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Longing's Hope

Chapter Text

Although Lan WangJi loved spending time alone with his husband, he also enjoyed the time they spent with the Lan Clan juniors or their fellow guests, especially Jin Ling. He knew they were good disciples, always eager to learn. However, with the presence of Wei WuXian as his guest teacher, they were filled with joy that he had never seen. He had a practical experience that could not be taught in a classroom, although the reason for that was not in the public domain. Few knew that he had to survive three months in Burial Mound without weapons or any spiritual energy after he renounced his golden core and while learning about demonic cultivation. It was something that apart from him only Lan SiZhui and Jin Ling knew and had a tacit agreement not to tell anyone to respect Wei WuXian's desire and not bother Jiang Cheng.

That was one of those nights when they were all night hunting together. Although their opponents were low-level, they were actually investigating the reason why there was a sudden increase in malignant energy in the region which caused an increase in the number of fierce corpses. It was a task that Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi could have taken alone, but it was a rare opportunity to teach their favorite students including Jin Ling.

The two Seniors were there just to observe, correct the movements of their pupils, intervene if something went wrong but rarely happened because everyone was very encouraged and eager to show how much they had improved under the care of their favorite teachers. Lan WangJi stopped watching the fight for a moment to look at Wei WuXian who was not missing a moment of the boys' movements, watching from his place on top of a large rock. His gaze was vigilant, he might seem motionless but he was always alert in case it was necessary to intervene, trying to contain his desire to take Chenqing and control all those bodies so that they didn't harm any of his precious boys. However, there was something else in Wei WuXian's gaze that made those moments his favorite seconds in life. He was proud of the progress of the group, although it was obvious to him that he had a predilection for a certain trio and looked at them with a very maternal devotion.

It was not the first time he noticed. More than thirteen years ago, in his brief encounter with him and A-Yuan he could perceive that despite his always mocking way of being, his way of caring for the little boy was very devout and the little one despite being the object of the jokes of the older, he also expressed great affection. His desire to take care of A-Yuan after Wei Ying's death was equal compassion for an innocent child and a desire to preserve that warm memory he had of the man he secretly loved, knowing that protecting him was one of the greatest wishes of the Patriarch of Yiling. With every progress that Lan Yuan made, he was filled with paternal pride and thought that Wei Ying would have been just as proud as he was. When he chose his courtesy name, he did it also thinking of Wei Ying.

Before knowing that he had returned, he listened attentively to the enthusiasm with which SiZhui and JingYi talked about the fight that the fierce corpses gave to the demonic arm and about the young master Mo who despite being a lunatic helped them to solve the mystery. When they met him again on Mount Dafan he had the opportunity to express his gratitude - Lan Zhan’s style - and he thought that it was over there. He didn't get far from where he had left the young people from his sect, restless for some reason. Now he was glad he hadn't done it or perhaps he would have missed that melody that had come out of the bottom of his heart and even when it lacked a pleasant interpretation to listen, it had become the most beautiful sound he had heard in more than thirteen years.

On the way to the Cloud Recess, the young people told him how young Master Mo had helped them and that thanks to him everyone was still alive. SiZhui was the most detailed in his story and while listening to his enthusiasm he was also infected. If SiZhui knew that the person who helped them that night was the same person who took care of him as a baby or if Wei Ying knew that young man was that boy who clung to his leg and followed him everywhere, what reaction would they have?

From that moment and every time his paths crossed, he noticed how the admiration of the youngest towards him increased and how the protective wing of Wei Ying extended more over them. Although they didn't know about their past together, the affinity between SiZhui and him was natural. Despite all the resentment that Jin Ling held for the death of his parents, Wei Ying prioritized his nephew's safety, which earned him an opportunity to become part of the boy's life even if it was a slow process.

Wei Ying had already told him about that happy memory he kept about his parents and him and how while they were on the way with Lil'Apple he couldn't help relating it to that moment. "Although we need a little one, because I think that SiZhui is too big for you to carry on your shoulders," he joked.

But Lan WangJi knew he wasn't kidding. At least not at all. It had not been the only time that, between jokes or meaningless comments, he mentioned a baby, a little one, a little person. Wei WuXian had a strong paternal instinct and in him there was a tacit yearning that Lan WangJi swore to fulfill in silence. Maybe they could adopt another little one like A-Yuan but this time to raise him together. Although not immediately since he wanted to enjoy a little more of his exclusive time with his husband after more than thirteen years of longing.

Wei WuXian turned to his husband. “Ah, aren't you watching the fight? You missed an excellent movement of your son. Be sure to congratulate him later.”

"Mmn," he replied, turning his face toward the battle just to see JingYi, SiZhui and Jin Ling surrounded by corpses and to his son's signal, the three attacked at the same time completely ending their opponents. Wei WuXian celebrated quietly while they did it with more enthusiasm while the rest of the juniors took care of the few remaining bodies. Once the battle was over, Wei WuXian went down to examine the remains in search of a clue as to the origin of the fierce corpses. The juniors gathered behind him waiting for the next part of the lesson.

“What did you see while fighting?” he asked without turning to see the boys as he continued to examine the remains of the bodies.

At first he used to take them by surprise when he asked about things they did not consider important, but now they knew they should sharpen their senses and see beyond what was in front of their eyes.

"They were all men, of similar complexion," observed one.

"They were killed by strangulation," added another, "they all have a mark on their neck."

“The shape of the marks indicates that they used a rope to do so”

Wei WuXian got up smiling and looked around. “What else?”

Everyone panicked because they didn't know what else was there to see. They reviewed what their classmates had mentioned and looked around the bodies for other clues. Three voices sounded almost in unison. "Ah!”

Wei WuXian turned to the origin of the voices and smiled when he saw that it was his favorite trio who had spoken. “Well?”

JingYi spoke first. “The marks on the neck are raised behind the ears, it does not seem that someone had been holding the rope but they were hung from it by the neck.”

Jin Ling was the one who followed. “It is a form of execution… But I would understand if they were a pair, but they are too many.”

"Exactly." Wei WuXian smiled from ear to ear. “And what do you think is due?”

“I think ...” Lan SiZhui thought a little more about his speech before continuing “Maybe I am speculating too much but it could be that they were sentenced to death without a fair trial and they are now seeking revenge.”

“It's a good speculation. If that were the case, how should you check it?”

Jin Ling rushed to answer. “Find out who would apply the sentence to see if there have been events around him.”

