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Sacrifice and redemption

Chapter Text

Wen Kexing breathes heavily; his eyes are closed as he laid his head against the elevated roots of the tree, relying on its ancient growth to support his weakened body. His insides felt torn apart by the death of Ah Xiang and Cao Weining. It was supposed to be their day. Their big day. The injustice was an agony, blossoming within his chest, completely overwhelming the pain of his physical injuries. Wen Kexing longed for Ah Xu’s touch...ever so calming, gentle and strong. He was filled with worry and wondered where Ah Xu was. They had lost contact in the fight that ensued.

Wen Kexing heard footsteps approaching him. His eyes remained closed as the Scorpion king spoke, his voice soft and sly and gleefully victorious.

“The Ghost valley master is no more...injured and pathetic. Well...this is a sight to behold.”

“Leave me to enjoy the sun.” Wen Kexing hissed.

“I have great respect for Wen master...let me have my way with him Scorpion king...”

Scorpion king turned sharply towards his subordinate. “Only I am worthy of ending the Ghost Valley Master’s life. Anything less is of great disrespect.” With those words, his weapon shot towards Wen Kexing who remained still and weak, with little energy to defend himself.

Suddenly, a flash of vivid blue and a sword came out of nowhere, deflecting Scorpion king’s weapon.

“How dare you touch someone from Si Ji Manor.”

“You are more powerful then I remember.” Scorpion king looked tense, his eyes now focused on the newly arrived Zhou Zishu.

Zhou Zishu stood in front of Wen Kexing, his sword just touching the delicate skin of Scorpion King’s throat.

“Why are you here, fool?” Wen Kexing opened his eyes and smiled at the silhouette of Ah Xu, whose back was facing him. His shoulders were strong and resolute.

‘To die with you, you crazy fool.” Ah Xu said, turning to look at him. His face was full of worry for Wen Kexing, but he half smiled, as if to reassure him before turning back to face Scorpion King.

“Ah Xu...” Wen Kexing whispered. He grimaced, trying to stay strong and focused on the situation unfolding before him. Ah Xu was not strong enough in his current state to battle Scorpion King alone. He will not tolerate anyone hurting Ah Xu. His focused slipped again as the blood loss from his chest wound disorientated him. Before he could utter another word, the sharp clangs of weapons bought him back to reality. Ah Xu was dueling with the Scorpion king. His strokes were fast and accurate, a formidable opponent for the Scorpion King. Wen Kexing laughed to himself. He need not worry. Ah Xu was the former leader of Tian Chuang, his intelligence and martial art skills were second to none. Wen Kexing shook his head as he watched the battle, something was not right. Ah Xu was fighting in a way he had never seen before. He was fighting at almost full capacity, more powerful than he had ever seen him before. But Ah Xu was still injured from the Seven orifices three autumn nails...

His eyes darted back and forth as Scorpion King and Ah Xu exchanged blows. Out of the corner of his eyes, a flying object was heading straight for Ah Xu. It was a hidden weapon shot by one of Scorpion King’s subordinate when realizing that Scorpion King was losing to Zhou Zishu. The dart hit Zhou Zishu in the right side of his chest. He fell forward with a gasp, his hand to his chest as blood dripped from his wound.

“No! Ah Xu!” Wen Kexing gasped. He groaned as he tried to get up. Ah Xu glanced at him, nodding as if to indicate that he was ok. Ah Xu turned his attention back to Scorpion king and his subordinates.

“Don’t hide in the darkness and throw hidden weapons like a coward. Come out and fight me!” Zhou Zishu pushed himself up from his knees and glanced at his opponents with grit and determination.

They all charged at Zhou Zishu and he fought back, almost basking in the glory of his renewed martial arts power. His sword moved skillfully, his steps swift as he battled his enemies. At last, he towered over Scorpion king as his sword came crashing down, killing his last opponent. The rest of Scorpion King’s entourage lay dead around them.

