the energy was being drained rapidly out of him.

Xing reached out and supported his weight as best she could as she quickly brought him over to the couch, sitting him down before he fell over onto his side. She called out his name and shook him, trying to wake him up, but Feng Xi wasn’t responding no matter what she did.

As quick as possible, Xing took out her phone and tapped the screen a few times before bringing it up to her ear. It didn’t ring very long before it was picked up on the other end. She didn’t even allow the other person to get one word in.

 

“Wuxian, it’s Feng Xi!”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

He knew this was going to happen eventually. He couldn’t hide away forever, and he knew that, but he just hoped it would have been just a little longer, a little longer to get his heart to stop hammering and to calm his nerves.

But time certainly waited for no one, so he took a deep breath and did what he could to compose himself before turning the corner.

The moon hung in the darkened sky, surrounded by a cascade of stars that all helped to illuminate the night, struggling to fight against the light pollution from the city below. There weren’t as many stars visible from here, not if they were in a remote area, away from human influence and technologies.

From where he stood, Wuxian could see Pan Jing and Ka Li talking and drinking, though he couldn’t pick up on what they were discussing exactly. Having known that Wuxian more than likely wouldn’t show if he was asked for, Pan Jing made the effort to come to Ling Xi personally, more than likely bringing along a serious mission with him. With his hands clasped together behind his back and trying his best to look as put together as possible, Wuxian walked over.

Pan Jing laughed at something before noticing Wuxian’s presence, shoulder shaking as he calmed down. “Ah, Wuxian, I haven’t heard from you in a while. I was afraid you might have left the guild without telling anyone.”

Wuxian felt his stomach twist, feeling the words were a direct hit against him. He tried his best not to shrink back in guilt. “I would never do that,” he said, trying to sound as normal as possible.

Nodding, Pan Jing stood up, speaking as he did so. “Let’s get straight to business then, shall we? Ka Li?”

The other guild leader stood as well before leading the way, hands in his pockets. Wuxian followed without complaint, but wondered why the mission couldn’t have been handed to him right there, and why both guild leaders were getting involved.

Was this that serious?

Well, it must be, if they were getting Wuxian involved. As being one of the more powerful Executors in the guild, even if he was no longer one of the top ranking ones, they hand him the harder tasks, the ones that may involve more force or negotiation than others.

Ka Li led them into a vacant room, one that Wuxian couldn’t quite tell what the use for it was, before the doors behind him shut and threw the room into darkness.

The darkness didn’t last very long as it was soon lit up by a small circular object that Pan Jing held in his hand, throwing the room into a soft yellow glow before he tossed it to the center of the room, where it suspended itself before projecting a grid with various marks upon it.

“Recently,” Pan Jing spoke, “there have been sporadic flares of spiritual energy throughout Long You. They don’t last very long, but their frequency is increasing.” As he spoke, the grid showed the large city with white dots of different sizes scattered across it. They showed the time and date of each occurrence, with the largest white dot being the most recent activity.

Wuxian walked around the grid, looking at all the different places the white dots shown, already trying to find a common trait between each location, but it was difficult to place as it seemed just as sporadic as Pan Jing explained. “Wouldn’t this be easier with a team of Executors than one alone?” he asked.

“That has already been tried,” Ka Li said, of course knowing the details of the situation due to Pan Jing having told him. “Some of the members of my guild were even sent to assist, but nothing could be found, not even a lingering trace of spiritual energy.”

It was strange to have something or someone causing these flares and not leave a trail behind. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to do, as the flares would have the registered energy onto it, making it so the one responsible for it would be easy to track down.

This certainly was a difficult situation, especially since they didn’t know the motives of the one behind the flares. They could be planning something that could lead to catastrophe if not stopped.

As the light from the object died down and floated over to Wuxian’s hand, the room was lit up by soft candle light. “That will update as new spiritual energy flares are located and registered, use it as a reference to try and track it down. Once you find the source, you are to contact me immediately before further action is to be taken.”

Wuxian frowned. This entire situation felt a little off, like Pan Jing knew something that he wasn’t explaining. He opened his mouth to speak when the vibrations from his phone cut him off. Wuxian intended to place it on silent as he took it out from within his robe, but froze as soon as he saw the name on the screen. Looking up at Pan Jing for a moment, the guild leader motioned for Wuxian to go ahead and answer. It felt rude to do so, but….

Turning around to show his back to two leaders, Wuxian quickly hit the answer button. He didn’t even get the chance to open his mouth to speak before Xing’s frantic voice sounded through the phone.

 

“Wuxian, it’s Feng Xi!”

 

Instantly, Wuxian felt his stomach dropping, as if he were jumping off a cliff and plunging into the frozen waters below. Panic overtook every rational thought before he quickly haphazardly gathered up whatever sense he still had left. “I’ll be right there,” was all he said before hanging up, needing no further explanation. Every moment he wasted listening to the situation was a moment wasted that he could actually be there.

“I’m sorry, but I have to leave,” Wuxian said as he turned back around, trying desperately to seem put together, that he had everything under control, that he wasn’t an absolute panicked mess on the inside, heart feeling as though it was about to leap from his chest at any moment. “I will head to Long You through the portal. Please, excuse me.”

With that, Wuxian wasted no time in rushing out, leaving the two guild leaders behind in that room without further explaining the reason for his leaving.

“Is this situation so dire that you need Wuxian for it?” Ka Li asked after a few moments, raising his eyebrows in question.

Pan Jing nodded. “It is.”

“But there are much stronger Executors that could take care of it if it is someone planning something. Wouldn’t it make more sense to send one of them?”

“Perhaps, but it’s not necessarily strength I need right now. Wuxian will feel more compelled to figure it out faster than others because he has someone in Long You he wants to protect. Also, if this is exactly what I fear it may be, it won’t matter how strong of an Executor we send, we could already be too late.”

Chapter Text

It was too hot, and too loud.

 

Too suffocating.

 

He felt dazed. He didn’t know where he was for a moment. It was too confusing, too much at once, too much noise too much going on and blurring by. His body hurt, drained. Moving felt like an absolute hassle, his limbs all feeling like lead.

Someone knelt down beside him, leaning over and shaking him, calling out to him, but whatever they were saying was just muddled noise. It took a few moments for the noises to slowly start to focus and sharpen, and as it did, it only made his head hurt even worse.

“Feng Xi!!! Come on, we have to go now!!”

 

Go?

 

Go where?

 

Feng Xi frowned, blinking as he tried to get his senses together before a loud crashing noise nearby drew him out of his concentration. The tree fell and hit the earth hard, causing the ground to shake violently and groan.

Looking around, he saw that nearby trees were suffering the same fate, one by one falling down as machines cut into them, tearing them apart until they could no longer stand on their own anymore, gravity taking over and causing them to collapse.

Feng Xi remembered now what was going on, and he gritted his teeth, white hot anger instantly coursing through his entire being.

“No, I’m not--I’m not going anywhere,” he said through clenched teeth, attempting to stand on his own. He hardly got up past his knees before his legs gave out and he collapsed once more. He would’ve hit the ground too if Luo Zhu hadn’t reached out and caught him just before he hit.

“We have to go!” Luo Zhu said frantically, shaking his head. “The guild knew you were going to fight back, they sent elfins to fight against us if we tried interfering again. You’ve already been tossed around enough, there’s too many, we can’t keep this up!”

What?

Did Luo Zhu just want to give up?

Did they just want to give up their home like this?

Why should they give it up? Why should these humans be allowed to tear down and take whatever they wanted? How was that fair?

Didn’t the guild promise that they would protect their home if he became an Executor? After so many years of doing what he was told, of protecting these selfish humans, this was the thanks he gets?

To be ganged up on by elfins that were obviously below him, yet had strength in numbers?

Luo Zhu tried to help Feng Xi to his feet in order to flee, but Feng Xi shoved Luo Zhu away, causing the other elfin to stumble to the ground just as Feng Xi barely caught himself from collapsing.

He felt so drained, so tired and weak. He wanted to fall to the ground and give up to die with this forest that they were tearing apart, but he would rather fight until his last breath than to give the humans and the guild the satisfaction of taking him down easily, of retreating.

 

“They’ll have to kill me before I let them take our home!”

 

What was meant to be an attack aimed directly at the machines the humans controlled, was instead deflected by vines shooting up from the ground and pulling them down, wrapping around them until there was nothing left.

Luo Zhu threw himself at Feng Xi, the two fighting against each other as Luo Zhu managed to restrain Feng Xi’s arms.

“Don’t attack!” Luo Zhu shouted. “If you do then the other elfins will know where we are and come at you again!! Damn it, Feng Xi! We need to go NOW!!”

He was too weak to fight back properly, far too weak to do anything than to push against Luo Zhu and drag his heels into the earth. Feng Xi shouted and demanded to be let go, but no matter what, Luo Zhu remained silent and continued to drag Feng Xi, his shouts and demands falling on deaf ears.

Seconds dragged on, passing by in a blink of an eye, and Feng Xi found the burning rage subsiding into painful desperation. Slowly, he lost the energy and will to fight back, growing more and more quiet until he didn’t speak at all.

It was a few more moments until Luo Zhu spoke up again, this time not talking to Feng Xi, but to Xu Huai and Tian Hu.

“I’ve got him,” Luo Zhu said. “Xu Huai, make a path for us to leave.”

In a final attempt to fight back, Feng Xi yanks away from Luo Zhu, but doesn’t even make a step before falling to his knees.

From where they were, he could see out to the forest, to their home they were leaving behind.

Trees were falling at an almost steady pace, one by one by one, as a fire raged in a different part of the forest, created by Feng Xi destroying a few of their machines before being dragged away.

Slowly, their home was being reduced to nothing, and his chest ached in a way he didn’t know was possible. It felt as though they were tearing him apart instead, piece by piece, limb by limb, and it hurt, oh it hurt so so much.

His fists clenched tightly, but that’s all the energy he had to be angry. His vision blurred with hot tears, running down his face as his shoulders shook at the force of his own anguish.

 

Was this what they deserved?

 

After everything he did for the guild, was this all that he was worth? Empty promises and chased away from his own home?

He was so sure that they would be able to spend forever here, that they would be happy and together here for as long as they wanted.

Not too long ago, he had even brought Wuxian here. He had wanted Wuxian to be with him forever here.

Now, he didn’t have either of those things. His home was being taken from him, and Wuxian decided he would rather stay at the guild, even after Feng Xi had told Wuxian they lied. There was no place for Feng Xi to be.

A hand softly touched his shoulder, and looking up, Luo Zhu wore the same pained expression, large tears running down his face and looking as though he was in complete anguish. Turning his head and looking over, he saw Xu Huai and Tian Hu also crying.

They all felt the same pain as they watched their home become destroyed.

 

“Come on, Feng Xi… We… We need to go…”

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Feng Xi woke up, dazed and confused.

 

Memories from the dream lingered at the back of his head, demanding to rip open his heart and let the wounds bleed anew, but he swallowed down the lump in his throat and blinked back the burning in his eyes. No, he couldn’t focus on that now. Right now, he needed to figure out what happened.

The last thing he remembered was Xing apologizing to him, not falling asleep, so waking up in his room was really startling, to say the least. He felt worn down and out of energy, with his head spinning, even in the near complete darkness.

He sat up, and hand instantly shooting out to hold onto his aching head as he let out a groan. Seriously, what the hell happened…?

“We thought it would take you longer to wake up.”

Feng Xi turned his head slowly to the sound of the voice, not at all afraid, as even though it sounded worn down and exhausted, he could still recognize Luo Zhu’s voice anywhere.

Luo Zhu stood over by the door, looking as if he had only just entered the room a few moments before Feng Xi had woken up. He stood there rather awkwardly, hands behind his back and touching the handle of the door, as if he didn’t know where to put himself, where he belonged.

“How long have I been out for?” Feng Xi asked, looking over at the window, the curtains pulled back a little to show the city. It was still dark outside, but the moon was in a different position in the sky.

“A few hours, probably,” Luo Zhu shrugged. “I wasn’t told how long you were out for before I got here. The sun will be up soon, though.”

Well, that was a relief at least. He didn’t want to disappoint Xiao Hei if he weren’t able to see the young elfin.

The room filled up with silence, Feng Xi staring out the window and Luo Zhu staring at the ground.

It made Feng Xi’s chest ache a little. There was a time where Luo Zhu would say everything and anything on his mind without care. They would laugh easily, and conversation would come naturally between them. Now, the uncomfortable tension hung in the air like a thick fog, and Feng Xi had no idea what to say, what he should say. He was afraid of upsetting Luo Zhu further than he already was. At this point, Feng Xi figured it was just better for him to keep quiet and wait for Luo Zhu to say what he needed.

A noise that sounded like shifting weight caught Feng Xi’s attention, and he watched as Luo Zhu slowly walked over and sat next to Feng Xi on his bed. Without saying a word, he reached out and grabbed gently onto Feng Xi’s right arm. One hand held onto his wrist while the other ran his fingers over the silver bracelet. They were warm from Feng Xi’s own body heat, having worn them for so long now that occasionally he would even forget they were there.

After a while, Luo Zhu frowned, slowly shaking his head as his eyes stayed focused on the bracelet. “I don’t like this,” he muttered, close enough that Feng Xi didn’t have to strain to hear him. “I can’t feel your spiritual energy at all like this. It almost--It almost feels as though you’re still--”

Feng Xi placed a comforting hand over the one Luo Zhu was using to trace the bracelet, stopping his movement and holding it tightly, giving a reassuring squeeze. Luo Zhu’s shoulders trembled as he released a heavy breath, and Feng Xi could tell he was doing everything he could to keep from crying. Knowing that Luo Zhu was in such pain hurt Feng Xi’s chest, aching deep and down to his very core.

He never wanted to make any of his friends suffer. He never wanted to put them through this pain.

Eventually, Luo Zhu calmed himself down and he gave Feng Xi’s wrist a small squeeze to reassure him, to let him know he was alright.

“Why do you have to wear these things anyways? No one else has to, so why you? It’s just unfair punishment. Elfins are entirely made up of spiritual energy, I can’t image what kind of torture you’re going through wearing these…”

Feng Xi shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. It’s my punishment, you shouldn’t need to be worrying about me.”

“There you go again,” Luo Zhu scoffed, finally looking at Feng Xi for the first time since Feng Xi woke up. There was a fire in his eyes, one that told Feng Xi that he was upset and angry, and that he needed to shut up and listen. “Since when did you start going on about not needing to worry about you? When did you start hiding things from us? Why does anything bad that happens have to fall solely on your shoulders?”

He found himself unable to answer. Luo Zhu wasn’t looking for an answer anyways, so no matter what he responded with, it wouldn’t end well. Feng Xi looked away, back down at their hands that were still holding each other, and he couldn’t tell which one of them was shaking.

Luo Zhu let out a heavy sigh, as if there was a weight upon his shoulders of his own before leaning forward until his forehead was rested on Feng Xi’s shoulder, their hands held together in between their bodies, and Feng Xi found himself feeling comforted instantly.

It was a feeling that he missed greatly.

He missed the casual touches between him and the others since being back. Luo Zhu always initiated touch, always needed it whenever he needed comfort. Having grown up together, raising each other, they all grew used to it and it became something important to them.

Feng Xi didn’t realize just how touch starved he was until Luo Zhu was leaning against him, probably missing it just as much as he did, if not more. Besides, it was Luo Zhu who had to go almost 7 years alone, with no such comfort to get him by, as everyone from their little family had split apart in one way or another.

 

Unintentionally, he caused them all to suffer, even though all he wanted to do was to keep them from such a fate…

 

“Luo Zhu, I… I’m sorry,” Feng Xi muttered as his grip on Luo Zhu tightened, as if afraid he might pull away, as if he might leave. “I really never meant for any of this to happen. I just wanted to give you all a home, and when I failed and ended up hurting Xiao Hei…. I couldn’t live with myself at that point. I couldn’t handle the weight of the guilt of what I had done. I ended up failing you all again…”

“You never failed us, not even once,” Luo Zhu said as he shook his head against Feng Xi’s shoulder. “All we wanted, all we needed, was just to stay together. We face whatever comes our way together, remember?”

“I remember…”

“So don’t go deciding things on your own anymore. Stop hiding things, tell us what you’re feeling and thinking and we’ll do the same. As long as we stay together, that’s all that matters.”

Feng Xi felt his heart ache as he nodded and pulled Luo Zhu closer, trying his best to fight the tears forming in his eyes.

He knew he should rely on them more, but he always felt that he needed to face all the hardships alone. That they shouldn’t have to worry about him, or about anything. Ever since losing their home to the humans, Feng Xi took it upon himself bit by bit to be the one to worry about things. It got so bad that, in the end, he couldn’t turn to them about the situation in Long You, and that they shouldn’t have to face the punishment of his actions.

Of course, in the end, they still had taken upon judgement for his crimes, and Feng Xi will never forgive himself for such a thing.

But, for right now…

Right now, Feng Xi felt like he could slowly learn to rely on others again. To not carry burdens larger than himself. It felt wrong, but he also felt something like relief.

 

They held each other close for a while, happy to be together, content in each others presence and warmth. Luo Zhu was the first to pull away, giving Feng Xi a smile that seemed like it was lighting up the darkness of the room before turning his attention back to Feng Xi's wrists. Luo Zhu once again just stared at the bracelets, rubbing his thumb across the surface of it now, before stopping with a confused look.

He said nothing as his attention moved from Feng Xi's wrists to his right hand, right at where the metal band on his finger was. “You still haven’t taken this off?”

Feng Xi was confused for a moment before he looked down and saw what Luo Zhu was mentioning. “No, I haven’t.”

"And you don't know where it came from? Or what it does?"

Feng Xi shook his head.

He knew absolutely nothing about it, and kept forgetting to ask Xing. Either way, it brought him a sense of comfort and calmed him down whenever he twisted it around when he felt nervous, so whatever it was it certainly wasn't malicious, that's for sure.

After a few moments of inspecting it, Luo Zhu muttered to himself, "this looks just like…", before he looked back up at Feng Xi and raised his eyebrows. "You honestly don't recognize it at all?"

This certainly was cryptic and confusing, but Feng Xi shook his head in response again.

That seemed to be the wrong answer because Luo Zhu was rolling his eyes as he finally let go of Feng Xi's wrist and hand, muttering something about being dense, low enough that Feng Xi couldn't pick up on it.

Oh well, if Luo Zhu wasn't too worried about it, then it certainly wasn't something for him to worry about either.

“Zi Luolan has already been told about your situation, she said she doesn’t want you going into work for the next few days,” Luo Zhu says as he gets off the bed and stands up, wrapping his arms around himself loosely. “It’d be best if you listen to her instead of trying to go in. She’ll get really upset and chase you out with some random gardening tool.”

He hadn’t known her for that long, but honestly, Feng Xi believed it. You’d have to be this kind of overly caring in order to be friends with Xing anyways, who has threatened him more times than he could count in the past.

Feng Xi followed to stand, only to have Luo Zhu quickly reach out, hands hovering in the air as if he was unsure of touching Feng Xi, like they weren’t just hugging a few moments ago. “Wait, you really shouldn’t be getting up,” Luo Zhu said with worry in his voice.

“Why not?” he asked.

“I don’t know what happened, but I guess whatever went on was pretty severe. You probably shouldn’t be moving around too much right now, you just woke up.”

Smiling gently, Feng Xi reached out to one of his hands hanging uselessly in the air and gave a small, gentle squeeze. “I feel fine, I promise. Besides, you seem like you’re ready to leave, and I want to see you out.”

Luo Zhu just stood there for a moment, mouth open slightly as if wanting to protest before he finally sighed, shoulder sagging and arms returning to wrap loosely around himself. “Yeah, I’m leaving. Unlike you, the rest of us didn’t get any sleep.”

The rest of us?

 

Feng Xi could guess that Luo Zhu was referring to Xing, as she had been the one with him before Feng Xi blacked out. She had probably also called up Luo Zhu instantly, figuring that he could help out since they were the same type and knew each other for years.

He felt guilty for having worried them and even making them stay up all night, especially Xing. Luo Zhu had spiritual energy to circulate through his body, he could stay up for a few nights without a problem. But Xing couldn’t regulate her spiritual energy, probably didn’t even know what it felt like to be flowing through her entire being. She was more human at this point than she was elfin.

Standing up, Feng Xi’s vision tilted just a little bit, causing Luo Zhu to once again reach out and stop right before they touched, but the dizzy spell passed almost as quickly as it appeared. As they left the room, Luo Zhu kept staring worriedly over his shoulder, as if Feng Xi was going to collapse again at any moment.

There was a soft glow from the living room from the dimmed lighting, casting most of the place into shadow. It hurt Feng Xi’s eyes for a moment before they adjusted to the glow.

Upon noticing them, Xing shot up to her feet from where she was sitting on the couch. She looked scared as her eyes quickly looked back and forth between the two of them, unmoving otherwise for a few moments before she let out a trembling breath, eyes landing solely on Luo Zhu.

“I-- Luo Zhu,” Xing muttered, reaching out a shaking hand towards him. Luo Zhu at the point made it clear he wasn’t going to look at her, and Feng Xi noticed how his arms wrapped tighter around himself for a moment before he practically stormed out of the apartment. Xing called after him and quickly followed.

In a way, Feng Xi felt bad for her, but at the same time, what she did was wrong. She didn’t lie to them, but she omitted much of the truth from both of them. Yes, what she did got them to reunite with each other, but it was still wrong to have done what she did. Luo Zhu had the right to be upset with her, especially since she was in obvious contact with him and didn’t mention Feng Xi’s return all this time.

With how quick and sudden everything happened, Feng Xi didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until moments later.

 

He froze up, breath caught in his throat, before his hands tightened into fists as he scowled.

Wuxian was in a corner of the room that was mostly in shadow, unable to be spotted that easily. His hands were behind his back, as always, leaning against the wall behind him a little. He made eye contact with Feng Xi for only a second before looking away.

“What’re you doing here?” Feng Xi snapped. He was instantly on the defensive, just like when they first met all those weeks ago in the guild when Feng Xi had first woken up. “Are you here to make sure I don’t cause problems?”

“Xing called me,” was all Wuxian said, still not looking directly at Feng Xi.

For some reason, his very apparent avoidance was pissing him off, and Feng Xi did his best to not instantly lash out. He scoffed. “A precaution by the guild, I’m sure. I don’t know why they bothered to bring me back when they’re so obviously ready to get rid of me at a moment's notice.”

Maybe it was a trick of the light or just his imagination, but Feng Xi saw subtle movement from Wuxian that looked much like a flinch. However, it was there and gone within seconds, so he couldn’t be sure what he had seen.

“I had asked her to call me,” Wuxian finally answered, his voice sounding slightly strained and mumbled. His eyes finally wandered, looking downwards until they rested on something. Following his line of sight, Feng Xi saw that he was staring at the ring on his hand with an extremely unreadable expression. He felt a flare of protectiveness for it swell in his chest, not wanting anyone to look at it, so he stepped in a way that hid his arm behind him. Unable to stare at the ring, Wuxian looked up at Feng Xi, their eyes locking for only a moment before he once again looked away.

