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Always find your way back home

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Harvest time was always Jin Ling’s favourite time of the year, and he spent it in Lotus Pier with his favourite uncle each year. Jiujiu always took a break from his sect leader duties around that time to take Jin Ling somewhere special, and they always had so much fun. Jin Ling also got to drink lots and lots of lotus root and pork ribs soup, which was his favourite soup.

He loved to swim in the lake and watch the disciples pulling lotus stems from the water. They always gave Jin Ling lotus seeds to pop into his mouth. But what Jin Ling loved most about harvest time was when his jiujiu would take him up to the roof at night to look at the sky, the moon and the stars, and as they lay across the roof, Jiujiu would gently caress Jin Lings hair and sing softly to him. Jin Ling would already be leaning into his jiujiu, falling half asleep as he begged his jiujiu to sing him his favourite lullaby.

Jin Ling did not understand why his jiujiu didn’t sing more often and in front of more people. He had such a great voice and Jin Ling wished he weren’t the only one fortunate enough to hear it (although he did secretly delight in the knowledge that this was something his jiujiu only shared with him. He was the only one who knew about Jiujiu’s talent of singing beautifully).

Tonight was one of those nights. It was peak harvest time, according to what Jiujiu had told Jin Ling, and he sat on the roof on Jiujiu’s lap. His head was resting on his jiujiu’s chest and he could hear his heartbeats, loud and clear. Jiujiu’s heart beat rhythmically, soothing Jin Ling and making him feel safe and protected. Jiujiu meant home and happiness, although he also made Jin Ling feel sad and angry sometimes, and he also made him cry.

But Jin Ling knew that his jiujiu loved him and that was all that mattered.

Jiujiu hummed quietly as he held Jin Ling close to his chest, staring straight ahead. The rise and fall of his chest and the thudding of his heart lulled Jin Ling to sleep. He woke up a little when his jiujiu shifted and sighed, kissing Jin Ling on the top of his head.

“Jiujiu,” Jin Ling called out.

“Hmmm?” Jiujiu responded, carding his fingers slowly through Jin Ling’s hair.

“Can you show me which star in the sky is my mom and which one is my dad?” Jin Ling asked softly.

Jiujiu straightened up slightly and pointed to the brightest star in the sky. It shone right in front of them. “That star right there is your mom, my a-jie.” Then he pointed to the one that shone next to it, not as bright but still bright enough that Jin Ling could see it. It was the closest star to his mom. “And that one is your dad.”

“And they are watching over me?” Jin Ling asked.

“They are,” Jiujiu confirmed.

“And they love me?” Jin Ling questioned. He had asked Jiujiu these questions before and he knew the answers, but sometimes it was nice to hear them again. They made his jiujiu smile sometimes and Jin Ling loved watching his jiujiu smile.

“Of course, they do,” Jiujiu reassured. “I do too!” Jiujiu had stopped carding through Jin Ling’s hair and he held Jin Ling again and turned him around so that he was facing Jiujiu. “You know that don’t you, A-Ling?”

Jin Ling nodded his head. “I do.” He watched as Jiujiu let out a relieved breath and sighed.

“Can you tell me one of your stories? About my mom, you, and Wei Wuxian?” Telling those stories always made Jiujiu laugh, and Jin Ling loved watching Jiujiu laugh even more than he loved to watch him smile.

This time however, Jiujiu frowned. He looked up at the sky and spoke softly, “Wei Wuxian loved to sit on the roof and look at the sky. He was just like you A-Ling. His parents died when he was very young, so he always sat here with me and we tried to point at the different stars and guess which ones were his mom and dad.”

Jin Ling wiggled around on his jiujiu’s lap and turned around to look at the sky. “Did you find out which stars were his parents?”

When Jin Ling got no response, he turned to his jiujiu and found that Jiujiu had tears in his eyes. Jin Ling blinked. He hadn’t expected his jiujiu to get so emotional over a memory like that. Jiujiu usually became angry when he thought about Wei Wuxian because he had killed Jin Ling’s parents. Jin Ling knew that he was supposed to feel angry too, but Jin Ling hadn’t really known his parents or Wei Wuxian. He knew Jiujiu though, and he felt angry on his jiujiu’s behalf.

“Yes, we did,” Jiujiu finally responded. He pointed to two stars in the sky which seemed nearest to the ground, and the closest to the roof. Jin Ling was convinced that if he reached out, he could pluck them out of the sky. “He said that whenever he felt lost, those two stars always guided him and showed him the way home, to Lotus Pier, where he belonged, with me and A-jie by his side.” A tear fell from Jiujiu’s eye as he continued to speak. “I never should have left him. I never should have let him go.”

Jin Ling felt alarmed as Jiujiu suddenly dropped his head and began to sob. “Jiujiu?” Jiujiu’s hold on Jin Ling grew tighter, pressing him closer to his chest as Jiujiu cried harder.

Jin Ling didn’t know what to do, how to make Jiujiu stop crying, so he did the only thing he could. He gripped Jiujiu’s robes and climbed up a bit to reach his face. When he could, Jin Ling patted his jiujiu’s face with a tiny hand. “It’s alright, Jiujiu. It’s okay. Look up there at the sky. There are so many stars out there. One of them is Wei Wuxian, and he is watching over you. He’s looking out for you and he loves you.”

“A-Ling,” his jiujiu said, pressing his forehead against Jin Ling’s. He was still crying.

“Don’t cry, Jiujiu,” Jin Ling said, wiping his jiujiu’s tears like Jiujiu had wiped his numerous times before. “I love you, too.”