Breathing heavily and exhausted by the fight, Zhou Zishu’s knees buckled and he fell forward, his sword clanging to the ground next to him. His back to Wen Kexing, a trickle of blood escaped his lips. Zhou Zishu wiped the blood away hastily. He did not want Wen Kexing to see him hurt as he rushed to his side. Wen Kexing looked at him in awe as the sun lit the sky behind Ah Xu, bathing him in a magnificent glow. He reached his bloodied hand out.

"Your body has light around it. I want to hold onto it.” His hand fell, too weak to sustain its elevation. Zhou Zishu caught it in his own, squeezing it tightly.

“Ah Xu...Ah’re hurt.” Zhou Zishu shook his head. “I’m fine. Just minor injuries. You on the other hand...” He reached out and touched the blood on Wen Kexing’s clothes, assessing the extent of his injuries. “You’re bleeding heavily. I must get you back to Da Wu and Qi Ye. Come on....let’s go, I’ll carry you.” He went to help Wen Kexing to his feet, taking his weight and draping his arm over his shoulders.

Wen Kexing shook his head, protesting. He felt dizzy from blood loss but all he could focus on was chest wound on Ah Xu and a large wound on his shoulder.

‘You’re bleeding Ah Xu...are you ok? Talk to me.”

“Stop with this nonsense. I’ll be okay if you’re okay. We must go.” Ah Xu insisted.

Wen Kexing nodded and they began the long, arduous walk back to the Ghost Valley, in hope of seeing Da Wu, Qi Ye and Cheng Ling along the way. As much as Wen Kexing did not want to, he leaned heavily against Ah Xu for he had little strength left to walk. Somehow he felt safe and his heart was warm. Even if he died along the way, he would be with the most important person in the world to him.

“Ah Xu...I’m sorry.”

“What for?” Ah Xu asked, he looked upon Wen Kexing with gentle eyes.

“For not telling you the truth about my plans...your injuries...I want Da Wu to cure you. I couldn’t afford to lose you or any harm to come upon you...” He paused. “Was I a fool? Are you angry with me?”

Ah Xu was silent for along time. His jaws clenched. Finally he said: “I am angry with you. How could you have not factored me into your plans? I thought you were dead! I jumped after you! Did you consider that?”

Wen Kexing grinned and closed his eyes momentarily. “No, I didn’t think anyone would do that for me.”

Ah Xu chuckled. “Don’t be too surprised.”

“Ah Xu?”


“Would you really have died with me?”

There was a long pause before Ah Xu answered. “You’re the only reason I have to live.”

Wen Kexing smiled, his heart felt full in that instant and momentarily distracted him from the pain of losing Ah Xiang. They were silent for a while, focusing on their steps as they got closer to Ghost Valley. Every once in a while, Zhou Zishu turned to look at Wen kexing whose eyes were closed and breathing shallow. He realized as time went by that he needed to take Wen Kexing’s weight more and more as he slipped closer into unconsciousness.

Once again, Zhou Zishu felt the blood bubbling up inside his chest and into his mouth, escaping his lips. He coughed, trying to stifle the sound as he looked worriedly at Wen Kexing, concerned that he would notice that all was not well. The pain from his wounds was bearable. He had stayed strong so as to get Wen Kexing to safety. He looked down at his own wounds and felt a wave of dizziness overcome him. Another coughing fit went through him and this time, he couldn’t help the gush of blood that exploded from his mouth. His hearing, his sight and his other senses suddenly all seem to have abandoned him. He felt a brilliant spark of pain blossom throughout his body. In the distance, he could see the blurry figure of Qi Ye, Da Wu and Cheng Ling running towards them.

“Lao Wen, you’re safe now.” Zhou Zishu whispered as he and Wen Kexing both fell to the ground and the world became dark.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Wen Kexing woke to find himself alone in an unfamiliar room. The room smelt of musky incense and light streamed through the thin paper windows. Disoriented, his first thought went to Ah Xu, feeling panicked that he wasn’t lying beside him or holding his hand waiting for him to wake. His hand went to touch the wound on his chest which throbbed with pain. Groaning, Wen KeXing forces himself to sit up in bed. Despite the pain from his wound, he feels ok and rested. Pushing open the door to his room, Wen Kexing realizes that he is back in Si Ji manor.