 

Of course, Wuxian wouldn’t want to be looking at a monster.

Before Feng Xi could open his mouth to say something more, Wuxian beat him to it. “Your spiritual energy became unbalanced due to stress, causing you to lose consciousness. Xing had called me for help, as she couldn’t transfer any spiritual energy of her own to you, before I got a hold of Luo Zhu. Since you two are of the same type, he was able to stabilize you quicker,” he quickly explained.

Feng Xi blinked in confusion for a moment before realizing what Wuxian was talking about. He was explaining why he was here, answering Feng Xi’s first question and clearing up the situation. It was a little odd though, to think that Luo Zhu would answer the phone sooner for Wuxian than he would for Xing, but he was currently upset with her. He probably would’ve let her calls go unanswered and messages unread.

This entire situation was just so messed up and it made Feng Xi feel restless. Not only did he have something else to worry about thanks to the guild, but now Wuxian was in front of him, and Feng Xi could only control himself for so long. He didn’t want to risk vulnerability. He didn’t think he’d be able to handle it.

They stood in silence for a bit, with Feng Xi unsure what to say next. He didn’t want to thank Wuxian, even though a part of him told him that he should, or at least say something about it. However, from the corner of his eye, he saw the slight shifting of colour, and turned to look out the window. Without having realized it, the sun was climbing up into the sky, slowly giving the world warmth and colour.

“Well, thanks for the help,” Feng Xi said sarcastically, slowly taking his eyes away from the view outside his window to once again look at Wuxian, forcing himself to, “but I need to leave soon, so you’re overstaying your welcome at this point.”

“I thought Luo Zhu told you not to work for a few days.”

“He did.”

“Then where are you going?”

“I don’t need to tell you.”

“..... Let me go with you.”

“Why? Did the guild tell you to keep an eye on me?”

“.....”

“I’m leaving with Xing anyways, there’s no point in you going.”

“Xing isn’t home.”

“What?”

“She followed Luo Zhu earlier and hasn’t returned.”

 

At this point, Feng Xi could probably go alone, all he wanted was to go buy a few groceries since Xiao Hei and said he’d come back again today. Feng Xi wanted to make the younger elfin some homemade food instead of buying them vendor foods that he most likely lived off of, since Wuxian is his shifu and Feng Xi remembers just how terrible his cooking had been years ago. He more than likely hasn’t improved since then.

But the thought of going alone, even so early in the morning where most were still indoors, still asleep or just starting to get ready for the day, it made him feel anxious. Feng Xi could go to the flower shop on his own because it was too early for even the sun to be up, and it was in a less busy part of Long You.

He could always wait for Xing to return, but he didn’t know how long that would be, and he didn’t know when Xiao Hei would show up either.

It took Feng Xi a while to consider his options until finally, he let out a heavy sigh, defeated. “Fine,” he snaps, “but you’re not going with me in that.”

Wuxian seems to blink in confusion for a moment before looking down at his outfit, seemingly trying to find anything wrong with it before looking back up at Feng Xi, a slight furrow to his brows. “What’s wrong with this?”

Technically, there wasn’t anything wrong with it. If Feng Xi could, he would’ve stayed wearing the same outfit he’d grown comfortable and used to for so many years. However, neither of their outfits apparently fit in with modern times, and warranted a lot more attention than Feng Xi would like. “I don’t want to be stared at,” he muttered. Whenever anyone stared at him, it was either full of nothing but judgement or fear, and while he particularly didn’t care more often than not, he didn’t like it when it came from large crowds. It made him nervous and caused his anxiety to grow quicker.

Wuxian was silent for a moment before once again speaking up. “I don’t have anything to change into.”

Feng Xi scoffed, shaking his head.

This was just going to be more work for him in the end, wasn’t it?

Chapter Text

Wuxian didn’t really know how to feel about the entire situation, didn’t know how to properly act, so he ended up just standing around awkwardly. Well, in his mind he felt like it was awkward. To others, he’s been told before that he seems like he’s treating others with indifference when he gets like this. Like they’re not worth his time.

It was something he was trying to work on, but it was hard. He’d be the first to admit his social skills weren’t the best, often doing things others wouldn’t even think of because he’d panic inwardly and just do the first thing that came to mind.

So when he had offered to go with Feng Xi, he hadn’t meant to, but his mouth worked faster than his mind, and there was no going back now.

Well, he kind of meant to. Feng Xi kept wanting to kick him out and get rid of him, but a selfish part of Wuxian wanted to stay around. He wanted to be sure Feng Xi was alright. He hadn’t known that there was a chance the bracelets could end up taking too much spiritual energy if faced with stress. Actually, Wuxian being around Feng Xi was probably a stressor as well, but...

But he really wanted to be by Feng Xi’s side, just for a bit longer. Even if Feng Xi gave him the cold shoulder the entire time, just being by him for a while more was enough.

 

However, borrowing Feng Xi’s clothes was something he hadn’t imagined happening.

Wuxian had no problems at all walking around in his period clothing, looking like he was preparing for some kind of convention or ceremony. It was comfortable, something he was used to wearing. Yes, occasionally humans would stare, but he had gradually grown used to it as the years changed and the clothes became more modern. He had years worth adjusting to it, but someone like Feng Xi, who didn’t have that time to adjust, it was understandable that he wouldn’t want to be stared at, even if it wasn’t him wearing the clothes.

He had to admit, Feng Xi did look nice in more modern clothing as well. He’s had time to adjust a bit, looking rather comfortable in what he was wearing and had already found a style that worked best for him. It took a lot of willpower to not stare at him, honestly…

And now, here they were, seated on a bus next to each other, with Feng Xi looking out the bus window as he seemed to fidget every now and again, checking his phone and looking overall uncomfortable.

Very briefly, Wuxian remembered something being mentioned about how elfins adjusting to city life would become restless in public places. For the most part, Wuxian could understand how they felt to some extent. While he didn’t feel restless in public, sometimes Wuxian would become drained from frequent interactions or being in crowded areas too long, being rather introverted himself.

He wanted to ease Feng Xi’s discomfort, but he didn’t know how…..

 

Oh, wait.

Before leaving, he transferred everything from his clothes into the pockets of the ones he was borrowing from Feng Xi. It wasn’t something he used often himself, but he carried them around for Xiao Hei, since the child didn’t have a phone of his own, there was no need for him to carry them.

“Here.”

Feng Xi raised an eyebrow at him as he looked over at Wuxian before looking down at his hand. In it, Wuxian held out a pair of in-ear headphones. For a moment, Feng Xi’s expression changed to something that looked like mild shock before he quickly frowned.

“I don’t want them,” he grumbled as he turned to once again look out the window, stubbornly refusing them, even though he still looked agitated.

Wuxian looked down at the headphones dejectedly, thinking about giving up, before he took out his own phone and plugged them in. He put one of the buds to his ear before taking a deep breath and leaned sideways, putting the other one as carefully as possible into Feng Xi’s ear. He seemed to flinch for a moment before turning around once more to face Wuxian, looking confused.

“You wouldn’t take them,” Wuxian said as nonchalantly as possible, looking down at his phone to give himself to focus on, “so you left me no choice. Here, I don’t know what Xiao Hei listens to, or if there’s anything on here you might like.”

Feng Xi took the phone offered to him with hesitant hands, looking back and forth between the device and Wuxian, as if one of them might bite off his hand at any moment. Seeing as Wuxian had already pulled up the music player onto his phone, Feng Xi was able to scroll through it without getting too lost, and soon, he found a song he seemed to know and clicked on it.

It was a little strange, having music pour into only one ear. He could still hear the mutterings of the world outside of the music, but it was distracting enough that the background noise soon fell into a dull humming and the music took over.

The cord to the headphones was short, making it so Wuxian had to lean closer to Feng Xi than he had been previously. The close proximity made his heart pound in his chest, and he hoped it wasn’t as loud to those around him than it was to him, hammering into his ears. However, Feng Xi’s uneasiness seemed to slowly ebb away as the music continued to play between the two of them, and Wuxian could at least feel grateful for that, that he was able to help Feng Xi relax even a little.

He forced himself to calm down. Wearing Feng Xi’s clothes, sitting next to him so closely, just being in his presence-- that was all so much more than Wuxian knew he deserved. He didn’t have the right to be selfish and want more than this, so he forced himself to calm down and be thankful for what he had now, for however long it’ll last for.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

“Why’re you wasting time on buying groceries and cooking?”

“Not everyone likes relying solely on vendor food, or whatever it is you eat,” Feng Xi scoffed lightly and rolled his eyes. Just from Wuxian’s question alone, he could tell instantly that the other probably hasn’t cooked in a long time, probably decades. “Has your cooking improved at all since I last tried it?”

Wuxian went silent for a few moments, seeming to be thinking before he shook his head. “I don’t think I’m that terrible at cooking.”

“It was nearly inedible if I remember correctly.”

“Nearly… Which means it was still edible.”

How he survived this long without giving himself or others food poisoning, Feng Xi considers that one of the many mysteries of the world.

Despite the knot in his chest, he couldn’t help but to smile and shake his head as fond memories came to him, making him feel warm. Memories of a simpler time, when Feng Xi finished recovering from a fight and Wuxian was the first person he sought out, ignoring the fact he should’ve gone to see Xing at that time. He’d been overcome with relief and happiness at finally being able to shift his form again that he needed to see Wuxian right then and there.

He’d been so occupied by his excitement that he had forgotten about taking care of himself, not realizing that shifting would take more energy than he thought and left him feeling hungry.

It had been a competition that Feng Xi ended up winning by a long shot.

It’s been so long, he can’t remember how the food tasted, but the memory stayed tucked away in his heart, a precious memory to him.

He wondered if it was something Wuxian still remembered, or if he had forgotten all about it? Either way, he wasn’t about to ask. He was too scared to know the answer, whether he remembered or not, Feng Xi didn’t know how he would handle it. Slowly, the smile on his face faded as he forced the memory back into the corners of his heart, something to be protected yet to keep out of his mind.

 

He didn’t deserve to think of the past.

 

They walked through the small crowd, all of whom just ignored the two of them and continued on their own way. It was strange sometimes, getting lost in a sea of bodies without anyone paying you any mind or attention. Maybe they’ll look at you for a moment, but in the next, they’re looking away, too occupied with themselves and their own lives.

He hadn’t gotten much at the store, easily fitting into two bags that Wuxian insisted on carrying. No, he actually wasn’t even carrying them. The cheating bastard was using his metal plates to carry them, making sure to keep it as discreet as possible. It wasn’t that hard though. The crowds they were currently walking through was far too thin, and the ones that passed by paid them no attention.

So far, Wuxian hadn’t asked him what the groceries were for, and didn’t ask any questions that would seem too invasive. During their shopping, all he did was question Feng Xi’s choices in produce and then paid for them in the end, despite Feng Xi’s rampant protests. He didn’t ask or talk about Xiao Hei, which pretty much confirmed he had no idea the younger elfin was here in Long You.

However, there was one thing Feng Xi wanted to ask, and had been working up the courage to bring it up this entire time. They were close to the apartment buildings, so now was a good time as any he supposed.

“Other than what happened last night,” Feng Xi began, purposefully not looking at Wuxian as they walked, “why else are you here in Long You?”

“I can’t disclose official guild business with others,” Wuxian stated simply.

The response had Feng Xi huffing in annoyance, frowning. “I used to be an Executor once, remember.”

It might have been a trick of the eyes, but Feng Xi saw from the corner of his sight something that looked like Wuxian flinching, his face twisting into a wince.

Ah, so maybe he didn’t want to remember someone like Feng Xi destroying a sacred job such as being an Executor. He probably did forget, and didn’t take too kindly to the reminder, it seems.

He didn’t expect Wuxian to answer after that, taking his slight expression as answer enough, that he would much prefer not to disclose anything with Feng Xi. He was surprised, then, when he heard Wuxian answer after a few moments.

“There’s an anomaly here in Long You, I’m investigating it.”

“Anomaly? What do you mean?”

“There’s been sporadic spiritual energy flares all over the city that don’t leave behind any kind of trail for us to follow. Numerous Executors have investigated with no luck before being handed over to me.”

Feng Xi raised his eyebrows, a little confused, a little intrigued. Since his spiritual energy was cut off, he was unable to sense something like that. Overall, he had never heard of there being absolutely no trail left behind. After some time, a trail would dwindle and become faint until it completely disappeared. Spiritual energy could also be dispersed to create multiple trails and confuse another.

But he’s never heard of it flaring without a trace.

“If other Executors have been so unsuccessful,” Feng Xi said, as they finally arrive at the apartment complex and leading the way inside, “then what do you plan on doing?” He was a few steps up the stairs before turning back around, noticing that Wuxian wasn’t following him right away.

From a few steps away, Wuxian stared up at him with an unreadable expression on his face, gazing intently at Feng Xi. For some reason, the intensity of it made Feng Xi’s breath catch in his chest, holding it. Decades have passed, they haven’t seen each other in so long. Feng Xi doesn’t know how to read Wuxian anymore, doesn’t know what his little expressions and gazes mean now, but right now...

Right now, he swears he sees something burning deep within his gaze. Something that looked like determination. Whatever he had his mind set to, he looked like he was willing to protect it with every bit of power he had.

 

“Whatever I need to,” Wuxian finally answered, speaking slowly and carefully, as if his words were picked out specifically.

Feng Xi didn’t know if he was entirely answering his question anymore.

Chapter Text

Whatever I need to.

Whatever I need to do to protect you.

Whatever I need to do to keep you safe.

Whatever I need to do to make you happy.

 

 

These were the things going through Wuxian’s mind when Feng Xi asked him what he planned on doing. He knew that Feng Xi was asking about the situation given to him by the guild, what he planned on doing to track down this anomaly and succeed where everyone else failed, but at that moment, all he could think about wasn’t how he was going to solve this problem exactly, but what he could do to keep Feng Xi safe from it.

From up ahead, Feng Xi seemed to shake his head, and whether it was the trick of the light or not, Wuxian thought he could see the tips of his ears change colour before he turned around to head up the rest of the stairs. “Going in without a plan isn’t like you,” he said over his shoulder as he opened the door.

It took Wuxian a few moments for his mind to catch up and to follow the other into the building. Once inside, he no longer had to hide the fact that he wasn’t carrying the bags, so he moved them to give himself some space.

“I’ve done it a few times,” Wuxian said, which was true. In the past, he would hate making any decisions without thinking them over carefully and then creating a plan of action. However, in more recent years, he’s found himself going into something without any planning at all.

“And how well has that worked out for you?” Feng Xi asked, a small tilt to his head as he leaned with his back against the wall and arms crossed, waiting for the elevator to descend from wherever it had been last.

Wuxian felt his heart ache a little at the thought, at remembering just how well some of them have gone, and how well most of them haven’t.

 

Every time Wuxian found himself being impulsive, it always involved Feng Xi in some way.

 

More often than not it goes terribly, but Feng Xi made him do crazy things. Even now, he was being impulsive because of him. He didn’t know what he was doing, all he knew was he wanted to be by Feng Xi for a bit longer.

Instead of answering honestly, Wuxian just shrugged and said, “I haven’t been keeping track.”

“You should, that way I can know for a fact if my streak is better than yours,” Feng Xi raised an eyebrow. The elevator dinged and the doors opened, and once again, Feng Xi led the way with Wuxian following behind. Clicking the button that led to the top floor, the doors closed and the elevator slowly ascended. Wuxian watched as the numbers gradually increased, willing his pounding heart to ease.

It was really embarrassing, to have his heart pound wildly whenever they’re standing even a little close together. They weren’t touching, but the elevator was small enough that their shoulders were almost brushing, and Wuxian could feel the heat of Feng Xi’s skin through the layers of clothing between them.

All too quickly, the elevator came to a stop with a soft ding and the doors opened once more to the long, empty hallway.

 

Their time together really was coming to an end soon, wasn’t it?

 

Wuxian knew it was rude of him to force Feng Xi to take him along, to force Feng Xi to be around him longer than the elfin clearly wanted. He knew that Feng Xi was itching to get rid of him. Why wouldn’t he? Wuxian was not only a human, but also an Executor for that fact. He was made up of two things Feng Xi absolutely hated the most, even if Wuxian no longer considered himself to be human anymore.

However, for what he did to Feng Xi, he’ll just have to grin and bare with whatever the elfin wants of him. If he wants Wuxian out of his life, then…

Well, it’d certainly hurt a lot, but he’ll live.

 

“Wuxian.”

“Huh?”

Blinking, he was brought back to his senses and saw Feng Xi staring at him with a frown on his face and an arm blocking the elevator door.

“The elevators about to close, quit standing there and get off it.”

Oh. Oh, yeah, he needed to get off the elevator…

Wuxian said nothing as he stepped off once Feng Xi got the door back open before it could quickly shut once more. The elfin sighed and shook his head before walking on. “Is that another thing you’ve picked up? Daydreaming like an idiot?”

Wuxian didn’t respond to that one. Once again, it was another thing that came relating to Feng Xi, but either way he’d lose this argument no matter how he pleaded.

They entered the apartment together, with Wuxian sending the bags to be placed on the counter in the kitchen before having the small bands on metal wrap once more around his arms. Wuxian knew that he would have to get going soon in order to start investigation and that he was overstaying the little bit of welcome that Feng Xi allowed, so he excused himself in order to change back into his clothes.

Honestly, he really didn’t want to. Feng Xi’s clothes were more on the side of loose for him, despite being just a little taller than the elfin, Feng Xi was built broader than him. They were comfortable to wear. Despite the pain in his chest, he made sure to get changed quickly, making sure he had everything on his person before folding the borrowed clothes neatly and setting them off to the side.

 

Leaving the room, he went to find Feng Xi to announce his departure, but before he could say anything, Feng Xi was already thrusting something into his hands.

“I know you’re just going to go off and find some terrible vendor food,” Feng Xi said, his voice sounding a little rushed and forced, “it expires soon so just, take it.”

At first, Wuxian didn’t know how to react, having something shoved at him, and just stared blankly at the thing in his hands before the slight smell of food hit his nose, concealed within the container.

 

He…

 

He really didn’t deserve this.

 

Feng Xi was too good to poison food, even if he hated Wuxian, so he knew instantly it was safe.

His chest swelled with something that was dangerously close to hope, and he made sure to quickly stomp it out before it could grow into something uncontrollable, something dangerous. Wuxian hasn’t allowed himself to feel hope in a long, long time.

“Thank you,” Wuxian finally said, forcing himself to look at the ground to steady his heart. Not wanting it to get lost or damaged, knowing his luck, he sent it to his spirit realm for safe keeping.

“Don’t mention it,” Feng Xi said, having walked away a while ago and was now tending to the small amount of groceries in the bags, taking them out and putting them where they belonged. “You at least know how to start your investigation, right?”

A little surprised that Feng Xi was still talking to him, Wuxian hesitantly nodded. “I figured it would be good to visit each spot personally and see if there is any possible connection. They can’t be as sporadic as they made it out to be.”

Feng Xi made a noise that sounded close to a scoff as he rolled his eyes. “The guild really is full of incompetent idiots,” he mumbled, probably intending for Wuxian not to hear. Either way, Wuxian didn’t mind. “Did they at least give you something that shows where they happened?”

“They did.” It was extremely useful to have, he would have to rely on remembering where each spot was without it, which would make it inconvenient more than anything, though entirely do-able.

The silence between them stretched for a few moments, neither saying anything as Feng Xi’s movements slowly came to a stop and he stood there, leaning on the small counter for support. Wuxian knew he should leave, he needed to leave, but he really didn’t want to. He really, really didn’t want to.

At the moment, Feng Xi’s back was to Wuxian, so he couldn’t see his expression. He turned his head a little, just enough so Wuxian could see his mouth open to say something before closing once more. Wuxian stood there, ready to listen to whatever he had to say, ready to do whatever he wanted him to do. He was so willing to do anything, just to maybe get to selfishly stay with Feng Xi a little longer. His heart was so wrapped around anything and everything Feng Xi. His heart pounded for him.

 

“Wuxian,” Feng Xi finally said, sounding uncertain, “I--”

Just as Feng Xi was about to speak, there was a noise of a door opening, causing the both of them to freeze. Wuxian didn’t even need to turn around to know who it was, and instantly he felt like cold water had been dumped on him.

 

“Feng Xi! Are you home?”

Xiao Hei walked into the apartment and instantly stopped in his tracks. “Shifu?” he exclaimed, his voice sounding a little panicked. “What’re you doing here? I thought you didn’t want to come to Long You?”

 

 

Wuxian felt…

Well, he didn’t know what to feel.

He felt frustrated and a little upset.

It was obvious that they’ve met up previously for Xiao Hei to know where Feng Xi lived. His hands clenched at his sides. He had absolutely no right to be upset, he knew he didn’t. Wuxian knew that he had been holding Xiao Hei back, and yet…

“How long have you been in Long You?” Wuxian asked, turning to face the child, whose ears laid back a little, knowing instantly he was in trouble.

“About--About 3 days now…”

3 days?

“You knew he was here, yet you didn’t tell me?” Wuxian then directed his question at Feng Xi, but was unable to look at him. He couldn’t bring himself to.

“Is he not allowed to make decisions on his own?” Feng Xi asked in return.

“He’s my disciple, you’re in no position to decide these sorts of things.”

“So, what, you banned him from entering Long You just because I’m here?”

Slowly, Wuxian felt panic rising in his chest, panic that the situation was spiraling so out of control, yet he could do nothing to stop himself from throwing up that protective wall between himself and others, the one that always made him seem indifferent, but in this case instead of indifference, something ugly took hold.

“Hey, please don’t fight!” Xiao Hei said desperately, looking back and forth between them. “It’s my fault, I should’ve listened to--”

The child elfin’s words were drowned out and forgotten as Feng Xi and Wuxian focused only on each other.

“I expect him to follow orders when given, nothing more!”

“Why? So he could follow along with whatever the guild tells him to do as well? You want blind obedience from him?!”

“He knows that whatever I tell him is for his best interest and safety!”

“Safety?” Feng Xi laughed humorlessly. “You honestly expect me to believe that? I’m not an idiot, Wuxian, I know the reason you didn’t want him here, and that’s because you only see me as someone evil, someone to be contained and locked up. All these years, you’ve looked down on me, and now you’re training someone to do the exact same thing. It’s obvious, Wuxian.”

With every word spoken, Feng Xi took a step closer. At first, Wuxian tried to hold his ground, but the words started hitting him through the heart, they stabbed into him mercilessly with each misconception, but no matter what, Wuxian couldn’t open his mouth to say anything.

A lump formed in his throat, making it almost impossible to breathe, and all he knew was that he needed to leave now. He needed to leave right away. He couldn’t be here for a moment longer or else he didn’t know what he would say.

