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You Know Me Too Well

Chapter Text

The Domain that trapped Longyou finally disappeared.

 

Your hands wrapped around a vine as you watched the commotion from the top of a tree on a nearby mountain, but far enough for the Guild to sense your fading energy. You trained your eyes over to the middle of the city, watching a forest flourish with speed within the damaged buildings.

 

You would've thought that FengXi was fighting back once again, but as you felt his spirit lose its energy, you knew he had lost. FengXi is dead and the war is finally over.

 

For you, at least, but not for them.

 

You had merely escaped the hands of the exterminators, away from the city and deep into the woods. You're absolutely done for if they ever caught up because you knew they wouldn't stop until they caught every last person connected to FengXi, but you wanted nothing to do with him anymore. Not after what he did to XiaoHei.

 

The guilt that you felt was eating you alive. You could've helped him, but you didn't.

 

You couldn't . You were just as scared and equally shocked as anyone was in that building when FengXi began to take the kid's Domain ability for himself.

 

However, it wasn't just Xiaohei that got his powers stolen. The wood spirit took something in you as well, but you couldn't quite figure it out because to your knowledge, you still had your plant magic.

 

But you wouldn't compare yourself to what Hei had gone through. For all you know, Xiaohei could be dead, while you're here out of reach from humankind and revering at your temporary freedom.

 

After setting yourself down and leaning your head on the tree trunk, your ears twitched as you felt a sudden gust of hot air overwhelm the cold morning breeze, the branch that you perched on shifting its weight that signaled someone's arrival.

 

You couldn't even bother looking at whoever it is. You can't fight anymore. You're tired.

 

The throbbing pain in your chest still tugged on your heart and it killed you inside just to make the tiniest movements.

 

You closed your eyes shut and waited for a blade, elemental magic, or even just a punch, but nothing came.

 

A few moments have passed but the only thing that came was a sudden surge of energy being restored to your soul.

 

"What are you doing?" You murmured as you shifted in your place in an attempt to face them, forcing an eye open as your cloudy vision got clearer by each passing second.

 

"Stay still ." They said, keeping you in your place as they firmly gripped on your shoulders with flaming hands.

 

Your attention drifted from the magic to the person whom it belonged to, seeking an answer to who your savior might be.

 

You didn't even have to look at his face, the double hair buns on his head already gave it away.

 

Your eyes locked itself in place with the realization that it was Nezha, the literal Third Lotus Prince in all his glory healing you with his own magic.

 

Nezha as in the same guy whom you've always tried to avoid whenever you're out for missions because he was one of the fire elementals that you dreaded greatly, simply because you weren't strong enough to create plants that can withstand his powers.

 

Though, the fire that blazed from his hands didn't burn. Instead, it gave you a warm feeling, something akin to a hearth that pushed your mind into tranquility.

 

You bathed in the silence as you let him heal you, his brows furrowing just a little bit further before releasing you from his hold with a huff.

 

He shook the remaining magic off his hands and stood, looking over his shoulders and the area surrounding you in case there were unwanted people who followed close.

 

"You need a place to rest. Come with me."

 

Nezha held out his hand as he kept an authoritative composure, his eyes glinting with worry– only if you look long enough.

 

You didn't know what he was offering, or if he wanted something out of this, but it somehow made you remember Xuhuai, having the same cold nature, but he was actually as caring as a brother, he just didn't like being open towards it.

 

Regardless of whoever he reminded you of, this was an exterminator you're talking about. You couldn't risk doing anything stupid now that you're still in a weak state as he didn't really heal you to the fullest, which was more questionable than reassuring.

 

"There's no way in hell I'm going back to that city." You scowled at him, hands instinctively reaching for the nearest branch you can hold onto.

 

"You don't have to. I have a temple not far away from here, you'll be safe there, I promise."

 

"How do I know you're not turning me over?" You asked, suspicion growing within each answer he gave you.

 

Nezha's lower eyelid twitches from your relentless resistance.

 

"If I was , then I probably would've done that a long time ago."

 

You still weren't as convinced. This was a high ranking Elfin and there wasn't a chance that he wasn't deceiving you by making you let your guard down.

 

With your newfound strength, you curled your fingers and summoned new branches from the one you both stood on. But before it could even wrap around his feet, he had already bolted towards you and sent a rather harsh chop on your neck with his hand, effectively knocking you out instantly.

 

Nezha got his hands on the back of your hanfu, catching your body before it could even fall to the forest floor.

 

He hunched you over to his shoulders and activated his fire wheels, the sound of your stable breathing easing up his anxiousness from the thought that he might have hit you too hard.

 

"Gods, you're really just as stubborn as they were."

 

— ❀ —

 

You snap your eyes open.

 

Everything was a blur– you couldn't see anything but faint silhouettes of items and furniture in the room that you were in, along with a blurry form of a person next to you, which you didn't pay much attention to because you were too busy minding the pounding headache that tormented you.