Wen Kexing wanders outside, feeling alarmed as he hears worried voices from Ah Xu’s room. He pushed the door open and all eyes turned towards him.

His eyes immediately goes to Ah Xu who was sitting slumped on the bed while Qi Ye was transferring internal energy into his body. Sweat beads were visible on Qi Ye’s face as he struggles with the tremendous amount of energy required to heal Zhou Zishu. Cheng Ling was standing with tears running down his face, he looked stunned. Da Wu was nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly, Zhou Zishu coughs and blood flowed from his lips and onto the bed. Wen Kexing rushes over, finally able to unfreeze himself from the shock of seeing Ah Xu in this state, and took Qi Ye’s place behind Ah Xu. Ah Xu’s body fell back against his, still unconscious.

“What’s wrong with him?” Wen Kexing asked frantically, his eyes darting between Qi Ye and Cheng Ling. They both avoided his eyes and remained silent.

“Ah Xu! Ah Xu!” He shook Ah Xu gently, desperate for him to wake and reassure him with his words. He grabbed Ah Xu’s hand and felt a rising panic in his chest at how cold they were.

Da Wu suddenly burst into the room with a bowl of steaming medicine. Ye Baiyi followed behind with a frown on his face.

“Hold him up. We must get him to take this medicine.” Da Wu said. He barely acknowledged Wen Kexing’s presence. It was useless. Zhou ZiShu was too weak, the medicine trickled from his lips with little being ingested. Everyone looked at each other helplessly.

“Qi Ye, you must be honest with me. What’s wrong with Ah Xu? How long have I been unconscious for?” Wen Kexing asked Qi Ye.

A frown creased Qi Ye’s face and he finally spoke with solemn graveness. “It’s been 3 days. We found Zishu carrying you back to the Ghost Valley before collapsing himself.”

“Was it the injuries he sustained during the fight? He said he was ok...I believed him...I should have been there to protect him instead of being weak." Wen Kexing dug his knuckles into the bed in despair.

“No, Wen Gong Zi, the nails have been removed. ZiShu removed them himself.” Da Wu said.

Wen Kexing was shocked. “He removed them? Why? Why would he do such a thing? We had a plan to heal him!”

The whole room looked back at him bleakly.

“Someone answer me!” Wen Kexing shouted. His voice broke with emotion.

He didn’t realize his hand were gripped tightly around Ah Xu’s when he felt the weak pressure of Ah Xu squeezing his hands back. Ah Xu woke, coughing weakly.

“Lao Wen, are you okay? Zhou Zishu turned his head to look deep into Wen Kexing’s eyes, searching for any signs of reassurance that his soul mate was okay and recovering from his injuries. He was relieved to find that his senses had returned to him temporarily so that he could at least see the calming familiarity of Wen Kexing’s face again.

“I’m fine, you fool! What about you? Did you take the nails out? Why did you do it?” Wen Kexing was almost irrational in his alarm at the prospect of loosing his Ah Xu.

There was a long silence and everyone shifted awkwardly in the room as if they were witness to a domestic disagreement.

“Lao wen, when you jumped, I jumped after you. What did you think I would have done if, to my knowledge, you were dead.”

Wen Kexing looked at Zhou Zishu in horror as the realization dawned on him.

“No, no, no, no, no...” Wen Kexing shook his head. He felt tears prickle his eyes, his vision went blurry and his whole heart ached. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, so softly that only Zhou Zishu could hear. He felt torn apart by guilt and grief. It was he, himself who had destroyed his only chance at happiness with Ah Xu.

“I’m not afraid of dying, Lao wen.”

“Don’t say that, Ah Xu! You’re not going to die. I won’t allow it.” Wen Kexing said softly, gritting his teeth. He turned to Da Wu and Ye Baiyi “Right. What do we need to do to save him?”

Nobody answered.

‘Tell me!”

“I’m afraid there’s no other way Wen Gong Zi. Once the nails are out, it is only a matter of time before his internal energy will destroy his meridian and he dies...” Da Wu said sadly.