 

He needed to leave.

 

He needed to leave NOW.

 

With hardly any thinking at all, the door to the balcony shot open, letting in a sudden gust of wind from the air outside, and Wuxian flew out of the apartment without looking back.

 

Even in the open air outside, he still felt suffocated.

There was so much he wanted to say, so much he wanted to fix and clear up, but once again he was being cowardly. Once again, he abandoned Feng Xi, to believe in misconceptions and grow even farther apart.

 

 

When will he stop running away…?

Chapter Text

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?

Probably.

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.”

“Mn!!”

 

“By the way, Xiao Hei?”

“Huh?”

“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.

Chapter Text

This wasn’t how Feng Xi expected to be woken up in the middle of the night--actually he had no idea what time it was, if it was in the middle of the night or closer to morning-- but here he was, with a nearly unconscious Wuxian and a panicked Xiao Hei at his doorstep. Whatever feelings of tiredness he had completely vanished.

“Xiao Hei, what--”

“I-I don’t know,” Xiao Hei stammered over his words, looking back and forth between Wuxian and Feng Xi, the child doing his best to support his shifu despite being smaller than the man.

Not wanting him to struggle any more, Feng Xi quickly jumped into action without much thought just as Wuxian appeared to fully lose whatever consciousness he had been clinging onto, falling forward. “Come inside,” Feng Xi said, as he struggled to adjust his hold on Wuxian, “turn on a light for me.”

Without hesitation, Xiao Hei quickly snuck past them in cat form and rushed into the dark apartment that was quickly lit up in a soft yellow glow. With a bit of difficulty due to the tight space that was the entrance to the apartment, Feng Xi finally got it to where he could lift Wuxian in his arms. He did everything he could to ignore the pounding from his heart as he carried Wuxian over to the couch and laid him down as gently as possible.

“What happened?” Feng Xi asked again, looking over to where Xiao Hei was standing worriedly, now back in his human form. “How did you find him like this?”

“I went and followed his spiritual energy, like how I always do, but when I found him he was slumped over at your-- at your tree,” the child’s voice drifted off at the end of his sentence, looking hurt at having to say such a thing, but he quickly shook his head and went back to talking. “I didn’t know how to get in contact with anyone to come help, so I had to teleport us here.”

Feng Xi frowned. The distance between here and the tree was pretty far, and even though he knew that Xiao Hei was excelling at cultivation much quicker than others his age, it still would have taken a lot of energy for him to teleport himself and Wuxian from one place to another multiple times, since his teleportation was still limited. Surely Xiao Hei must be exhausted by now.

“I didn’t know where else to go…”

Xiao Hei’s small, uncertain voice made Feng Xi turn his attention back to the child, who was looking at the ground and clutching his hands together in front of him. For a brief moment, Feng Xi remembered a smaller, more timid Xiao Hei, who would clutch onto the hems of his clothes whenever upset. It was nice to know that, after all these years, some things don’t change.

“I’ve never seen shifu like this before,” he went on. “I didn’t know who to take him to, and this was the first place I thought of. I--I’m sor--”

Feng Xi cut him off by lightly patting at his head, gently smoothing down the unruly white hair. “It’s okay, don’t apologize. You did what you could, I’m proud of you.”

The child looked up at him with wide eyes, ones that held small, unshed tears in them as he lightly sniffled and quickly whipped at his eyes, giving a nod.

With a bit of coaxing, he got Xiao Hei to agree to go across to Xing’s apartment to let her do a quick check up on him and told the child that when he’s done, he can sleep in Feng Xi’s room for the night, promising to keep a close eye on Wuxian and to make sure he was okay.

Before leaving though, Xiao Hei took the metal plates off of Wuxian’s forearms, having them stack neatly on a side table. Silently and with raised eyebrows, Feng Xi watched as the child did so, before speaking. “Wuxian taught you how to control his metal bands?”

Xiao Hei nodded. “Of course. Why? Was he not supposed to?”

If he was asking such a question, then it was possible Xiao Hei hasn’t met any other metal types yet. “Normally, metal types are really protective over the metal they create,” he said, smiling. “Did Wuxian explain how metal types tend to create their own metals?”

Xiao Hei nodded, listening intently.

“To teach you how to control the metal he’s made himself, it means he trusts you a whole lot.”

This seemed to brighten up Xiao Hei’s earlier gloomy mood as he smiles a little, eyes shining brightly now with something that looked like warmth.

After that, Feng Xi shoo’s Xiao Hei away to go get checked on by Xing, knowing fully well that the other elfin would certainly be up at this time anyways, which was only confirmed when he heard the muffled knocking of a door that was soon opened and shut.

Xing was good at doing health checks despite not being any kind of healing type. He remembered watching her study a few times in the guild so many years ago, and how she was the one that took care of him whenever he got injured. Xiao Hei was in good hands.

Feng Xi sighed before turning to Wuxian, who was still unconscious, but other than that, didn’t seem to be hurt or anything of the sort. He sat on the floor, next to the couch, before reaching out and grabbing Wuxian’s wrist, turning it in order to try and read his spiritual energy and pulse. Personally, Feng Xi didn’t think he was any good at checking these sorts of things. He would do it occasionally for his friends when they were all younger, but it was something he never needed to do often, didn’t need to become better at it.

Having already spent so long without his spiritual energy, it was a little hard for him to pick up on Wuxian’s as the process would’ve been much easier if he could use his own, but he got it eventually, and was able to tell that he was at least okay.

Opening his eyes, he was about to let go, when his eyes looked down and saw that the white cloth wrapped around Wuxian’s forearm was becoming loose, no longer held in place by the metal bands, exposing some of his skin underneath.

Now just a pale colour, Feng Xi remembered a time where these scars on Wuxian’s arms were something deeper, fresh wounds that wouldn’t heal with spiritual energy and would never fully recover.

Seeing as how they were already unraveling, Feng Xi carefully unwrapped his arms, setting the white bandag-like cloths next to the metal bands.

Even years later, even after these wounds have clearly healed and scarred over, Feng Xi still found his heart hurting as he looked at them.

Pale scars that were in jagged shapes across both of his arms, looking like lightning bolts across the skin. They only existed on his forearms, right where Wuxian always wore the metal bands.

As gently as he could, he brushed his fingers across the scarred, uneven skin. Wuxian always had his arms wrapped up after the incident, so Feng Xi couldn’t remember seeing them after they healed.

Actually, were they healed by the time Feng Xi left the guild?

He remembered the spots of blood lessened until they were far and few between, and how Xing said he was healing much quicker than any normal human, but he couldn’t remember if they were fully healed by the time he left.

He assumed that no, they hadn’t been, cause even if they had stopped bleeding, Wuxian was told he would still need to put medicine on them. Major wounds like these, inflicted by spiritual energy, they hardly healed completely unless treated by a powerful healer elfin. It wouldn’t have been that bad if Wuxian wasn’t a metal type that was facing against a lightning type. There was always a higher chance of wounds like this happened when fighting a type you were more vulnerable to.

Feng Xi looked up at Wuxian’s face, seeing how he was still asleep, and Feng Xi frowned. Somehow, he was only just now noticing how tired Wuxian looked. There were just minor differences, but they were enough that told Feng Xi he was exhausted.

There were a few strands of hair across Wuxian’s face, so Feng Xi reached out and gently brushed them out of his face and tucked the hair behind his ear, with Wuxian seeming to relax a little at his touch. He could see the signs of stress and fatigue on Wuxian’s face due to the barely there bags under his eyes. Those with high levels of spiritual energy can easily fix these things, but long term stress would make it harder to rid of. Lost in thought, he brushed his thumb across Wuxian’s cheek, nothing more than a feather light, fleeting touch.

 

Realizing what he had done, Feng Xi’s heart stuttered in his chest as he drew his hand back.

He--

This was--

 

With a frustrated groan, Feng Xi stood up and turned away.

This entire thing was going to be a mistake in the end. He squashed down the feelings of want and longing as he went to go grab an extra blanket. He knows how Wuxian feels about him, knows that Wuxian would be disgusted to find out about Feng Xi’s feelings towards him, feelings he has held onto for so many years.

He almost said something about it before Xiao Hei showed up last time. He almost asked Wuxian if they could try and repair their relationship to be able to have something closer to a friendship. Feng Xi didn’t need Wuxian to love him, he just didn’t want them to be at each other's throats anymore. It was exhausting, and he had given some thought to what Xing had told him, about not wasting this second chance.

The guild might have not respected his decision and brought him back, but Feng Xi really didn’t want to waste it. It was hard, coming to terms with all of this, with living among humans now and having the guild pretty much keep him on a leash, but he wanted to feel as if he had a least a little bit of control over this second chance, even if a lot of the control wasn’t in his hands.

However, their argument made it obvious such a thing wasn’t going to happen, and he needed to crush whatever feelings he had left.

 

Wuxian hates him. That’s just how it’s going to be.

 

There was a gentle knocking at the door before it was opened and softly shut. Feng Xi could hear the muffled sound of Xiao Hei’s footsteps as he looked around the apartment in search of Feng Xi before finally finding him in the bedroom.

“You’re back already,” Feng Xi said, giving Xiao Hei a gentle smile before passing a thin blanket to the younger elfin. “Here, go use this to cover up your shifu.”

Xiao Hei took the blanket into his arms silently before giving a nod and going off to do as he was told. It didn’t take him very long, and soon, he was back in the bedroom, looking around a bit as he entered. He had searched the place the first time he came here, but he had made sure not to disrupt Feng Xi’s privacy and didn’t spend a whole lot of time in here.

There were a few new plants now, with a long ivy that stretched along the top of one wall and bit over a window.

Still smiling, Feng Xi held out some clothes to him. “Nothing I own will fit you,” he says apologetically, “but I figured these could be okay for one night.”

The young elfin looked at the clothes, a simple t-shirt and shorts that could be adjusted via string.

Once again, the child said nothing, getting changed as Feng Xi searched his room for his phone, checking the screen and seeing that there were a few new messages within the last few minutes, all sent from Xing. He ignored them for now as he worried about Xiao Hei.

Since coming back, he hadn’t said anything, which was concerning. Was there actually something wrong with him and he didn’t want to say anything about it?

Just as Feng Xi was contemplating actually checking the messages Xing had sent him, there was a tiny call of his name, making him turn around quickly. Xiao Hei was sitting in the middle of Feng Xi’s bed now, hugging a pillow tightly and frowning a little bit, as if deep in thought.

“Is shifu gonna be okay?” Xiao Hei asked, his voice still tiny sounding, uncertain and a little scared.

Ah, so that’s what had him all silent. He couldn’t blame the child for worrying either. “Mn, he’ll be okay,” Feng Xi said with a nod as he sat at the edge of the bed, turned towards Xiao Hei. “Don’t you think he’s strong enough?”

“I do!!” Xiao Hei exclaimed quickly, eyes going wide. As Feng Xi reminded him to keep his voice down, he made a face that looked much like pouting. “Shifu is strong enough to handle anything. It’s just…. I’d never seen him that way before…”

Gently coaxing Xiao Hei to get under the covers and to lay down, Feng Xi nodded. It must be pretty startling to see someone you thought of as being the strongest in the entire world being in such a vulnerable state.

Normally, Wuxian looked as though he could take on entire armies as if it was no big deal, always looking as if he has everything under control, that he’s still, in fact, the strongest Executor in the guild still. Feng Xi can only think of a small handful of times he’d seen Wuxian look anything less, one of which was from Feng Xi’s own doing.

He had to stop himself from thinking about anything more from that day. If he did, he would spiral into that rabbit hole that made him feel like he was suffocating, and Xiao Hei didn’t need that now, didn’t deserve to see Feng Xi at such a state while he’s already worrying over Wuxian.

Xiao Hei went quiet for a few moments as he twisted the fabric of the blanket covering him, looking as though he wanted to say something more, and Feng Xi waited patiently for him to find the words he wanted to say.

“Shifu hasn’t been sleeping well these past few years,” Xiao Hei admits, voice a slight mutter. “He would always leave in the middle of the night and go somewhere. I asked him where he was going when it first started, but shifu just told me to never follow him and apologized for waking me up…”

“That’s probably why he’s so tired now,” Feng Xi said reassuringly, reaching out to gently rub at Xiao Hei’s arm comfortingly. “There’s nothing wrong with him, he’s just sleeping.”

“Where do you think he’s been going?”

Feng Xi blinked.

He didn’t know how to answer this question.

If this was years ago, when they had been on better terms, Feng Xi would have found this behavior odd and would’ve confronted Wuxian about it, or he would’ve known instantly where Wuxian would be sneaking off to.

Now, having not seen each other for a few decades, Feng Xi no longer knows what goes on in Wuxian’s mind. He doesn’t know where he could possibly be going to or what he could be doing. He’s just as confused as Xiao Hei.

“I think that,” he said, voice slow as he chose his words, “he was probably going somewhere he found comforting.”

In the past, that’s what Wuxian would have done. Whenever he was thinking over something or having trouble figuring something out, he always went to places he found the most comfort and could relax in. He didn’t know if such a thing was true now, but that was Feng Xi’s best guess.

Xiao Hei was silent for a few moments as he seemed to think this over before deciding this to make some sense.

It took a bit more convincing the child that Wuxian would be okay before he yawned from exhaustion, to which Feng Xi promised he would stay until Xiao Hei fell asleep. Luckily, it didn’t take very long for him to fall asleep, certainly tired from such a stressful last few hours.

Once he made sure Xiao Hei was asleep and comfortable, Feng Xi got up and left the room, making sure to softly close the door behind him. He looked over to the living room and sighed softly. It was still a few hours until sunrise and he really didn’t know what to do until then. He was still tired after having been abruptly woken up by Xiao Hei, he was still taking a break from the flower shop so he didn’t have to turn up there with barely any sleep, but now there was no place for him to sleep. With both bed and couch preoccupied, Feng Xi stood there for a moment, contemplating on what to do next, when he heard a rustling noise from the living room.

Wuxian was sat up, the blanket bunched up in his lap and holding his head for a moment before looking around, seeming to be rather dazed and confused.

Feng Xi…

He didn’t honestly know how to react, so he stood in the space between the kitchen and living room, standing there as he practically held his breath.

Finally, Wuxian noticed him. The two stared at each other for a moment before Wuxian abruptly stood up, throwing the blanket off of himself and instantly rushing to the door, muttering something Feng Xi couldn’t quite pick up.

Once again, Feng Xi reacted without thinking, as he quickly rushed over and reached out, grabbing onto Wuxian’s now bare wrist and calling out his name.

“Wuxian-- Wait- Where are you going?” Feng Xi asked, frowning as he held on tight to Wuxian’s wrist, but not enough to hurt the other.

It was hard for him to hear, but due to the near deafening silence of the room, Feng Xi heard Wuxian mutter, “I have to-- I have to go back--”

No matter what he said, Wuxian wasn’t making any sense. It was obvious to see he was disoriented due to the lack of proper sleep catching up to him, so Feng Xi knew he couldn’t just let Wuxian leave, no matter how much he pulled and tried to get away. “You’re not going anywhere,” Feng Xi said, his hand tightening just a bit to make a point. “Xiao Hei was so worried he was almost crying when he got here. Do you really plan on leaving and worrying him even more?”

For a moment, Wuxian stopped his struggling and seemed to freeze up, looking for a moment like he was flinching, and then--

Wuxian turned to look at Feng Xi, and his expression made Feng Xi pause for a moment.

 

He looked…

He looked scared almost.

 

So many years separated has left Feng Xi unable to read Wuxian anymore. In the past, Feng Xi could tell what Wuxian was thinking just by a simple look at his face, by the way Wuxian moved and held himself, his simple gestures and looks that others would find so hard to read. Now, things were flipped. No matter how hard he tried, in the current time, Feng Xi was confused. He could no longer tell what Wuxian was thinking or feeling at any time.

However, at this moment, he could read Wuxian as clear as he could so many years ago.

He was scared, confused, and in pain.

And Feng Xi couldn’t figure out why he would be feeling these things. Wuxian was strong and confident, there was hardly any time he had seen the other become scared. The only times Wuxian was ever scared was when it concerned his loved ones, those he considered close.

There was no reason he should be feeling like this, so…

So why?

 

“This is a dream, isn’t it?”

“... What?” Feng Xi blinked, a bit thrown off by Wuxian’s question.

“This has to be a dream…” Wuxian repeated, his voice mumbled once again as he spoke. This time, instead of trying to break away, Wuxian turned so he was now facing Feng Xi and took a step towards him. “You only look at me when it’s a dream.”

Feng Xi tried to take a step back, but Wuxian only pushed towards him again. For every step backwards was a step forwards until Feng Xi couldn’t move anymore, his calves hitting the edge of the couch and was now trapped with nowhere else to go.

The entire time, Wuxian’s eyes never left his. The scared expression for moments before was now replaced with something else, something a bit more unreadable, but there was something there that Feng Xi was always able to see, an expression that never left Wuxian’s eyes when he had something on his mind.

Determination.

Whatever he had in mind, there wasn’t any way Feng Xi would be able to talk him out of it.

The other parts of Wuxian’s expression, the part he couldn’t figure out, made Feng Xi’s mouth go dry and his heart pound. It was something intense, and he couldn’t make sense of it.

“Wuxian, what’re you--” Feng Xi’s voice cut off, making him have to clear his throat for a moment before continuing. “What’re you doing?”

Instead of answering, Wuxian’s gaze lowered the slightest bit for a moment before looking back at Feng Xi’s eyes, and then he moved, and Feng Xi felt like he couldn’t catch his breath.

With a hand resting on the junction between his neck and shoulder, Wuxian pressed his lips against Feng Xi’s.

Everything in Feng Xi’s brain was sounding alarms, telling him this was a terrible idea, that he needed to push Wuxian away as soon as possible and gain some distance, that the Executor clearly wasn’t in the right mind.

As Wuxian pulled away a bit, Feng Xi took that chance to catch a trembling breath. He only managed to say Wuxian’s name in a breathy voice before the other once again leaned forward, and that was it.

The alarms still blared in his mind, but Feng Xi could do nothing but ignore them as he quickly gave in, desperation and want burning deep inside him that nothing else seemed to matter anymore.

His hands went to Wuxian’s waist, pulling him closer, chasing the need to have him close again, like he’s dreamed of doing for so many years. There wasn’t much finesse to their kissing, but Wuxian’s lips were soft and warm, it made Feng Xi feel dizzy.

So dizzy, in fact, the Feng Xi felt himself being unbalanced with his legs suddenly feeling weak, he fell backwards before he could catch himself, landing seated on the couch where Wuxian took no time in following him, sitting right on Feng Xi’s lap, with his knees bent on either side.

Like this, Feng Xi had to look up a bit to see Wuxian, and the sight made him feel even more dizzy, even more like he was teetering on the edge of something.

Wuxian’s face was flushed as he breathed heavily, lips red and already slightly swollen, with an almost dazed yet burning look in his eyes. Feng Xi couldn’t help but reach out and lightly brush his thumb across Wuxian’s lower lip, tucking his hair once again behind his ear and leaving his hand there to caress the side of Wuxian’s face.

He’d gotten so used to seeing Wuxian look at him with nothing but anger and hatred these past few decades, especially the last few times they had met, that Feng Xi found himself completely captivated by this current softer expression. It was something his heart ached so many years for, ached to see once again, ached to get directed at him.

As Wuxian kissed him again, Feng Xi was reminded that this wasn’t reality.

It felt as though cold water was dumped on him, the fog in his brain finally clearing to tell him that this wasn’t reality, that Wuxian was practically delirious right now from exhaustion, as he stated before that this must be a dream.

They weren’t on equal terms right now, they both weren’t of complete sound mind. Feng Xi could hear the alarms blaring in his mind again, telling him to stop, and finally, he listened, as he pushed Wuxian away as gently as possible, even though it hurt his heart to, even though he wanted to keep being selfish and ignorant for as long as possible. However, he didn’t feel right with continuing on like this.

“Wuxian,” he panted, gaining enough distance to catch his breath, yet could still feel Wuxian’s breath on his lips, taunting him. “Wuxian, stop…”

“I don’t want to,” Wuxian said as he once again leaned forward, intending to resume where they were, but Feng Xi stopped him, once again pushing him away.

“No, you’re not-you’re not thinking straight, Wuxian. This isn’t a dream..”

His words seem to finally get through to Wuxian because he pauses for a moment, and Feng Xi watches as his gaze slowly lowers before he sighs heavily and closes his eyes. This time when he slowly leans forward, Wuxian touches his forehead to Feng Xi’s.

Feng Xi let’s out a small sigh as he closes his eyes as well, his racing heart slowly calming as much as it could. Like this, they’re the closest they’ve been to each other in years, yet Feng Xi’s body was working entirely on muscle memory, as if no time passed at all, as if he could still understand Wuxian and what he was thinking.

However, right now, Feng Xi feels like he doesn’t understand Wuxian at all.

One moment, they’re pitted against each other and fighting, spitting venom, opening wounds new and old, and the next they can hold a conversation almost as easily as they could when they were younger. Just about two days ago, they had thrown words as sharp as knives at each other, and now here they were, in the middle of the night, kissing as if it was more important than breathing.

 

It didn’t make any sense. It was confusing and stressful.

 

They needed to talk it over, they needed to get things sorted out, but not right now. He’s waited so many years, he can wait one more night.

“You should get to sleep,” Feng Xi said, voice soft and a bit rough sounding, even to himself.

Wuxian didn’t reply, but Feng Xi could feel his hands clench a little from where they were resting on his chest. “Only if you stay with me,” his voice was so soft, just a bit above than a whisper. “I don’t know what to do when I wake up and you’re not there.”

Feng Xi couldn’t figure out what Wuxian was talking about, but just like earlier, he knew that Wuxian would fight this until he got his way, so he gently pushed Wuxian away, nodding as he did so, agreeing to stay. There honestly wasn’t much else he could do, and he was also tired, too tired for his mind to tell him just how terrible of an idea this was now, the adrenaline from earlier having worn down and leaving him feeling more exhausted than before.

It was a little awkward as they moved and adjusted themselves to fit on the small couch, not meant for two adults to fit on it comfortably, but eventually they get it to where they’re side by side, facing each other.

Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t take Wuxian long to once again fall asleep, doing so soon after they got themselves as comfortable as possible.

Laying there, alone in the darkness and silence of night, Feng Xi wondered if Wuxian really would believe if earlier was just a dream or if he would remember it at all. What should he do then? Should he not say anything about it, or should he try to say something regardless if Wuxian remembers or not?

His mind ran wild with these thoughts as he was slowly lulled to sleep by Wuxian’s warmth pressed against him.

 

They can figure this out in the morning.

Chapter Text

He remembered everything.

 

He remembered everything that happened last night.

He wasn’t as out of it as he pretended to be. He was fully aware of everything going on, where he was, what he was doing.

 

And it was even worse because… He didn’t regret it.