 

It took you a whole minute until you finally gained your vision back, only to realize that it was the same exterminator who knocked you out sitting by your side with no look of interest or whatsoever, just the usual deadpan that he always had on his face.

 

Except that he wasn't the young man you've always fought. It was a child.

 

You held eye contact with Nezha as he sipped on his beverage, his other hand emitting a soft pink glow that connected a string of energy to your chest. There was nothing else that you can focus on as you were absolutely baffled at how relaxed he was despite being in the same room as you.

 

"Hey."

 

What?

 

Without missing a beat, you jumped off the bed and clung to the corner of the room and summoned your vines, thorns, everything .

 

It almost broke through the wooden walls, but was immediately set ablaze and turned into ashes. It didn't even set any other thing on fire. The skill level of fire control was beyond your comprehension– it was like the flames were targeted at nothing but your plants.

 

"Great , you just snapped me out of concentration." He snarked, crossing his arms as he leaned back on his chair with a pout before commanding his sash to put you back on the bed and place a blanket over you.

 

You glared daggers at him as you desperately tried to get the sash off yourself, but you were only met with a scoff.

 

"I will not be apologizing for knocking you out, if that's what you're thinking." He said with a final tone before continuing to work with his healing magic.

 

Not like you were expecting him to apologize at all.

 

You purse your lips and lean back to the headboard, finally letting yourself relax in his presence as you felt the sash release you from its confinement, letting you know that he really was just trying to help you get your strength back… for some reason.

 

With the eye contact that you held earlier, you had an opportunity to get a better look at him. Nezha's body turned into a child, as it seems. His usual brushed back hair turned into neatly cut bangs but his iconic buns still remained on both sides of his head.

 

"Can't believe I got captured. By a kid , no less." You said out loud to no one in particular.

 

Nezha looked up at you as you gave him a side eye.

 

"I'm not a kid. This form is… simply more convenient for conserving energy."

 

You rolled your eyes with a faint smile. Yeah, it sure is a convenient form and totally not his original physique. He was probably more than 3000 years old but you couldn't deny that he did act like a kid– a teenager at best. It was just that he talked inconsistently as if he was fighting the urge to drop the 'tough and virtuous' act.

 

"And I didn't capture you, I promised to take you somewhere safe, didn't I?"

 

Up until now you didn't register that the clear morning skies and a vast pond filled with lotus flowers and water lilies outside the window give you the idea that you were in fact, in a room in his temple, not the Elfin Guild headquarters.

 

Everything was littered with gold and pink, lotus flowers were carved into wooden furniture as patterns, along with neatly arranged spears, staffs, and other various kinds of equipment resting on weapon racks against the walls. Not to forget the plum blossom candles placed stylishly on a lantern shaped candle holder.

 

Well look who's a fancy neat freak.

 

You didn't know if he's naturally like this, or if he only bothered to clean up knowing that he had a visitor in his temple, but you still appreciated the effort to keep the place clean. You're more than thankful that he went on his way to save and help you patch up, yet the doubt already planted itself in your brain.

 

You didn't want to be rude and assume the worst in your situation, but you just didn't expect one of the founding deities of the Elfin Guild to aid you.

 

He and the entire guild knew who you were and what you’ve done to their members, yet here he is, taking pity on you of all people.

 

You hang your head low with regrets, hand aimlessly reaching for your hair before realizing that the white streaks haven't disappeared as you had hoped.

 

Nezha then noticed your distaste towards your hair and moved his chair closer, "Scoot over." He said.

 

You raised a brow at him but you still compiled without a word.

 

The healing magic on his hand dispelled as he took the white hair that you held off your hands and traced the locks with his fingers, you realized–

 

He was putting glamour on it.

 

Never once have you learned how to put glamour on yourself because FengXi always did it for you. He hid your scars, or unwanted battle trophies, as you'd call them, and things that had to be cleared out of view. 

 

You thought no one could ever hide those scars from you anymore now that you've lost him but coincidentally, Nezha came along.

 

You watched from the mirror on the other side of the room as the white tufts blended with your hair one by one, slowly returning it to its natural color.

 

You tried not to wince but he just kept missing a few strands that left him no choice but to pull on it– which was really painful on your scalp.

 

"If you're wondering, Xiaohei is doing well. He became Wuxian's student, just as the kid requested." He said, "As for Luozhu and Xuhuai, well… they're captured. Luozhu seems to be more cooperative than the others so it's more than likely for him to get released soon."

 

It was slightly out of the blue, but perhaps he had taken notice of the way your nose scrunched up whenever you zoned in and out of your thoughts. (More like he thought you were in deep thought because you were actually wincing from the pain)

 

A quiet yet breathy laughter escaped your lips as weight seemed to lift itself off your shoulders upon hearing the news. Luozhu complying with the guilds' wishes was expected as he had always been the easiest person anyone could easily get along with. But for Xiaohei? It was just impressive.

