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Fu Cheng knew it was a bad idea to be out playing in the woods behind his house so late, but he knew his parents or his siblings wouldn’t miss him too terribly if he stayed out just a little bit later.  Besides, the Fu family was so big that he doubted that they could keep track of them all and with him being the youngest, it allowed him to slip away whenever he wanted to be alone.  So, he just continued to head deeper into the forest, but as he headed deeper, he realized that it was getting a lot darker a lot quicker than he would have liked and before he knew it, he was lost.  He looked around, his eyes wide, but he couldn’t figure out which way he had come from, causing tears to come to his eyes as fear entered his heart.

         “Oh no…oh no, no, no” he whimpered as he slowly sunk to the ground, tears beginning to spill down his cheeks.  As he knelt there, in the dark woods, crying, he didn’t realize that someone was coming up behind him until he felt a hand on his shoulder.  He let out a scream and quickly shot to his feet, spinning around to see a boy a few years older than him standing behind him, raising an eyebrow at him.

         “Who are you?” Fu Cheng breathed, quickly wiping his eyes as he looked at the boy.  The boy smirked.

         “Junbai.  I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before…are you an orphan too?” he asked.  Fu Cheng’s eyes widened before he shook his head.

         “No…no I’m not an orphan.  I was just…trying to get away from my family and I ended up getting lost” he explained.  Junbai hummed.

         “Where’s your house?” he asked.  Fu Cheng motioned behind him.

         “I think it’s back that way, but it’s so dark that I don’t know if I’m right I’m not” he answered.  Junbai hummed again before he tilted his head at Fu Cheng.

         “What’s your name?  I told you mine, you didn’t tell me yours” he stated.  Fu Cheng blinked before he smiled slightly.

         “Fu Cheng” he answered.  Junbai blinked in surprise.

         “Oh, you’re from the Fu family?” he asked.  Fu Cheng nodded.

         “Mmhm” he answered.  Junbai smiled.

         “Oh, I know where your house is.  I can guide you back” he stated as he reached out, grabbing Fu Cheng’s wrist before they both began walking through the forest, guided by the light of the moon.  Fu Cheng frowned as he was practically dragged by Junbai out of the forest.

         “How do you know where I live?” he demanded.  Junbai smiled as he glanced back at him.

         “I like to get away too.  So I sometimes come up here.  I see you playing by your house all the time; that’s how I know” he explained.  Fu Cheng frowned.

         “Were you stalking us?!” he exclaimed.  Junbai laughed.

         “Of course not.  Your house just happens to be next to the forest where I like to explore, that’s all” he soothed as he and Fu Cheng continued to walk through the forest until they miraculously came upon Fu Cheng’s house.  Fu Cheng let out a gasp of surprise as Junbai looked over at him and smirked.

         “See?  I told you I knew where you lived” he teased.  Fu Cheng looked over at him and narrowed his eyes. 

         “Are you sure you’re not a stalker?” he asked.  Junbai laughed and shook his head.

         “Nope.  Not a stalker” he assured as he let go of Fu Cheng’s wrist.

         “Well, this is goodbye then.  Try not to get lost again, okay?” he asked before he turned, about to head back into the forest when Fu Cheng took a step forward.

         “Wait!” he called out, making Junbai stop and look over his shoulder at Fu Cheng.

         “Hmm?” he asked.  Fu Cheng blushed, suddenly embarrassed.

         “Will I see you again?” he asked.  Junbai smirked.

         “Maybe” he replied before he continued to walk into the forest, slipping into the darkness.  Fu Cheng blinked in surprise before he turned and slipped into his house, disappearing to his room before his parents or his siblings could wonder where he was.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

The next day, Fu Cheng walked out the back of his house, carrying two tangerines in his hands.  He then looked around before he headed into the forest, making sure to leave markers that pointed back to his house so he wouldn’t get lost again.  Once he made his way deeper into the forest, he stopped and looked around.

         “Junbai?” he called out.  He waited for a moment, hoping that the boy would come out, but when he didn’t, he sighed and placed one of the tangerines down on the forest floor before he turned, starting to head back to his house when someone slipped out of the bushes.

         “Fu Cheng?” a voice called out, making Fu Cheng turn to see Junbai looking at him with a raised eyebrow. 