 

Something in Wuxian had basically snapped when he woke up and saw Feng Xi.

At first, he really had been on the brink of exhaustion, and couldn’t remember how he got to Feng Xi’s apartment to begin with. That part he had been honest about. Wuxian had pretty much ran himself ragged with trying to figure out the strange spiritual energy flares, as well as the pain in his chest stabbing through him at all times, making him emotionally exhausted.

When he woke up and saw Feng Xi, his heart lurched. He wanted to leave, he wasn’t ready to face Feng Xi, not yet, he couldn’t do it, couldn’t take any looks of hatred or anger directed at him. Wuxian knew that he would deserve it, but his heart couldn’t take it right now. If he stayed any longer, he knew he would snap.

So he tried to leave, hurriedly reaching for the door before he was stopped.

Stopped by Feng Xi, who was telling him to stay.

Even if he had to pretend to be out of his right mind, even if he had to lie to himself and Feng Xi, Wuxian couldn’t hold back any longer.

Despite decades worth of being apart, somehow it felt like absolutely no time passed when he kissed Feng Xi. His lips felt exactly how he remembered. Despite his racing heart and fears gripping at his very soul, Wuxian felt his body working on muscle memory, as if they never parted, as if this was easier than breathing, as if he was home.

Now, laying awake, alone and with the soft light of morning filtering through the large window, Wuxian made up his mind.

He’s scared, and he knows he doesn’t deserve anything from Feng Xi, but…

 

He was tired from running, tired from freezing up and not being able to say what he wanted, so at that moment, Wuxian decided he wasn’t going to run anymore.

 

 

Taking a deep breath, Wuxian realized that he…. Couldn’t really breathe that well, actually.

He’s only been awake for a few short moments now, only having opened his eyes for a moment to look up at the ceiling above him as he waited for the fogginess of sleep to disappear, but now he realized there was a weight on his stomach that made it harder to breathe, though in no way heavy enough to make it impossible.

Blinking his eyes open to the soft light filtered through thin curtains, Wuxian looked down and saw a ball of black fur, with big eyes staring at him.

“Shifu!” Xiao Hei exclaimed, ears seeming to perk up as he lifted his head. “You’re awake!”

Wuxian couldn’t help the small, fond smile that quickly grew across his face, resting one of his hands on Xiao Hei’s tiny cat body to keep him secured as he sat up a bit, using his elbow to keep himself propped up. “Good morning, Xiao Hei.”

“I was so worried about you!” The little cat pressed his face against Wuxian’s chest, his tone in a scolding manner.

Feeling his heart hurt a little, Wuxian gently pet the fur on Xiao Hei’s back with his thumb soothingly, trying to reassure the child that he was fine. “I’m sorry for having worried you, I’ll try my best not to worry you more in the future.”

A few moments of silence passed as Wuxian continued to pet the cat before Xiao Hei seemed to huff, looking up at Wuxian with an expression that seemed displeased. “It’s okay if you worry me, just don’t do something like that again. If shifu is troubled, then tell me.”

There was no way Wuxian could honestly burden Xiao Hei with something like this.

He already hurt the child by holding him back, making him run off to Long You in secret because Wuxian couldn’t face his feelings, couldn’t make himself take a step out of fear of rejection, and the guilt that weighed down his entire being, convinced that he doesn’t deserve to try and make things right.

Xiao Hei was already so caught up in the situation and was in the middle of it without Wuxian meaning for him to be. The young elfin cared deeply for both Wuxian and Feng Xi, but he didn’t deserve to be caught in the middle of it, didn’t deserve to see the two of them yell at each other over every little thing.

There was no way that Wuxian could make such a promise to the child.

Instead of answering, Wuxian lightly patted his head before moving to sit up, swinging his legs over the side of the couch and onto the floor. Xiao Hei landed on the couch cushion beside him. “Are you heading out?” Wuxian asks.

“Mh, Xiaobai and Argen will have to head back home tomorrow, they’re forcing me to go sightseeing with them.”

“That sounds like it’ll be fun… Oh, but Xiao Hei…”

“Huh?”

“Be careful. There’s been strange spiritual energy flares all around Long You.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

Wuxian nods. He had no doubt that Xiao Hei would be able to take care of himself, and his friend Argen seems to be capable as well, but he still wasn’t able to figure out this whole mystery, and wanted to warn the young elfin. “If you notice anything odd, come and get me right away. Don’t go and try to do anything on your own, alright?”

It was rare for Wuxian to tell Xiao Hei to back down from something, so instantly, the child knew the situation was serious and agreed without complaint.

Xiao Hei jumped off the couch. Instead of four paws landing on the floor, two human feet touched down instead, and now stood the boy in his human form, ready to take off, but before heading for the door, he instead turned around to face Wuxian. “Feng Xi is in the kitchen, by the way,” Xiao Hei says before hurrying off, saying goodbye to Wuxian and closing the door before receiving an answer.

Wuxian sat there for a few moments, unmoving.

He felt…

He felt scared, as he stared at the space that led into the kitchen area.

Every part of telling him to leave, to run away, to not say anything to Feng Xi, but there was that smaller part longing to reach out, begging that he go and just talk to him, try to figure something out.

Normally, that little voice was easily drowned out by the much louder guilt he felt, but for once, Wuxian was going to listen. He was tired of running away. His heart hurts, and he was sure that there is going to be anger thrown his way, but he knows he deserves it.

Besides, he didn’t know how long Luo Zhu was going to give him before he goes and tells Feng Xi, and even if Feng Xi hates him after all of this, the least Wuxian can do now is tell Feng Xi himself.

Wuxian looked down at his exposed forearms, his eyes tracing the now faded thunder bolt patterns that stretched across his skin, and remembered of another time he had been scared. Scared for different reasons, but scared all the same. It wasn’t often he felt like this, hardly anything could match up against him anymore, and he’s had so many lifetime's worth of experiences. But one thing remained the same, Feng Xi was the only one who could shake him to his very core.

Finally, Wuxian takes a deep breath and walks the few steps that feel like unstable ground to the doorway of the kitchen, holding the breath in his lungs the entire time.

Feng Xi stood there with his arms crossed, leaning his back against the kitchen counter and frowning as he typed something into his phone, having not noticed Wuxian standing there and staring.

Always, just being in the same room made Wuxian feel unsteady yet secure. It was such a strange contradiction…

He was probably staring for just a bit too long, but after a while, Feng Xi finally looked up and looked at Wuxian, who had to do everything in his power not to shrink back in guilt. “I didn’t know you were already awake,” Feng Xi said, setting his phone down on the counter behind him before gesturing with his hand to the small table in front of him, where a small bag and cup sat. “Xiao Hei wanted some pastries from a shop not too far from here. He told me that the two of you have been there before, but in a different city.”

Wuxian looked over to where Feng Xi gestured to. He didn’t feel hungry at all, his emotions in too much turmoil for him to feel hungry, so he just reached for the cup, which was still a little warm, taking a sip from it.

“It’s probably cooled down by now,” Feng Xi says with a slight shrug of his shoulders, his arms once again crossed in front of him.

It was, for the most part, but Wuxian didn’t mind.

“So you let Xiao Hei bully you into getting what he wanted?” Wuxian says over the cup’s lid, his eyebrows raised a little. He didn’t expect to say something like that, falling into the rhythm they so easily had when they were younger.

For a moment, Wuxian’s words seem to surprise Feng Xi as well before he’s shaking his head, a small smile on his face. “How do you expect me to tell him no? I don’t have the willpower to deny him anything.”

Wuxian knew all too well that feeling when it came to Xiao Hei. Although stubborn, he was a cute and well behaved kid, it was all too easy to give in to whatever he wanted, and he probably was aware of it as well.

It was easy to talk about Xiao Hei, but now a thick silence hung over them, filled with too many things needing to be said, but with no way of bringing them up. Wuxian was sure Feng Xi wants to ask about what happened last night, if he remembers any of it, and once again the guilt clawed at him from the inside.

There was too much that needed to be said.

 

“How’s the mission for the guild going?”

“What?”

A bit caught off guard by the sudden topic, Wuxian blinked, thinking he may have misheard Feng Xi, but all the elfin does is repeat the same question. He’s not the only one struggling with trying to ease into a conversation, to bring up more serious topics.Wuxian sighs. “I still haven’t found anything,” he says honestly, feeling a bit of frustration. “There was another spike in activity the past night, but when I went to check it, nothing was out of the ordinary.”

Listening, Feng Xi frowned, seemingly just as stumped by this mystery as Wuxian was. “Is there at least any difference between any of them?”

“The registered spiritual energy with each spike gets stronger, but that’s all.”

“Has any of the spikes caused damage yet?”

“No, but if it continues the way it is, then it will. Some are in highly populated areas, so there’s a chance it could hurt someone at this rate.”

That was the biggest issue here, the fact that it could potentially hurt elfin and humans if not found and dealt with quickly, which is why Wuxian has been putting so much time and effort into figuring this out as best he can, going to each location and trying to figure out what the correlation is.

As much as he wants to prevent anyone from getting hurt, a more selfish part of Wuxian is concerned for Feng Xi. If these were different circumstances, if Feng Xi had his spiritual energy, he would be fine if such a thing were to happen, for the most part. But, as he is now, if he were to get hurt by this…

 

Wuxian would never be able to forgive himself.

 

“And what about you?”

Something from Wuxian’s expression must’ve given away his confusion because Feng Xi re-words himself. “Last night, Xiao Hei brought you here and told me he had nowhere else to go. Wouldn’t he have been able to take you to the guild?”

With a heavy sigh, Wuxian shook his head. “Probably, but I wouldn’t be very welcomed there.”

Now it was Feng Xi’s turn to be confused. “What do you mean? You’re an Executor, you live there.”

“You don’t know this because it was a little while after you left, but the guild evicted me.”

“Are you serious?” Feng Xi scoffed. “Why did they do that?”

“Multiple reasons,” Wuxian shrugged. “Mainly, because I was too powerful, as well as human. Apparently some complained about it enough that they decided I needed to leave.”

What he left out was the fact that no one at the time trusted him anymore. True, he had a good reputation from the years he’d spent so far as an Executor, but by this point, everyone knew of his relationship with Feng Xi, and because of this, others assumed he had a part in it, despite any protests he had.

In the end, in order to protect themselves, they came to the conclusion to kick Wuxian out, making it so he couldn’t live in the guild any longer, but could still perform as an Executor.

It took a few more years to build back up his reputation and trust with the elfins from the guild, but by that point, it was obvious a lot of them felt uncomfortable with him around, so Wuxian limited his visits as much as possible.

Feng Xi didn’t need to know about that part.

There was a noise from behind Feng Xi, making him turn around and reach for his phone before he could say anything, tapping a few times on the screen with a frown, and then putting it in his pocket.

“Well, I already told this to Xiao Hei, but if you’d like, you two can stay here while you’re on your mission,” Feng Xi says as he pushes himself away from the counter, looking down at the ground instead of at Wuxian. “Just so that Xiao Hei isn’t waking me up at some random time because you can’t take better care of yourself.”

 

That was…

 

Unexpected.

 

Wuxian had no idea how to answer that, as his heart tightened in his chest.

He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve to have Feng Xi be kind to him in any way.

He needed to say something or the guilt would eat him alive.

Completely unaware of Wuxian’s inner turmoil, Feng Xi keeps talking.

“I need to leave for a bit, but I’ll be back later.”

As Feng Xi walks past, Wuxian reaches out and grabs him, quickly changing his hold from almost grabbing onto the bracelet on Feng Xi’s wrist to instead holding onto his hand.

“I need to… I need to tell you something later,” Wuxian says, his voice filled with a slight panic.

 

He needed to tell Feng Xi.

 

Feng Xi looks down at their clasped hands before looking back at Wuxian, seeming to search for something in his eyes for a moment before finding whatever it was he was looking for, and nodded. “Okay,” he says softly. “You can tell me tonight, Wuxian.”

For some reason, Wuxian couldn’t feel any calm from it, and instead felt his heart twisting. He wanted to take back his words, but Wuxian knew he couldn’t, so instead he holds onto Feng Xi’s warm hand for a beat longer before reluctantly letting go.

 

He wasn’t going to run anymore...

Chapter Text

The sky was grey, but the air was warm. It’ll rain later into the evening, maybe even all night. It might even carry thunder with it. There hadn’t been a storm in a while, and they were probably due for it. For now though, it was a pleasant day.

The bell to the shop rang overhead as Feng Xi pushed open the door, and was instantly greeted with the familiar floral scent, and he felt himself instinctively calm a bit. Like usual, the shop itself was rather empty, as it normally gained business in its deliveries rather than in store purchases.

It had been just a few short days since he’d been in the shop, but surprisingly, he sort of misses it. It brought some kind of reassurance into his life in a weird way, giving him something to do rather than being stuck all day inside.

“Feng Xi? What’re you doing here?” Zi Luolan asked as she stepped in from the back room, wiping dirt off of her hands onto her apron before she frowned a little. “I told you, you’re not coming back into work until next week, and I’m not going to change my mind.”

Feng Xi smiled a little, shaking his head. “I’m not here for that, don’t worry.”

Instantly, Zi Luolan seemed to relax at hearing this, nodding to herself as she walked over to the counter and opened a notebook filled with scribbles and various writing, a combination of both her’s and Luo Zhu’s handwriting. “Good,” she said with a nod as she wrote something down. “How’ve you been, by the way?”

“I’ve been fine,” Feng Xi said, crossing his arms as he leaned against the counter.

There must’ve been something in his voice that gave something away, because Zi Luolan is now looking at him with her eyebrows raised, as if she didn’t believe him. “Luo Zhu told me a lot has been going on lately, but didn’t give me any details. I don’t want to push it, but you can talk to me, you know. I consider you my friend after all.”

They haven’t known each other for very long and haven’t been given many opportunities to talk with each other, but Zi Luolan and Luo Zhu were friends, she even helped Luo Zhu when he was alone and needed someone the most, so Feng Xi had no problem trusting her.

But this was something Feng Xi couldn’t really bring himself to talk about so openly with someone that didn’t know him very well. Already, it was amazing that Zi Luolan was talking to him and so openly took him into her store. Feng Xi was sure that most elfins would know who he is by now, what he had done. But even less know about his past, and other than Luo Zhu, Tian Hu and Xu Huai, he didn’t talk about it.

Suddenly, there was a speck of yellow in his field of sight, and Feng Xi pushed back a little as he blinked in surprise.

Zi Luolan held out a small, yellow flower towards him, a smile on her face. “Here, I can tell you’re worried about something involving someone important to you. You don’t need to tell me about it, but if you’re hesitant about how the other person feels, you should pick off the petals of this flower to figure it out.”

Hesitantly and with slow movement, Feng Xi took the small bloom, gently holding it between his fingers and twirling it about a few times before looking back up at Zi Luolan. “Isn’t this something human children do? I’m probably far older than you, you know.”

Throwing her head back, Zi Luolan laughed loudly, nodding her head. “So? What do you have to lose? It helps get your mind off of it for a bit, give it a try!”

Well, she was right. He had nothing to lose, and there was no use in believing this thing no matter what result he got, so Feng Xi leaned on the counter, using his elbows to keep himself propped up as he started picking off the delicate, fragile petals, careful not to tear them up.

“By the way, you never told me what you were doing here,” Zi Luolan said as she went back to scribbling something down onto the notebook, flipping through a few pages here and there.

“Luo Zhu texted me earlier and told me to meet him here. He said his shift will be over soon.”

Zi Luolan made a scoffing noise. “Texting on the job, that little--,” she muttered under her breath with a pout, though her voice lacked any true hostility in it. Feng Xi couldn’t help but smile a little in amusement, glad to know that Luo Zhu had someone like her to support him.

The little yellow petals gathered into a small pile on top of the light coloured counter, one by one.

For some reason, Feng Xi felt himself fearing what the outcome may be, even if this was just some stupid thing children did. His heart raced a little in anticipation as the number of petals on the stem decreased, until there were six.

And then five.

Then four.

Then three.

 

Two.

 

 

One…

 

 

“From the look on your face, I can tell you’re happy with the outcome.”

Feng Xi looked up and saw that Zi Luolan was watching him. He hadn’t realized that he had started smiling. Gently, he set down the now bare flower stem on the counter next to the small pile of petals he had created.

It was such a foolish childrens game, yet for some reason, it made his heart race…

 

The bell above the door chimed as the sound of footsteps made their way into the shop. Turning around, Feng Xi watched as Luo Zhu stretched his arms above his head, face scrunched up. “I’m finally done!” He exclaimed as he dropped his arms with a relieved sigh and put his hands on his hips.

“You probably would’ve gotten done a lot sooner if you weren’t texting on the job,” Zi Luolan said as she put down the pen and propped her head up with her hands, elbows resting on the counter as she leaned forward.

The smile on Luo Zhu’s face dropped, along with his hands from his hips. “Wait, Zi Luolan-- I can explain-- Feng Xi!! You ratted me out!!”

Doing his best not to break out in laughter, Feng Xi shrugged a shoulder.

“I don’t want to hear your excuses. Feng Xi is now my favorite employee.”

Luo Zhu gasped as he quickly rushed over to the counter, placing his hands on it and leaning forward. “No!! Zi Luolan, I promise never to do it again!! I swear!!”

Zi Luolan hummed as she pretended to think about it for a moment before turning to look at Feng Xi. “What do you think? Should I trust him?”

Feng Xi raised his eyebrows at suddenly being dragged into this. Dramatically, Luo Zhu turned and clung a hand onto his arm. “Please Feng Xi, help me out here.”

Wanting to put an end to this, he lightly patted Luo Zhu’s hand and nodded. “Give him another chance, I know he won’t make the same mistake twice.”

“Alright, you’ve been spared this time, Luo Zhu,” Zi Luolan said as she stood back up straight, nodding a little.

“It won’t happen again!! I was just distracted and it slipped my mind a little, that’s all!”

“Distracted with what?”

As quickly as their antics began, it ended, as Luo Zhu drew his hand from Feng Xi’s arm, speaking as he reached for a pair of dirty gloves hanging out of his pants pocket and placing them on the counter. “I saw Xiao Hei on my way here, looked like he was with some friends. Did you know he made a friend with a human?” Luo Zhu said, turning to Feng Xi as he asked his question.

Feng Xi nodded. “Of course, Wuxian is human afterall.”

“Hmm, I haven’t seen him in so long. It was a little surprising, since he didn’t want to be around them last time I saw him.”

“Wait wait wait,” Zi Luolan interrupted, waving her hands a little bit in front of herself and getting their attention. “Is Wuxian here in Long You?”

The two looked at each other for a moment before Feng Xi nodded.

It was like some kind of bomb went off because now, Zui Luolan was leaning across the counter, making them have to lean backwards a bit to keep some distance. “Wuxian is in Long You and neither of you told me?!” She exclaimed. “How long has he been here for? How long is he staying? Oh he never comes to Long You, why didn’t anyone tell me?! Hey hey, if you see him again, tell him to come and visit me!!”

“You’re going to fall forward if you keep doing that, stop stop,” Luo Zhu scolded as he put a hand on her shoulder and gently pushed Zi Luolan so she was back behind the counter, both feet firmly on the floor, but no matter what she still seemed to be buzzing in excitement. Letting out a huff as he shook his head, Luo Zhu turned back to Feng Xi and gestured with his head to the door. “Wanna get going?”

Feng Xi wordlessly nodded as he pulled away from the counter, leaving his tiny pile of flower petals behind to be dealt with later.

As they were walking away, Luo Zhu reached into his pocket and took out a small pair of keys, throwing it across the store to Zi Luolan, who caught it with both hands. The three of them said their goodbyes as Feng Xi and Luo Zhu left the small flower shop and were back outside.

With Luo Zhu leading the way, Feng Xi walked next to him in silence.

Honestly, Feng Xi had no idea why Luo Zhu had suddenly called him out like this, but it wasn’t like he didn’t enjoy it. So far, most of their conversations have ended on a bad note of some kind, with the first time being Luo Zhu storming off from being upset, and the second time was due to Xing’s lies about what was going on.

It was obvious that Luo Zhu was having some troubles trying to figure out what to say, so Feng Xi spoke up first. “How’re things between you and Xing?”

Luo Zhu looked up, looking a bit startled, like Feng Xi had just interrupted his train of thought as he made a little confused noise.

“You and Xing,” he repeated. “Have you two spoken at all since… Well, you know.”

“Oh,” Luo Zhu looked down at the sidewalk, frowning a little as he nodded after a few moments. “Yeah, we talked a little. She explained that she didn’t mean for things to get out of hand or anything, and that she was just trying to help out.”

“Did you forgive her?”

“Kind of… It’s still a terrible thing, what she did. But I can’t really be too mad at her. I know eventually I’ll forgive her.”

There seemed to be something more on the subject that Luo Zhu wasn’t talking about, seeming to be weighing him down a little, but Feng Xi knew that if he wanted to talk about it then he would. Luo Zhu wasn’t one for hiding his feelings and his thoughts. Anything he wasn’t saying must be for a good reason.

 

They walked in silence a little while longer as they weaved through small crowds with Luo Zhu leading the way. Having spent some time here in Long You for a while now, Feng Xi recognized some of the places they passed by and could figure where they were headed. It didn’t take long for his guess to be confirmed when a large tree came into view, as it stretched up high into the sky and seemed to touch it.

Like always, the park was filled with activity, as if everything within it was part of one being, collective instead of individuals.

It seemed like everything always led to this spot, as Feng Xi felt an invisible pull towards it at all times, though at this point he could ignore it.

Luo Zhu walked over to a bench that turned towards the tree, sighing heavily as he sat down. Without a word, Feng Xi sat beside him and slowly scanned the tree up and down. The pull told him to get closer to it, but there was always something stopping him, telling him that was probably a bad idea.

 

“Do you remember?”

 

Feng Xi turned to look at Luo Zhu, hearing the other elfin speak softly as he looked up at the reaching branches.

“Remember what?”

“Do you remember anything I told you while you were…” His hands clenched from where they were clasped together. He didn’t need to finish his sentence for Feng Xi to understand what he was talking about.

Slowly, Feng Xi shook his head. “No, I don’t remember anything. The last thing I remember was using all my energy to create that, and then waking up in the guild.”

Luo Zhu made a noise, one that sounded like a humorless laugh as he looked down at his lap. “I would come here every day and talk to you, once the guild let me out.

I would tell you about how my day went, about mine and Xu Huai’s argument and when he left. I came here and told you everything, and hoped that maybe one day you would answer. This is also where Zi Luolan found me one day. It must’ve been right after Xu Huai left. I came here hoping that you would tell me what to do, how to fix everything, but you never did. She found me cold and wet, and she took me in for a while.

Those first few years without you felt worse than anything I imagined. At least, when we lost our home, we were still together. That’s all that really ever mattered to me. I didn’t care where we were, where we lived. As long as we were all together, I didn’t care. But you wanted to find a place away from humans, somewhere we could call home, so I always did whatever I could to help. Though, I wish that I would have actually stopped any of this from happening. Losing our home wasn’t nearly as painful as this.”