 

That kid really managed to survive after getting his spatial magic stolen away from him.

 

Wuxian was one of the people that you had a great repulsion with due to your long history of constant battles so you were more than worried, but you're not in the place to tell the kid what to do.

 

At least Xiaohei found someone he can look up to as his teacher.

 

Nezha had his finger on the deep scar that ran along your brow for a moment, face contorting into one of indecisiveness.

 

"I think I'll leave this one alone, it looks badass." He shrugged, letting the scar stay free of glamour from your face.

 

Nezha's chair screeched against the wooden floors as he stood upon finishing his task.

 

"Stay there, I'll get you some tea."

 

Nezha then left the room and closed the door with a silent click.

 

You traced your fingers on the areas of your face that you knew had scars, finding out that it was only the brow cut that he had left, with the one that reached across the bridge of your nose hidden a little bit too well.

 

Which was funny, because it actually was caused by Nezha's fire tipped spear.

 

It was a pretty violent first meeting that you can't exactly remove from your brain, vividly remembering the way he threw the spear straight at you with no second thoughts.

 

You were lucky that FengXi pushed you away just in time, but it still grazed over your skin. You were only thankful that you had a mask at the time so there wasn't much damage.

 

Nezha might be feeling sorry for hurting you in the past that's why he's helping you, but this will probably be yet another temporary aid.

 

You put both of your hands onto your face and slid them down to your chin with a heavy sigh. You really can't stress about anything but the decisions that you have to make and where you're going after you've healed. You couldn't really go back to the city anymore especially since you didn't want to get sentenced to death by the guild masters, but you can't exactly move out either.

 

You've lived most of your life with friends who each had specific purposes to carry out for the group, just like how Tianhu was always the one on hunting and cooking duty, whilst Luozhu and Xuhuai were the ones that kept your island on the lookout for any possible intruders.

 

And you… well, you were FengXi's assistant. A right hand man, if you will.

 

There wasn't a day that FengXi went to the human populated areas without you, always keeping you by his side as you slowly took back lands that once belonged to them.

 

You'd hate to admit but you're pretty dependent on people. Most people would assume that rogues would know how to live alone, but you really can't. You wouldn't risk being alone even if you did know how to survive without anyone's help because the last time you were all by yourself, you were shunned.

 

Just a helpless child being called the most vile names and thrown rocks just because of a simple ability to manipulate life. It wasn't even life threatening, and as far as you knew it was more of a blessing than a curse. You controlled the growth of plants yet they still feared you for it due to how you used a variety of harmful plants to protect yourself.

 

"Gods, where am I even supposed to go…" you whispered to yourself.

 

You fought the urge to close your eyes as you gripped a handful of your hair, the sweet aroma of plum blossoms that came from the candles lulling you back to sleep.

 

You didn't even want to leave. This was the safest you have felt in years due to the fact that you were always on the run from the guilds.

 

Even if you have only talked with Nezha for a few hours at best, you already gave your trust into the kid.

 

As a wanted demon, it was obviously a stupid decision to make, but he's already come a long way to keep yourself from denying his efforts to help you with whatever reason he has.

 

A second wave of sleepiness hit you, your body was practically begging you to take yet another rest.

 

This time you didn't resist it. 

 

Nezha's tea can wait.

Chapter Text

Hours turned into days and days turned into weeks as you started to help keep things in order around the secluded temple after finally being strong enough to move on your own.

 

In all honesty, the place was more of a siheyuan than a temple. The residence had multiple unoccupied rooms, even having a garden and a koi fountain located in the middle courtyard which kind of served as an open spot for Nezha to fly and land on, paired with his bad habit of barging into the front door and breaking it in the process, just because he can. Which also broke your first impression of him being a neat freak.

 

Turns out, his room had a lot of video games in it, not to mention the large poster of a bug game above his bed's headboard that he somehow managed to hide and cover with tapestry when you first arrived.

 

It was like a completely different person compared to the one you were fighting back when you were still a rogue demon.

 

He wasn't home most of the time, but he still cooked large servings of breakfast before leaving you to tend to yourself the whole day while he was doing god knows what.

 

Sometimes you wake up earlier than he does and you'd rush to the kitchen and try to make decent food (because– heh– you're not really one of the best cook out there) and when Nezha finally leaves his room, he'd be on the kitchen table sleepily waiting for food… while playing on his phone.

 

Like the kid that he is.

 

Though most of the time he shakes you awake to say 'Hey I'm leaving now. I made breakfast.' and just leaves without another word.

 

He's doing missions for the Elfin Guild obviously, but when you first saw him come home with his celestial armor, the reality that you were living in an actual god's temple began to sink in.

 

You've always known him as this trendy kid that fits in with the rest of the humans with his preferred clothing style.

 

It wasn't much as it consisted of a shirt with a NAZA print, a blue and white bomber jacket and his iconic camouflage shorts with leggings underneath.