Cheng Lin dropped to his knees. “Shi Fu. How are you feeling? Do you feel bad?”

Zhou Zishu shook his head gently. “No, not too bad. I don’t feel any pain.”

Turning to Da Wu, he asked “How long do I have?”

“3 days.”

Zhou Zishu nodded slowly, he felt himself tremble although he tried to hide it from Wen Kexing. A fear overcame him. Not the fear of his own impending death but grief for the lost prospect of growing old with Wen Kexing, a life he envisioned would involve lots of bickering, eating and drinking to their hearts content. He also worried terribly about how Wen Kexing would cope with his death.

“Leave us please. I need some time alone with him.” Wen Kexing said. His expression was impossible to read.

Everyone silently left the room until it was only Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu left. Wen kexing silently supported Zhou Zishu as he set up some pillows behind his back. He blew on the medicinal soup to cool it down before feeding it to Zhou Zishu who grimaced and coughed when the medicine touched his lips.


“No, I can’t taste it.”

There was a long silence as Wen Kexing fed Zhou Zishu the remainder of his medicine, with a fierce focus on finishing the task. After the medicine was finished, Wen Kexing gingerly helped Zhou Zishu lay down again. He leaned over, brushing Zhou Zishu’s hair away from his shoulders whilst glancing deep into his eyes.

“I can’t go on without you, Ah Xu. I don’t know how to.” He said softly.

“It’s going to suck...I won’t lie about have permission to miss me for 1 year, then only every year thereafter on my death anniversary.” Zhou Zishu said with a sad smile.

“I can’t believe how stupid I was. I thought to protect you was to shield you from my plan to fake my death. I didn’t count on you jumping after me and I never thought that you would remove your nails...”

“You underestimate how important you are to me, Lao Wen. I needed my full powers back to avenge you and then I would have no regrets of following you in death. I know that you would do the same for me.”

Wen Kexing nodded silently. The paleness of Ah Xu’s skin, the blood tinged lips and his vulnerability made his heart ache. He was close to death and Wen Kexing knew it. What he wouldn’t give to have Ah Xu healthy and strong in front of him.

“I want you to live, Lao Wen. You told me that night that being a good person was the most relaxing thing you’ve ever done. After I’m gone, take care of Cheng Ling, and rebuild Si Ji Manor...” Zhou Zishu’s voice trailed off as he felt what little strength he had leave him. He tried to put on a brave smile, looking at Wen Kexing through blurry eyes as he drifted off into exhausted slumber.

“I’m not going to let that happen. Rest Ah Xu. You’re not going to die.”

Wen Kexing covered Zhou Zishu with a blanket, holding his hand, as he himself fell into a restless sleep.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Many hours later, Wen Kexing found himself outside of Zhou Zishu’s room to get some fresh air. He had watched over Ah Xu as his face had relaxed slowly into deep slumber, seeming surprisingly young and vulnerable as he slept. So unlike the ruthless leader of Tian Chuang and the life he had tried to escape. Wen Kexing lifted his wooden recorder to his lips and begun playing, hoping the music would further sooth Ah Xu’s pain and also ease his growing anxiety about Ah Xu’s health. Time was running out...

He heard a noise beside him and turned to see Ye Baiyi standing next to him.

Wen Kexing stopped playing. “Ah Xu is dying. You promised me you would find a way to save him.”

“I didn’t plan on that fool removing his nails.” Ye Baiyi said simply.

Wen Kexing closed his eyes and took a deep breath as overwhelming guilt and regret washed over him once again. He opened his eyes and stared Ye Baiyi in the eyes.

“Is there no other way? I will do anything to save him.”

There was a long pause and Ye Baiyi seemed deep in thought. Wen Kexing wondered if the old monster was deliberately adding to his apprehension. “Yes, there is a way but nothing in life comes without a cost. It requires you to make a sacrifice in exchange for his life.”

Wen Kexing did not hesitate. “Yes. I can do it.”