“It sounds the most logical way out, but it's also the one that takes the longest time” Jin Ling got a little discouraged because he didn't succeed, but he still felt more motivated to keep trying. He was too proud to admit it, but he admired the way Wei WuXian had to teach them even though he sometimes sounded mocking.

“The invasion began a few days ago. In addition the corpses are not dressed like the local sects. Could it be that they moved here recently?”

“And why would they do that?” He continued asking.

Lan SiZhui and Jin Ling talked almost at the same time.

“They are after the person who did that to them.”

Another of the juniors dared to intervene. “Then maybe we should ask in nearby towns and interview outsiders.”

Someone else made his intervention. “For what? We are done with the bodies. It is not as if we could exercise revenge for them.”

Wei WuXian laughed shortly. “They had a very good battle, but if the group has been mobilizing for a while, don't you think that other cultivators would have finished with everyone if these were the only bodies there are?”

Everyone exclaimed: “Are there more?”

With a very typical sly smile on him, he called a name that was already familiar among the boys and made them smile. “Wen Ning.”

The mentioned descended from his place among the trees. “Young Masters...“he greeted with a slight inclination “There are several dispersed groups that come here from the south. They will arrive in one or two days apart and they are at least five. Other cultivators have crossed their path, but they have not significantly decreased their numbers because they do not meet until they are close to this place.”

“That means that the person they are looking for is close” Lan SiZhui spoke without hesitation.

“So we must start looking for him before he moves again.”

Everyone nodded, except JingYi who had one last doubt. “And what will we do when we find him?”

Although fierce corpses had a good reason to seek for revenge, they could not simply hand them the subject. Lan WangJi address and spoke with authority. “We will retain him while we take care of the dispersed groups. We will prevent that they continuing to give trouble to more regions during their persecution. Then we will deliver it to whoever corresponds to judge his crimes.”

There was a small emotion in everyone's eyes. That meant that their lessons would extend for a few more days.

Lan WangJi looked at his husband who was now in charge of giving detailed observations and congratulations to each boy about his movements in battle. Lan SiZhui approached Wen Ning who also made some comments about the Wen's fighting style he was teaching his nephew and once he finished, he retired in silence. SiZhui returned with the group and received the corrections and congratulations from Wei Ying and in the end gave a special congratulation to his favorite trio for his excellent teamwork in that last movement. “Now we are all going to where the corpses were headed and we will probably find our subject.”

There was still time before the time when the Lan Clan had to go to sleep, so when they reached the town they divided into groups to investigate a little, observe the locals and find some clue about the person they were looking for. It was not a very large town nor did it have many shops where they had to investigate, so they could meet for a small dinner at a modest inn. Before entering, the group reunited around the two seniors.

“So well? What did you find out?”

Jin Ling spoke with confidence. “It is definitely in that inn. Not many visitors pass by and everyone was very excited to see us so they behaved very generously on giving information.”

Lan JingYi had to comment about it. “Of course, it has nothing to do with you being extremely generous with the reward for their help.”

Although the two young boys began to fight as usual, Wei WuXian could only smile because in a way it reminded him of how lost Lan WangJi was when they went to look for information in Yueyang, but he was also amused to remember what made the local waiter of that place adopt the surname Lan saying that it was his without knowing that months later that would be the case even if it was in symbolic form because although Lan Qiren seemed to have some tolerance for his relationship with Lan Zhan in no way he would admit that Wei Ying was recognized as his nephew's husband in the same way that no one outside his sect knew that SiZhui had been raised as his son. He didn't want to ask if it was because he was related to him or because of his origin as a Wen because whatever the reason was he was going to get angry and what he least wanted was to cause troubles to Lan Zhan with his uncle. At least no more than what had already caused him.

“Well done, Jin Ling. When you need to realize an investigation it is good to use the resources that you have at your disposal, right?” he asked addressing his husband with a mocking look, as if it were a private joke and as it did not seem to show any reaction, the juniors did not suspect what it was, but he could catch a slight tremor in Lan WanJi's eyebrow that caused his smile will widen more.

“What are we going to do now? How are we going to capture him?” Lan JingYi said quickly.

“Who talked about capturing him? We're going to make that person collaborate with us so ... who is hungry?”

In the inn the young boys could witness the way in which Wei WuXian obtained the information that he needed by displaying his sympathy. He was told that there was only one more outsider that night at the inn, but that he had asked to be treated in one of the private rooms, so as in that inn after the events of Yi City, the elders separated from the juniors to go to attend more important matters.

When everyone got up in the morning, the man in question came down with the couple and decided to have their breakfast together with the small group of disciples.

“How they did it?” asked Lan JingYi, but he knew immediately that it would have been better not to ask. Wei WuXian showed his most shameless smile and leaned a little towards Lan WangJi while his guest put a hand to his forehead, a reaction that the pair usually caused to those who came very close to them during the night.

“Perhaps last night we were a little scandalous on purpose, but that's how we got to know Wang Tao.”

Wei WuXian requested to be placed in the closest room of the other guest and then ordered dinner, making sure that there were dishes suitable for the demands of both palates and the respective liquor jars he wanted to drink. They both took a seat to eat, as close as ever.

For a while Wei WuXian had noticed that her husband did not take his eyes off him, so he was curious what it was about this time. It wasn't that he was getting more handsome every day, right? “Do I have something weird on my face?” He said a little nervous but delighted by the intensity he could already discern from those apparently cold eyes.

“Why didn't you use your flute?” he asked the question but just wanted to confirm his answer because he already knew. Wei WuXian smiled as he hoped he would.

“That would have taken the fun away from the boys, did you see their faces? They are delighted that the night hunt continues.”

“I see your face. They are not the only ones delighted.”

A slight blush settled on her cheeks. “I'm happy to be able to teach them, besides that gives Jin Ling a chance to be surrounded by more boys of his age, forget a while that he is the leader of the Jin sect and relax to be a teenager more and be able to relate better with his peers, lest he ends up on a blacklist like Jiang Cheng. A-Yuan and JingYi are very happy to see him too.”

“Mmn.” Lan WangJi approached his husband by wrapping an arm around his waist “But you are also enjoying spending more time with them and it's not just because it's fun. You have become fond of them.”

Wei Ying felt somewhat embarrassed. Of course he had he had grown fond of them, not only they had terrifying adventures together but they got on his side when everyone was against him and they didn't take his past into account but what they had lived together, including Jin Ling who had all The reason to be against him. That is why he wanted to protect and help them as much as possible.

