Yixing stood within his dreary cave that was lit dimly though it was adorned with columns of white marble embedded with bright rubies. His pitch black hair was pulled back in a long ponytail that hung behind his back, blowing along with the red robes that donned his body as cold wind rushed through his lair.
He caught his reflection in one of the white pillars that stood in front of him at a distance. The reflective marble flashed at him, forcing him to take in his appearance. Disgusting. Automatically one of his hands went to the curled red horns emerging from his scalp, another reached towards the long red scar cutting from the side of his left jaw to his lower neck. Demonic.
Yixing wanted to take his claws, sharped and painted with black, and run them through himself. He couldn’t stand looking like such an evil thing. Why did he get this sense of self-hatred whenever he looked at himself? Why did he feel such agony whenever he caught glimpse of the red scar on his neck, a scar that would never fade?
The demon lifted his hand up and brought the edges of his sharpened claws to the pulse on his neck that throbbed with life. He tried to pierce it. But he could not. Some force, invisible yet omniscient, stopped him, made him unable to harm himself, ever. It was like this that he struggled each day, trying to kill himself yet being unable to.
When would this nightmare end?
He could not do anything that went against the will of the invisible thing, though he desperately tried to. Yixing was immobile, fated and scripted to play out actions he did not have a say in. Each minute of each moment he lived, he was controlled by invisible puppet strings and though he struggled to break free of those cutting strings, Yixing could not.
Yixing couldn’t remember how long he had struggled for. Time wasn’t a concept in his world. A minute could be a century, a century a single minute. Perhaps he had already been in this state for a millennium, perhaps only a few years. Yixing did not. he knew only that in the end, he could do nothing.
As he stood now, in the center of this dark cave he was confined within, his long hair blowing in the chill wind, he stood not out of choice. He stood because he had to stand, he had no choice.
There was a flash of silver followed by the crashing of rocks. Soon after the sudden noise, a man emerged at the entrance to Yixing’s lair.
The man was robed in black, tight robes clinging to his skin and leather armor cladding his chest and shoulders. Two swords were clutched in the other’s hands, one in each. The blades of the respective swords glinted as light reflected off the marble columns. One blade was white, the other black.
They reminded Yixing of the yin yang symbol, perfectly contrasting and fitting each other. One was shorter, a dagger, the other was long bladed, a rapier. Gold markings were inscribed on the handle of the white sword and silver on the other. Together, they made each other beautiful. Yixing found himself staring at the weapons in awe, wondering how it was that they were such a perfect match.
Then, the invisible strings of the force controlling him forced Yixing to look up from the swords and focus on the intruder instead. The system tried to generate anger within the demon, to make him outraged at the sudden breaking in of this enemy, but Yixing felt no such emotions. Even so, he could not help the flash of red in his eyes and growling in his throat as anger boiled in his blood. Fake.
“How dare you?”
The force pushed Yixing forward, forcing him to walk towards the warrior in black who was almost one with the shadows. Yixing hadn’t walked in a long time. He didn’t remember the last time the presence allowed him to leave the center of the lair where he was forced to station himself.
“Speak!” He commanded, in a tone that was not his.
A tiny smirk hung on the lips of the other. Yixing felt a small tug at the corner of his heart. He just realized he had not seen another human since forever. The loneliness he dealt with on a daily basis faded just slightly.
“I fell down the Bottomless Cliff of Arona, on a stupid dare I must say, but to think I would discover this secret lair!” The man laughed as he threw his head back in glee. “This must be a hidden map that no one has discovered yet. They designed this place well; of course no one would think to jump into a cliff, no one with half a brain anyways.”
Yixing’s mind spun in circles, the words of the other confusing him. What did this man mean? He had not known there was another world out there, one that was not lightless like the cave he was entrapped within. Arona? Was that the name of the world out there? The demon wanted to ask the other more, wanted to know more about this place he had never heard of but the force stopped him, controlling every single word that fell from his lips.
“You have intruded on sacred territory, leave now before you pay the price.”
The man stepped forward and held up the white sword, the longer one, and pointed it at Yixing.
“I wonder if there is a grand reward for killing you. Perhaps a great weapon or a secret title. That would be best; I’ve been looking for another title. Hell’s Dragon Slayer was getting dull.”