Feng Xi patiently listened. He listened to every word Luo Zhu said and felt his heart aching. All he had wanted to was to provide a place to call home for those he loved and held dear to him. He never wanted to cause harm and heartache to the ones he wanted to protect the most. The least he could do at this moment is listen to Luo Zhu now, and hear out all he had to say.

“What I’m trying to say is… Now that you’re somehow back, I don’t want to risk losing you again…”

“You won’t lose me again,” Feng Xi placed a hand on Luo Zhu’s shoulder, hoping to comfort the other elfin. “I’m not going anywhere this time.”

Luo Zhu shakes his head before finally looking up at Feng Xi. “Wuxian’s going to hurt you again,” he said, frowning. “You shouldn’t be around him anymore.”

As if his words physically hurt, Feng Xi withdrew his hand and winced a little.

It was…

 

It was probably true.

But they’ve hurt each other a lot at this point, haven’t they?

And while Feng Xi was scared about what could happen, there was also a part of him that wanted to reach out to Wuxian and try to fix whatever they could. Maybe they won’t be able to go back to how things were, but they could at least talk to each other and come to some kind of understanding.

That must be what Wuxian wants to talk to him about later.

“I’ll be okay,” Feng Xi finally says, trying to sound reassuring to Luo Zhu.

Apparently this answer wasn’t what Luo Zhu wanted, because he sits up straighter and a fire burns in his eyes. “No, Feng Xi, he’s hiding things from you. Important things. And I know it’s going to hurt you, he’s going to hurt you so much more than he has in the past.”

This was confusing. This was all too confusing. “What? What’s Wuxian hiding?”

“I promised that I would give him a chance to tell you himself. But I think that, after he tells you, you should stop meeting him.”

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

The pouring rain along with the growing darkness of night brought on a solemn feeling, full of forlorn.

Feng Xi shook the rain off as best he could from his clothes, having been caught in the storm on his walk back to his apartment. After their talk in the park, he had spent most of his day with Luo Zhu at his apartment.

He didn’t want to return right away, not after what Luo Zhu had told him, about not trusting Wuxian. There was a part of him that didn’t want to believe that Wuxian was hiding anything from him, but…

But they went decades without talking with one another, without even catching a glimpse of each other. Who knows what sorts of things Wuxian could be holding onto right now, and how it would be enough to hurt him.

It was all so confusing, and stressful, and he didn’t want to deal with it, not right away.

Getting up to his apartment, he didn’t expect Wuxian to be there yet honestly. He had expected Wuxian to be out trying to figure out the mystery the guild had thrown at him, but when Feng Xi entered, he saw that there was a light on in the kitchen that he knew he hadn’t left on.

Feng Xi sighed.

Might as well get this over with…

 

Without even bothering to turn on any other lights, Feng Xi took off his shoes and headed straight for the kitchen and saw Wuxian sitting at the small, two chair table. Wuxian looked up as soon as he entered.

 

He looked scared.

 

With an even heavier sigh this time, Feng Xi walked over to sit in the chair across from him.

“Luo Zhu said that you have something to tell me,” Feng Xi said, jumping right into it. He didn’t want any distractions, didn’t want Wuxian to find some way to avoid the conversation. This was something they needed to confront, and needed to do it now.

“How much did he tell you?”

“Just that. He didn’t give any specifics.”

Wuxian sighed.

It was rare for Feng Xi to see Wuxian uncomposed and all over the place. Normally, he was guarded and always composed himself no matter the situation. Right now, however, he looked as though he would much rather throw himself out a window.

“I don’t really know where to start,” Wuxian muttered.

“I don’t want some kind of long winded answer, Wuxian,” Feng Xi snapped slightly, his tone causing Wuxian to seem to freeze for a moment. “Just tell me what you’re hiding from me.”

“I---Okay…”

Feng Xi let Wuxian have a moment to gather his thoughts, but the longer this dragged on, the more impatient he was getting. He just wanted this entire thing to be done and over with.

“The guild, they…”

“What about the guild?”

 

“.... They aren’t the reason you’re back.”

“.........”

 

“I am.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I was the one who told them to bring you back. They didn’t want to, they wanted to leave you alone, but I--”

Feng Xi scoffs, cutting Wuxian off mid sentence. “So, for once, the guild was actually going to leave me alone?

But it was you who got in the way?”

 

Wuxian silently nodded.

 

It was like time stood still for a moment as Feng Xi processed the information.

And then, finally, he snapped.

 

Feng Xi slammed a fist down onto the small table, causing it to crack and splinter as he stood up, the chair he had previously been sitting in tipping backwards and slamming onto the ground.

“The guild coming in and meddling with my life I can understand, they never once gave me a choice, they never even once thought to leave me alone, so I assumed they wouldn’t just let me die on my own terms either. But you…

You…!

I thought you at least fucking respected me enough to let me decide for myself, to let me deal with the consequences of my own actions. But obviously you don’t give a shit, Wuxian!”

“Feng Xi, I can explain--”

“I don’t want to hear your fucking excuses!!”

 

He had assumed it was the guild once again messing with his life and making everything for him hell, that they wanted to bring him back just to punish him. He could live with that. He expected nothing different from the guild, since they were always fucking up his life and lying.

But now, knowing that it was Wuxian who caused all this, who brought him back for some damn reason he didn’t even want to hear.

The one person he hoped would respect his decision decided to fuck it all away. Feng Xi couldn’t even die on his own terms now. Everything was decided for him apparently.

 

He hates it.

 

He hates it so damn much.

 

“Get out.”

 

“Please, let me--”

 

“Get the fuck out of my sight!! I don’t want you in my life anymore!!”

Chapter Text

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….

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.

Chapter Text

I’ve thought about it long enough.

 

This time…

 

I’m not leaving.

 

 

Wuxian had reacted on impulse, grabbing little Xiao Hei in his arms and pulling the child away before he could possibly get hurt by the branches bursting from the ground and shooting this way and that.

At that moment, he didn’t have time to fully process what happened, and for a while after that, he still didn’t fully process it. It wasn’t until after they had arrived at the guild in Long You and Xiao Hei was sobbing into his chest did his heart and mind really start to catch up.

A part of him still expected Feng Xi to be around.

He expected to hear about him at some point, about how he had escaped once again somehow.

 

But standing before the large tree in Long You, surrounded by buildings and machines that got caught up in the branches and leaves, Wuxian finally realized….

 

Feng Xi wasn’t coming back.

 

He reached out and touched the tree gently, his fingers barely pressing on the bark of it. Wuxian searched, trying to find some sort of trace of Feng Xi within the tree, but no matter what, no matter how far he searched, he couldn’t find a trace.

The night around him was quiet and still. Not even any noise from the surrounding city could reach him. The only thing he could hear was the breaking of his own heart, as it cracked and split with each heartbeat, with each second that went by without finding even the smallest trace of Feng Xi within the spirit of the tree.

 

Badum. Crack.

 

The weight in his chest grew heavier and heavier.

 

Badum. Crack.

 

This couldn’t be real, can it?

 

Badum. Crack.

 

The ground was harsh on his knees, and the bark scraped against the skin of his hand as he fell.

 

Badum. Crack.

 

Tears pricked at Wuxian’s eyes, making his vision go blurry. No. No, this couldn’t be real.

 

Badum. Crack.

 

Feng Xi, he--he can’t be gone.

 

Badum. Crack.

 

No…

 

Badum. Crack…

 

No..!!

 

Badum…

 

 

Wuxian’s eyes shot open.

 

There was…

There was something. He felt something deep within the tree. It was small and fluttered delicately, but… but something was there.

 

It was Feng Xi…

 

It was such a tiny amount of spiritual energy, but now that he knew what he was looking for, he expanded his spiritual energy into the tree, reaching out more. It took a few moments, but he was able to find more and more of those delicate pieces of spiritual energy.

This time, when Wuxian felt his chest twist, it wasn’t out of despair. This time, it was full of hope.

Somehow, he’d find a way to bring Feng Xi back.

 

Just wait, hold on a while….

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Wuxian knew there was no way he’d be able to do this entirely on his own. He was a powerful Executor, one that could hardly be matched at one point, but his spiritual powers only went so far. He knew his limitations, he knew what he could and couldn’t do.

That’s why he wasted no time in appearing before Pan Jing and was ready to beg for help. He was willing to put everything on the line, whatever that may be, in order to try and figure this out, in order to get the resources he needed to do this.

Upon hearing Wuxian’s request to attempt to bring Feng Xi back, Pan Jing just sighed heavily. “No one has ever successfully put back together a shattered soul before,” he said as he shook his head. “Not even Qing Ning had the ability to. You’re just giving yourself false hope, Wuxian…”

His heart hurt a little more hearing that. Wuxian turned his head, looking away with his fists clenched at his side.

“I know that,” Wuxian muttered, trying to keep the pain at bay, “but I have to try. If I don’t, then…”

Then he didn’t know what he would do. If he didn’t at least try, then he would certainly fall into despair, unable to forgive himself for not at least trying.

Pan Jing was silent for a few moments before speaking again. “This won’t look good if I offer my help. Feng Xi was notorious, most of the other guild halls knew about him and what he had done, it wouldn’t look well to them if I were to help with this.”

“That’s fine, no one else has to get involved in this. All I ask for is access to whatever materials I may need. I am willing to do this all on my own if I must.”

Once again, there were a few beats of silence, as Pan Jing seemed to search for something within Wuxian, his expression having concern all over it. Wuxian knew that what he was asking for was not only risky to him, but to the Long You guild hall as well. If the others knew about this, they might even turn against Long You’s guild, might turn against Pan Jing, but Wuxian was ready to carry any burden and blame. He was ready to face this alone, come what may.

If the entire world turned against him, then so be it.

“You’ve certainly grown more troublesome over these recent years,” Pan Jing said. “You used to be so obedient and well behaved when you were a child.”

His tone sounded a bit too much like a parent reminiscing over the younger years of their child that has grown too quickly.

“I’ll offer whatever resources you may need, whether it’s knowledge, materials, anything. However, if word is to get out before you prove you can bring him back, and you don’t have a way to lower their fears, you will cut all ties with my hall. I’m sorry, but I can’t allow the reputation of my hall to be in jeopardy.”

He shouldn’t be getting his hopes up. He shouldn’t be feeling relieved yet, not when there’s so much he needs to do, not when he’s racing against the clock to piece together Feng Xi’s soul before it disappears.

But hearing that Pan Jing wouldn’t get in his way, and that he’d even help to the best of his abilities, Wuxian felt the weight on his chest lift just a little bit more.

Wuxian bowed, the action unfamiliar due to his high ranking, and never having asked for something so important before.

“Thank you.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The years slowly ticked by. To someone like Wuxian who has lived for many centuries now, a year was nothing more than a blink of an eye, but right now, with something so important just barely out of reach, it was as if the years were torturously slow.

What could only be described as a miracle, Wuxian found a way to piece back Feng Xi’s soul within a year and a half, though the process was to be long and tedious, and with a very low chance of success. So low, in fact, that it has actually never succeeded before.

But he had to try.

 

Wuxian wore himself thin between caring for Xiao Hei and teaching him, and trying to bring back Feng Xi. He frequently jumped from one place to another, with Xiao Hei during the day, and either at Feng Xi’s tree or the Long You guild hall at night.

Even though he was no longer considered to be human anymore, he still felt the physical tolls on his body. He was hardly sleeping anymore, hardly gave himself a moment's rest. Whenever he did try to sleep, he was plagued by nightmares and guilt. For not trying hard enough, for both Xiao Hei and Feng Xi.

Some nights, he dreamed of the possibility of him not getting to Xiao Hei in time. Of having to watch Xiao Hei die because he wasn’t careful enough, he wasn’t strong enough, or fast enough. Whatever the case may be, he ends up losing Xiao Hei, and Wuxian wakes up in a panic. When he sees the young elfin asleep, his mind tells him that the child is actually laying there, dead. Wuxian has to hold onto Xiao Hei those nights, to make sure the child was still alive, still warm and breathing.

Most nights, however, he sees Feng Xi.

Sometimes, they start off like a warm, pleasant dream. They’re back to their younger days, before everything went bad. Before Wuxian started truly doubting himself and being scared of having a life outside of the guild. During those moments, Wuxian truly wishes he wouldn’t wake up from them.

But they always turn bad.

He’ll see Feng Xi, and no matter how loud he screams, how hard he tries to reach out to him, nothing he says gets to the elfin. No matter how much he apologizes, all he can hear is the echoing of voices telling Wuxian it’s all his fault.

It’s his fault Feng Xi is sad.

It’s his fault Feng Xi lost his home.

It’s his fault that Feng Xi can’t live a life he wants.

It’s his fault that Feng Xi is gone.

He’s forced to watch Feng Xi slip away after being suffocated by the hateful look Feng Xi gives him.

That’s when Wuxian leaves, the only source of comfort he’s able to find is from the same place he has no right seeking comfort in. It always leads him back to Feng Xi. He always wears himself out as he apologizes repeatedly until exhaustion takes over, and for a few hours, he sleeps without any dreams.

 

Wuxian doesn’t tell Xiao Hei about Feng Xi’s possible return right away, but after that year and a half, when there’s a slight chance, he tells the child, while keeping it secret that it was Wuxian’s idea all along. He should’ve asked Xiao Hei about it to begin with, but Wuxian had long ago come to the realization that he was selfish. He hadn’t considered asking Xiao Hei until he already had his mind set on it, and by then, it was already too late.

Xiao Hei took it well, although rather confused by the situation. It was clear that Xiao Hei didn’t hate Feng Xi, but he obviously hadn’t forgiven him. Xiao Hei had his fair share of nightmares as well, ones that Wuxian would have to wake him up from and help Xiao Hei center and ground himself. He is a child, afterall. A child that got involved in something he shouldn’t have been.

When asked how long it would take before Feng Xi was brought back, Wuxian couldn’t give him an answer other than telling him it would take a long time. Xiao Hei relaxed a little at that, probably due to the fact that he wouldn’t have to worry about deciding how to forgive Feng Xi or not for a while longer.

 

It wasn’t until almost the third year that Pan Jing brought Xing and another elfin into the project.

Pan Jing explained that Xing wouldn’t be able to help much, but she was the closest they currently had to a healer since she was able to read spiritual energy well. She’d be able to help piece together Feng Xi’s soul as well as take readings on his condition while Wuxian wasn’t around.

The other elfin was named Dumpling, a purple dumpling rat elfin that helped in crafting and maintaining Xing’s bracelets long ago.

That was when Pan Jing explained the purpose of Xing’s bracelets to Wuxian for the first time, and explained that, if they were going to be bringing Feng Xi back, he would need to wear them.

If it was anyone else, it wouldn’t be a problem. Everyone else that was arrested that had worked with Feng Xi were allowed to walk around without them, but Feng Xi’s ability, Siege, was something everyone would be worried about. He wouldn’t be allowed to use his ability, or any spiritual energy for that matter. It was the only way Feng Xi could be brought back and allowed to walk around without everyone turning on him.

Wuxian wasn’t an elfin, but he knew how important spiritual energy was to them. An elfin’s entire being is made up of pure, condensed spiritual energy. It runs through them like blood runs through a human. To take an elfin’s spiritual energy away was akin to suffocating them, torturing them.

To make Feng Xi go through something like that made Wuxian feel horrified. He didn’t want to restrict Feng Xi. He didn’t want to make him suffer. Hadn’t he already suffered enough? Was it not enough to take his home away twice? Did they really have to do something like this?

But…

But Wuxian did swear that he would do whatever had to be done to make it so the other guild halls wouldn’t turn on the Long You one. He wanted to go against it, he wanted to fight it, but in the end, he couldn’t.

Xing explained to him what it would be like to live with the bracelets on. She couldn’t give a good standpoint on how it would feel right after getting the bracelets on, as she had been wearing them for many, many centuries now, and can’t remember what it was like to lose her spiritual energy other than it being a relief for her, but she did what she could to ease his fears, telling him that Feng Xi would still have some of his spiritual energy, though nowhere near as much as he now has, and that limiting his spiritual energy would make him closer to human than elfin. That the only way Feng Xi will be able to have them removed was by someone else having their spiritual energy infused with the bracelets, acting as the key.

It felt…

It felt wrong….

 

But Wuxian had no choice.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The passing years were painful.

They were full of stress and desperation.

It could only be called a miracle born from sheer luck when, after six strenuous years, Wuxian finally managed to pull Feng Xi from the tree.

He looked just as he did on that day, beaten and worn down, but is warm with life as Wuxian holds him close, feeling his own body trembling.

There was still so much left to be done, as Feng Xi’s soul and body were still unstable, but for a moment, Wuxian let himself have this small relief.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Xiao Hei looks out at the city and the soon to be setting sun, watching the sky turn different colours slowly as the sun begins its descent from the roof of the apartment building.

It's been about a day since they returned to Ling Xi, and he’s been feeling restless the entire time. Part of him wants to return to Long You in order to be with Wuxian and Feng Xi, since they were the two most important people in his life, but he also knew that going there wouldn’t be good. They would still be fighting, and Xiao Hei knew that he would just get frustrated with them.

This entire situation was awful, and he hated it.

Why couldn’t they just try and work things out? At least to get to the point where they could be in the same room and not break out into an argument every time.

He remembered when Wuxian told him a bit about their past. It was five years ago, when he had woken up from another nightmare involving Feng Xi. At that time, Xiao Hei didn’t hate Feng Xi, he never had, but he hadn’t figured out how to forgive him yet. So, he had asked about how things used to be, and when he watched Wuxian talk about Feng Xi, he saw something in Wuxian’s eyes, something that Xiao Hei was now familiar with seeing whenever Wuxian looked at him.

It was a soft, fond look, one that showed overwhelming amounts of emotion that one would miss if they weren’t paying attention.

 

It was love.

 

Wuxian was so obviously in love with Feng Xi, so why were they constantly fighting?

 

Xiao Hei sighs and rests his head on top of his paws. Adults were troublesome.

“Ah-ha! There you are!!”

Raising his head a little, he turned to see Xiaobai leaning over the edge of the roof with a wide smile on her face. She shouldn’t be climbing up onto the roof and has gotten scolded for it repeatedly, but she tended to do whatever she wanted for the most part. She also told Xiao Hei once that she didn’t fear falling at all, because she knew that he would save her if such a thing were to happen.

And, well, she’s not wrong, but she gives her mom a heart attack every time she finds out Xiaobai has been on the roof…

“It wasn’t like I was hiding,” Xiao Hei says, a bit on the side of being a mumble as he rests his head back down after making sure Xiaobai wasn’t going to tumble off the roof.

She made her way over to where the black cat elfin was perched, laying down on her stomach and using her arms and rest her head on, looking out at the city with him. They were quiet for a while, the only noise being from the small city around them and the breeze as it rustled the trees.

 

Ling Xi was a lot quieter than Long You.

 

“You’ve been different since we came back,” Xiaobai says, her voice soft, as if speaking too loud will hurt something or someone. “And you didn’t stay in Long You for longer like I thought you would.”

If he was in human form, Xiao Hei would be frowning right now, but he does his best to do so in cat form as his ears lower a little. “I don’t wanna be there longer than I have to right now.”

“What happened? I thought you were excited to see your friend.”

She’s not wrong, Xiao Hei is excited, and would love to go back to Long You to see Feng Xi and talk with him longer, but as things stand right now…

Xiao Hei shook his head. “Shifu showed up a little after we got there.”

“I thought he wasn’t going near Long You!”

“That’s what I thought too, but he got a mission from the guild in Long You, so he had to go.”

“Did you end up getting in trouble then?”

“Shifu wasn’t happy with the fact that I went behind his back, but I didn’t really get into any trouble. It’s more that they keep arguing…”

“Who? Your shifu and your friend?”

Xiao Hei nods with a soft sigh.

“So they have a terrible relationship?”

“I don’t know, I don’t think so… They just refuse to talk to each other and work something out. Every time they were in a room together, they always ended up arguing over something or other. It was really frustrating!”

Xiaobai reached out and gently brushed her fingers behind his ear, knowing that it always helped him calm down and relax a little. “I’m sorry, looks like our little trip turned out to be more stressful than fun for you.”

“Don’t apologize,” Xiao Hei says, his eyes closing as he rubs his head against Xiaobai’s hand in content. “You and Argen took time to go with me when I was too scared to go alone. I don’t regret it, I just… I wish things weren’t so complicated. Now my head is a jumbled mess and it’s really annoying.”

Humming a little, Xiaobai was silently in thought for a few moments as she continued to ease Xiao Hei the best she could, running her hand through the silky black fur. Suddenly, she makes a soft noise in exclamation, as if she just thought of something. “If your head is a mess and you’re feeling restless, why don’t we go for a walk? Those always help me clear my head.”

Opening his eyes, Xiao Hei looked at the horizon. The sun was lower in the sky now, and it would be night time soon. “It’s getting late for that, your parents wouldn’t let you out this late,” Xiao Hei said, turning back to look at her.

Xiaobai smiled mischievously. “Not if we don’t tell anyone.”

“Won’t your parents notice you’re gone?”

“It’ll be okay, trust me, and besides, if it’ll help you feel better then it’ll be worth it! Come on, let’s go over to the forest, we can find Bidiu while we’re out!”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

“Didn’t I tell you to get out of my life?”

Wuxian stood there, falling back into old habits that made him seem cold and distant. He watched Feng Xi’s hand clench. He didn’t deserve to be here. Not after everything he’s done.

He took a deep breath to calm himself.

No more running.

“I’m here because of my mission. I didn’t expect you to be home.”

“So you were just going to break in?”

 

……….

 

Well, when worded like that….. Yeah, it kind of did make it sound like he was going to break into Feng Xi’s apartment.

Before Wuxian had the chance to answer, Feng Xi let out an annoyed sigh before backing away from the balcony. “Fine, do whatever you need to for your damn mission, then leave.” He watched Feng Xi walk away, and for a few moments, Wuxian stood there.

It was true, there was a burst of spiritual energy here not too long ago, and he needed to come see what went on in order to finally solve this mystery that’s been driving him a little crazy, but he’d be lying if he said that was the only reason he was here.

To be honest, Wuxian didn’t care too much about the mission right now. If the whole world were to collapse right now, he didn’t think he’d care too much, not when something much more important to him was right here in front of him, and he had something to do.

Even if Feng Xi hates him now and will continue to hate him afterwards, he needed to explain.

After giving himself a moment to gather every ounce of courage he could, Wuxian stepped into the apartment, closing the balcony door behind him.

A few things looked different. Some of the plants were in different positions and housed in different coloured pots, there was a noticeable lamp missing, an empty spot from where it should have been, and it looked messier than it was the last time he was here, but overall it was the same.