         “Junbai!” he greeted, a bright smile on his face as he ran over to the older boy, who was holding the tangerine in his hand.

         “I brought you a tangerine.  Do you like it?” he asked, looking up at Junbai with big eyes.  Junbai blinked before he smiled.

         “I do.  Do you want to eat it together?” he replied.  Fu Cheng smiled as he held up his own tangerine.

         “I brought my own.  But I’ll eat it with you” he offered.  Junbai smiled before he sat down right where he was standing, Fu Cheng’s eyes widening before he sat down next to him, both boys peeling the tangerines before Fu Cheng tore off a small section of the tangerine and popped it into his mouth, making a noise of happiness as the sweet juices burst over his tongue.  Junbai looked over at him and smiled softly.

         “You like tangerines, huh?” he asked.  Fu Cheng looked over at him and nodded vigorously.

         “They’re my favorite” he replied.  Junbai hummed as he tore off a section of his tangerine, popping it into his mouth as well.

         “They are rather sweet” he agreed.  Fu Cheng smiled and Junbai couldn’t help but smile as well, both boys continuing to eat their tangerines until they had juices streaming down their chins.

         “Ugh, sticky” Fu Cheng grumbled as he wiped his chin with the back of his hand.  Junbai chuckled as he also wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before he huffed.

         “That was a nice treat.  Thanks A-Cheng” he thanked, looking over at Fu Cheng.  Fu Cheng looked up at him and smiled.

         “You’re welcome” he replied before his smile faltered and he lowered his gaze, making Junbai frown.

         “What’s wrong?” he asked.  Fu Cheng shook his head.

         “Nothing, it’s just…you don’t find it weird to be hanging out with a kid like me, right?” he asked.  Junbai huffed.

         “Of course not” he replied before he reached out, placing a hand on Fu Cheng’s knee.

         “A-Cheng” he murmured, making Fu Cheng looking up at him.  Junbai smiled softly.

         “You’re my only friend” he replied.  Fu Cheng’s eyes widened before he grinned, placing his hand over Junbai’s.

         “You’re my only friend too” he agreed.  Junbai chuckled as he turned his hand over and grasped Fu Cheng’s hand, giving it a squeeze.

         “That means we have to stick together then” he declared.  Fu Cheng nodded.

         “Mm” he agreed.

         “Fu Cheng!” a voice suddenly called out, making both Fu Cheng and Junbai look up with wide eyes, Junbai grasping Fu Cheng’s hand protectively.  Fu Cheng then let out a sigh of relief as he looked over at Junbai.

         “That’s just my mother…I have to go” he murmured as he stood to his feet, Junbai standing up as well, still holding Fu Cheng’s hand.  Fu Cheng looked at their hands before he looked up at Junbai.

         “I have to go now…but I’ll be back tomorrow, I promise.  Wait for me here, okay?” he asked.  Junbai nodded as he let go of Fu Cheng’s hand, watching as Fu Cheng began to walk away before he stopped and turned to look back at him.

         “What do you want me to bring you tomorrow?” he asked.  Junbai blinked in surprise before he shook his head.

         “I don’t care” he replied.  Fu Cheng smiled.

         “Okay then.  It’ll be a surprise” he declared as he turned, rushing off, following his markers back home.  Junbai watched him rush off before he huffed and shook his head, a soft smile on his face.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The next morning, when everyone else headed off to work or school, Fu Cheng grabbed a brown paper wrapped package and slipped out the back of the house, rushing into the forest where Junbai was waiting for him, a soft smile on his face.

         “Junbai!” he exclaimed as he ran over to the boy, holding out the package to him.  Junbai frowned as he reached out, taking the package from Fu Cheng before looking at him.

         “What is this?” he asked.  Fu Cheng grinned.

         “Open it!” he exclaimed.  Junbai huffed before he quickly tore open the package, his eyes widening as he pulled out what looked like a warm coat.

         “Fu Cheng” he breathed, looking at Fu Cheng, who smiled.

         “Do you like it?” he asked.  Junbai nodded as he quickly slipped on the jacket, which hung off of him just a little bit.

         “It’s a little big, since I took it from my older brother, but I thought you could use it, since your clothes look so thin” Fu Cheng explained.  Junbai looked at him for a moment before he reached out and grabbed Fu Cheng, pulling him in for a hug, hugging him tightly.