What was the other talking about? Yixing had nothing to give to the man…he did not want to fight the other either. But the puppeteer controlling him did not allow him to back away; it pushed him forward and forced him to bare his fangs at the other.
“Then you will pay the price!”
He lunged, claws extended, at a speed too fast for human eyes. Before the other could react, his claws had sunk into the black chest plate on the other’s front. If that piece of armor had not been as tough as it was, the intruder would already be dead.
Yixing tried to force himself to draw back. He didn’t want to kill. He didn’t want to be demonic. But as in all his struggles against the invisible force, Yixing was on the losing side.
The black warrior seemed to grasp the fact that Yixing’s claws could not dismantle his armor and his initial shock of Yixing’s straight on assault quickly vanished when he did. He jabbed his elbow forward, pushing Yixing’s body off of him and then quickly rushed forward, releasing a battle cry as he slung his white sword upwards.
The man was strong and Yixing could almost feel the wind around them vibrate as the sword clashed down in the air, cutting through the resistance, but Yixing was much swifter. The supernatural blood within him gave him speed and stamina greater than a human would ever be able to obtain through birth or training. He stepped quickly backwards, jumping into the air, avoiding the edge of the long sword.
A large grin spread across the face of the black warrior as he continued to push forward, now advancing with his black dagger. As his white sword slashed upwards, his black one would come afterwards from above, clashing and trapping the air between them in a fatal chain of slashes. But Yixing’s brain and body were hardwired for detection of danger. He dodged left, then right, dancing around each assault of the other.
He knew that his body would not be harmed by the straight minded attacks of the other as he now effortlessly sailed around the whipping slashes of the warrior. But as he realized this, a dark agony crossed into his heart. This was his best chance to end himself. If the warrior killed him, he would be finally freed from his eternal struggle against the force, but even now, the force controlled him, rendering him unable to face defeat.
“You are fast,” the other said as he suddenly changed tactics and threw his black dagger into the air. “But that is not enough.”
A blinding flash of white filled the room as the black dagger spun rapidly in the air and suddenly came crashing down. The silver lettering on its grip glowed brightly and a sudden chill filled the room.
The warrior clasped his hands together and began a rapid chant that Yixing could not make out. The temperature in the cave continued to drop as the warrior’s chanting became more rapid. Around the black dagger that now was stuck in the floor, cracks surrounding it, tiny icicles formed.
Yixing felt his bones freezing, then his blood.
The warrior caught the blue that was now present on the demon’s skin and walked forward, holding his white sword in front of him. He came closer and closer until the edge of his blade was pointed at Yixing's neck.
“It’s a sacred spell I picked up on my travels, Agony’s Ice. It freezes the enemy completely and the strength of it increases depending on how much the other wants to die.”
The warrior pressed his blade further, creating a small line of blood on Yixing’s neck as the metal broke through skin. Yixing’s heart pounded in relief. This was it. He would finally be able to end his struggle.
“I wonder…do you perhaps want to die? It doesn’t make sense for this spell to have worked so well on you when you are a monster. There shouldn’t be a reason for you to wish for your death.”
Please just kill me already, Yixing prayed in his mind though the force prevented him from voicing the thought out loud. Please hurry before the force takes over again and breaks through this spell – the only thing keeping me from killing you.
The other did not hear the wishes of Yixing’s heart and continued to waste precious time.
“You are odd…what is your name demon?”
“Zhang Yixing,” Yixing replied mechanically, having no other option but to answer the question.
The warrior shook his head, his pitch black eyes gazing down into Yixing’s red ones, trying to read Yixing’s thoughts. Yixing could see the curiosity that leaked from the other’s expression.
“No, I mean your title.”
Title? Yixing didn’t know what that meant. He was just Zhang Yixing, a demon who wanted to die but could not.
“Don’t tell me you don’t have a title?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“That’s impossible!” The other retorted. “All high level monsters have a title, there’s no way you don’t have one.”
Yixing’s hands and body suddenly unfroze. His claws went straight for the other’s bare neck and no hesitation ran through his body as he sliced through the other’s jugular. The force pushed him forward, causing him to rip open the neck of the warrior completely. But even as he did so because he was compelled to, Yixing could not help the disgust and anguish that was forming in his heart. He didn’t want to kill…please someone…
“Why,” the other suddenly whispered as he reached a hand forward, as though trying to touch Yixing’s face, “do you look as though you are about to cry?”