“They are good guys and after everything we went through together, how could I not care about of them? I like to see them so enthusiastic on these little excursions so what's wrong with giving them the opportunity to practice on a real battlefield and show off to their admired Hanguang-jun. For all of them, gaining the approval of their mentors is very important, contrary to what I used to be.”

Of course, he didn't need the approval of his mentors because he was proud of his own abilities. Even so, he wanted to attract the attention of his comrades and without understanding the reason, also of Lan Zhan, although he thought he failed greatly on that purpose. If both had been a little more sincere in the past ... how would things have turned out? “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan ... enough with the children. We have to talk about adult things now ... the inn is almost empty and the boys are down, it won't matter if I make noise, right? Hanguang-jun, listen to your husband's wishes...”

Wei WuXian didn't even have to finish speaking, Lan WangJi pulled him tightly and held his voice with a deep kiss that didn't break until they reached the bed. His clothes were quickly put aside. As expected, Wei WuXian could not keep his mouth shut or keep the reactions that his husband's incessant attacks caused inside him. After a scandalous orgasm, there was a knock on the door.

“Just a moment.” Wei WuXian laughed knowing that that would be the result and after cleaning quickly, both put on the clothes they used to sleep to attend to their visitor, who did not look too happy. “Go, Go. We were waiting for your visit to talk about the horde of corpses that are chasing you.”

Wang Tao immediately forgot the reason of his visit.

Chapter Text

Back in the Cloud Recess after four nights of hunting, the boys were exhausted but very satisfied. However, Wei WuXian was not as happy as his disciples, although probably only Lan WanJi had noticed.

He had to go report everything with Lan Qiren and visit his brother, so Wei Wuxian went alone to the Jingshi and pulled a jug of Emperor’s Smile from the hiding place on the floor.

«There is little left. Soon we will have to buy more» He sat at the table and began to drink. Then he lay on the wooden surface and took a long breath.

When the last horde of corpses was annihilated by the disciples, Wang Tao had to reveal his story. That was one of the conditions to help him.

Wang Tao belonged to one of the subordinate clans of Lanling's territory, and had served as an executioner under the command of the former leader, Jin GuangYao. In one of the most remote lands in the region, his clan had a quiet and peaceful life without suspecting that there was an execution camp nearby where he was the only executioner. From time to time a group of men condemned for various reasons came to him, sometimes crimes that did not deserve the death penalty. It was not his duty to question the decisions of his superiors or the person who always accompanied the groups, as it was the leader's entire trust.

In the field there were up to fifty gallows and almost all were used every time an execution was made. As soon as the last of the condemned men had exhaled his final breath, the corpses were taken to a building where he had never set foot. His work ended there, it was time for the other person to take care of the rest. The atmosphere was sinister, but the next day everything returned to normal. He had been warned not to approach the building or could break the seal that kept the corpses that wanted revenge to rest.

However, as of a short time before Jin GuangYao's death, that person no longer showed up with Wang Tao nor had to perform further executions. If everything had stayed there, he would have no problem, but after a couple of months, loud shouts and grunts from the building on the execution camp began to be heard. Wang Tao approached to investigate, but his presence only inflamed the screams and the corpses began to emerge from their confinement.

Since then, Wang Tao has been fleeing the hordes, taking turns and never following a straight path, avoiding staying a long time in one place. He took all the precautions he could think, but somehow they always reached him and so he continued until he met Wei WuXian and company.

Jin Ling listened patiently to the man's story and until he concluded he had not said a word. Wei WuXian wanted that to be an opportunity for Jin Ling to forget that he was now the leader of the sect, but now he had to take action, there was no other way out.

"Sect Leader Jin" he spoke very formally and Wang Tao startled because he had never seen Jin Ling in person and had not recognized him.

Jin Ling nodded still absent. "I will take him to the Koi Tower and the necessary inquiries will be made on this case before deciding what to do with him..."

"Let us escort you there" Lan Wangji said, and Jin Ling just nodded. Even the other boys kept silent, understanding that it was no longer a moment of comradely but something more official and they followed the teachings of their sect letting their superiors talk.

During the first part of his way to Lanling, Jin Ling was downcast and a little discouraged, but as soon as they took their first break to rest and eat something he left the group. It seemed that JingYi and SiZhui had been waiting for a moment to be able to approach him and in an instant the three young men had disappeared. When they returned, Jin Ling looked livelier and was even arguing with JingYi while SiZhui tried to intermediate between them. That served to relax Wei WuXian just a little bit, but it wasn't enough to erase the reason for his bad humor.

Lan WangJi arrived at Jingshi just a short while later. He had not yet been able to see his brother, but was somehow worried about his husband. He imagined that he would have emptied the rest of his Emperor’s Smile reserve by that time, but what it caused him more dismay was to see that he was barely going through the first half jar. Wei WuXian was still resting his head on the table, looking rather moody.

“¿Wei Ying?”

He had followed him with his eyes since he entered at the room and while sitting next to him. He straightened just a little and then leaned his head against something softer and warmer: his husband's chest. “I start to believe that I attract bad fortune to everyone who is related with me.”

Lan Wanji pulled him onto his lap and Wei Wuxian ran his arms around his neck, sheltering his face in his chest. "I just wanted Jin Ling to forget for a few days that he is a sect leader and all the mistakes that his uncle made. But nothing ever goes as I planned."

"I don’t think so" he replied, gently stroking his back to help him to relax. “He can't change the fact that he is now the head of the sect, but you allowed him to spend a few days with his friends and relax.”

He sighed, not yet convinced to have succeeded. "He's so young, he should have some more fun."

"He's only a little younger than the Sect Leader Jiang was when he had to take over."

“Those were other times, we were in a war. In addition, Jiang Cheng had followers and shijie by his side to lift the sect ... Jin Ling is always under the scrutiny of the other members, they don't trust him. He must feel very lonely”

“Mmn." He hugged his husband a little more tightly. He understood that his feeling of guilt was still motivating him, but he could also see that parternal instinct - almost maternal – that wanted to protect Jin Ling from what he had to suffer. “But he is not alone. He has the support of his uncle and the Jiang sect. Our sect will also provide its support if necessary. You have done everything as possible to help him and thanks to that he have formed a connection with the juniors of many sects, especially with ours.”