“Don’t agree so quickly. Here are the terms. I can transfer and teach you Liu He Shen Gong. This method will heal Zhou Zishu but it is likely that you, as the furnace, will suffer severe consequences, death is likely as your meridians will be destroyed. You must take him Chang Ming Mountain and there you must stay. If you are fortunate, both of you will live as immortals, only drinking ice as water and snow as food until the day you decide you are ready to leave this mortal world. If luck is not on your side, upon your death, Zhou Zishu will be alone forever...”

“If that’s my only option, I will take it.” Ah Xu can bear the pain that he, Wen Kexing could not.


As the sun rose above the clouds that day, Wen Kexing bundled Zhou Zishu into the horse drawn carriage. Wen Kexing had helped him wash up that morning, dressed in his lavender garment from Si Ji Manor and with his hair pin tugged safely in his hair. Wen Kexing had told him of Ye Baiyi’s plan to heal him.

“Are you willing to live the rest of your life with me that way? Just the two of us on a snow capped mountain?” Of course, Wen Kexing did not disclose the finer details of his pact with Ye Baiyi.

Zhou Zishu had agreed without hesitation. He had felt a flutter of hope in his heart. He wanted to try his best, to give life with Wen Kexing another chance.

“There is talk in Jiang Hu that Lord Jin is planning an attack on the two of you. You must make haste.” Da Wu told Wen Kexing. To Zhou Zishu he said “Please Zishu, no physical exertion from you, it will only expedite your death.”

Zhou Zishu nodded and Wen Kexing raised his hand to help him into the carriage. “I can still walk, Lao Wen. Let me do it myself.” He sat down at the back of the carriage with a frown on his face. The news of Lord Jin had worried him. He felt his fingers move to touch the blade of Bai Yi sword, tugged securely around his hips.

“I’ll kill them all, Ah Xu. Let your mind rest.” Wen Kexing said as he sat down beside him. The door to the horse carriage closed and the horses started the journey towards Chang Ming Mountain and the Armory that exist at it's peak.

For two nights and two days, the horse drawn carriage traveled swiftly along the countryside. Wen Kexing had plenty of wine and nuts for Ah Xu who secretly enjoyed the extra attention that Wen Kexing was giving him. Wen Kexing reminded him to rest often, placing warm blankets over him as the world around them began to turn into a winter landscape. It was at the peak of Kun Lun Mountain, the last peak before arriving at Chang Ming Mountain that Ah Xu asked for the horse carriage to be stopped.

Wen Kexing furrowed his brows. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“It’s ok, Lao Wen. Just a little while to look at the sunset. Chang Ming Mountain is only half a day’s ride away.”

Wen Kexing’s frown broke into a wide smile. Two days of uninterrupted journey had put his mind to ease. They were very close to Chang Ming Mountain now and he felt they could afford a short break.

“Alright Ah Xu.”

Zhou Zishu felt a wave of dizziness hit him as he exited the horse drawn carriage. He closed his eyes for a moment, hesitating briefly to regain his composure. He opened his eyes to find Wen Kexing looking anxiously at him.

“I’m fine Lao Wen. Let’s sit down over there.” He pointed at a large rock towards the edge of a splendid cliff.

Wen Kexing didn’t let him go after that. He wrapped his arm around his waist and arms as they sat down in unison, the sunset was magnificent and in full view.

‘I would have no regrets if I die like this Lao Wen.” Zhou Zishu said with a sigh. He looked over at Wen Kexing. “If our plan doesn’t work, I need to know that you’re going to be ok.”

“I’m not going to be ok without you. Not a chance. So just shut up and stay alive.”

Zhou Zishu chuckled. “I’ll try my very best philanthropist Wen.”

Silence as they both admired the sunset.

“How many years should we live for?”


“As immortals. If by some miracle, this plan works, we could be stuck with each other for a very long time. I say we give ourselves 100 years. Then when we’re sick of eating snow and drinking ice, we will descend Chang Ming Mountain and eat all the best food and drink the best wine the world has to offer before dying happily as old white haired men.”

Wen Kexing smiled, although his heart felt a twinge of pain at the hopefulness in Ah Xu’s voice. He couldn’t bring himself to imagine Ah Xu’s reaction when he realizes that he, Wen Kexing would soon leave this world. He hoped the memory of him alone would sustain Ah Xu to live a long and contented existence.