 

You didn't know if it was a NASA™ pun on his shirt or if he was wearing his own merch, but it made him look nerdy nonetheless.

 

In a good way, that is. Gotta be the supportive friend, y'know.

 

He switched between a few styles and that's it, up till you saw him wearing that gold plated lotus armor. It was just something so grandiose and you were not used to it at all.

 

It's actually been a couple of months since you got stranded in the god's temple, yet he still didn't give any hints on when you're free to leave.

 

Even with his frequent absence, you still didn't dare escape. You actually thought about it a few times,

 

until today, that is.

 

You sat on the kitchen table as you mindlessly played with a stress ball that you stole– ahem– borrowed from Nezha. It was already 8 in the evening and the sun had already disappeared from the horizon when you heard a splash of water from the koi fountain.

 

Nezha just crashed (rather gracefully, as it seems) onto the courtyard, busting the door open with a wide grin on his face, his armillary sash wrapped around a large box following right behind him.

 

"Guess what I got."

 

He had a triumphant look as he playfully spun his spear before setting it down on the table along with the box.

 

You carefully eyed the item and brought it closer to your face as you inspected it.

 

It was four square boxes the size of a thick book stacked on top of each other, each carefully sealed shut with a golden lid engraved with tiny jade stones.

 

"Well? What are you waiting for? Open it." He said as he walked to the counter to get three bowls of rice that he had previously cooked this morning and cutlery for the both of you.

 

Reluctantly, you took the one on the very top and carefully lifted off the covers.

 

A puff of hot steam escaped the box and you were immediately greeted with a thick savory smell.

 

"It's food from the Celestial Realm. Erlang let me bring a few boxes home from the banquet."

 

Your jaw dropped. Nezha wasn't joking . He actually came from a fest in the Celestial Realm with Erlang Shen. No wonder the food smelled so heavenly!

 

"You did just not get takeouts from a party in heaven." You said in between laughter.

 

There was no way that the Celestial Realm didn't hold banquets so often to the point people (it's Nezha. Nezha is people) were freely allowed to take whatever food they liked back to their humble abodes.

 

You chuckled, not just from joy, but also from disbelief when Nezha's grin seemed to get wider when he began to take the lids off the other boxes.

 

The entire kitchen was filled with some sort of golden mist as soon as all of them were opened. It wasn't even just a simple meal for one sitting– it was an entire menu that could actually last you both for more than a week.

 

If it doesn't spoil as fast as normal human food does, that is. You didn't know how Celestial Realm food worked so you could only assume.

 

"How old are you?" Nezha suddenly asked.

 

Your brows knitted together as you were taken aback from the unexpected question.

 

You scratched the back of your head when you realized that you almost forgot how old you were.

 

"I'm uh… I'm a hundred and seven–"

 

"Damn." He blurted out.

 

You squinted at the young god with a frown, the chopsticks on your hand snapping in half as he snorted at your reaction.

 

"And you're over three thousand years old, what's your point, grampy? "

 

"I'm sOrry –" He squeaked, clearing his throat as he avoided your deathly gaze, "Just wanted to know if you're immortal or not. Food from the Celestial Realm isn't really made for mortals."

 

"Then why did you bring a week's worth of food if you weren't sure that I was an immortal?"

 

"Well you just confirmed that you are one, didn't you?"

 

You crossed your arms, "I didn't confirm anything. I only said I was a hundred and seven years old– I live just as long as any other demon out there."

 

"A yaoguai, yes, I know , now eat this." Nezha rolled his eyes and dismissed the topic before shoving a whole piece of xiaolongbao in your mouth with his chopsticks.

 

You almost spit the dumplings out because of how hot it was, but you still tried your best to not get your mouth burned, eventually getting it to cool off.

 

"This is so… so good!" You said, taking your time to chew the soup dumplings as you savored its taste,  "Gods, I would steal a few more of these if I got the chance."

 

Nezha choked upon your declaration and set his bowl down.

 

"Uh, no you won't?" Nezha snapped, "We don't need another thief. Sun Wukong already crashed into the banquet earlier today and I was the one who had to clean up after his mess."

 

"The Monkey King?"

 

Nezha hummed in agreement.

 

"The one that beat your ass three thousand years ago?"

 

Nezha nodded his h– wait, what?

 

The god slammed his hands on the table with childish anger after registering what you just said.

 

"Excuse you but he did not beat my ass! I fought with all my might, I wasn't just as strong as he was at the time."

 

"So he did beat your ass!" You countered.

 

"No he didn't! I– ugh, you know what? You're now on dish washing duty for that. No take." He said, taking full offense on your words.

 

"Wh– You can't just put me on washing duty for telling the truth!?"

 

"Actually, yes, yes I can. This is my temple and I make the rules."

 

You leaned back on your chain and crossed your arms with a huff, "Why did you even let me stay this long anyway?" You asked.