Wei Wuxian smiled and nodded. "I like him getting along so well with JingYi and A-Yuan. It is good that Lanling and Gusu are close, which makes it easier for the boys to visit him when they are in a night hunting.”

“Mmn.”

Wei Wuxian should know better than anyone. The support does not always come from your same family or from your same sect. When he was alone, when he needed more help, there was always someone who held out his hand. Jiang Fengmian and his family, including Madame Yu in her own way, when he was a helpless child without being able to survive by his own. When they were gone, another unexpected hand reached out in his direction. Even from an enemy sect and at the risk of losing his own life, Wen Ning did not hesitate to help him. Wen Qing was also generous with them.

But the biggest support always came from Lan Zhan. When everybody turned back on him, the only one who always stood by his side was Lan Zhan and defended him even at the expense of his own integrity and against even his family. He was ashamed for not remembering and all that caused his husband’s suffer from this mental gap, but he thought it was better this way or it would probably have taken longer to realize his own feelings. He would have the rest of his life to compensate Lan Zhan for what he had done for him during those months of unconsciousness.

“Did you go to see your brother?”

“Mmn” denied.

“Are you going to tell him about what happened?”

"I have to do it." There was a slight hesitation in his voice. Wei Wuxian understood that in the same way that he wanted to protect Jin Ling from everything that had to do with Jin GuangYao, Lan Wanji wanted to protect his brother for the same reason. Lan Wanji was the one who could empathize with them the most, he was the one who knew best that despite how much that person had been wrong, they would never be able to forget the love they had for him. Lan Xichen was comprehensive to his brother during the time that he cried for Wei Wuxian, perhaps because he had also seen him with his father, but now it was Lan Zhan's turn to comfort his brother not only for someone else's experience but for his own.

Wei Wuxian raised her face and kissed his husband's jaw. "You don't have to give him the details now, although he probably guess, it will be less painful if you don't confirm it."

"I'll let him know if he asks me ..."

They held each other for a while. Wei Ying enjoyed the scent of sandalwood emanating from Lan Zhan's body while playing a little with the headband between his fingers. At the same time, Lan Zhan stroked his back gently, patiently waiting for his husband to regain his spirits.

 

 

An hour later, Lan Wangji had gone to visit his brother while Wei Wuxian would seize the moment for his cultivation exercises. Months ago, he and Lan Wangji had begun to take care of increasing the level of cultivation of his body with the intention of forming his golden core, this to not depend exclusively on demonic cultivation during their night hunts. Although it was the easy way, especially for him, he was aware of how dangerous it was and none of them wanted the history to repeat itself. Wei Wuxian no longer wanted to cause more pain to the people he loved, especially Lan Zhan. If he wanted to keep his promise to go hunting together for the rest of their lives, it was better to do it properly. In addition, being cultivation partners had a great advantage for this purpose and the Fángzhōngshù(*) was much more pleasant so he could devote himself to his private and company practices.

But when he was in the middle of the exercises he couldn't help thinking about how it would have been for Mo XuanYu. «Have they taught you properly? His level was very low but there seems to be no impediment for his cultivation to progress. It is taking me a little longer than the first time but it may be due to the age at which I am trying and because I was a prodigy in my past life, but after all this body is not so useless. Did something else happen while Mo XuanYu trained in the Koi Tower?»

It was not difficult for him to imagine that if Jin Ling had problems with the other boys in his sect, an intruder like Mo XuanYu would not have enjoyed the favor of his comrades and much less his teachers, stigmatized for being Jin Guanshan's illegitimate son and for being Cut-sleeve or maybe Jin GuangYao had had something to do. He even questioned the alleged harassment of which Mo XuanYu was accused and the reason he lost his mind could also have been provoked. The more he thought about it, the more curious he was. He had promised himself that at some point he would make Jin Ling tell him a little about him or convince Huaisang to confess ... although he couldn't do anything for him anymore, he felt he should know a little more about the person who allowed him to have a second opportunity. At least indirectly he had managed to fulfill his final wish.

“Anyway, it's nice to be able to use spiritual energy again. I wonder if Jiang Cheng would return Suibian if I ask him ... No, in the first place I would not dare to ask him. Or maybe I should wait to form my core and reach an appropriate level to manipulate it ... »

At the end of his exercises there was still no sign of Lan Zhan, so he decided to pay a little visit to Lil’Apple and the rabbits. He promised himself he would be very careful and gentle, but as soon as he saw the furry ones he could not help but hunt one and hug by force. He sat under the tree where Lil’Apple was refuge and fiddled with the little gray rabbit he had collected.

Other rabbits watched him from a safe distance, as if fearing for the safety of his friend. Finally he let him go and he ran to the rest of the group that avoided Wei Wuxian, who could only laugh because his little victim looked at him as if he was being resented.

He heard family steps approaching that, although it was not Lan Zhan, it was announced the arrival of someone equally welcome.

"Senior Wei” SiZhui looked as if he was trying his best not to increase the speed of his steps, obedient to the rules of his clan. He approached Wei Wuxian and sat properly next to him. Until then he realized that he had a manuscript in his hands that somehow looks familiar to him.

"A-Yuan, what are you doing here?" Shouldn't you be writing your notes on our most recent excursion?

SiZhui blushed a little and a small wrinkle formed between his eyebrows. "Don't be like that, I almost have my report ready ... it's just that I found something among my aunt's manuscripts that I would like to show you."

During his visit to Qishan with Wen Ning they managed to find some things that belonged to Wen Qing, personal effects and several manuscripts full of essays on medical practices. They used the first to build the cenotaph while the manuscripts remained under the care of SiZhui as their only inheritance. Since then the young boy was given the task of examining them and studying them in their free time. His effort showed its results because in some of his night hunts they had needed some intervention beyond the basic knowledge of medicine and he was able to solve it successfully.

"What did you find?" He asked, smiling at the young boy's enthusiasm.

“Because of the dates in this manuscript should be the one that my aunt was working before the Sunshot Campaign. It is an unfinished essay but is quite advanced...” It seemed that SiZhui hesitated to continue as if it were a delicate issue and actually it was, but also quite surprising “… about how to restore the golden core of a person who has been removed.

The shock was big for Wei Wuxian. He knew that helping him to transfer his core to Jiang Cheng had been a traumatic and satisfying experience for the Wen sibilings, but he didn't imagine that Wen Qing had gone so far as to continue researching the issue. If he was unfinished and had been left behind it must have been because they had to leave in a hurry trying to save his people from the wrath of the other sects.