Eventually, his eyes drifted to where Feng Xi was standing, arms crossed and leaning on a wall. When their eyes met, Feng Xi looked away. “Hurry up and do whatever you need to,” he said, his voice obviously holding back whatever hurtful words he wanted to throw at Wuxian. “I want you out as soon as possible.”

Wuxian knew that Feng Xi was going to stubbornly ignore him the entire time, no matter what he said. Which he deserved, he deserved to have Feng Xi hate him, but right now, he just needed to get him to listen. Feng Xi needed to listen, to know the truth.

He knew that if he gave himself the chance to think, then he would lose all his courage, he’d overthink the entire situation and just be left in square one, with nothing being done. So, he wasn’t going to think.

With Feng Xi turned away from him, Wuxian quickly walked over before he could second guess himself and caged Feng Xi against the wall with his arms on their side of the eflin. Feng Xi looked at Wuxian’s arms with an expression of anger and confusion. With a scoff, he used his arm to push Wuxian’s away and off the wall. In a moment of panic, Wuxian reached out and grabbed at Feng Xi’s wrist, just above the bracelet, and held it against the wall.

“What are you doing?” Feng Xi spat, moving to shove Wuxian away from him. “Let go of me.”

Even without his spiritual energy, Feng Xi was physically strong, almost breaking free away from Wuxian, but Wuxian quickly got an understanding of Feng Xi’s strength and was able to use more force to keep his grip, even reaching out to grb at Feng Xi’s other wrist and pinning him to the wall.

“What are you doing?! I said let go!!” Feng Xi shouted now, struggling against Wuxian’s grip with all of his strength, but it hardly did a thing.

Wuxian shook his head, unable to look at him in the eyes, so instead he looked at the floor between them. “No, I--you need to listen to me…” he said, finding trouble getting his thoughts together and getting words out past the lump in his throat.

“I don’t have to listen to anything you say! I don’t want to--”

“I was scared!!”

 

At Wuxian’s sudden outburst, Feng Xi stopped struggling, freezing for a moment.

Wuxian could feel his heart pounding in his chest, so loud and tremoundus he thought his chest was going to explode. But he needed to say this, he needed to tell Feng Xi how he felt, he needed him to understand.

“I didn’t bring you back to torture you, I didn’t want you to suffer,” Wuxian said, his words quickly spilling out, stumbling a little as he spoke. “I wanted to bring you back because I was scared.”

“..... Scared of what?”

 

“Of not knowing how to live in a world without you.”

 

Feng Xi was silent, not even his breathing could be heard. Wuxian didn’t want to look up, he was too scared of the kind of expression he was making right now, so Wuxian shut his eyes tight and continued talking. Even if Feng Xi was disgusted by him, even if he hated him…

 

“I can live with you hating me, as long as I know you’re out there somewhere, alive. I couldn’t--I can’t handle the thought of living in a world without you in it. I know what I did was wrong and selfish, and you can hate me all you want, but I--”

Wuxian’s voice cracked as he felt his throat tighten up. Even the mere thought of not having Feng Xi around made him scared. He doesn’t know how to live without Feng Xi. He truly doesn’t. It was something worse than a nightmare. It was a world he wanted no part in, a world he’d have no motivation to save and protect if the one person that means most to him isn’t there.

As long as Feng Xi lived in this world, together or not, then Wuxian could find the motivation to protect it, so he could protect Feng Xi.

“I don’t want you to think you need to repay me or be in my debt, because what I did was selfish of me, but just as I couldn’t stand living in a world without you, I also couldn’t stand the unfair ending you got. You deserve to be happy, and if that happiness doesn’t have me in it, then I understand.”

The room was silent, and still, Feng Xi has not said anything, hasn’t made a noise or moved a muscle. Wuxian wasn’t even sure if Feng Xi was even truly listening to him, but he got out some of what he needed to say. There was still so much more he needed to make clear, so much more he needed Feng Xi to know, but for now, this was a start, and if Feng Xi didn’t want to hear any more, then that was fine.

In the end, Wuxian just wanted Feng Xi to know that this wasn’t part of some scheme to hurt him. Bringing him back was because Wuxian was selfish, and that was the most important part. He didn’t want Feng Xi to be in debt of any kind, he didn’t want Feng Xi to think the guild was going to use him at any point. Once his sentence was up, this life was his to do as he pleases.

“Wuxian,” Feng Xi finally said, his tone so hard to understand at the moment, and it made Wuxian scared. “Let go of me.”

Slowly, Wuxian opened his eyes as he released his grip on Feng Xi’s wrists, backing away to give the elfin space. Still, Wuxian refused to look up. He didn’t want to see Feng Xi’s expression, didn’t want to see the hatred and anger that he was sure burning up inside the other, even though he knew he deserves it. His heart really wouldn’t be able to take it…

Without warning, hands grabbed at his collar, and Wuxian found himself being forcefully pulled forward.

 

Feng Xi’s lips were rough against his, and having been pulled forward roughly, their teeth clicked together a bit painfully. Being so caught off guard, Wuxian didn’t know how to react in time before Feng Xi was pulling away with a huff.

“You’re insufferable,” the elfin muttered, still close enough for Wuxian to feel his breath on his lips. Wuxian’s mind finally caught up with what was going on, clicking into place, and all he could think about was wanting more.

Placing his hands on Feng Xi’s waist, pulling him close and kissing him as if he was dying, as if it was the last thing Wuxian would ever be able to do. And it really did feel that way, with how much his heart was pounding, with how the weight that’s been on his chest for years feels just a bit lighter.

For now, for just this brief moment in time, with Feng Xi pressed up against him, Wuxian feels something he hadn’t in so long, hadn’t allowed himself to feel since Feng Xi came back, since the start of their relationship so many years ago.

Wuxian feels at home.

 

 

 

A sudden, loud shrill causes both of them to startle, resulting in Feng Xi biting down rather harshly on Wuxian’s lip as they pulled away.

“You couldn’t be bothered to put your phone on vibrate or silent?” Feng Xi asked with a raised eyebrow as Wuxian fished out the phone from his pocket, ignoring the throbbing from his bottom lip.

“I can’t feel it when I fly, so I turn up the volume,” Wuxian explained, and was about ready to put the phone away, when he stopped and frowned at the screen.

Watching, Feng Xi tilted his head. “What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know this caller, but it should be impossible for anyone to know my number.”

The only way someone could know it is if he just never bothered to save the contact, or if it was given by someone else who already had it, which was extremely rare. And the only time anyone ever called him was if there was something urgent.

Glancing up at Feng Xi, the elfin gave him a small shrug, a sign to go ahead and answer.

Before the call could go to voicemail, Wuxian hit the green button. “Hello?”

“Oh, finally you picked up! I thought you’d let my call go to voicemail!”

Wuxian frowned. This voice sounded extremely familiar….. “Argen? How did you get my number?”

“I got it from some other elfin, but that’s not important right now. Is Xiao Hei or Xiaobai with you?”

Now that he thought about it, Wuxian hadn’t seen Xiao Hei for a while now. Turning to look at Feng Xi, he shook his head. “He got upset and left,” Feng Xi said gently, as to not be heard by the other person through the phone.

“No, neither of them are with me. Did something happen to them?”

From the other end, Argen huffed. “I got a call from Xiaobai’s mom, she’s losing her mind. I guess she’s missing and doesn’t have her phone with her. I assume that wherever she is, Xiao Hei is more than likely with her. Right now, it’s just me searching for them out here, and my tracking skills aren’t as great as yours, so could you come help before her mom has a heart attack?”

Xiao Hei was a smart and powerful child, if there was any trouble, he’d be able to get himself and his friend out of it for sure, but there was that protective side of Wuxian that wanted to rush over and make sure he was okay as quickly as possible.

Having heard the entire conversation and understanding what was going on, Feng Xi nodded.

“We’ll be there soon.”

“Ah, what a relief…. Wait, we--?”

Before hearing whatever else Argen had to say, Wuxian ended the call and put his phone away. “They couldn’t have gone too far from Ling Xi, but you might want to ask your friends to check around Long You, just to make sure they’re not here.”

“Already sent,” Feng Xi said, holding up his phone to show a messaging app briefly before pocketing his phone. “Luo Zhu and Xing will be searching the outskirts of the city, Zi Luolan is going to ride around and check.”

Wuxian nodded, a small bit of worry and anxiety filling up inside of him bit by bit. Even though Xiao Hei was strong, he was still a child. If something happened to him or Xiaobai… “Come on, we’d better hurry over.”

Taking a step to leave, Feng Xi grabbed onto Wuxian’s hand. “Wait.”

It was so easy for Feng Xi to control Wuxian, as he instantly stopped in his step the moment he heard them and turned to look at Feng Xi, who looked less concerned than he did about the whole situation.

“We’ll find Xiao Hei, and then we can talk about… we can actually talk about us this time, okay?”

Wuxian still wasn’t good at talking things out. There was still that small voice in his head that told him to run away from everything, to keep everything bottled up and hidden away in the corners of his heart and mind. But knowing that Feng Xi actually wanted to try and work things out now, that they were going to figure things out together, it made Wuxian feel just a bit braver, a bit more prepared for whatever may come.

Lightly, he squeezed Feng Xi’s hand and gave a small smile. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

The night was warm without the overbearing heat from the sun. The grass and trees were still damp from the storm that passed just earlier today, making the ground muddy and a bit unstable to step in at places, with puddles here and there.

Away from the light pollution of the city, the stars hung brightly in the sky above, and the addition of fireflies blinking about made it seem like the stars had descended and danced about.

Laughter broke through the silence of night as Xiao Hei and Xiaobai raced through the trees and over rocks, with Xiao Hei taking the lead easily, navigating through the rough terrain easily.

“You’re cheating!!” Xiaobai called from where she was struggling to get over a large tree log, her body thrown over it with one foot tiptoed in an attempt to hurdle it. Bidiu was on the log beside her, tilting its head as it watched.

“Cheating? I’m an elfin, what’d you expect? And you’re the one that said we should!” Xiao Hei called out, turning around from where he stood next to a rock and leaned against it. He watched as Xiaobai struggled for a few moments more before the girl finally got over the stump, only to tilt too far and land on the ground below, making Xiao Hei break out into laughter.

Using the fallen log to get herself back onto her feet, Xiaobai let out a breathy and tired laugh as she sat down on it, breathing heavily. “Alright, alright, I think I’m done, come back over here, I need to rest for a bit.”

Doing as told, Xiao Hei made his way back over to the human, jumping and landing on top of the log before crossing his legs and sitting beside her, a smile on his face. “This ends the same way every time,” he said, watching as Bidiu clambered about before the dumpling rat decided it wanted to be on Xiao Hei’s shoulder for the moment. “You should know better than to challenge me.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Xiaobai reached out and gently scratched behind one of Bidiu’s ears, making the creature chirp out happily. “It got you to clear your mind for a bit, didn’t it?”

At the reminder of why they were even out here in the first place, it made Xiao Hei lay his ears back a little and for his smile to fade. Looking away, he started having that frustrated feeling again, bit luckily, it wasn’t as intense anymore. It was still there, but having a much needed break to clear his mind a little, Xiao Hei didn’t feel the suffocating weight of it. Instead, it just weighed down his chest a little. He appreciated Xiaobai giving him that much needed distraction.

“Shouldn’t we get you back home?” Xiao Hei said after a few moments of silence, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly to calm himself. “It’s really dark out now, if your parents find out, they’ll be really worried and you’ll get in trouble.”

Xiaobai didn’t answer right away, instead she hummed softly as she held out her hand. Without the commotion of children running through the forest, bit by bit, the little silver spirits were coming out of their hiding spots to join the fireflies in flying around, doing as they pleased. With her hand held out, a small blob of a spirit landed in her open palm, resting there for a moment before it took off once more, bursting in the air as a butterfly and fluttering away.

Normally, these spirits didn’t come out with humans around. They would prefer to keep hidden and out of sight from them, with the exception being someone like Wuxian, who had high amounts of spiritual energy, but since Xiao Hei was an elfin and also had high spiritual energy, the spirits knew it was safe to come out.

Finally, Xiaobai smiled widely as she kicked her feet a little. “Just a little longer, and then we can go back. Before then, why don’t you tell me a bit about Feng Xi? You say he’s important to you, but you haven’t told me a whole lot about him.”

It wasn’t like he was trying to keep Feng Xi a secret, but during the time that Feng Xi was gone and it was uncertain if he would actually come back, he didn’t feel like bringing it up. It would feel too much like getting his hopes up if he were to have spoken about Feng Xi during that time, so Xiao Hei never said anything other than a few things here and there.

Now, with Feng Xi actually back, and hopefully here to stay, Xiao Hei could openly talk about him.

On top of that, Xiao Hei didn’t necessarily feel the need to talk about his past too much. There was still a lot about him that Xiaobai wasn’t aware of. Not all of them were particularly good memories. He told a bit about his time with Wuxian, his training and some of the places they stayed at, but other than that…

 

Xiao Hei started tugging at the hem of his shirt a bit, twisting the fabric this way and that through his fingers. “Well… I guess Feng Xi was the first person to take me in and look after me,” he said, his words a little slow, chosen carefully. It wasn’t that Xiao Hei didn’t trust Xiaobai or anything like that, he was just someone who liked their privacy.

“Ah, really?” It was easy to hear the excitement and interest in her tone, probably happy to learn a bit more about him. “Where did you stay before that?”

“Alone, in a forest.”

“Do most elfin grow up alone?”

Xiao Hei shrugged. The fact that he was alone for the first six years of his life made it so there was a lot he didn’t know about. Sure, Wuxian taught him a lot, and Xiao Hei got to learn a lot from the other elfin’s he met during their travels, but Wuxian was his main source of knowledge, and Wuxian was human. There wasn’t a whole lot Wuxian could teach him about elfins and their experiences, even though Wuxian was practically raised by elfins. It was also another reason why Xiao Hei knew so little about his own kind upon meeting Feng Xi.

“Feng Xi was the first elfin I met, actually,” Xiao Hei continued on. “He introduced me to his family as well, and gave me a home on the island they stayed at.”

“What are they like? How was the island?”

Xiao Hei went into explaining for Xiaobai. He told her of Luo Zhu, Tian Hu and Xu Huai, how they all took him in quickly despite the short time they knew each other. It hurt a little, thinking back and remembering that, at that time, they welcomed him so quickly because of his ability, but then he remembered how Feng Xi explained that it wasn’t the reason at first.

That, at first, they really did want to take Xiao Hei in, and the situation involving his ability was something that came later, once Feng Xi learned about it.

“It would’ve been a really nice island to live on,” Xiao Hei said with a bittersweet smile. “It was really pretty, and had a lot of spirits. I think it was because Feng Xi was there that it was so nice. He might not seem like it now, but he’s actually really powerful!”

Xiaobai smiled widely, perking up a little at something. “That’s the first time I’ve heard you call someone other than your shifu powerful! He must mean a whole lot to you!”

Blinking for a moment, as realization set in, Xiao Hei felt his face heating up in embarrassment. “It-It’s not my fault others are so weak! I’m just being honest!”

The girl laughed loudly, throwing her arms over his shoulders and shaking him gently. “Ahhh, didi is shy! So cute!”

This only caused him to blush more at the attention, attempting to lightly shove her off. After knowing her for so long and becoming best friends, Xiao Hei was used to light teasing like this, having to deal with it rather often. Still, it was embarrassing!!!

 

“Hold on…”

 

Xiaobai suddenly stopped shaking him, and Xiao Hei looked at her, waiting for her to speak whatever it was she suddenly had to say.

“So, if him and your shifu both took you in at some point, and they were together before….. Does this make them your dads?”

“HA?!”

 

What was she going on about?!

 

Xiao Hei felt his face heating up even more as he shoved her away, easier this time since Xiaobai was laughing too hard to put up a fight. In fact, she was laughing so hard that she almost fell off the log, with Bidiu attempting to save her by pulling on the hem of her shirt, though it did next to nothing since it was so small.

“You can’t tell me you haven’t thought of them as parental figures at least once,” Xiaobai said, once she calmed down enough to speak, wiping away the tears from her eyes as she did so.

 

It….

 

It really wouldn’t be a lie. He has thought about it a few times.

 

Elfins really don’t have a concept of parents. They’re born from mass amounts of spiritual energy forming together to create a being. They were born from the earth and everything around it, everything that existed and held life. They were single entities that didn’t rely on reproduction that other species did, so it felt strange whenever he thought of these things.

But he couldn’t help it. Every time Wuxian taught him something, protected him, encouraged him, Xiao Hei couldn’t help but make the comparison. Even Feng Xi for that short amount of time felt like that to him, even before he knew what the term for it was.

No matter how you called it though, Xiao Hei really couldn’t deny the feeling he got when he was with them. It was the entire reason he decided to stay with Wuxian in the first place despite not having a stable place to live.

They felt like…..

 

There was a rustling noise, making Xiao Hei’s ears twitch and for him to look up. He knew instantly that it wasn’t an animal, and they tend to stay away from him if they have ill intent simply because he was so powerful, they sensed it. And either way, he couldn’t pick up any malicious intent right away, so he wasn’t afraid of something possibly happening to Xiaobai.

It took him a moment to focus, but once he did and realized who it was, Xiao Hei felt his chest tighten. He jumped off of the log and took one of Xiaobai’s hands in his. “Come on, let’s go,” he said, tugging at her arm to get her to move.

Xiaobai didn’t move though, instead looking at him in confusion. “Why? What’s wrong?”

“I just don’t want to be here anymore.”

Before anything more could be said between the two children, there was someone calling their names, and Xiaobai turned towards the voices. “Someone’s looking for us?”

Knowing that it was pointless to run away anymore, Xiao Hei took back his hand and turned away. He had half a mind to start running, running away from them, from everyone. He didn’t feel ready to confront them, he didn’t think he could take any more arguments.

“There you two are,” Feng Xi said once he spotted the children, his shoulders relaxing a little.

Since Feng Xi didn’t have enough spiritual energy, Xiao Hei was barely able to sense the other elfin. He looked up in surprise to see Feng Xi and Wuxian together, looking at them with what seemed like relief in their eyes.

“Xiaobai,” Wuxian said, turning to the girl and his voice turning a little stern. “Your mother is worried sick about you. She thinks you’ve been kidnapped.”

The girl at least had enough decency to look a bit sheepish, smiling a little in embarrassment as she hopped down from the log.

Upon the two new persons showing up, Bidiu had ducked a little behind Xiaobai, using her shoulder as cover from where it perched, but after a few moments it perked up with a chirping noise before it swiftly climbed off of her, and rushed over to Feng Xi.

At first, Feng Xi just stared at Bidiu with raised eyebrows, but when it stopped at his feet and proceeded to look up at him with a questioning head tilt of its own, he laughed softly and knelt down. “I haven’t seen one of your kind in a while,” he said, reaching out with a gentle hand and petting at Bidiu’s chin.

Obviously happy, Bidiu chirped before climbing up Feng Xi to get to his shoulder, Bidiu’s favorite place to perch, once again making a chirping noise from its new vantage point.

“Bidiu made a new friend!” Xiaobai said happily, her hands clasped together. “Normally, Bidiu is really shy around new people, even elfin!”

Xiao Hei watched in mild surprise as Wuxian and Feng Xi smiled at each other, with Wuxian reaching out to also pat at Bidiu’s head and make the creature chirp more at the attention it was receiving.

Something felt different between Feng Xi and Wuxian.

There wasn’t that hostility anymore. It didn’t feel like they were about to go at each other's throats at any moment.

It was almost as if they had made up…

 

But, no.

 

No, Xiao Hei couldn’t trust it.

 

They’ve done this before, where they were fine for a little bit, and then started arguing with each other at the drop of a hat when something is said or done. He didn’t trust it.

His hesitancy to go to them must’ve been obvious, because now Wuxian was turned to him, attention no longer on Bidiu. “Come here, Xiao Hei,” he called to the child. “It’s time to go.”

Xiao Hei took a step back. “No.” He took another step, ready to run. “I don’t want to.”

Wuxian and Feng Xi looked at each other, having some kind of silent conversation before they both turned back to look at him.

“Xiao Hei, it’s okay,” Feng Xi said this time, taking a step forward. “Nothing’s going to happen anymore. We’re not going to argue.”

They must’ve talked about what Xiao Hei said while they were trying to find him, because Wuxian didn’t seem at all surprised by Feng Xi’s words.

 

He felt that familiar frustrated feeling bubbling up in his chest.

“No!” Xiao Hei shouted this time, and his hands pulled at the hem of his shirt. He wasn’t able to look at them anymore, so instead, he looked at the ground beneath his feet. “No, I don’t believe you! I’ve only seen you two arguing, why should I believe you? I can’t stand it anymore!”

Xiao Hei shut his eyes. He didn’t want to look up at them. He was afraid that, if he did, they would start arguing with each other again. He was tired of it, he just wanted them to work something out, he just wanted them to be happy. Why are adults so confusing and stubborn? Why did they always have to fight?

 

“We’re sorry.”

 

Wuxian’s apology made his eyes shoot open, yet still, Xiao Hei couldn’t look at them.

“We dragged you into our problems without meaning to. What happened between us has nothing to do with you, and we shouldn’t have made you feel like it was your fault somehow…”

“There won’t be any more arguing, Xiao Hei. Wuxian and I still have a lot we need to talk about, but we’re going to work it out together. Everything’s going to be okay, so…”

Slowly, Xiao Hei looked up once they stopped talking, feeling like his throat was closing up. They would never lie to him about this sort of thing, he knows they wouldn’t, so if they’re saying that they’re going to work something out together, and that they won’t argue anymore…

Xiao Hei saw Wuxian standing with his arms held out toward him, the both of them wearing soft but apologetic smiles on their faces. “Come back with us.”

There was a sense of nostalgia to this scene, much like the time when Xiao Hei was going to separate from Wuxian at the guild, so many years ago. When their paths were supposed to split right there, but the feeling Xiao Hei got from Wuxian made him not want to.

It was a soft, comforting feeling that made Xiao Hei feel safe and loved. It made him feel like that, no matter what, nothing would ever be able to harm him. Without Wuxian there, the guild would’ve felt cold and intimidating. He didn’t want to stay there.

Now, with Feng Xi and Wuxian standing before him, both of them asking for Xiao Hei to stay with them, he felt a rush of emotions that made it hard to breathe, much less talk.

 

He wanted to be with them. No matter what this feeling was called, he already had a name for it himself.

 

Xiao Hei ran towards them with reckless abandon, uncaring of anything that stood between them. With no hesitation, Xiao Hei threw himself into Wuxian’s arms. Warmth and relief instantly filled him, and he couldn’t hold back anymore. Letting out a sob, Xiao Hei clung desperately to Wuxian, refusing to let go even as he felt Wuxian shift to kneel down and hold him better, along with Feng Xi joining in and wrapping his arms around the child.