Soon, they were on their way again, the horse drawn carriage galloping the last expanse of wilderness towards Chang Ming Mountain. They were very close to the foot hills of Chang Ming Mountain when Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu both sensed danger in the air. They turned sharply to each other, Wen Kexing opened his fan, ready to fight and protect Ah Xu from their enemies. Zhou Zishu’s hand went to his sword but Wen Kexing shook his head. “No, Ah Xu. You must not exert yourself.”

Suddenly, pandemonium as several swords pierced the exterior of their horse drawn carriage and the interior was suddenly ripped to a thousand pieces. Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu, anticipating this, jumped out and found themselves surrounded by at least a hundred Tian Chuang members.

Duan Pengju stepped forward “By order of Prince Jin, we are here to end the travesty of Zhou Zishu and Ghost Valley’s Wen Kexing. I have bought over a hundred members of Tian Chuang’s most elite. Put down your weapons and I will allow both of you a dignified death.”

Wen Kexing laughed. “You ran away like a scared mouse once Duan Pengju. I will make sure you do the same today.” With that said, his fan flew forward with fatal accuracy and thus the fight begun. Zhou Zishu stepped to the side as fear grew inside him. Wen Kexing was very powerful but Tian Chuang’s most elite were here and in great numbers. Even the best fighter will fatigue and make mistakes with time. It may come to a point when he will have no choice but to draw his own sword.

As the enemies fell around them, Zhou Zishu could also see that more were gaining an upper hand as the sheer number of enemies begun to show its toll on Wen Kexing.
His eyes made contact with Wen Kexing as his own hand went to reach for Bai Yi sword.

“Don’t do it Ah Xu. Don’t you dare!” Wen Kexing screamed desperately at him. But the swords came fast, slashing into Wen Kexing’s shoulders and all that Zhou Zishu could see was his blood.

“What’s the point if I live and you die?” Zhou Zishu shouted. Bai Yi sword appears from behind him as he charges at enemies approaching Wen Kexing from behind. He’s sword slashed the enemies throat. It felt good to have protected the person he loves, even if this might be his last battle.

The battle ended with the last enemy falling at Wen Kexing’s feet. Across the sea of bodies, Wen Kexing’s attention went immediately to Zhou Zishu. He was by his side in a flash. Zhou Zishu was on his knees, hunched over his sword as blood spilled from his lips.

“Ah Xu! Are you hurt?” Wen Kexing asked panicked. He gently turns Zhou Zishu around so he could get a good look at him. Zhou Zishu met his gaze and smiled weakly. He patted his hand so as to assure Wen Kexing.

“That was quite a battle. I think you would have been in trouble without me Lao Wen.” Zhou Zishu tried to laugh but what came out was a weak cough and more blood flowed from his mouth.

Wen Kexing’s hand went immediately to Zhou Zishu’s wrist to check his pulse. His eyes widened with horror at what he felt.

“I’ll be honest with you Lao Wen. I’m not feeling the best.” Zhou Zishu said. He coughed again, this time, a coughing fit that lasted several minutes until he was almost out of breath and he shivered against Wen Kexing.

Somehow, Wen Kexing managed to help Zhou Zishu onto the back of their horse before jumping on himself. He wrapped his arms tightly around Zhou Zishu and the rein, giving the horse a kick as it set off towards the last stretch of path towards Chang Ming Mountain.

“Hang in there Ah Xu. We are close to the Armory. We are going to make it.”

“Ok. I trust you.”

There was silence except for the sound of galloping hooves and Wen Kexing’s heavy breathing as they raced towards the peak of the mountain.

Zhou Zishu found himself relax against Wen Kexing’s body. He would try his best to hold on even as all his strength seems to be leaving his body. He looked down at Wen Kexing’s hands, one gripped tightly to the rein and one arm around him, holding him steady as they made the last dash up the mountain. He was in the safest, warmest place in the world.

“Ah Xu? Are you still conscious? Ah Xu?? Ah Xu?” Wen Kexing’s voice was calling him but it took Zhou Zishu all his might to open his eyes and acknowledge Wen Kexing’s calls.