Lan SiZhui looked at him, anxious about his lack of words and completely ignoring the rabbits that had come to surround him practically stacking one on top of another. He smiled to reassure him and nodded. "Did you read everything?"

“Mmn.” He accentuated the negative tone with a shake of his head. "But I took a look." Basically, the hypothesis said that to achieve this, we need to restore and stimulate the capacity of the dantian to forge a core. However, the procedure is still unfinished.”

"Your aunt must have started writing it after they helped Jiang Cheng and me," Lan SiZhui nodded.

"I wanted you to see it because ... I'd like to try to finish it. It may still be a little advanced for me, but I want to do it.”

In occasions like that, Wei Wuxian could see behind the almost adult factions of SiZhui the face of that child who clung to his leg and bit his fingers. He brought a hand to the boy's head and stroked without much disheveled. "Why does it look like you're asking me for permission? If you want to do it, go ahead. If someone can do it, it must be you.”

Chapter Text

Senior Wei's words filled him with encouragement. However, achieving it on his own would not be an easy task. His aunt cited several documents of which he had no knowledge, so his visits to the Library Pavilion became increasingly frequent.

 

Intrigued by the activities of his best friend, JinYi couldn't help asking. "What are you doing all this time in the library? You don't even go with us to play anymore, I mean take care of the rabbits and Lil’Apple."

 

SiZhui looked sorry, but he wasn't going to stop at the time. Instead, he decided that maybe having some help wouldn't be a bad thing besides that he could trust JingYi with his life. "Come on, I'm going to show you something, but it's got to be between the two of us.”

 

JingYi might be a little reckless, but he knew how to keep secrets so in the farthest corner of the Library Pavilion, SiZhui pulled out Wen Qing's manuscript and his own notes to explain the ins and outs to his friend. JingYi listened attentively, asking a few questions in the middle of his account and kept thinking at the end. "Sounds pretty complicated, I don't know if I could do it... but I think the same as Senior Wei. If anyone can make it, it's you. Can I help you with something?”

 

SiZhui smiled and began to make a list of books he had to consult or topics he did not understand and had to find references from. Occasionally they had extra help if Hanguang-jun arrived, because they could consult him on a subject and he told them exactly the book and even the page where they could find it.

There was a vital reference to completing the final procedure, but they couldn't find anything about it throughout the Library. They consulted with Hanguang-jun and he consulted with Zewu-jun if there was anything in the Forbidden Books room, but he said very confidently that there was no such thing.


Lan SiZhui was frustrated because he felt he was so close to finding the answer and was just missing a piece that was avoiding him. With this feeling, the disciples left the Cloud Recess that night to do some night hunt in the region.

 

"A-Yuan." It was hard for Wen Ning not to follow them on their excursions. Although he usually gave space to his nephew, he remained alert in case there was an unexpected danger to the young boys who went with him. However, that night he must have realized that SiZhui had his mind elsewhere and so approached him taking advantage of him walking a little apart from the rest of the group.

 

"Hello, Uncle Ning... is something wrong?” He answered with a friendly smile.


“That's what I'd like to ask you, it seems like something's bothering you for a while... is everything all right at home?”

 

Embarrassed by his lack of concentration, Lan SiZhui shrugged a little and apologized to Wen Ning. "Everything's fine. Sorry to worry you, it's just that... I still need something to decipher Aunt Qing's manuscript, but I can't find any reference anywhere.”

"My sister would be very proud to see your dedication, A-Yuan. I could never compare myself to her, but maybe I could help you. It is likely that in the manuscript you will cite some practices that are typical of our sect.”

 

SiZhui immediately regained his enthusiasm. "Really? I want to show you what I've got so far. Can we talk when the others fall asleep?”

 

Wen Ning nodded slowly. "I'll be close. When you think it's a good time, I'll go with you.”

 

"Thank you, Uncle Ning” If Wen Ning had been able to show emotions on his face, it would have been clear that he was relieved to see Lan SiZhui again with his spirits up. He said goodbye to let them act on his own and waited until it was almost time for bed to get closer to the group. The other boys were preparing to go to sleep, but Lan JingYi and SiZhui headed to a secluded spot in the forest where Wen Ning found them.

 

"I asked JingYi to come with me, I hope it’s okay... He's been helping me.”

 

“Young Master Lan is welcome if you wish.”

 

Some people still had resentment towards the Wen sect and anyone who will carry their surname or blood. SiZhui had grown up as a Lan and no one knew more about him than he was Hanguang-jun’s protégé. The other youngsters probably wouldn't be alarmed if they knew his true origin since they had even taken care of Wen Ning, but for his safety it was better for anyone to know.

 

However, he had the power to decide if he wanted to tell someone and of course the first to know was JingYi. SiZhui himself made the decision to tell him when he returned to the Cloud Recess after going with Wen Ning to Qishan to bury his family's remains.

 

He had left without saying where and had to face the punishment that Lan Qiren imposed on him. JingYi was also punished for raising his voice when he saw that SiZhui was back, so as they walked to their quarters after finishing copying the rules, JingYi learned what he had discovered and caused the sudden decision to run after Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. JingYi didn't say anything for a while and SiZhui started to get a little nervous.

 

"I can't believe I missed the opportunity to see Chenqing up close," he exclaimed, and SiZhui could hardly contain his laughter. “What a family you have. Ghost General is your uncle, Hanguang-jun is like your dad and now you have Senior Wei as... Uh...”

 

Both boys couldn't help but blush slightly, it was still embarrassing to talk about the matter even though neither was against it. "Is it true that they are now together...? You know... Ahm... this way together...”JingYi pointed to the band in his head. “I heard inadvertently when Zewu-jun was talking to Master Lan”

 

Sizhui smiled slightly. "I didn't know when I went after them or when we split up on the road, but before I came back here I asked Uncle Ning why he wasn't going to look for them. What he said to me was: "It would be like accompanying a newlywed couple. It’s better to leave them alone now that they're finally together." His smile widened, but his gaze was lost in one of the few memories he had recovered from that time when he first met Hanguang-jun.

 

"That's great because it means we're going to see Senior Wei a lot. Master Lan was furious when he discovered that Hanguang-jun had left again and even angrier when he found out you were gone too. I'm surprised he didn't give you a stronger punishment.

 

"Me too... although I feel that he will now always have an eye on me.” The two laughed even though they shared the certainty that it would.

