For all the greatness he’s given himself, for all the strength and wisdom he possesses…Hua Cheng can’t shake himself off the shackles of the past, can’t tune out the voices that have haunted him since a very young age, can’t stop the past from spoking at age old wounds even after so much time has passed. It’s a dull ache that never really fades, a tiny voice in the back of his head whispering reminders of every mistake and failure he’s ever done.
He’s a shapeshifter. Hua Cheng can change himself at ease and into anyone he wants, he can become the most beautiful of girls or the most handsome of men, in a blink of an eye and Hua Cheng can become the most ethereal being in all existence and yet he can never feel like one. He will never stop feeling like a dirty child wrapped up in bandages, skin littered with bruises and hiding that hideous true red colored eye that has brought him so much misfortune. He’s heard every curse, felt every sort of pain that another human could inflict on him, it taught him how to hate the world because the world has never been kind or bright and he never believed that it could.
And yet, within such a cold and unforgiving world, there’s still someone kind and bright and beautiful -the owner of his heart whether it beats or not.
Xie Lian, the most beautiful man in the land, the darling of the heavens whose future sang of good and amazing deeds held that dirty child that everyone wished dead and even believed him even though the rest of the world claimed him to be a calamity and a bringer of misfortune. He had comforted him once and given him a meaning to live later on and those are things Hua Cheng shall never forget nor does he want to. The world can be whatever it wants for all he needs is Xie Lian and that will be just enough.
He can turn himself into anyone, if Xie Lian were to ask Hua Cheng would shape himself however he wants if it would make him happy -yet he tells Hua Cheng that he still prefers his true form the most. It still catches him out of guard. He had praised San Lang’s appearance, then again, His Highness is a very kind person and he sees value in everyone, but Hua Cheng can’t deny the ache of dread when he was asked to reveal his true form.
“What if I’m hideous?”
“I’d still like you.”
And he did. Hua Cheng felt agitated within the gamblers den although he’s trained himself to wear a perpetual look of indifference, but oh he wasn’t shunned out and his long dead heart had leapt out of relief.
People sing praises of his looks, but they fall on deaf ears because all the ghost king sees in the mirror is that dirty feral child, an ugly thing beaten black and blue, the bringer of misfortune everyone claimed him to be. He’s skilled in many things, knows even more, he could level kingdom’s if he so wished under the weight of rage and a burning inferno that never knew rest, Hua Cheng could make every single person suffer like he once done but his attention is elsewhere -it lays on something much better, much softer and kinder and so much brighter.
“San Lang is really handsome.” Hua Cheng freezes mid writing practice, a single eye flickering to meet Xie Lian’s eyes just to find him smiling.
“…Gege is teasing.”
“Not at all.” The god tilts his head with a kind smile “My Sang Lang is always handsome.”
Hua Cheng knows he isn’t dumb, Xie Lian is too good at everything to ever be dumb, those words spill from his lips because he saw something lurking beneath the surface and it almost makes Hua Cheng scowl but that just makes his already awful handwriting look even worse.
Every now and then Hua Cheng feels himself sink with the weight of his doubts, of every fear that’s ever haunted him, then he looks at Xie Lian and sees that look in his eyes; pure adoration and delight, a love as pure are his divinity, an honest look of endearment that makes Hua Cheng freeze and forget whatever was flowing in his mind. Just like now.
Xie Lian doesn’t care for whatever treasure he gives him, for money or luxuries for that life is not his and hasn’t been for centuries, what makes his eyes lit up is the view of a new weapon or when he and Hua Cheng just drown in each other’s presence in the most mundane of ways (it’s the same for Hua Cheng though). Even now, sitting inside Qiandeng Temple, practicing a handwriting that never seems to improve while basking in each other’s presence do those pesky voices in his head quiet down.
“Gege is very handsome too.”
Xie Lian laughs and Hua Cheng thinks he falls even more in love each time he hears it. His gaze shifts to his husband when he leans lightly against his shoulder, a gentle smiling tugging at his lips, it makes Hua Cheng smile a bit to himself as he rests his head on top of his. Their hands link between them, the hand that Hua Cheng isn’t using to write (writing be damned, but they’ll reach that point soon) he watches their matching red strings making a stark contrast against their skin and thinks that maybe, just maybe, all of his misfortune granted him a single fortune.
He’s a shapeshifter. Hua Cheng can change himself at ease and into anyone he wants, he can become the most beautiful of girls or the most handsome of men, in a blink of an eye and Hua Cheng can become the most ethereal being in all existence and yet he can never feel like one. But it’s alright, as long as Xie Lian loves him and wishes to stay beside him then Hua Cheng has anything he could ever wish for.
That would be just enough.