“Lao Wen, are we far?”

“Not far Ah Xu. Not far.” Zhou Zishu felt Wen Kexing’s hands shaking his body. “Stay awake. You must stay awake.”

“I’ll try Lao Wen.” Zhou Zishu said, his voice a raspy whisper. He looked at the Chang Ming Mountain ahead, so close and yet not close enough. His vision darkened, the air around them felt increasingly hard to breathe.

“Lao Wen? If I die...look after Chenglin...”

“Don’t be stupid. You’re not going to die and Chenglin will be just fine.”

“What about you?”


“I need to know that you will be ok without me.”

Wen Kexing didn’t answer yet again. Instead, the tears prickled his eyes and for some moments, he couldn't see the path in front of him. His hand found Zhou Zishu’s and he gripped it tightly.

“I love you Ah Xu.”

He felt Ah Xu’s head fall back against his shoulders and more blood escaped his lips, staining the fine fabric of Wen Kexing's garment. There was a long silence before Zhou Zishu took a long shaky breath and whispered into his ears. “I love you too, Lao Wen.”

The entrance to the Armory was getting closer. It was within reach now even as Zhou Zishu’s grip on Wen Kexing relaxed and his hands fell limp to his side, his body falling forward as he became totally unconscious.

A scream pierced the air and Wen Kexing realized with horror that it was his own voice. “No! Ah Xu!”

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu burst through the door of the armory in the most unceremonious way. Ah Xu was cold and limp against his own body as Wen Kexing steadied him, before scrambling off their horse. He carried Ah Xu into the depth of the armory and fell in a heap on the floor from sheer exhaustion. His own injuries were still bleeding and raw but the pain of loosing Ah Xu transcended any physical discomfort he was in.

“Ah Xu. Ah Xu!” He shook Ah Xu’s shoulders, his hand then moving to touch his face tenderly. Willing Ah Xu to wake, every bone in his body begging to hear the sound of his voice again, Wen Kexing’s hand went to his pulse and he breathed a sigh of relief when he found it. It was faint and slow but it was there.

Wen Kexing focused hard on transferring his internal energy into Ah Xu. Liu He Shen Gong requires both parties to be conscious during the transfer process.

Zhou Zishu’s eyelids flickered. Wen Kexing drew a sharp breath; he wasn’t sure whether he imagined it.

“Ah Xu, can you hear me? Wake up please.” Wen Kexing heard the desperation in his own voice but he didn’t care to control his own emotions. He frowned as Zhou Zishu moved to push his hands away.

“Don’t waste your energy, Lao Wen. It’s too late.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not too late. I will not lose you.”

Ah Xu’s voice was a whisper, barely strong enough to sustain the words he wanted to say. “My meridians are destroyed…”

“I can heal them. Just give me some time.”

“What if you can’t?”

“Then I’ll die with you.”

“Don’t do anything stupid, fool. I won’t forgive you.”

Wen Kexing smiled, though his lips trembled. He looked upon his soulmate, he reassured himself with great difficulty that his efforts will heal Ah Xu. It has to. Ye Baiyi had not discussed with him the eventuality of saving Ah Xu if his meridians were destroyed.

Wen Kexing pulled Ah Xu into a tight hug, wrapping his arms around the dying man, savoring what could be their last moments together. He felt warmth run through his entire body when he felt Ah Xu’s arms touching his shoulder blades.

He felt Ah Xu’s warm breath in his ears. “The world is not important, only you, my soulmate is.”

Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu turned to face each other, their hands making contact as the transfer of Liu He shen Gong began and their internal energy flowed between each other. Zhou Zishu’s life force was weak, barely there, making it surprisingly easy for Wen Kexing to push through any barriers that may hinder the process. He took one last look at Ah Xu before closing his eyes and focusing on the impossible task ahead. For an insurmountable period of time, they existed as one.