         “Junbai?” Fu Cheng murmured, confused.  Junbai was quiet before he let out a shuddering breath.

         “Thank you” he whispered.  Fu Cheng nodded before he wrapped his arms around Junbai, humming contently.

         “You’re warm” he murmured.  Junbai laughed as he gave Fu Cheng a squeeze.

         “Well, I’m a lot warmer now thanks to you” he replied.  Fu Cheng smiled as he snuggled into Junbai’s chest, Junbai holding him tighter as he leaned down, burying his face in Fu Cheng’s neck.  The two boys hugged each other tightly for a few more moments before they pulled apart, Fu Cheng looking up at Junbai.

         “We’ll be friends forever, right?” he asked.  Junbai smiled and nodded.

         “Of course we will” he agreed.  Fu Cheng smiled before he hugged Junbai again, Junbai chuckling before he wrapped his arms around Fu Cheng, both boys hugging each other tightly.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Over the next four years, Fu Cheng and Junbai grew together, celebrating each other’s birthday while also hanging out with each other any chance they could.  At one point, Fu Cheng brought Junbai into his house and introduced him to his parents and siblings and he was greeted warmly, since his family had noticed that he was a lot happier in general after that one fateful night that Fu Cheng and Junbai met.  Junbai was surprised by the warm reception but he was happy and grateful to be included in the Fu Family.  Of course he never stayed late, since he always had to return to the orphanage, but instead of meeting Fu Cheng in the forest every day, he entered the home through the backdoor and hung out with Fu Cheng in his home, which was much nicer than playing in the woods.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

One day, when Junbai entered the Fu family home, he immediately made a beeline for Fu Cheng’s bedroom, knocking on the door before turning the knob.  He then stepped inside and walked over to Fu Cheng’s bed, sitting down on the edge of it before shaking Fu Cheng’s shoulder.

         “A-Cheng.  A-Cheng” he whispered.  Fu Cheng grunted and buried his face deeper into his blanket but Junbai just shook his shoulder harder.

         “A-Cheng.  A-Cheng, wake up” he hissed.  Fu Cheng huffed and lifted his head, blinking his sleep filled eyes as he stared at Junbai.  He narrowed his eyes, trying to focus his vision and when his vision finally cleared and he realized who was sitting on the edge of his bed, he let out a gasp and jumped back in shock.

         “Junbai!” he exclaimed softly.  Junbai chuckled softly.

         “Sorry” he apologized.  Fu Cheng then yawned as he pushed himself to a sitting position, rubbing his eyes.

         “What are you doing here so early?” he murmured.  Junbai smiled as he held out a small box.

         “For you” he stated.  Fu Cheng frowned before he reached out and took the box, looking down at it before looking back at Junbai.

         “Junbai, what’s this?” he asked.  Junbai smiled and motioned with his chin to the box.

         “Open it” he murmured.  Fu Cheng huffed before he opened the box, his eyes widening as he pulled out a long loop of beautifully polished wooden beads.

         “Junbai” he whispered, looking up at the older boy in shock.  Junbai smiled.

         “Do you like them?  I made them myself” he explained.  Fu Cheng gasped as he looked the loop of beads, holding them reverently in his hands.

         “Junbai, they’re beautiful” he whispered before he looked up at his friend.

         “Thank you” he thanked.  Junbai smiled and shrugged.

         “I just thought I should give you something, since you’ve practically given me everything these past four years” he explained.  Fu Cheng looked at him with wide eyes before he placed the beads carefully back into their box, closing it and placing it on his bedside table before he threw his arms around Junbai’s neck, hugging him tightly.

         “Thank you.  Really.  Thank you.  I love it” he whispered.  Junbai smiled as he wrapped his strong arms around Fu Cheng’s slim frame, holding him tightly.

         “You’re welcome” he replied.  Fu Cheng then pulled back, a small smile on his face as he reached over, opening the box before pulling out the beads again.  He then held them in his hands, running his fingers over the smooth beads before he looked up at Junbai and chuffed.

         “No wonder you’ve been so secretive these past few weeks” he mused.  Junbai shrugged.

         “I just thought you deserved something nice” he stated.  Fu Cheng smiled as he continued to play with the beads.