 

Not that you were complaining; you didn't really expect that the 'stern and dignified crown prince' setup that he made for the public turns into 'an average 12 year old that wants to tell you about the cool stuff that he did' the moment he enters the safety of his temple.

 

You really thought he was stoic 24/7.

 

Apparently, that was a lie.

 

You looked at him with patience, waiting for his answer as his smile slowly shifted into an awkward one with an audible gulp.

 

He tried to avoid the topic by walking over to the kitchen counter and getting his third cup of rice for the night.

 

"Nezha."

 

You heard a heavy sigh as he put the rice cooker's lid back on.

 

"Consider it as an… apology for trying to turn you over to the guild. It's just that you remind me of someone I knew." He said, giving into your persistence and went back to his chair with a heavy sigh.

 

He was rather pretty close to the said person as if they were his family. It may not be by blood but he still considered them as one.

 

You opened your mouth to ask about it, but Nezha shot you down.

 

"They're not here anymore. It doesn't matter whether I tell you their name or not." He sulked, resting his head against his palm as he poked around his food with the chopsticks.

 

"...Do I remind you of your old self?"

 

He looked up at you without moving his head and chuckled at your assumption. Well, he couldn't really say you were wrong.

 

"I was talking about a sibling but close enough."

 

You were somehow right. You were the Nezha that he once knew, violent and fueled with hate.

 

You didn't know the entire story but it was really obvious how he didn't like being stuck in the age his body died in.

 

He may have become a celestial, but with him being chained eternally in a 12 year old body meant being confined to the wrongdoings that he committed during his lifetime as a mortal and you? You weren't so different.

 

You both had your own errors, but what was important is that you're trying to fix it.

 

"I can volunteer to be your new sibling if you need someone to remind you of stuff." You said with a grin, pointing at him who unconsciously turned back into his real body.

 

Nezha’s mind went blank.

 

Did you just… did you just adopt him?

 

Nezha then put his hands over his forehead, and upon making contact with his dearly detested bangs, he immediately turned in a fit of embarrassment and panic, his hands frantically brushing over his hair and face as he applied glamour from his face and down to his legs.

 

 

"Oh c'mon now, it's not that bad."

 

"I take it back. I don't want to be your brother anymore. I'll cut your fucking bangs." He threatened, turning around promptly to glare daggers at you before going back to his glamour business in a hurry.

 

It was a funny sight, but it still looked really weird having to see his un-glamoured legs be shorter than his arms that already had its disguise on, kinda like the way a beginner artist cannot properly draw legs after only drawing torsos their entire life.

 

You weren't really angry at how he casually changed tones because if someone were to ask you, this was a lot better than having to deal with a god who spoke formally as if it's a sacred virtue.

 

You would rather call it… a positive kind of shock considering that this deity just cursed with no hesitation or whatsoever.

 

The god of youth, you reminded yourself, this was the god of youth. There is no doubt he's going to keep up with all the kids and teens that worship him and take up a few of their habits.

 

Including bad ones.

 

"Hurry up and finish your food or I'm gonna leave you to do the dishes." You said as you started picking up used plates.

 

"Don't you dare ." He spat.

 

It would really depend on the situation to say who's the older sibling from the two of you, but at this point it didn't matter anymore.

 

Nezha is a good kid– a little bit headstrong at times but that was the best part.

 

You'd pray to the gods to never take this away from you because for the first time in decades, you finally felt at home.

Chapter Text

"What do you want?" You eyed the purple haired man with caution, teeth bared as you tried to ward him off with fruitless threats.

 

The humans have thrown you into the nearest back alley after getting caught trying to steal food. You couldn't even hunt for small critters nor fruits because they're all guarded by humans armed with their filthy guns that were sure to kill in a single shot.

 

You've tried to leave, traveling for hundreds of kilometers away but there was nowhere you could go. There were no forests, no lakes or even gardens, and if there were, they were all contaminated with filth and human waste.

 

No matter where you eyes landed on, there were only buildings, tall scary ones, like skyscrapers that touched the clouds with ease and it made you wonder–

 

How were the sinners closer to the heavens than spirits were?

 

You didn't know where you came from or who your parents were but you knew one thing and it was that you were a guardian.

 

You protected forests and talked to the birds as if they were your family, yet here you were being deprived of the things you were born to protect because of this silly little thing that humans liked to call innovation.

 

How could they call destroying a spirit's home 'innovation'?

 

The man tried taking a small step forward, but it only sent you back, drawing out your claws from your hands as another threat.

 

"Come closer and I'll kill you." You warned.

 

He held out his hand over to you with a gentle smile. On his palm was an apple, ripe and freshly picked from its tree.

 

Where did he get even that?

 

If someone saw him right now, it would probably look like he was taming a feral beast.

 

You stared at the fruit at hand, tempted at the urge to take the food and run but you feared he'd run after you and hunt you down.