Then the warrior’s body scattered into a thousand iridescent particles of light and disappeared in the air.
The intruder was gone and the cave quieted once again. Yixing was forced to return to the center of the room where he continued his long, permanent stance. It was only when he got back to his stationed position that he noticed the tears that were leaking out of his eyes.
The other’s words echoed in his ears. Why do you look as though you are about to cry? Over and over again they echoed.
Yixing knew why the other had asked. It was because he wasn’t supposed to cry. The force didn’t allow Yixing to show such emotions…crying, even crying hurt as the force tried to obligate Yixing to stop. But for the first time since the beginning of his existence, Yixing won out against the command of the invisible puppeteer.
In the middle of the dark lair, Yixing stood, forever unmoving and forever unchanging, but now, crying. He cried because blood dripped from his claws, blood he had not wanted to shed. But he cried harder because he was once again, alone.
It had been a long time since the unpredicted arrival of that man. Yixing had almost forgotten about the other. He was just another person in Yixing’s long struggle, not one of importance and not one worth remembering. Why should Yixing remember him when the other was already dead, murdered by Yixing’s own hands?
The death could not revive. Even if Yixing did want to see the other again, did want to be in the presence of another for just a few more moments, was there a point in wishing? His wishes were never answered in the first place.
He had spent an eternity wishing. All of his wishes had fallen empty.
Unconsciously, Yixing’s hand went to the red scar cutting down from his chin again. Whenever his fingers grazed over it, an immense pain would fill his heart. He wanted to know how he had gotten in, but he could not quite remember. All he remembered was a knife and pain…lots of pain.
His heart hurt so much, as though a thousand venomous snakes were wrapped around it, suffocating it. Please, Yixing begged, someone save me.
Then, almost as though the heavens had finally taken pity on him, there was a flash of silver and a sound of rocks crumbling. In almost a replay of that day the warrior intruded, Yixing saw the man clad in black standing at the entrance of his cave once again.
He froze, shock in his veins. How was the other still alive? The dead could not revive…it was impossible! Yixing wanted to open his mouth and ask the other, ask the man why there was not even a scar on the area of his neck that Yixing had ripped apart. But once again, the force chose the demon’s words for him, stripping him of all of his autonomy.
“Who are you, intruder?”
The warrior raised an eyebrow as he walked forward, no weapons in his hand. Both of the swords had been slung away in their sheaths and hung behind the back of the man.
“Could it be, you’ve forgotten me already?”
No! Yixing screamed in his head, I haven’t…
“Do I know you?”
The warrior continued to walk forward until he was standing right in front of Yixing, little distance separating them. He placed a finger under the other’s chin and forced the demon to tilt his head and meet the eyes of the taller man.
Yixing shivered under the intense gaze of the other.
“Just as I thought, you won’t attack me if I don’t draw my weapons.”
Yixing realized he had been clenching his fists tightly, trying to make sure he did not harm the other again. He relaxed slightly at the warrior’s words. It seemed as though the man was right. The force was not reacting, it would not force Yixing to take any actions if it perceived there to be no intrusion.
The warrior released Yixing’s chin and strutted over to one of the large white pillars in the cave. He took a seat on the ground, leaning up against the pillar as he continued to observe Yixing who stood frozen on the spot the warrior had left him at.
“After last time, whether you remember or not, I started thinking about you all day, every day. Eventually I couldn’t help myself so I returned…you make me curious. I’ve never seen anything like you. It’s…amazing.”
Yixing stood still, forcing himself not to look at the other. He was deathly scared that if he moved even slightly, the force would take over again and he would be forced to once again kill the warrior. Even if the man had been able to escape death once, would he be able to do it again?
Yixing wanted to move to the other’s side, wanted to know more about what the other was about to say, about the other in general. He wanted to stop being alone…but his conditions were not something he could control. Staying still, staying still and knowing that there was another heart beating in the empty room he had spent eons was enough.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Arona…it’s a beautiful world really. But sometimes, sometimes when I travel through the lands and become stronger and stronger, killing more and more, achieving more and more titles, it seems flat. Everything is all the same, a repeat of a cycle continuously. I was starting to get bored of it all.”
Yixing would give anything to go out into that world.
“But then I met you and suddenly everything changed.”