         “Well, I love them.  I’m going to carry them with me all the time” he declared before he looked at Junbai and smiled fondly.  Junbai returned his fond smile, just as Fu Cheng surged forward and kissed him on the lips.  Junbai looked at him with wide eyes as he pulled back, a slight blush on his face.

         “Sorry, I’ve just always wanted to—” he started when Junbai reached out and grasped his face, surging forward to kiss Fu Cheng soundly on the lips.  Fu Cheng’s eyes widened before his eyes fluttered shut and he let out a soft moan as he reached out, grasping Junbai’s shirt in his hands.  The two boys kissed and kissed, Junbai gently stroking Fu Cheng’s cheek as their mouths moved together in clumsy, but perfect, sync.  Fu Cheng let out little whimpers and moans as they continued to kiss, feeling euphoric as this was his first kiss.  After a while, the two pulled away, both boys panting heavily as they looked at each other before Junbai raised an eyebrow.

         “Was that your first kiss?” he asked softly as he reached out, stroking Fu Cheng’s cheek.  Fu Cheng blushed as he nodded, Junbai laughing softly.

         “Mine too” he admitted.  Fu Cheng looked at him with wide eyes before he laughed softly, Junbai laughing as well.  After they had laughed, Junbai reached out and took Fu Cheng’s hand.

         “Come on, you’re already up and awake.  Let’s go get some breakfast” he declared.  Fu Cheng nodded, quickly placing the beads back into his box before he slipped out of bed, both boys heading into the kitchen to make some breakfast.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Later that evening, as Junbai was getting ready to head back to the orphanage, he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Fu Cheng’s lip before caressing his cheek, a fond yet sad look on his face.  Fu Cheng didn’t particularly like the look but he didn’t comment on it as he kissed Junbai back before waving goodbye, watching as the young man headed through the forest, disappearing into the shadows as he made his way back to the orphanage, not realizing that that would be the last time he would ever see Junbai again.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

The next day, Fu Cheng woke up, surprised to find that Junbai wasn’t sitting on the edge of his bed or anywhere in the house when he exited his bedroom.

         ‘Maybe he’s sick?’ he thought to himself as he quickly slipped on a robe and headed out of the house, looking around his backyard.

         “Junbai?” he called out, but there was no answer.  Fu Cheng frowned.

         “That’s weird” he murmured before he headed into the forest, looking around as he neared their first meeting place.

         “Junbai!” he called again, but once again, there was no answer.  Fu Cheng huffed.

         “That’s not like him to not show up” he grumbled as he continued to look around.

         “JUNBAI!” he shouted, but only silence answered him.  Fu Cheng blinked in shock and hurt before he turned and headed back to his house, heading into his bedroom.  He then made a beeline for his bedside table, opening up the box that contained the prayer beads Junbai had made him.  He then took them out and held him in his hands, rubbing the polished wooden beads between his fingers.

         “Where have you gone?” he whispered.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

Every day, and I mean every day, for the next two years, Fu Cheng walked outside his house and searched the forest, hoping and praying that he would see Junbai again.  At one point, he even headed down to the orphanage, inquiring about the young man. 

         “Junbai?  He’d been recently adopted” the worker told him, making him look at her in shock before he nodded.

         “Oh…thank you” he whispered before he turned and headed out of the orphanage, heading back home before making a beeline for his bedroom, throwing himself on his bed as he clutched as his prayer beads, tears streaming down his face as he sobbed into his pillow.  Junbai didn’t even bother to say goodbye and had just left unexpectedly.  While Fu Cheng was happy that Junbai had been adopted, he just wished the young man had told him instead of just disappearing into thin air.

         “Stupid Junbai” Fu Cheng grumbled before he let out another sob and just buried his face in his pillow.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

The next day, it was a quiet and peaceful morning with minimal clouds and a bright sunny blue sky, until the sound of stomping boots echoed through the Fu family courtyard.  Gunshots soon rang out as soldiers practically mowed down anyone that moved, bodies dropping like flies left and right, causing Fu Cheng to awake with a start. 

         “Search!” a voice barked from the entrance of the home.