Before, when it was just him and Wuxian, Xiao Hei already felt at peace, but always felt as though something was missing. Now, with Feng Xi here, and not planning on leaving anytime soon, that missing something was filled up in his heart, and it felt whole.

No matter what others called this, no matter what technical terms there are, Xiao Hei knows what they are to him.

 

They are home.

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

“How is he?”

Wuxian looks up to where Feng Xi is standing in the doorway of his bedroom, closing the door softly.

“I think he exhausted himself,” Wuxian said softly with a fond smile, looking down at Xiao Hei who had his head rested in Wuxian’s lap. He brushed the child’s white, unruly hair back a little.

Xiao Hei had cried for a while in Wuxian’s and Feng Xi’s arms, holding onto them tightly, as if he had been afraid they would disappear if he let them go for even a moment. It was strange, but Wuxian had felt a sense of deja vu with the way that Xiao Hei was crying so intensely.

Through the years, Xiao Hei hardly cried. The only times he ever truly did was when he would wake up in a panic from some nightmare or other, with the memories of what happened in Long You too strong and too fresh in his mind, too young to have gone through such hardships.

But this reminded him of being at the guild for the very first time with Xiao Hei so many years ago, when he was about to leave the child behind. Wuxian had wanted Xiao Hei to finally have a place to call home, somewhere he could return to and not fear it disappearing. Someplace warm that will always welcome him.

Wuxian had been sure it was the right thing to do, leaving him behind, but Xiao Hei thought otherwise. It was selfish that Wuxian was filled with relief at the time, but he couldn’t say no to him.

It had taken a while, but after some time, Xiao Hei calmed and stopped crying, exhausting himself but refusing to let go of them. It took a lot of coaxing, but eventually Xiao Hei let go of Wuxian. Feng Xi didn’t know his way around Ling Xi, so the two agreed to split up, with Feng Xi taking Xiao Hei with him back to Long You through the Ling Xi guild’s teleportation, while Wuxian took Xiaobai home.

On the way, Xiaobai apologized, telling Wuxian how it had been her idea for them to go out, and how she didn’t mean for everyone to get worried over them, but she had wanted to try to cheer Xiao Hei up in some way.

He reassured her that there was no reason for her to apologize, at least not to him or Feng Xi. They both knew that Xiao Hei was capable of taking care of himself and keeping Xiaobai safe, and that the real threat here was her facing her mother.

 

In the end though, Wuxian thanked her.

He thanked her for being such a kind and caring friend to Xiao Hei for all these years, and for being there for him when himself and Feng Xi were clearly lacking. He felt bad as he watched Xiaobai walk into her apartment building, walking right into what would certainly be a storm for her. All he could do was hope that her mother would go easy on her and not punish the girl too much.

 

As the moon rose higher into the sky, soon to start making its descent into the horizon in order to bring about the new day, Wuxian made his way back to Feng Xi’s apartment, a place he didn’t image he would be visiting so frequently, didn’t think he would have the right to.

When he got inside, that’s when he was met with the sight of Feng Xi struggling to get a clingy and fast asleep Xiao Hei off of him, which is how Wuxian ended up where he is now, as the young elfins pillow.

Feng Xi walked over to sit at the edge of the bed, the same overly fond smile on his face as he reached out to run a hand through Xiao Hei’s hair, but Wuxian noticed as he froze, stopping his hand from reaching out any further to actually touch the child. Looking up, he saw the smile disappear off of Feng Xi’s face, replaced now with something more conflicted, something more afraid.

With a gentle hand, Wuxian placed his own hand on top of Feng Xi’s, tangling their fingers together a bit and guiding his hand down slowly until their hands were placed on Xiao Hei’s head.

He watched as Feng Xi let out a slow, calming breath, and a small smile once more returned to his face, moving his hand away and allowing Feng Xi to smooth out the untameable mess that was Xiao Hei’s hair.

“He already told you that he forgave you, didn’t he?” Wuxian asks, looking up after a few moments.

Feng Xi nodded before letting out another breath as he pulled away, his eyes still on Xiao Hei. “Yeah, he did, but I’m… I still can’t forgive myself.”

In a way, Wuxian understood. They both had things they couldn’t forgive themselves for. Maybe it would take years for them to at least forgive themselves even a little bit. Wuxian knows that it was something he couldn’t get through yet, not when he still hasn’t apologized properly to Feng Xi.

In the faint, silver light provided by the moon and the ambient lighting of the city, Wuxian saw the shine from the band of metal still on Feng Xi’s hand. Even after all this time, even without knowing the meaning behind it, Feng Xi kept it on.

Wuxian felt his heart twist.

 

“I need to apologize for something.”

Feng Xi looked up and raised his eyebrows. “I think we both have a lot we need to apologize for.”

That was true. “Well, I’ll start with this then. Remember a few nights ago, when Xiao Hei brought me here because he found me nearly unconscious?”

“How can I not? You--” Feng Xi cleared his throat, not finishing his sentence, probably still under the impression that Wuxian didn’t remember what went on. “Anyways, go on. What about it?”

“I remember everything,” Wuxian said quickly and quietly, looking down in shame. There was no point in dragging it out longer, so he confessed without hesitation, once again finding himself afraid of seeing Feng Xi’s expression. “I only pretended to be delirious because I… I couldn’t hold back any longer, and my chest ached. Even if it was for only a moment, I wanted to be the only one you looked at.”

In some way, this felt like confessing his feelings all over again, like he had done so many decades ago when they were younger. Now, so many years later, he was determined to confess his feelings again, this time without making any of the mistakes he had made in the past, but only if Feng Xi wanted him.

 

“Was that another one of your stupid, impulsive acts you told me you’ve been doing a lot lately?”

 

Wuxian slowly nodded. It really had been stupid and impulsive. Around Feng Xi, any logical thought Wuxian had instantly goes out the window, making him say and do stupid, impulsive things. “I don’t regret it,” Wuxian added, making sure that Feng Xi knew that it wasn’t just some spur of the moment thing. “I meant what I said, that I don’t know what to do when I wake up and you’re not there.”

His desperation to bring Feng Xi bad was proof enough that he really didn’t know what to do without Feng Xi. Even if the elfin wasn’t there with him physically, just knowing that he was out there somewhere, alive, was enough for Wuxian to get up and do what he needed, day by day. In a world without Feng Xi, it was cold and disorienting.

The bed shifted with Feng Xi’s weight, and Wuxian expected that he was going to get up and leave, too disgusted in Wuxian to be around him any longer, but instead the weight got closer, and he watched as Feng Xi’s hand came into his view, reaching out and grabbing onto Wuxian’s with some hesitation, as if he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to or not.

 

“You’re going to be the death of me.”

Wuxian’s heart twisted painfully, remembering how those words, once said so carelessly, carried a different meaning now to him, and he hated it, but when he looked up, he saw in the faint light that Feng Xi’s face was reddened a little.

Feng Xi leaned forward until their foreheads touched, and Wuxian closed his eyes, the pain in his heart ebbing away bit by bit as it was surrounded by familiar warmth. “We’ll figure this out.” His tone made it sound more like a promise than just a mere statement, and for the first time in a long, long time, Wuxian allowed himself to feel just a little bit hopeful.

They’ll be able to figure this out. It’ll take time, and they might not progress smoothly, but Feng Xi seemed to want to get this to work just as much as he did. They both missed each other, both yearned for each other, and now they were both determined to do what it takes to fix whatever they could.

 

They were going to be okay…

 

 

 

 

Wuxian!

At the sudden familiar voice, his eyes shot open and he leaned away from Feng Xi. “Pan Jing?” He extended a bit of his spiritual energy to Feng Xi, just enough to where he would be able to hear the telepathic communication as well.

Obviously displeased by the interruption, all the more so by a guild leader, Wuxian watched as Feng Xi rolled his eyes a little.

Wuxian, you need to get to Luo Zhu’s location immediately!

Feng Xi noticeably startled at hearing the other elfins name. The urgency in Pan Jing’s voice had Wuxian frowning in concern. “What’s going on?”

 

Those spiritual flares have been coming from Xing, and her ability will wipe out Long You if she isn’t stabilized soon!

Chapter Text

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...

Chapter Text

Opening his eyes, he was overcome with a sense of deja vu.

He remembers being in this similar situation not too long ago. The room looked ever the same, the same walls, the same muffled voices coming from outside the room who knows where, same light filtering in from the cracked window.

 

Of course, as many similarities there were, there were also differences.

This time, he could feel the fire of his spiritual energy, although currently weakened, and his body ached from over exertion. On either side of him, there was a small weight as well.

Feng Xi turned his head a little, feeling a rush of dizziness that made him have to pause for a moment to close his eyes and center himself before once again moving, this time much slower. There was a weight against his side and the crook of his arm, and when he looked over, he saw a round ball of black fur.

It didn’t take him very long to figure out it was Xiao Hei, sleeping peacefully against him.

Like this, he couldn’t see much of a difference, but looking closely he noticed parts of his black fur that looked scuffed up, as if there were wounds underneath that fur. Wounds that have hopefully healed and scarred up by now. He felt a bit of pain in his chest, knowing that Xiao Hei had gotten hurt.

He lets the child continue to sleep and looks at his other side.

A hand was gently holding onto his, placed over the back of his own hand. He followed the hand up to the arm, until he was looking at Wuxian.

Wuxian, who had his eyes closed, and was sleeping in such an awkward position, as if he had been overcome by exhaustion but hadn’t wanted to move from Feng Xi’s side, inside choosing to sleep in an uncomfortable, upright position, refusing to separate their hands, even if it would allow him to sleep in a better position.

There were bandages covering Wuxian’s exposed skin, and the metal plates he normally wore around his forearms were gone, along with the wrapping he normally used, instead replaced by bandages here and there as well. Feng Xi could see his scars, and took a moment to trace them with his eyes, following the zigzagged lightning patterns back down to their entwined hands.

Still on the hand that Wuxian was holding was the ring he woke up with, now feeling like so long ago when it couldn’t have been more than just a few months.

At the time, he had no idea what it was for, why it was there, or who gave it to him. All he knew was that it brought a sense of calm to him, for whatever reason.

 

Now, with his spiritual energy back, Feng Xi was able to figure out why.

 

Feng Xi felt Wuxian’s hold on his hand slightly tighten. Looking back up, he watched as Wuxian shifted a little before his eyes blinked open. There was a bit of a frown on his face, probably due to the awkward position he had been sleeping in.

Wuxian didn’t notice Feng Xi looking at him right away, blinking away the last bit of sleep from his brain. When he finally did notice, his eyes widened.

 

“Feng Xi…?”

 

There was so much of this scene that felt familiar, but there was so much more that made it different.

The soft and vulnerable tone of Wuxian’s voice was the same, but this time, Feng Xi was able to tell what emotion was swimming around in his eyes. He was able to see the relief this time, something he had missed the first time.

 

How stupid was he to forget that Wuxian was so easy to read if you just looked at the right places.

Feng Xi smiled a bit. “Hey.” His voice sounded rough to himself, and his throat ached a little at the use.

Wuxian reached out, placing his hand on Feng Xi’s cheek gently, a touch that had once been a mindless habit, one that they both missed as Feng Xi slightly leaned into the touch. It was as if the one little word and Feng Xi moving into his touch was all Wuxian needed to know that this was real and not some sort of agonizing dream.

Without much of a warning, Wuxian lurched forward, capturing Feng Xi’s lips in a kiss. Having caught him by surprise, it took Feng Xi a moment to process what was going on, but once he did, he let out a small sigh of relief.

When Wuxian pulled away, he rested his forehead against Feng Xi’s, hand still gently caressing his cheek, as if he was afraid to move away, like Feng Xi might disappear right through his fingers.

“Stop throwing yourself into danger,” Wuxian said, his voice soft and full of concern. “You keep on scaring me.”

Feng Xi let out a small, breathy laugh. “So even the great Executor Wuxian gets scared, huh? No one will believe me if I tell them.”

“Because I don’t know anyone else who would be crazy enough to almost sacrifice themselves as many times as you have.”

“You were about to. I’m sorry, I’ll try not to scare you anymore.”

“You’d better.”


They stayed like that for a little bit in silence, comforted by each other’s warmth and presence. There was still a lot they needed to work on, a lot they needed to talk through and to understand each other, but for just this moment, they didn’t think about any of that. For this moment, they were back to how things used to be, when they had first fallen in love and the world was a much simpler place to understand.

For right now, they allowed their hearts to be at ease and feel nothing but relief and love.

For right now, they allowed their hearts to feel at home.

 

“Shifu..?” Feng Xi felt Xiao Hei lift his head up from where it had been resting on his side as Wuxian pulled away, bringing his hand to hold Feng Xi’s once more.

“I’m right here, Xiao Hei,” he said with a small, fond smile, as they both watched the child yawn and slowly wake up.

Much like Wuxian, Xiao Hei didn’t notice right away that Feng Xi was watching him, but once he did, he quickly stood up, his eyes seeming to shine as he let out an exclamation of Feng Xi’s name, throwing himself forward to rub his head against Feng Xi’s face.

Feng Xi couldn’t help but to laugh a little as he brought his free hand up to gently cradle Xiao Hei to keep him from falling.

“You’re finally awake!” Xiao Hei said with happiness brimming on his voice, smiling as widely as he can in his cat form.

Upon hearing this, Feng Xi looked up at Wuxian as he continued to hold Xiao Hei close, his eyebrows raised in question. “How long have I been out for?” he asked. He didn’t think it had been that long, seeing as how they all still carried wounds open enough for them to still be bandaged up.

The smile on Wuxian’s face faded a bit, now looking more tired as his gaze drifted to their hands, and Feng Xi noticed the slight discolouration underneath Wuxian’s eyes, obvious that he’s done some time without proper sleep. “Not very long,” Wuxian said, though his voice sounded small. “You actually woke up a lot sooner than what I was told.”

It was obvious it had been a while, at least a few days, and it made Feng Xi’s chest ache, knowing they were waiting for him this long.

He’s had to make them wait for him so many times, has caused them both so much pain. He wondered just how long they thought he was going to be out for this time, but in the end, that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was awake now.

Wuxian helped Feng Xi sit up in the bed, adjusting the pillow so he could rest comfortably with his back pressed against the wall, and Xiao Hei sat in his lap, refusing to move anywhere else.

“I don’t remember much of what happened after using Siege,” Feng Xi admits after a while. “Could you tell me what went on after?”

“What do you remember?” Wuxain asked, seemingly not very surprised by Feng Xi’s lack of memory.

“Last thing I remember was grabbing onto Xing’s hand.”

“I see…. Well….”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Wuxian watched in horror as Feng Xi threw himself into the middle of the fray without hesitation.

There wasn’t much he could do to help him, or to stop him. Wuxian had already had a good portion of his spiritual energy sucked away by Ruination, he was weak and exhausted. He felt so helpless as all he could do was watch Feng Xi get thrown around, battered and beaten repeatedly.

Feng Xi had only just gotten his spiritual energy back, and yet he was having it drained once again. Feng Xi, who had already suffered so much, was sacrificing so much, and all Wuxian could do was watch.

Mind racing and body feeling numb from terror, all Wuxian could think of was the possibility of losing Feng Xi again. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t go through it again. He didn’t know how to live without Feng Xi. Yes, there was a chance of this working, but in the end, what did it matter if he were to just lose Feng Xi once again? It wasn’t right, but Wuxian would much rather let Long You become destroyed than to let Feng Xi die.

Long You was just a city that could be rebuilt or moved. It was the very thing that had destroyed Feng Xi’s home and ultimately his life, it didn’t matter if it was all reduced to rubble. It didn’t matter to Wuxian.

He watched as Feng Xi got hit, and finally, Wuxian couldn’t take it anymore. He ignored the shouts behind him from Xiao Hei and Luo Zhu, telling him to come back, as he rushed forward. He was without spiritual energy, he was without an idea of what to do, he was tired and could hardly keep himself standing, but he needed to get to Feng Xi.

He needed to…!

 

Wuxian didn’t even make it half way when there was a large explosion of energy.

Digging his heels into the ground to keep from being knocked off his feet, he covered his head with his arms, feeling the rush of energy all around him and cut into his skin, and yet all he could feel was his heart almost stop in his chest, fearing the worst.

As most of the blast passed by, Wuxian dropped his arms, eyes frantically searching for Feng Xi.

Where Xing had once stood, there was now a crater, all surrounding plants drained of life, leaving it a dark, ashy colour, the ground broken. Wuxian ran over to see into the crater, and froze.

Feng Xi stood in the crater, looking at his hands. He looked almost normal, like nothing had happened, but there was something off that told Wuxian otherwise. He looked to be almost glowing as spiritual energy slowly swirled around him.

Wuxian didn’t know how to react, he didn’t know what was going on. Feng Xi didn’t look like himself. He looked otherworldly, ethereal even.

Slowly, Feng Xi looked up at Wuxian, and he could see that even Feng Xi’s eyes were a different colour, now a golden hue.

Just as quickly as the scene before him appeared, it went away as Feng Xi collapsed. Wuxian rushed to him as quickly as he could. When he reached Feng Xi, he felt his skin, and it felt like Feng Xi was burning from the inside.

There wasn’t much for him to do, except to hold Feng Xi tightly in his arms and transfer whatever little spiritual energy he had left, just to keep Feng Xi stable and from burning up, waiting for help from the guild to arrive.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Feng Xi looked down at his forearm, looking at the band that Wuxian had wrapped around him. Instead of the pure, almost untouchable white, it was now dirty and frayed, parts on it looking as though it had been singed by fire. In fact, it almost looked one step away from falling apart right then and there.

He gave Wuxian a sheepish smile, now noticing that Wuxian still had his hair loose with some of it pulled over one of his shoulders. “I guess you can’t use this anymore,” he said, feeling a bit guilty.

A little surprisingly, Wuxian smiled and shook his head, placing his free hand over Feng Xi’s forearm where the ruined band was. “You’re back, that’s all that matters to me.”

Feng Xi felt his chest tighten a little at the honest and vulnerable look Wuxian was giving him.

He really had been a fool for not looking properly, for not watching all the ways Wuxian silently wore his heart on his sleeve. Thinking back, Feng Xi could now understand what emotions he had been trying to convey each and every time their paths met.

 

Before any more could be said, there was a light knocking noise at the door, making all three of them turn to look once the door was opened. Feng Xi didn’t recognize this elfin walking in, but they politely bowed a little, probably having realized they had walked in during a conversation.

“My apologies, but I came to see if Feng Xi was awake. Seeing as he is, Guild Leader Pan--”

“Feng Xi is awake?!” The elfin was interrupted by being shoved lightly, making them stumble a little and frown as Xing poked her head into the room.

Raising his eyebrows, Feng Xi gave Wuxian a look, the both of them exchanging a glance before Wuxian smiled softly. “You could’ve just came in and checked yourself,” Wuxian said. How long had Xing been standing out in front of the room?

“I know, I just…” Xing’s shoulders hunched as she spoke looking down at the floor and avoiding eye contact as she hid behind the doorway. “I feel bad for what happened…”

From here, he could see the tight grip she had on the doorway, her knuckles turning a shade of white. There was no doubt that she was blaming herself, and felt too guilty to come in to make sure he had been awake or not.

 

“Xing.”

She looked up upon hearing her name called, and for a moment, Feng Xi could see the brief look of fear in her eyes.

“Are you okay?”

It took her a few moments to process Feng Xi’s words, blinking before nodding her head a little. “Oh--Ah, yeah, I’m fine--well, stable, I guess is a better word to use, but-- um, yeah…”

Feng Xi smiled a little at her rambling, and felt relieved to hear that she seemed to be alright. He remembered how desperate and full of pain her voice had been before using Siege, how she held herself in agony, barely able to keep herself upright and standing. He couldn’t remember seeing anyone, human or elfin, look like they were overcome with so much pain as much as he had seen Xing in pain.

He couldn’t remember what it felt like to have Ruination, but just the after effects of it currently made him feel drained and weak, and he only took half of it. He couldn’t imagine what kind of pain she had been in, feeling the full brunt and weight of it.

“Then that’s all that matters to me. You couldn’t control it.”

Xing seemed to freeze, maybe caught off guard at being forgiven so easily. She sniffed, before smiling and nodding. It was as if a weight came off of her shoulders, as she visibly relaxed.

All of a sudden, she perked up once more, having remembered something, but this time her gaze shifted back and forth between Wuxian and Xiao Hei. “Hey, so, um--you two didn’t happen to see, uh--see my true form, right?” Xing asked, laughing nervously as she once again hid behind the door frame.

Xiao Hei tilted his head before shaking it no. “I didn’t get close enough.”

Xing let out a sigh of relief.

“I did.”

“WHAT?!” Her face turned a bright shade of red, reeling backwards as if the admission was something physical that hit her, and placed her hands over her face. “Ah, that’s so embarrassing!!” She shouted, her voice muffled a little.

“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Wuxian said.

Feng Xi, having lost consciousness, hadn’t seen Xing’s true form, so he was left wondering what it might be. There were elfins that would prefer one form over the other, but he couldn’t think of an instance where an elfin was embarrassed by their true form.

“Wait!!!” Xing lowered her hands, her expression now changing to one of horror. “Did Luo Zhu see?!”

Wuxian was silent as he thought for a moment, turning to look at Xiao Hei who just tilted his head before finally looking back at Xing. “You’d have to ask him yourself.”

“Ahhh, I can’t believe this is happening!!!”

The other elfin, who had been standing in silence until now, cleared their throat. “Yes, well,” their voice was filled with irritation that they were trying to hide behind politeness, “if I may get back to the matter at hand… Guild Leader Pan Jing asks for Master Wuxian’s and Feng Xi’s presence.”

Feng Xi startles a little.

Why would Pan Jing want to see them, especially so soon after him waking up?

Without realizing it, he placed his hand over one of his wrists. It had to do with the bracelets, didn’t it? Would Wuxian get in trouble for taking them off him? Will they try to restrict his spiritual energy again?

A hand was placed over his, and he looked over at Wuxian, who was looking at him with an expression that told him everything would be alright. Looking down at his lap, Xiao Hei was giving him the same expression. That he wasn’t alone, and won’t have to be alone.

“We’ll be there shortly,” Wuxian dismissed the elfin, who gave another polite bow before leaving the room. Xing looked at them with an expression of worry before she, too, left the room, probably in order to go meet with Pan Jing first.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Before leaving, Wuxian had a medic come in and make sure Feng Xi was stable. He was advised to not use too much spiritual energy for a while. Under normal circumstances, Feng Xi’s Siege would protect him when taking another's ability, but this time, Ruination almost destroyed his spiritual energy from the intensity of it. It also hindered both of their abilities to heal themselves, as any spiritual energy taken by Ruination seemed to take longer to replenish.

Once they were given the okay, the both of them walked through the silent halls of the guild, almost completely void of any elfins. It wasn’t very strange, Wuxian was an extremely powerful and well known Executor and would make others uncomfortable being around, while most elfins by now had heard about Feng Xi and his strength and ability, resulting in not many wanting to get too close to him.