Since that time, JingYi had not said or hinted at anything that could reveal his true origin and so he was absolutely certain that he could entrust to him the ins and outs of his current task. “I fully trust him." he told Wen Ning, and he nodded.

 

"So what's that you can't figure out yet?” He asked inviting them to sit near to him "Show me how much you've come so far.”

 

SiZhui was gradually explaining what was in Wen Qing's manuscript, so did JingYi occasionally intervene with those parts that dominated or helped find the information. Having performed the extraction and transplantation of the core of Wei Wuxian to Jiang Cheng he had also come to understand how Wen Zhuliu proceeded and had devoted himself to further studying the state of the body before, during and after the formation of the nucleus. Her theory was not based on the restoration of the lost core but on allowing a new one to form, although he went a little further looking for ways to foster and facilitate its development as its intention was to help those who had been affected by Wen Zhuliu directly or indirectly, so that they do not take as long to form as the first time.

 

"It seems she already had an idea of what she needed to do to achieve it, but she didn't detail it," SiZhui explained "The last thing she wrote about was about similarity to a technique called YuLin's Blessing. The problem is that we haven't found any references to it. You know what is that? Is it a secret technique of the Wen Clan?

 

Wen Ning denied. "Yes, I know it, but it's not a secret of the Wen Clan. The creator of this technique was a cultivator who practiced medicine, like our family, and dedicated himself to saving lives. His name was Liu Yazhu.

 

"I've read about it," SiZhui said "But I don't remember any mention about The Blessing.”

 

“That's because it's believed that it's just a legend as there wasn't anyone who could replicate that technique. My sister obtained a manuscript, but it's probably in someone else's possession now.”

 

With Wen Ning’s words, the two young men were filled with emotion knowing that there was a record but upon hearing the location of the manuscript both became discouraged. Most likely, it was now part of the war loot of one of the clans.

 

 

"It's not hard to imagine who could have taken him. The last time I saw the manuscript was a few days before...” Wen Ning left the phrase unfinished, decided that there was no need to go into detail and went straight to the point. "Probably it is in the possession of the Lanling Jin sect.”

 

Lan JinYi jumped with emotion although Lan SiZhui could not react with the same joy, understanding what Wen Ning had omitted, but at the same time recalled that they had both agreed that they would not regret the past so he focused on the positive side.

 

"It's good to have Sect Leader Jin on our side," Lan SiZhui said in a friendly tone and with a little excitement knowing they might soon see Jin Ling, "It will be easier to get us to search for the manuscript. How about we go visit Young Master Jin after we finish our business here?

 

"But we don't have permission to go to Lanling... well, I don't mind having to copy the rules a few more times, but Master Lan is going to put an even harder punishment on you again.”

 

The past months, as the group leader, Lan SiZhui had to take the main responsibility for his transgressions at curfew and unauthorized exits. He was sure that the strength of his arms was much greater now as well as that it would continue to increase in the future. However, in this particular occasion he had a way of avoiding being punished.

 

"We're not going to get in trouble. I have permission from Hanguang-jun to do this investigation. We will send a message with our companions to let him know the reason for our absence, and he will arrange everything with Master Lan.”

 

"That's good! I said I didn't mind having to copy the rules, but not having to do it it’s better. Then we will go to Koi Tower...”

 

At the end of the night hunt, Lan SiZhui gave a note to another of the disciples with the entrusting that they should gave it to Hanguang-jun as soon as they arrived, and also instructed them on what to say if they saw  Lan Qiren and should explain his absence. However, they kept their destiny as a secret because they were sure they would want to accompany them.

 

They also said goodbye to Wen Ning as they would go directly to Koi Tower and not expose themselves to any danger. They mounted their swords and in a short amount of time they were in Lanling..

 

“Young Masters Lan” The person in the entry greeted “What do we owe the honor of your visit?”

They corresponded to reverence and Lan SiZhui took the floor. "That's very kind of you. We've come to see Sect Leader Jin to ask for his support. We'd like to be able to talk to him for at least a second.

The servant smiled shyly at him. “I truly am sorry, Young Masters, but the Leader is very busy and cannot receive visitors now”

 

Lan SiZhui already though about that and that's why he was ready. "Could you then give him a note from us?”

“Ah... I...” The way the man hesitated while speaking put both young Lan on alert, but they soon knew the reason.

 

“Looks like you don’t understand that you’re not welcome here.”

 

Jin Chan and his followers walked towards them. Due to the experience in Yi City, the juniors of several sects had a fraternal relationship that grew stronger after what happened at Burial Mound. However, the young boys of the Jin Sect were not with Jin Ling on the first occasion and his relationship with the youth of other sects was not formed beyond the alliance forced by having to fight against the fierce corpses. But especially Jin Chan could not leave his hostility towards Jin Ling or any person associated with Wei Wuxian.

 

“What do you mean?” confronted Lan JingYi.

 

"What does the GusuLan Sect they are to intervene in the affairs of our Sect? You're not welcome in Koi Tower, so leave.”

 

Lan JingYi was about to replicate him, but Lan SiZhui stopped him with a glance. "Young Master Jin, it is not in our interest to intervene in the affairs of the Lanling Jin Sect. Our visit is just to ask for help regarding a family matter.

“Even worse. Our sect shouldn't be involved with a family as shameful as yours... Disgusting cut-sleeve...”

“What did you say?!” Lan JingYi took a step forward, but again it was contained by Lan SiZhui.

 

"Young Master Jin, watch your words." The tone of his voice, while still being polite, made the offense evident. Jin Chan had probably spoken of his family because they both belonged to the Lan Clan as no one else knew about his filial relationship with the couple in question, but that had been a more personal offense to him anyway.

 

“Why? I do not understand how the Lan Clan can permit something so disgusting in their…”

 

Jin Chan had to swallow his words in a very literal sense. The boy's eyes opened greatly, but his mouth remained completely sealed. Guttural sounds were all he could emit while trying to separate his lips with his fingernails. Lan SiZhui remained in appearance as composed as ever as he slowly lowered his hand although in his gaze there was an unusual coldness and Lan JingYi could only comment for himself the similarity he had with Hanguang-jun. Even if they didn't have a blood tie, I couldn't deny it was his son.