 

"It's okay. I've noticed that you weren't getting any catches for the past few days so I had to at least give you something to eat." He said and crouched down to the ground, taking note of your hesitance.

 

"My name is FengXi."

 

He was watching you… he's been watching you– spying on you for a week and you didn’t know. 

 

"You're going to kill me, aren't you?" You said, retreating your hands to yourself before taking a few more steps back.

 

"No, not at all. I'm trying to help you, actually." He sat on the floor and made himself comfortable as he still held the fruit in his hand with care.

 

"Why?"

 

"Humans took your forest away from you, didn't they?"

 

You clicked your tongue and looked away but you nodded nonetheless.

 

You hated how he was right.

 

"Then come with me. We'll take our home back. Together."

 

FengXi looked straight into your eyes and began to slowly morph into his beast form.

 

A black panther– that was what he was.

 

His fur glistened like water dew under the morning sun, yet his purple eyes held something more. You felt his rage, his fear and the heavy grudge that his heart held onto like a prized possession.

 

He was a spirit, a beast– a demon, just like you.

 

His goals were yours and yours were his. You both had the same dream– to take back your lands and live in solitude within nature, just the way you all used to be. No humans, no invasive industries, no nothing. Just the earth, the spirits and a family you have always wished to have.

 

But it was just a dream, nothing more.

 

You can never achieve the peace that you longed for because it was all a dream and you have to wake up.

 

It's never going to happen, (Y/N).

 

Wake up.

 

"(Y/N), wake up!"

 

You felt a hand on both of your arms as you were being shaken back to consciousness.

 

Nezha sat on the side of your bed looking like you had just injured yourself again.

 

"Are you alright?" He asked. "I heard you thrashing around so I got worried."

 

You wanted to tell him no. No, you were not fine.

 

You just wanted to forget everything. Forget FengXi, his lies and the hate for humans that he planted in your heart that you shamelessly flourished into your own hatred.

 

You looked down onto your lap and grasped the end of Nezha's jacket. You tried to speak but the lump in your throat kept you from doing so, with only choked sobs and broken words escaping your lips.

 

"You don't have to talk about it, (Y/N). It's just a nightmare. It's not real."

 

Except it was very much real. It was a flash of memory– the exact same thing that happened when you had first had a proper conversation with FengXi after running after one another for countless days.

 

"I'll be leaving for a guild meeting in a bit, but I still have something to show you. I'll be in the courtyard when you're ready." He gave you a pat on the back and left your room.

 

As you sat on your bed, your room began to turn deafeningly quiet that it brought ringing to your ears. You opened the windows to break the silence, letting the fresh morning breeze into your room and breathed it in, instantly bringing clarity in your senses.

 

You really needed to let FengXi go. You had to let your dead best friend go but you can't. Not yet, at least. You just need more time. Maybe a few months– probably even years, but you'll get over it.

 

It's just that you don't know how.

 

You took yet another deep breath and sighed, swinging your legs off the bed and stood up, deciding that you've been mulling for too long that Nezha's probably getting impatient.

 

As soon as you changed out of your night clothes, you met up with your brother in the courtyard who had his arms crossed, head facing upwards as if he was waiting for something to fall down.

 

You wondered at what got his attention and mirrored him.

 

As you looked up to the sky, you spotted Wuxian, the strongest human from the Spirit Guild flying towards the temple– towards you .

 

Your breath hitched and began to see red. You didn't know what to feel first, anger or fear– maybe both .

 

The stress broke almost all of the weak glamours placed on your body as you clenched your hands, the urge to throw fists was strong but you couldn't move from immense panic. You felt your knees weaken, fighting between the decision of whether you should run away or straight to the incoming exterminator.

 

You looked at Nezha, scared and confused. He shook his head and held your wrist as he gave them a quick squeeze of reassurance.

 

"(Y/N)!" A young voice called with glee and jumped off WuXian, practically throwing themself onto you like a massive plush toy and resting their chin on your shoulder with a boyish giggle.

 

"We found you!"

 

Your breath seemed to stop at the boy who promptly leapt into your arms.

 

The red that obscured your vision began to disappear along with your rage when you saw the awfully familiar black cat ears and white hair that you last saw months ago.

 

It was Xiaohei.

 

He's… here. He's really here.

 

He pulled away from the embrace and immediately grabbed a handful of his hair to compare it with your own. "Look, we have the same hair now!" He said as he waved your hair in front of your face.

 

"You idiot…" you grumbled, tears starting to well from your eyes as you held back a sob, "That's not even good news."

 

You gripped on Xiaohei's sleeves and leaned your forehead on his shoulder.

 

"At least we're alive, right?" He cheered, lowering his head to look at you.

 

You chuckled one last time before wrapping him around your arms once more and placed him back down to the ground.

 

You faced Nezha with an apologetic look and smiled meekly at him. He gave you an understanding nod in response, he didn't tell you about their secret arrival so it was somehow his fault for startling you.