They stood in front of the same doors Feng Xi had been in front of not too long ago, and they both stopped for a moment.

 

“No matter what happens,” Wuxian said, catching Feng Xi’s attention, “I’ll stay by your side this time.”

 

His words were sincere and true. In the past, Wuxian had a habit of running away, even if his heart screamed at him not to, he always ran whenever he couldn’t figure out what to do. This time, he was going to stand his ground. This time, he’d follow Feng Xi wherever he wanted to go.

Feeling comforted by Wuxian’s words, Feng Xi looked down at his hand, looking at the metal band still around his finger. All this time, he never once took it off, even though up until now he had no idea why he had it or what the reason may be. Now, he knew what it was. “You gave me this, didn’t you?”

Until now, Wuxian had just been staring head at the door, but Feng Xi’s question caught him off guard, turning to face him now as Feng Xi looked up and gave him a small smile. “I thought it was odd how it always brought me comfort, even if I didn’t know why. You’ve been using this to give me spiritual energy, even when I had the bracelets on.”

“I gave it to you right after I managed to piece your soul back together. I was worried about you suddenly becoming unstable while I was somewhere else, and I felt as though I couldn’t trust anyone else, not with something so important to me. When they put the bracelets on you, I was going to take it back, but… I was still worried.”

Feng Xi knew that if he had realized this before they came to their current understanding, he would’ve assumed Wuxian was trying to track him, as if Wuxian didn’t trust him. He might have even taken it off.

“Are you ready to go in?” Feng Xi asked, looking at the door.

“No.”

“Me neither.”

It felt like whatever was behind this door would change so many things. It was intimidating, and a little scary, but as long as they faced it together, no matter what, they would be able to overcome it. Wuxian opened the doors, putting on that mask of indifference and poise as he walked in ahead of Feng Xi.

 

Inside, Xing stood in front of Pan Jing with her head bent and shoulders hunched, looking as though she had previously been apologizing for something, when they both turned to Wuxian and Feng Xi walking in.

“Feng Xi,” Pan Jing said, smiling a little bit, “I’m happy to see you up and moving. Wuxian would hardly leave your side these past few days, I couldn’t get him to do anything.”

As the doors behind them shut and neither one of them responded, Pan Jing sighed heavily, and his smile dropped, as if he knew making small talk was going to be pointless here. “We have a lot to discuss, so let’s not waste any time.”

Pan Jing turned to look at Xing, who had been standing nervously behind him until now. Her hands were clasped together in front of her, and she briefly looked up at Feng Xi and Wuxian before bowing. “I’m sorry for the trouble I caused,” she said, her voice wavering a little. “I ask that you keep everything about me a secret, please.”

“A secret?” Feng Xi frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Xing here isn’t any ordinary elfin, as I’m sure the two of you have already noticed. Her spiritual energy works differently, and her ability can bring about the end of the world. In fact, thousands of years ago, that’s almost exactly what she did. If it hadn’t been for Lao Jun and the newly formed guild, she would’ve either destroyed the world, or the guild would’ve found a way to kill her.”

“I don’t want anyone to fear me,” Xing said, as she stood up straight but still refused to look at them. “Once they find out about my ability, others tend to… distance themselves. They think of me as a ticking bomb that’s going to explode at any moment.”

Pan Jing placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder, but Xing only turned her head away, as if ashamed of herself for what she is, over something she couldn’t control. “Normally, we’d wipe others memories of these situations, but seeing as how you two could actually be useful should another situation like this arise, we thought it best to not. But please, do try to not let others know.”

“Wait, so did you wipe Luo Zhu’s memories?” Feng Xi asked, taking a step forward.

“Not yet,” Pan Jing shook his head.

Feng Xi looked at Xing, remembering the pain, her pain, and remembering how Luo Zhu was there from the start, and how he got hurt because of her. “Xing.” She lowered her head more. “You might want to ask him if he wants his memories taken or not.”

She startled a little, finally looking up at them.

“You know he’ll be upset if you make the choice for him.”

Xing didn’t respond for a long moment, just staring at the two of them with wide eyes, her expression one of complete shock, before she finally, finally relaxed and nodded a little.

 

“Good, now that that’s settled, on to our next topic. Feng Xi, you--”

“I would like for Feng Xi to not wear the bracelets again.”

 

Wuxian cut Pan Jing off as he took a step to stand slightly in front of Feng Xi, as if moving to protect him. Pan Jing’s mouth was slightly open from surprise at being cut off. He frowned a little. “Wuxian, you know that’s not possible. He’s going to have to wear them again.”

“I don’t think it’s right,” Wuxian countered, standing his ground. “He helped save Long You, the city wouldn’t have been evacuated in time before Ruination destroyed it. Putting the bracelets back on him would just be like punishing him.”

Feng Xi didn’t know how to react. He wanted to tell Wuxian to stop, to just let Pan Jing do whatever needed to be done with him, but no matter what, the words wouldn’t escape his throat.

Pan Jing shook his head. “Too many know about his reputation and ability. There would be no way anyone would be comfortable with him walking freely without some kind of restriction.”

His words were right. Even just wandering the halls of the guild, it was obvious no one wanted anything to do with Feng Xi, either because of his infamy or his ability. No one wanted to get close enough to have their ability stolen by Siege for whatever reason. That’s not to mention the fact that other guild leaders would be outraged, and then all fingers would be pointed at Wuxian for bringing Feng Xi back.

Feng Xi reached out, placing a hand gently on Wuxian’s shoulder. “It’s okay,” he said, voice low enough to where only Wuxian could hear him. “I… I’ll get used to it, I’m sure.”

 

Wuxian didn’t respond, deep in thought for a moment before he spoke once more. “What if I were to stay with him in Long You?”

 

The words didn’t process in Feng Xi’s head right away, turning them over this way and that as all he could do was stand there in shock. Pan Jing also didn’t speak for a while before he sighed heavily. “You’re an Executor, you can’t be tied down to one place for too long. His sentence is going to take a few years for him to fulfill, I’m afraid you won’t be able to stay in Long You and complete your duties as an Executor at the same time.”

 

“Then… I no longer want to be an Executor.”

 

“Wuxian?”

Feng Xi watched in shock as Wuxian knelt to the ground and bowed. With Wuxian’s title and high rank among not only elfins but humans as well, Wuxian never had to bow to anyone, especially not like this. This wasn’t anything out of politeness or manners, this was Wuxian practically begging with all of his heart. “Please, allow me to hold off my title as Executor to live with Feng Xi until his sentence is over. You may do with me what you will, but let me stay with him.”

His position as Executor was something precious to Wuxian.

He had been practically raised inside the guild, being taught by the elfins that once lived here. He had an enormous sense of duty, and he had always felt it was his to give himself over to the guild as repayment for all they did for him, for taking him in, teaching him cultivation and how to fight, as well as welcome him in until they tossed him out.

Although he hated it, Feng Xi knew how important it was to Wuxian. He knelt down beside Wuxian, grabbing at his shoulders in an attempt to pull him up from the floor. “Wuxian, please, this isn’t worth it.” He hated how much the guild meant to Wuxian, but he couldn’t let Wuxian do this, he couldn’t just let him beg like this.

 

“Wuxian, rise.”

 

He didn’t move right away, but slowly, Wuxian sat up, still knelt to the floor with Feng Xi’s arms around him.

“... Do you trust Feng Xi that much?” Pan Jing asked. “If anything goes wrong, there’s a chance blame could fall onto you.”

Wuxian paused, slowly turning to look at Feng Xi, noticing his worried expression, and knew deep in his heart that this is what he wanted. For once, he was going to do what he wanted to do, and not what was expected of him. He wants to be with Feng Xi more than anything, even if that meant leaving the guild. Wuxian nodded. “I would trust him with my life.”

There was so much weight to his words that Feng Xi felt his chest tightened, knowing that this time he was Wuxian’s first choice.

Pan Jing paused for a moment as he stood there thinking, perhaps also giving Wuxian some time to think it over and change his mind, but after it was clear he wasn't going to, Pan Jing spoke. "I never thought you would do something like this, but perhaps love is something that changes us all. I'll allow you to stay with Feng Xi within Long You, and I won't order that he wear bracelets again, but in exchange you will be given work in this guild and through Long You. Your position as Executor won't be stripped, and you'll be able to return to your current ranking once his sentence is over."

Feng Xi never imagined that anyone within the guild would show him any mercy, would give him even the slightest bit of happiness, but Pan Jing's words made his chest tighten, and suddenly become overfilled with happiness.

He didn't want Wuxian to lose everything he's worked for, but he wanted Wuxian by his side more than anything, and for now, he was going to be selfish and take what he could get, as the two of them smiled at each other, full of love and warmth.

 

 

The meeting with Pan Jing didn't take much longer after that, and once it was over, they were told they could return to Long You now, as long as Feng Xi's spiritual energy was checked every day and they both took it easy for a while.

As they waited for someone to find Xiao Hei for them, they stood on the docks of the guild together silently.

"Are you sure you want to go through with this?" Feng Xi couldn't help but ask. "It's not too late to go back and change your mind."

Wuxian shook his head. "I've thought about this for many years, and how this was something I should've done from the beginning. I know that it's not your home in the forest, but once your sentence is over, I'll help you find a new home, one that the guild won't be able to touch."

In the beginning, Wuxian had been scared of leaving the guild, scared of going to someplace new and accentually leaving his home, which, in the end, just got rid of him. He hasn't had a place to actually call home in so long now, he wasn't sure what that felt like until recently.

And Feng Xi had forgotten as well, as each place he went to was taken from him time and time again, that he lost track of how many places he tried calling home, and stopped allowing himself to get comfortable enough to call it as such. Home felt like such a foreign thing now.

But after so long, both of them finally found meaning in that again. Not in a place, but in each other, and with Xiao Hei.

With the sky a backdrop of white and blue, Wuxian held his hand out to Feng Xi, as Xiao Hei's voice could now be heard in the distance.

They still have a lot to figure out, and a lot of trials and tribulations certainly waiting ahead of them, but they'll also have joy waiting for them at the end.

Smiling, Feng Xi took Wuxian's outstretched hand.

 

They were ready to go home.

Chapter Text

The day was hot, and on the brink of overwhelmingly so, as the sun bore down onto the earth without a single cloud in the sky to bring on temporary relief from the harsh heat. It provided a chance for others to go outside without a care in the world and have fun, finding ways to escape the heat.

It was easy to be unbothered by heat through the use of spiritual energy, if one chose to do so, and right now, Feng Xi was really missing that ability. His and Wuxian’s spiritual energy was still low from their attempts, and success, at stopping Ruination from destroying Long You, having only been just a few short days since it happened. Luckily, their wounds were healing rather quickly, and their spiritual energy will return to normal in a matter of two to three weeks.

However, that wasn’t helping their situation now, as Feng Xi brought his hand up to block out the bright light from the sun and looked up at the sky, trying to spot a cloud that might have drifted into the sky, only to be met with an endless blue.

With a small sigh, Feng Xi lowered his arm and started walking.

It was so strange how this large city is so oblivious to the destruction it almost faced and lives almost lost. Not even elfins were fully aware of what had gone on, simply because no one else knew about Xing and her ability. They were all going about their days, completely unaware.

They had no idea that Feng Xi prevented this city from being destroyed because of those he loves and cares for, especially for one stubborn human. If it wasn’t for that, Long You would’ve been doomed, turned to nothing but ash and rubble by now.

But he couldn’t bear to rip away a place Luo Zhu has strangely decided to call home once again. He couldn’t take away the city that Xiao Hei found so much joy running around and exploring with his friends in. Ruo Shui and Zi Luolan loved Long You and the lives they’ve built around it. And Wuxian worked hard to protect it, to protect all the humans and elfins alike that live within it, willing to even potentially put his own life on the line to make sure they all had a chance at living to tomorrow.

Really, Feng Xi didn’t care about these humans, or the gross concrete and man-made objects that were far too noisy, far too large and far too disgusting, but his loved ones that cared for it made it so he cared for it too.

 

And, just maybe, he could eventually learn to see what it is about this place everyone else sees.

 

Walking into the apartment building, the cold air was extremely welcoming as Feng Xi rode the elevator up, almost pressing the wrong floor number simply out of habit. It’ll take some time to get used to the new floor number.

As he stepped off the elevator, Feng Xi took note of how one of the doors in the hall was wide open, with a tall elfin leaning against the doorway. Looking at her, there was a sense of familiarity in her, but no matter what, Feng Xi couldn’t figure out why, so he simply shrugged it off and started walking.

The elfin looked up as Feng Xi walked closer, silently watching him as he passed by. He didn’t get very far, because she called after him.

“You’re one of the new tenants on this floor, aren’t you?” she asked.

Stopping in his tracks, Feng Xi turned around and nodded. Getting a closer look like this, there was definitely something familiar about her.

“Nice to meet you, then,” she said, nodding in return. “My name is--”

Whatever her name was, Feng Xi wasn’t able to catch it, as something from inside the apartment she was standing in the doorway of crashed loudly, followed by a shout of surprise. Soon after, another elfin, shorter than the other one, came rushing to the doorway, a thin trail of smoke following her as she coughed.

The taller one frowned, looking at the other elfin with worry. “I told you not to do that.”

“I thought I--” cough cough “--I thought I had it this time!!”

“You said that last time as well, love. You might as well give up on it and let the guild take it over.”

Feng Xi was completely lost to the conversation, not understanding a single thing these two were saying. However, he did notice that the shorter elfin that just entered the conversation was extremely familiar. Once he figured out why, he was then able to understand why the taller one was familiar as well.

 

They were the two elfins Wuxian and he fought together so many years back, the ones that were hunting for Ruo Shui!

 

“Seems like he caught on to us,” the shorter one said, causing Feng Xi to blink and look at them back and forth for a moment.

“Aren’t the two of you criminals?” Feng Xi asked. Last he remembered, they were captured by the guild after taking both Wuxian and him down, locked away for who knows how long. He had lost interest in them after the incident, so there wasn’t a lot he could remember about them.

“We used to be. I’m Shanlian, and this is my partner, Zhao Yu,” the taller one, Shanlian, said. “It’s an extremely long story, but we’re no longer classified as criminals.”

“Hey hey, is it true you’re with that really weird Executor, Wuxian?” Zhao Yu jumps in, a weird sparkle in her eyes that Feng Xi could tell only meant trouble. “I’ve heard that he moved here recently and gave up his position as Executor, is that who you’re living with right now? Honestly, I didn’t think that would happen, since you’re also a criminal and all.”

The onslaught of questions and endless chatter from Zhao Yu made Feng Xi’s head swim, trying to figure out what she was saying and the best way to respond. Luckily, Shanlian came to his rescue, placing her hand firmly on Zhao Yu’s shoulder and pulling her back a little. “Come on now, leave him be. I only stopped him to welcome him, not so you could bombard him with questions.”

“I’m only asking cause I’m curious.”

“Another time, let him get settled in first.” Shanlian turned back to Feng Xi, bowing her head a little in apology before speaking. “We’ll take our leave now. I hope that we’ll be able to properly introduce ourselves once you and Wuxian are settled in.”

Feng Xi was thankful for Shanlian’s calm nature and for pulling Zhao Yu back, both literally and figuratively. He gave them both a small smile as he nodded. “I hope our meeting will go better than it did the first time.”

Shanlian seemed to wince a little as she pushed a rebelling Zhao Yu back into their apartment. Just before Feng Xi could walk away, she once again called out to him, getting his attention. Shanlian seemed to struggle for a moment as she thought of something, looking down at the ground before looking back up at Feng Xi.

“Please, let Wuxian know I’m sorry. I heard about his scarring and I….”

She didn’t need to continue on for him to understand what she was trying to say. He could tell by looking at her that she felt true remorse over her actions, even if they had been done so many years ago under different circumstances. He could fully relate to what she was feeling.

“I’ll be sure to let him know.”

Her shoulders seem to sag a little, as if a weight had been taken off of her. Shanlian nodded one last time before closing the door behind her, leaving Feng Xi alone in the hallway. It was strange to see them after so many years, giving almost no thought to either of them until now. They had just become one of the many elfins he had fought in his time as being an Executor, paths he never crossed again.

He was glad to find out that they have been well.

Without any more distractions, Feng Xi walked the short distance to his own door--knowing instantly that it was unlocked-- and went inside.

 

This apartment was a bit bigger than the one he had been living in previously, as it had two bedrooms instead of one, with a larger kitchen and living area. Objects were scattered about, not yet finding a suitable place for them, causing the open space to look cluttered, but they would get through it eventually.

“I’m back,” Feng Xi called out into the apartment as he took off his shoes. He had expected to be tackled by Xiao Hei the moment he entered, so the fact that he managed to get his shoes off so far without the young elfin running at him made Feng Xi raise his eyebrows, walking past all the clutter and to the one room with its doors open.

Standing in the room, Wuxian held something in his hands, looking at it with furrowed brows, as if he was trying to figure it out. His attention instantly drew away from it the moment he noticed Feng Xi in the room, and his expression softened greatly.

“Oh, welcome home,” Wuxian said.

For some reason, hearing Wuxian greet him like that, and knowing that Feng Xi will be able to do so as well for now on, sent a shiver down his spine and made his chest feel light. Trying to hide the blush that was sure to be on his face, Feng Xi reached into the bag he was holding and handed Wuxian a cold bottled water, which Wuxian took with a grateful look in his eyes. “Where’s Xiao Hei?”

“Went to go be with his friends for a bit,” Wuxian answered as he twisted off the cap to the bottle and gulped down almost half of its contents.

Feng Xi frowned. Xiao Hei had practically begged for him to get a specific kind of juice, only to leave while he was out getting it? “Did he at least finish up his room?”

Wuxian nodded, setting down the bottle and sitting on the large bare mattress. “Mn. He said for us not to go in.”

“That explains why the door is closed then,” Feng Xi sighed, setting the bag next to Wuxian’s bottle, taking out his own water bottle from within the bag, drinking just as much as Wuxian had. Xiao Hei can have his juice when he gets back then, it just probably won’t be as cold by then. Well, that’s what he gets for ditching them.

Setting down the bottle, Feng Xi walks over to the bed, sitting down beside Wuxian before allowing gravity to take over and fall backwards with a loud, tired sigh. The heat outside was annoying, and they have been trying to get this new apartment set up all day. Really, they didn’t have many possessions between the three of them, but they wanted to make it feel like a home as much as possible. They wanted to make it feel more like theirs. Feng Xi had tried to do that with the smaller apartment, but it always felt like there had been something missing.

Now he knows what it had been missing.

“At least we got a bigger place to stay in,” Feng Xi smiled a little. “Can you imagine all three of us living in the previous apartment?”

Wuxian didn’t say anything right away, as he lay down next to Feng Xi, although a lot softer than when Feng Xi had practically thrown himself down. “Xing chose a good place.”

At mention of the other elfin, Feng Xi felt his chest twist a little bit in worry.

Xing won’t be able to leave the guild again for a while, she had told them that before they left. What had looked like bandages wrapped around her body had actually been some kind of spiritual energy suppressant, as her human body had been torn apart. Not only did she need a new body created, but she also would need a new pair of bracelets.

Apparently, the process was one that would take a long time.

He ached a little for her, as she was once again trapped within the guild, unable to leave for who knows how long, but there was nothing he could do about it.

 

“Feng Xi…”

He blinked, not having realized he had completely zoned out for a moment, and turned his head to look at Wuxian, who was already staring at him. “What is it?”

Once again, Wuxian didn’t say anything right away. He didn’t even move for a few moments, just staring at Feng Xi with such a gentle gaze that he didn’t know how to react, feeling his face heating up in embarrassment, but Feng Xi waited patiently for Wuxian. He’d wait however long Wuxian needed now, knowing that hesitation wasn’t something he needed to fear from Wuxian.

 

However, the intense gaze was a little much…!

 

With slow movements, Wuxian moved so he was now supported by his elbow, leaning over Feng Xi a little bit before giving a small, soft smile that matched the gentle gaze, all of which made Feng Xi’s breath catch in his throat.

At this moment, Feng Xi couldn’t bring himself to care about the almost unbearable heat with how close they were, all he could think about was how this was everything he could ever want.

“I told myself that if we were to survive our ordeal with Xing, then I would tell you what I should’ve said long ago.”

Whatever he has to say must be important, as Wuxian struggles to say what he wants, so Feng Xi raises his eyebrows a little bit. “What do you want to say, then?”

“You don’t have to say anything back. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to. I just thought I should tell you…”

The pause didn’t last as long this time, but Feng Xi held his breath for what felt like an eternity.

 

 

“I love you, Feng Xi.”

 

 

There was always little ways that Wuxian showed his feelings, preferring to show them through actions rather than words, so hearing Wuxian say those words, and say them first between the two of them, made the impact all the more devastating to Feng Xi’s heart.

The confession shook him to his very core.

Feng Xi felt like he couldn’t say it out loud. Not yet, at least. There was still so much they needed to work through together, so he couldn’t bring himself to say it just yet, but his heart felt as though it was going to leap out of his chest.

Without needing nor expecting an answer, Wuxian instead asked a question Feng Xi would be able to answer. “Can I kiss you?”

“You’ve already kissed me plenty of times without asking,” Feng Xi said, scoffing a little at the ridiculousness of the question, but he couldn’t help but smile. “Of course.”

Their kiss was nothing more than a soft press of the lips, unhurried. A promise for many more to come, more kisses, more gentle touches and soft gazes full of love, a wanting that was now within reach.

For the first time, Feng Xi was grateful to have been brought back to life, as he wouldn’t trade this current life for anything in the world. All he wants is to stay in this moment of peace and happiness forever.

 

 

Much too soon for Feng Xi’s liking, Wuxian pulled away, his breath warm across Feng Xi’s lips as he spoke. “Let’s get the rest of this place put together before nightfall.”

Wuxian pulls away further and leaves Feng Xi’s embrace, causing the elfin to now feel cold despite the overwhelming heat outside. With a frown that was borderline pouting, Feng Xi reluctantly sat up and watched as Wuxian stood, walking over to where he had left his water bottle and take another drink from it.

As he watched, Feng Xi frowned. There was something different about Wuxian, and for a moment, he couldn’t quite figure out what it was, as everything seemed to be in order. When he did, his eyebrows shot up.

“Is that my sash?”

Wuxian, who had his hair up in a ponytail, had it held up by a black length of fabric, the ends of it loose and down to his shoulders. It had taken the human a moment to understand what Feng Xi was talking about, but realization dawned on him when he saw one of the ends hanging.

“It is. You practically destroyed what I normally use to tie my hair up, and I couldn’t find anything else.”

Laughter bubbled up inside of Feng Xi until he couldn’t hold it back anymore, amused by the ridiculousness of it, since there were other things laying around that Wuxian could’ve used that would’ve been more suitable to tie back his hair with, but instead he used something of Feng Xi’s.

 

Really, he wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.