 

Being silenced served to prevent Jin Chan from continuing to offend with his words, but did nothing to suppress his hostility. He unsheathed his sword without hesitation and attacked Lan SiZhui directly even though Lan JingYi was standing very close to him. However, both boys reacted immediately and in sync jumped to the side and turned around waiting for Jin Chan's reaction after failing his first attack. He completely ignored Lan JingYi and launched a second attack on SiZhui that evaded him as if he were jumping rocks into the river effortlessly. Lan JingYi smiled in satisfaction at recognizing the fighting style and thinking that SiZhui's two adoptive parents would be proud to see him now.

Chapter Text

"There are times when a fight is won by not fighting it." Wei Wuxian gave his calm explanation while dodging the blows of a pair of fierce corpses they had encountered on the excursion that night. It was an exclusive excursion for his favorite trio since he had the sole purpose of teaching them to fight when they are on disadvantage. Being a leader of the sect did not prevent Jin Ling from going into heated discussions with Jin Chan and his henchmen, who sometimes went to blows before being stopped by any of the elders.

 

At one point the two creatures launched an attack at the same time and Wei Wuxian, giving a slight kick to the floor, jumped and spun in the air to get out of their way and the two bodies ended up knocking each other down.

 

“Fierce corpses lack reasoning and it is easy to deceive them, but during a fight if their opponents are dominated by anger they can use it against them. Who wants to try?”

 

Jin Ling was the one who took the initiative. Wei Wuxian approached the bodies and gave a small whistle to wake them up and to attack again without much force. “You have to be alert, do not depend only on your eyes, and sharpen all your senses to also see the movements of the opponent behind your back.”3

 

Wei Wuxian knew that copses of such low level did not represent a mortal threat to the young boy, but he had anyway asked everyone to be alert and intervene if something went out of control. He was not going to take any risk no matter how minimal it was.

 

The three boys took turns until they had a better idea of the technique and continued practicing for a long time. Jin Ling had less time than the others since he was in Gusu only while passing through Yunmeng, so he would not have a proper opportunity to make questions to Wei Wuxian. Determined, he approached him with only one interest. "Can you show me that movement you made on Mount Dafan?”

 

Wei Wuxian looked at him in bewilderment because he didn't know exactly what he meant. Jin Ling had to refresh his memory. "When you put that fat ghost on my back."

 

"Oh," he said dryly, not wanting to remember more of that incident. "Sure, it's a fairly simple move, but you have to practice enough to do it. “It requires a quick reaction.”

 

He smiled happily. “It's almost time for curfew, we better go back now and in the morning we will do another kind of training.”

 

Jin Ling stayed that night at the Cloud Recess and in the morning while Lan Wangji dealt with some issues, Wei Wuxian led the three back outside because they would probably make more noise than normal and did not want to expose them to copy the rules once again or that Lan Qiren's pressure was affected.

 

They stopped on the riverbank close to the forest where Wei Wuxian began to explain what the training of that day would be.

 

"We're going to play a little game" He announced, showing some paper talismans.

 

“A game?” Jin Ling questioned that he didn't have time for games, but he also knew about Wei Ying's unorthodox methods and hoped that was the case.

 

"I realized last night that you need the basics. The Lan Sect prohibits running, making noise ... being a child in the Cloud Recess must be sad and boring. And Jin Ling, despite growing up between Lanling and Yunmeng, did not have the opportunity to play with other children about his age, so I doubt you played catch.”

 

The three boys exchanged glances and then denied in unison shaking their heads.

 

"I knew that” he said, remembering the same revelation about Lan Zhan in the past “So today we're going to make it more excited”

Wei Wuxian approached the boys and put a talisman on each other's chest and another behind them. "You shouldn't worry about these talismans. When they’re activated, only a small smoke will come out that will serve as a signal for our game.”

 

He put one more on his chest and asked SiZhui to put the other on his back. "Now I will explain our game. It is forbidden to go into the forest and hide behind the trees, you will remain where everybody can see you, the goal is activate the talismans of others and prevent yours to be activated”

 

“What? But if you're going to play, we're going to be at a disadvantage” JingYi protested.

 

"I am not going to attack your talismans, although it does not mean that I will remain doing nothing. I will defend myself because you guys have too much strength in your arms and if I'm not careful I will end up with one or two broken ribs.”

 

That was a good opportunity for him to exercise his spiritual energy a little more since he would use other methods to prevent the three boys from touching him. "One more rule. To have the right to activate one of my talismans, you must first have activated one of someone else's.

 

The three boys exchanged a look and nodded again. “We will establish a scoring system. The talismans on your chest are worth a point. Mine’s worth three points. The talismans on your back will give you five points and mine is worth fifteen points. The game ends when the talisman behind my back is activated or when two of you are eliminated. I have a lot of charms with me so we can be in this all day.”

 

They rarely had the opportunity to go through such a fun training, so they will take advantage until the last moment. Thanks to train with the sword and martial arts they already had reflexes and technique developed, but the fighting style used by Wei Wuxian combined not only that but speed, grace and a bit of skill to use the energy of the opponent against him.

 

Wei Wuxian instructed everyone to take distance and at his signal the game would begin. With training last night they had learned how to dodge attacks, but now they would have to combine defense and attack to achieve their goal.

 

Lan SiZhui took advantage of a slight slip of JingYi and was about to touch the talisman on his friend's chest, but instead ended up falling to the ground. He reacted immediately to roll and depart before receiving a counterattack.

 

"Senior Wei!" He protested being safe." You said you weren't going to attack.”

 

"I said I wasn't going to attack your talismans, not that I wasn't going to attack you. Remember, in a disadvantaged fight or during a night hunt, the opponent will not act fairly, so you must always be alert.”

 

They spent the rest of the morning in that game. At first they were very serious, focused on the fact that it was a training, but with the provocations of Wei Wuxian it soon became a fun game and in a while the four were laughing as they continued attacking and escaping.

 

About noon, Wei Wuxian threw himself on the floor and exhaled loudly. "Ah ... I really still have very little spiritual energy. I need to rest, do you want to go eat something?”

 

The three boys stopped in their place and looked at him. It was clear in their eyes that they didn't want to stop now that they were having so much fun and progress at the same time. “It's ok I understand. You keep playing while I'm going for something to eat.” He got up and started to leave, but SiZhui's voice stopped him.

 

"Senior Wei ... don't buy only spicy food, please."

 

Wei Wuxian ran his arms behind his head and exaggerated a sigh. "Oh, it's a shame you weren’t under my care more time. I am sure that now you would not have such a delicate palate” he turned again and began to walk “Your father is the only one to blame for that.”