It was pitch black when Wen Kexing came to and he wondered whether this was hell. It was cold, and dark and he was alone without his Ah Xu. He wondered whether Liu He Shen Gong had worked. Would Ah Xu now be crying over his dead body? Ah Xu would be angry with him, of that Wen Kexing was certain. He would surely be scolding him. Wen Kexing’s lips turned up as he imagined Ah Xu’s disapproving voice.

His hands moved to push himself off the ground when they brushed past something cold. He gasped and his hands went to grasp the unmoving hand of Zhou Zishu. As his eyes adjusted to the dark room, the outline of Zhou Zishu slowly appeared in his vision. His lavender robes were disheveled, black hair splayed around him, his head tilted to one side and the thin outline of dried blood on his lips.

“Oh no….please no, Ah Xu.” His mind immediately froze with fear. Lies! Ye Baiye had lied to him. It hadn’t worked. Liu He Shen Gong had failed to heal Ah Xu and now he laid next to him, cold and still. He bent over, gathering Ah Xu into his arms and sobbed quietly, his head buried in the silk of Ah Xu's robes. 

“I tried everything Ah Xu…I was willing to have you mad at me for the rest of your life…"

Utter devastation. He heard a raw and unfamiliar sound erupt from his own throat and echo in the chamber around him. As his sobs gave way to silence from sheer exhaustion and grief, a slow steady beat entered Wen Kexing’s consciousness.

Frantic, his shaking hands grabbed Ah Xu’s cold wrist. He didn’t dare breath nor move as he waited.

There, a faint flutter against his fingertips. A pulse.

Relief surged through him, overwhelming but triumphant. He hoped with every ounce of his existence that Liu he Shen Gong had worked.

He gathered Ah Xu into his arms and carried him to the warmest area of the cold armory he could find. Wen Kexing focused on the one task ahead. Keeping Ah Xu alive.

3 months past in this way, Zhou Zishu remained deeply unconscious but alive. The slow rise and fall of his chest was an ever reassuring sight for Wen Kexing. He stayed by Zhou Zishu’s side, transferring almost every ounce of qi he still had in his own body. His day consisted of bringing ice and snow to his soulmate, slowly dripping them into Ah Xu’s mouth. It wasn’t much but he hoped it was enough to keep him hydrated. He massaged Ah Xu’s arms and legs to encourage blood flow, talking to him constantly, hoping the sound of his voice alone would wake Ah Xu up. Often, Wen Kexing would wake in a panic and find himself looking over at Ah Xu and his throat would feel tight and tears would prickle his eyes until he saw the reassuring rise and fall of Ah Xu’s breathing.

He himself did not crave the outside world or food, as he focused all his energy on nursing Ah Xu back to health. Occasionally, Wen Kexing would allow his mind to wonder back to the Four Seasons Manor, to Cheng Ling, Qi Ye and Wu Xi and to Ye Baiye. In some ways, he wished they were here to reassure him and give him some encouragement. The silence was deafening in the Armory.

A strange sensation was disturbing Wen Kexing’s slumber. His sleep had been restless at best for the last few months but he couldn’t shake the feeling of eyes watching him. He felt the unfamiliar feeling of warm pressure on his finger tips. A voice was calling him.

“Lao Wen?" It was soft at first, a voice raspy from many months of not being used.

"Lao Wen?"

"Lao Wen?” 

Suddenly, his eyes were wide open and he turned to look into the eyes of his soulmate, his best friend and companion. It was a sight he had waited many countless days and nights for. Zhou Zishu stared back at him, confused and weak, the rims of his eyes red and wet with tears.

“What have you done?” Ah Xu looked like he was above to give him a thrashing. He reached out to touch Wen Kexing's hair. 

“Ah Xu… Ah Xu…” Wen Kexing felt drunk with happiness. He threw himself at Ah Xu who’s arm opened to engulf him.

“Lao Wen, your hair…” A soft voice in his ears whispered.

Wen Kexing didn’t care as he finally caught a glimpse of his white hair as it cascaded over his shoulders. It must be said that he had given little thought about his own appearance in the past few months. He felt Ah Xu’s hands stroke him gently and he knew that they had an unspoken understanding, of the sacrifice they had both made for each other, and of redemption.

“Shh.. It suits you.”

The End.