 

You looked back at Xiaohei– not understanding how he could look so happy even after everything that happened. The bright, childish smile plastered on his face just never failed to pass onto you like a contagious disease.

 

You thought he was going to hate you for running away from him, but he wasn't. He was just happy to see you again.

 

"Also! I asked Master Nezha earlier if he can train you! If Master WuXian agreed to teach me, then it's fair you get a teacher too!" He added.

 

Your brows furrowed as you glanced at Nezha for confirmation. They’re joking, right? They’ve got to be joking.

 

"It was my idea. It's up to you whether you want to train under me so that you can join the guild." The god shrugged.

 

"Join the guild…?"

 

"Y'know, like fighting bad demons and protecting Longyou! We get to do cool stuff, maybe run errands too." Xiaohei snickered as he elbowed his master who stood close.

 

Wuxian made a faint smile at the inside joke but encouraged it nonetheless.

 

He then properly faced you and hung his head low with his hands behind his back and bowed.

 

You stared dumbfounded at the exterminator. 

 

"We haven't told the Guilds about your location so you can rest easy. I'm sorry for alarming you." He apologized.

 

You haven’t heard an apology from a human in a long time. You fought the urge to accept it– WuXian and a (rather hotheaded) friend of his named Jiang Lian, had tried capturing you for years to no end with the aim of taking you back to the guild for what you could only assume was execution. You could deny it, you could attack him right then and there but he’s apologizing.

 

Apologizing for something he was tasked to do just because you were blinded by your pure spite towards his kind.

 

You took a small step towards him and gently placed a hand on his shoulder, making him glance back up to you.

 

“Thank you.” You said.

 

The smile that tugged on your lips left him speechless that he could only look back down to the ground. He wasn’t expecting you to thank him at all.   

 

"I know you already got surprised, but this isn't actually the surprise I meant to tell you." Nezha said.

 

"This better not be me being taken to the Headquarters." You hissed, turning your attention back to him.

 

"No. Not today. We're taking you to the city."

 

"That doesn't make it any better."

 

"But they have so much stuff in Longyou! Like food! Luozhu even started to live there!" Xiaohei countered.

 

You clenched your fists. You can't, even if Luozhu's free you cannot face anyone in that city anymore. You've done enough, to both the humans and the spirits that only wished to live a peaceful life.

 

"I'm sorry, Xiaohei. I don't think I'm ready to go anywhere near Guild territory." You said, turning your head away.

 

"You still hate humans… don't you?" He asked.

 

"I'm working on it, Hei. I promise I'll visit you in the city when I get the chance." You smiled as you ruffled his hair.

 

Even with your reassurance, Xiaohei's head still hung low for a moment when he suddenly got off his master's arms and ran towards the forest.

 

You wanted to follow the kid. You thought he’d run away from disappointment because of your rejection but he only went behind the nearest tree and picked up a black cat wrapped in bandages that was almost half his size, before walking back to you.

 

"At least take this cat with you. He kept shoving your glamour charm over to me so I thought he was looking for you." He lifted the cat that securely had a pendant in its mouth.

 

It was the glamour charm that FengXi gave you years ago.

 

How did the cat even recognize you?

 

"Wait." Nezha said, putting his hand in between the two of you before you could get your hands on that cat. "Where did this come from?"

 

"In Luozhu's flower shop!" The kid replied, "He's been chilling there for quite a while now, but he came back all beat up a week ago and we kinda got scared that we're not taking care of him properly so… Here he is!"

 

He eyed the cat warily as if expecting something to happen, but the cat didn't budge and blinked slowly at him instead.

 

Nezha, still looking suspicious, took one of his qiankun rings off his wrists and placed it on the cat.

 

It tried to pry the ring off its neck, scratching and growling at it as it magically morphed into a size that can accommodate the cat's neck.

 

"It's to… help him heal from all the scars." He said and stepped away as he finally let you cradle the cat in your arms.

 

"Is that all?" The god turned to the exterminator and his student.

 

When the two of them nodded their heads in confirmation, Nezha looked at you one last time for a silent farewell before activating his fire wheels.

 

As Wuxian bent his knees to prepare for take off, you called his name.

 

"Wuxian." The human looked back at you, "Please take care of Xiaohei for me." Wuxian gave you a genuine smile before flying away to catch up with Nezha.

 

You watched as they slowly disappeared in the horizon before turning your attention back to the cat you just received as it clung to your shoulder like a terrified kitten as you walked back to your room in the temple.

 

You didn’t even realize that his fur was an absolute mess until you had a proper look at him. His right eye was discolored, probably blinded by something– or someone, but you could only assume.

 

"Who hurt you…?" You mumbled, running your hand across his fur before scratching his chin, making him tilt his head towards your touch.

 

The cat looked at the tapestry of the great Journey to the West and used his tail to point at the golden monkey drawn in the middle– Sun Wukong.