 

"Ha, if he had continued eating your dishes, he would have ruined his palate a long time ago." No one in Yunmeng eats as spicy as you” Jin Ling protested.

 

“Of course not. In all the places near to Lotus Pier they knew that they had to put a triple portion of spicy in my food when it arrived” he said amused.

 

"Eating so much spicy shouldn't be good for your health," Lan JingYi said.

 

"Tch ... why did this suddenly become a criticism of my eating tastes?" He laughed and started the trip to town to buy food. Of course, he was not going to buy only food to his liking, he had long learned the lesson of not assuming that everyone had the same taste or tolerance for spicy.

 

He had also spent more time with the boys and knew that although SiZhui and JingYi had grown up in the GusuLan sect, his taste was not so soft and that Jin Ling's had been partially formed in Yunmeng. Therefore, he bought adequate food for each of them and returned to their training place only to discover that they were still in the middle of the persecution having lost all the three amulet in their chest.

 

He watched them to evaluate their progress. Lan JingYi had the general idea, but his movements were not as fluid yet and that slowed him down. Jin Ling had assimilated the flow of his movements very well but he was still very quick to act and that reduced his precision. In the opposite case, Lan SiZhui was too cautious and that make him not so powerful.

 

Lan JingYi ran to Jin Ling trying to reach him before he moved, but Jin Ling reacted with speed and instead of fleeing he changed the inclination of his body to be able to turn and dodge Lan JingYi's movement and at the same time reach the amulet in his back that exploded with a soft puff and the boy fell to the ground by the slight push. Jin Ling could barely rejoice in his success because Lan SiZhui had already reached them. He was going to repeat the movement, but instead of attacking in a straight line SiZhui jumped and spun in the air resting his hand on Jin Ling's shoulder, reaching with the other the amulet on his back. Jin Ling felt right on Lan JingYi and Lan SiZhui landed elegantly on his feet. He immediately turned to his friends to reach out and help them up.

 

"That wasn't fair," Jin Ling protested as he stood up.

 

"Senior Wei said the opponent was not going to have considerations with us," Lan JingYi recalled.

 

Wei Wuxian was assaulted by a memory of his childhood at the Lotus Pier while playing with Jiang Cheng and the other disciples. They usually lost track of time and then Jiang Yianli was going to look for them, using a warm and friendly tone to call them. "A-Xian, A-Cheng, it's time to eat."

 

"A-Yuan, A-Ling, A-Yi, it's time to eat" he said, imitating the tone his shijie used.

 

The boys' discussion was cut off suddenly when they heard the extremely affectionate way in which Wei Wuxian called them. None of the three were accustomed to being called so sweetly and the blush on their faces was inevitable, but at the same time it had caused a warm sensation in their chests. None of the three answered, they just quietly approached where Wei Wuxian was accommodating the food. The warmth in their hearts grew stronger when everyone found their favorite dish waiting for them.

 

"How did you learn to fight like this?" Lan JingYi asked once they finished eating and while they waited to continue their training.

 

Wei Wuxian's smile was somewhat melancholic. "It was something necessary to survive. When you live on the streets, or have a mouthpiece like mine, fights become almost mandatory. But the one who helped me polish my skills was Uncle Jiang. While Madame Yu made Jiang Cheng learn to use Zidian, Uncle Jiang trained with me.”

 

Jin Ling listened carefully. It wasn't that Jiang Cheng never talked about his family, but hearing a new perspective was very interesting. Wei Wuxian talked a little about his childhood after Jiang Fengmian took him to Lotus Pier and could not help telling him about the incident with the tree, Jiang Cheng and Jian Yanli.

 

The group was silent after Wei Wuxian finished telling that story. For long minutes all that could be heard in that clearing was the sound of the water running through the river and the wind shaking the trees’s branches and grass.

 

It was Jin Ling who dared to speak. "My uncle had already told me about that incident. When I took Fairy to Lotus Pier for the first time and he was delighted with the puppy.” He laughed, remembering the contrast of his expression at that moment with which he usually carried. “I asked him why he didn't have dogs if he liked them so much and he told me it was your fault.”

 

Wei Wuxian already assumed that Jiang Cheng had no kind words about him, so he was not surprised by what Jin Ling told him before, but the boy continued his speech by taking him completely off guard. “Now hearing the story from your perspective ... I think that with a pair of brothers like my uncle and you, my mom was definitely an angel.”

 

The two young Lans contained a laugh, but far from being offended, Wei Wuxian could not help smiling at Jin Ling and reaffirm with great affection. "Yes, she really was."

 

Backing to the training, Wei Wuxian first gave them some observations to polish their skills and the game was restarted. The practice extended a few more hours. By that time, Wei Wuxian had already lost the amulet on his chest at least a couple of times but none of the boys had yet approached the amulet on his back. Even so, they had to stop because it was time for Jin Ling to continue on his way to Yunmeng. Lan JingYi vocalized his disappointment. "We were so close."

 

"Who says so?"  Wei Wuxian's voice sounded as if he was making fun of them. “If it weren't for the low level of this body and how exhausting it is to be using spiritual energy all the time, you wouldn't even have gotten close to this amulet.”

 

"We were close anyway," Jin Ling insisted.

 

"I suppose with practice we can get to give Senior Wei a little more fight." —Lan SiZhui always acting as the conciliatory voice of the group.

 

"You did it quite well, don't be discouraged either." It is not a technique that can be mastered in a single day but you made great progress this afternoon – he praised them sincerely – “I am sure that in a short time this will be very simple. You can practice with fierce corpses that you find in your nocturnal hunts. With the level you have now, I'm sure you can deal with that Jin Chan and his gang without difficulty.” He turned to Jin Ling who couldn't help smiling in anticipation.

 

It was time to say goodbye. Each time that moment arrived it became more difficult, but there was always a next time. They walked until they returned to the main road and Jin Ling turned away from them. "Thanks for the training" he made a slight bow, "it was quite funny, but now I have to go."

 

"We will repeat it another time," Lan JingYi replied "I will not give you any chance."

 

"You'll see, I'll make you swallow your words."

 

"A-Ling." Wei Wuxian interrupted the little argument between the two friends. "Be careful on your way."

 

Definitely that affectionate tone made his hair crisp. Although it really wasn't unpleasant, he couldn't get used to it.

 

"It's been a long time since I can take care of myself" he replied, turning his back, but before he started walking he added: "But thanks.See you soon.”