         “Yes!” other voices replied as they soon broke away, running off to find other members of the home and murder them as well.  While they were off searching, the leader of the group walked through the home, shooting anyone who got in his way.  As he made his way through the home, Mrs. Fu ran into Fu Cheng’s room and over to his bed, grabbing him by the wrist.

         “Come on, Fu Cheng” she hissed, yanking him out of bed.  Fu Cheng’s eyes widened and he quickly grabbed his prayer beads before following after his mother, both of them soon hiding in the kitchen.  As they hid in the kitchen, Mrs. Fu saw the shadow of the leader outside the door, causing her to look at Fu Cheng with wide eyes.

         “Hide, A-Cheng” she breathed.  Fu Cheng looked at her with wide eyes.

         “But—” he started but his mother gave him no options and instead just shooed him into a nearby cabinet, hiding him inside.

         “Now, stay here.  And don’t.  say.  anything.  Don’t make a sound” she instructed, quickly closing the cabinet doors and walking away from them, just as the leader opened the doors to the room and stepped inside.  Mrs. Fu looked over at him and tears filled her eyes as she quickly walked over and knelt before him, reaching out and grasping his arm.

         “Please…please don’t kill me.  I beg you.  Please don’t kill me.  I beg you.  I beg you” she sobbed as gunshots still rang out in the background.  The leader then wrenched his arm out of Mrs. Fu’s grasp and pointed his gun at her, causing her to become more frightened and hysteric.

         “I beg you.  Please don’t kill me.  I beg you.  Please don’t—” she shrieked but before she could even finish her sentence, a bullet landed between her eyes, killing her instantly.  Inside the cabinet, Fu Cheng quickly covered his mouth to keep from screaming, his prayer beads clutched tightly in his hand as he peered through the crack in the cabinet, his vision partially blocked by a mixing bowl, only allowing him to see the leader’s wrist and not his face.  As he looked through the crack, he noticed a very detailed watch which he immediately stored to his memory.  He didn’t know how it would help him, but by god was he going to remember it if it ever did.  He then remained in the cabinet for god knows how long, waiting for the sound of stomping boots and gunshots to leave before he silently pushed open the cabinet door and stood to his feet, stepping out.  His eyes widened in horror as he looked at his mother, his beautiful and kind mother, dead on the floor with a bullet hole between her eyes.  He let out a whimper before he quietly crept out of the kitchen, slowly making his way through the halls, his feet and the cuffs of his white pajama pants becoming stained with blood as he passed by the bodies of his family’s servants and his siblings. 

         “No…no…no, no, no no, no, no, no, no, no” he whispered, his voice becoming more hysterical as he kept passing by bodies until he couldn’t take it any longer and he collapsed to his knees, panting harshly as tears streamed down his face before he let out a loud and pain-filled scream.  His scream was so loud that it startled the birds in the nearby forest out of the trees, sending them into the air.  As they flew away, Fu Cheng continued to scream and scream, screaming until he could scream no more, his voice going hoarse and silent.  As soon as he had lost his voice, Fu Cheng felt a wave of dizziness come over him and before he knew it, he fainted, collapsing in a pool of blood, just like his brothers and sisters and the rest of his family.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

Many, many years later, years after the Fu Family Massacre, Fu Cheng and Junbai met again, only this time under different names; Fu Cheng had become Yu Tangchun, one of Jing City’s youngest and most famous opera singers, and Junbai had become Zhan Junbai, nephew to Zhan Tianqing, a war general.  When they finally met, as Zhan Junbai had called Yu Tangchun to his mansion to speak with him after seeing one of his performances, and made eye contact with one another, their eyes widened in recognition.  Zhan Junbai immediately waved away his servants, instructing them not to bother them unless he specifically called for them.  Once they were gone and had left the two men alone, Yu Tangchun and Zhan Junbai stared at each other before they slowly walked towards each other, Yu Tangchun looking into Zhan Junbai’s eyes as they stopped before one another.

         “J-Junbai?  Is that really you?” he whispered.  Zhan Junbai nodded.

         “It’s me, A-Cheng” he replied.  Yu Tangchun then let out a sob, Zhan Junbai’s eyes widening as he quickly pulled him into a hug, Yu Tangchun immediately burying his face in Zhan Junbai’s neck.

         “You just left!  Without even saying goodbye!  You didn’t even tell me that you had gotten adopted!” he sobbed.  Zhan Junbai looked down at him sadly before he sighed.