 

You could only furrow your brows at the thought. Who in the ever loving fuck would even dare hurt a cat? That was just cruel.

 

"Why is it that when I'm told stories about him it's always bad news." You mumbled to yourself. "What's your name? Do you have one?"

 

The cat looked around and pointed his paw at the conveniently placed empty box of macaroni on your table.

 

"Macaroni?"

 

The cat yowled aggressively as he jumped on the table and repeatedly tapped on the first three letters and– ohhhhh.

 

It was Mac , not Macaroni.

 

Man, this cat is way too smart to be normal.

 

"Mac, huh? Well, I'm turning that to Macaroni and you can't do anything about it."

 

The cat meowed in protest as his tail waved from side to side but you only gave him a scratch below the ear.

 

"What? It's cute. And don't worry, I'll try and beat that monkey up for you one day."

 

The cat made a tiny sound akin to a snort and began to scratch at the qiankun hoop with his hind legs.

 

"Sorry, Mac. I can't control Nezha's qiankun ring so we need to wait for him to get home before you can take it off. You should rest, it might help you heal faster." You said and placed the cat down on your desk.

 

You took out the glamour charm that you had pocketed earlier and held it on your palm, recognizing each and every intricate pattern carved into the eclipse pendant that hung on the necklace.

 

You used it to keep your glamour intact during battles, or just in any circumstance, really. FengXi gave it to you because he knew you didn't like having your beast form out for… very obvious reasons.

 

Though you weren't going to use it anymore since you haven't been in populated areas for a long time so it didn't matter if you had your glamour off or not. 

 

You placed the charm in one of your drawers and laid back on your bed. You closed your eyes to get more sleep, when you suddenly felt weight get dumped on your stomach.

 

You took a peak and saw Mac kneading at your zhongyi before setting himself down in a comfortable position.

 

Soon enough purrs began to fill the room. You couldn't help but chuckle softly as you placed a hand on your cat, letting his rhythmic whirring pull you into a deep dreamless slumber.

 

— ❀ —

 

Damn Nezha and his stupid qiankun hoop limiting his magic.

 

Macaque was lucky enough to know the incantation used to manually loosen the ring so that he could at least turn himself into a human sized version of his shadow demon form. It was pretty hard to keep in a solid state, but it'll do just fine.

 

He sat on the edge of your bed, eyes locking onto your peaceful sleeping face as his ears twitched from the sound of your soft snores.

 

He just got back from a pretty nasty fight with Sun Wukong and his protege a week ago and sought refuge as a harmless cat at the flower shop that was being taken care of by Luozhu, who was kind enough to take him in for a while. He was waiting for an opportunity for Xiaohei to visit the shop, as he had no idea where you currently were at the time and his best bet was the cat beast. Turns out, you were being taken care of by Nezha, your infamous (unofficial) adoptive brother that you had considered family ever since your first life.

 

Now, after more than a hundred years of waiting and searching, he's finally with your reincarnation once again.

 

Truth be told, he already found you almost half a century ago, but to his surprise, FengXi got to save you way before he could.

 

He hasn't shown himself to you at the time so the panther beast pleaded to let you stay and live the life you had built on your own until he's taken back the lands that once belonged to him, and Macaque, not wanting to mercilessly destroy a friendship that you forged with this demon, agreed. 

 

He gave FengXi a glamour charm for you to use for your beast form and left you under the panther's care under one condition– he was to sacrifice himself for your safety under any circumstance. It didn't matter if he died, it didn't matter if he didn't finish his goals, he had to bring you back to Macaque no matter what it takes. It was a privilege that he even let them anywhere near you, more so that he didn't dare intervene in your life with the rogue demons until he heard of the news that FengXi took his own life after a tragic defeat from a fight with his long time enemies.

 

Not that he cared, really, it was about time he spent time with you, anyway.

 

His hand reached up to your head, fingers twirling itself in the soft white sections of your hair and gently applied glamour on it, careful not to disrupt your sleep.

 

 

His magic was still limited due to the qiankun hoop, but he thankfully had enough to properly hide your self proclaimed 'flaws'.

 

He found it beautiful, of course, he always did. Every scar, every blemish, every imperfection you had in your past lives was beautiful to him, even until now.

 

It was just that he knew the pains of not wanting to see scars that held fresh wounds when faced in front of a mirror and he will do anything to help you suppress those memories.

 

From the encounter earlier, Nezha, with no doubt, knew who he was and there was no denying it just from the reaction that he had, though he didn't really attack him like he had expected either. He didn't know if the Lotus Prince was saving the fight for later, but perhaps maybe there was still a chance that he could negotiate with him and settle a deal to let him stay with (Y/N) for as long as he can.

 

After that, the only thing he had to do was make you fall in love with him and only him, the same way he had always done for the past thousands of years.

 

You didn't have to know about Wukong.

 

I mean, nobody has ever been hurt by little while lies, right?