         “I know…I’m sorry” he apologized as he gave Yu Tangchun a squeeze, Yu Tangchun letting out another sniff before he pulled away, Zhan Junbai smiling sadly at him.

         “I’m sorry A-Cheng” he apologized again, reaching out and wiping the tears away from his eyes.  Yu Tangchun leaned into his touch, shutting his eyes for a moment, before he opened them and looked at Zhan Junbai’s wrist, noticing a particular watch.

         “Junbai…that watch…where did you get it?” he whispered, eyes widening slightly.  Zhan Junbai pulled his hand back as he looked at the watch on his wrist.

         “Oh this?  My uncle gave it to me for my 18th birthday” he answered.  Yu Tangchun was quiet as he slowly reached out and took Zhan Junbai’s wrist in his hands, looking at the watch as tears began to well in his eyes.

         “That day…I saw…I saw a watch just like this on my mother’s killer’s wrist” he whispered, his hands trembling as he looked up at Zhan Junbai, who was looking back at him with wide eyes.

         “Junbai…Junbai were you…did you…” he choked, not even able to get the words out he was so emotional.  He then shook his head as he looked at Zhan Junbai, tears now streaming down his face.

         “Why?” he whimpered.  Zhan Junbai shook his head as he reached out to touch Yu Tangchun, but Yu Tangchun just shied away from him, letting go of his wrist as he took a step back, shaking his head again.

         “WHY?!” he screamed.  Zhan Junbai opened his mouth to say something when Yu Tangchun collapsed to his knees, shoulders shaking as he sobbed.  Zhan Junbai’s eyes widened and he quickly knelt down before Yu Tangchun, reaching out and cupping his face.

         “Baby, look at me.  A-Cheng, baby, look at me” he begged.  Yu Tangchun slowly lifted his head, his eyes full of anger and rage, tears streaming down his face as he looked at Zhan Junbai.

         “Baby, I didn’t know.  I didn’t know that my uncle was going to send me to kill your family after I had completed my military training.  When I found out that that’s what he wanted me to do, I wanted to refuse, but I couldn’t” he whispered. 

         “Why not?” Yu Tangchun growled.  Zhan Junbai sighed as he gently and tenderly wiped the tears from underneath Yu Tangchun’s eyes before looking at Yu Tangchun.

         “He would have killed me if I had refused” he explained. 

         “Then maybe you should have died” Yu Tangchun hissed.  Zhan Junbai flinched as if he had been slapped before he looked at Yu Tangchun, a frown on his face.

         “You don’t mean that.  Right?” he asked, his voice soft.  Yu Tangchun glared at him and by god he wanted to hate Zhan Junbai, he wanted to hate him with every fiber of his being for killing his parents and his siblings, but the thought of Zhan Junbai being dead, of not being in this world with him, hurt him a lot more than his hatred.  His face then softened as he hung his head, shaking it as he let out a sob.

         “No…no I don’t” he whimpered.  Zhan Junbai looked at him compassionately before he removed his hands from Yu Tangchun’s face and instead took him by the hands, slowly standing to his feet, pulling Yu Tangchun to his feet as well.  Once they were standing, Yu Tangchun looked at him in confusion before he pulled the young man in for a hug, holding him protectively.

         “I’m sorry, baby.  I’m sorry.  A-Cheng, I’m so sorry” he whispered, reaching up to stroke Yu Tangchun’s head.  Yu Tangchun’s bottom lip quivered and his eyes watered before he buried his face in Zhan Junbai’s shoulder, clutching at the back fabric of Zhan Junbai’s suit jacket.  They stayed like that for a while, with Yu Tangchun’s face in Zhan Junbai’s shoulder, Zhan Junbai gently petting his hair.

         “I’m sorry, A-Cheng.  I really, truly, am sorry” Zhan Junbai whispered as he continued to stroke Yu Tangchun’s head, Yu Tangchun letting out a whimper as he clutched Zhan Junbai’s suit jacket tighter.

         “I’m sorry baby” Zhan Junbai apologized and Yu Tangchun let out a soft sob, clutching the fabric so tightly that he thought he was going to rip it off Zhan Junbai’s back.  They continued to stay like that, Zhan Junbai softly hushing and soothing Yu Tangchun, whispering repeated apologies as he stroked his head because he would keep apologizing to Yu Tangchun until the man was either sick or hearing it or killed him himself.  And Zhan Junbai wouldn’t mind dying, not if it was by Yu Tangchun’s own hands.  After a while, Yu Tangchun sniffled and pulled away, Zhan Junbai looking at him softly before he reached up, wiping away the tears that streamed down his face.

         “I’m sorry baby” he murmured.  Yu Tangchun sniffled and wiped his eyes before he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the wooden prayer beads, rubbing the beads, whose polish was now worn due to his constant fiddling, between his fingers.  When Zhan Junbai saw them, his eyes widened in shock before he looked at Yu Tangchun.

         “You kept them” he breathed.  Yu Tangchun looked at him before he looked down at the beads and smiled softly.

         “Of course I did…I told you I would always carry them around with me” he murmured before he looked up at Zhan Junbai.

         “They were also the only memory I had of you after you just…left” he whispered.  Zhan Junbai looked at him, sadness in his eyes as he reached out, gently cupping Yu Tangchun’s face in his hand.  Yu Tangchun shut his eyes and leaned into his gentle touch, a single tear streaming down his face which Zhan Junbai immediately wiped away.

         “Shh…shh, A-Cheng.  No more tears.  No more tears, baby” he whispered.  Yu Tangchun sniffled and nodded, opening his eyes to look at Zhan Junbai, who was looking back at him with so much love in his eyes that he thought he might drown.  But drowning in Zhan Junbai’s love didn’t seem like such a bad thing and honestly, after everything he had been through, he’d welcome it.

         “Junbai” he started, making Zhan Junbai look at him with a raise eyebrow.

         “Yes A-Cheng?” he asked.  Yu Tangchun gulped and looked away, not sure if he was allowed to ask his question, but Zhan Junbai just stroked his cheek with his thumb, making him look back at the man.

         “What do you want to ask me?” he asked softly.  Yu Tangchun took a deep breath before he looked into Zhan Junbai’s eyes.

         “Help me get revenge” he declared.  Zhan Junbai frowned.

         “On who?” he asked. 

         “Your uncle” Yu Tangchun answered.  Zhan Junbai’s eyes widened, his  and Yu Tangchun squeezed his eyes, knowing that asking him was a bad idea.

         “Alright” Zhan Junbai declared, causing Yu Tangchun to open his eyes and look at him in shock.

         “What?” he breathed.  Zhan Junbai huffed.

         “He hurt you by using me as a weapon to kill your family and for that I will never forgive him” he growled.  Yu Tangchun blinked a few times before he reached out, grasping Zhan Junbai’s arm.

         “You mean it?  You’ll…you’ll help me?” he whispered.  Zhan Junbai smiled before he reached up and cupped Yu Tangchun’s face in his hand, looking into his eyes.

         “Of course I will.  Of course I will, baby” he promised before he leaned in, capturing Yu Tangchun’s lips with his.  Yu Tangchun’s eyes widened before they fluttered shut and he melted against Zhan Junbai, Zhan Junbai moving one of his hands from Yu Tangchun’s face to his around his waist, pulling him close.  It had been years since the two had last kissed and it was like coming home for both of them; they had missed each other terribly in the years that they had been apart and now here they were, safe and reunited in each other’s arms.  When they pulled away, both men panting softly, Yu Tangchun looked at Zhan Junbai and smiled softly.

         “I’ve missed you” he whispered.  Zhan Junbai returned his soft smile and nodded.

         “I’ve missed you too, A-Cheng” he replied as he stroked Yu Tangchun’s cheek lovingly.  Yu Tangchun then leaned forward, resting his head against Zhan Junbai’s shoulder.

         “Never leave me again?” he asked softly.  Zhan Junbai chuckled softly as he wrapped his arms around Yu Tangchun’s waist, holding him as he pressed a kiss to his forehead.

         “Never again” he agreed.  Yu Tangchun smiled and hummed contently as he leaned against Zhan Junbai, Zhan Junbai hugging him tightly.  They could work on their revenge plan against Zhan Tianqing later but for now, they were just going to stay like this, in each other’s arms, for a little while and savor each other’s presence that they had missed dearly.