Yixing’s heart thudded in his ribcage, beating rapidly within his chest. The other’s words made him feel special; it made him feel as though there was a meaning to his existence. Yixing didn’t feel so dead anymore.
“Before you, I knew of only two types of people in Arona. Those who killed for fun and those who killed for power. When it boils down to it, Arona is a world where killing is everything…but you, even though you are not even human, can’t even be considered one of us, you showed regret when killing. You cried.”
Did people really kill for fun? Yixing had a difficult time wrapping his mind around that. Death was such a dark place, such a dreaded coldness…if people understood what death felt like would they still be able to kill so easily? Then again, why was it he understood what death felt like? Had he died before? But he couldn’t have, he was still alive.
“Everyone in Arona has a story. That is the best part about this world, every single living thing in this place has a past, a reason. It was made that way.”
The other paused and there was a brief minute of silence between them.
“Would you please face me so I don’t feel like I’m talking to someone dead?”
Yixing hesitated. Would he really be willing to risk turning? What if the force compelled him to kill the warrior as soon as he saw the other’s face? What if he wouldn’t be able to stop himself? What if the warrior truly died this time? What if…what if…
The other seemed to read his mind because he slowly added, “If my safety is what concerns you, don’t worry…I can’t die. Death isn’t possible for humans in Arona. So please turn. Let me see you.”
Death’s not possible?
Yixing turned slowly, his feet digging into the ground as he fought the invisible puppeteer above him. When at last he fully faced the warrior who sat calmly against the large pillar studded with gleaming rubies, Yixing felt something beat in his heart. It was life.
A careful smile spread across the warrior’s face as he gazed into the demon’s eyes with golden irises that reminded Yixing of light. Yixing felt warm.
“I want to know your story, Yixing.”
At the sound of his name falling from the other’s lips, Yixing felt the strings binding him down snapping, one by one they fell.
“I…” Yixing struggled to say, “…I…I want to know yours, too.”
For the first time since his creation, he spoke what his heart wanted to. For the first time since he could remember, the force did not force him to stop.
The warrior smiled and Yixing suddenly felt as though the cave was a lot less dark and his heart a lot less lonely.
“Kris. Pleasure to meet you, Yixing.”
Kris. Yixing would remember that name. He would hold it close to his heart and never forget it because Kris was the first person he had met since too long to count. Because Kris made him feel like there was another reason to live.
Yixing stood in the center of his dark cave, in the same position that he had always stood, but something had changed within him. His heart beat a little faster, his blood flowed a little warmer, his pain came a little lighter. Was this what it felt like to have someone else in your life?
Even though nothing had changed, everything, had at the same time, changed. Yixing still, could not move from his forced position, he still could not leave his lair, but his thoughts, his thoughts felt free. All he could focus on was the thought of Kris. As he stood, it was only Kris in his mind. Over and over again he rolled the name of the blonde haired warrior in his mind and replayed the smile of the other.
Yixing felt so alive at the presence of the other.
Feeling alive was a gift. Life wasn’t a right, but a blessing that could just as easily be taken away. Life was something Yixing could not control and he understood that. He didn’t completely know why life was so valuable to him, but he accepted it as a fact. Life was not something he would give up easily, because by the time he lost it, it would be too late.
Kris…he would protect Kris and this precious feeling of living again.
Why did he say again?
A slight smile broke out on Yixing’s face as he saw that flash of silver and Kris’ image appear at the entrance of his lair. His heart was bursting with joy, but just the slightest expression of bliss was all he could manage. Even just that took all of his effort.
It had been a few days since he first learned the name of the dark warrior, each of those days had been spent longing for the other.
It was only one word, but to Yixing, it was loaded with more significance than any story or song in the world. Just that one word hurt him to say, but he wanted to say it. Even if the force threatened to take a hold around his neck and suffocate him completely, he wanted to say the other’s name.
The warrior smiled as he approached Yixing in the middle of the cave and nodded. “You remembered!”
The brightness of Kris’ smile was worth all of the pain that rippled through Yixing as the force tried once again to manipulate his mind and actions. Seeing the other smile was like seeing light.
“I…” Yixing stopped himself. Could he really tell the other that he had missed him? Would that be going too far? “I…”
“I missed you,” Kris finished for him. “Is that what you wanted to say to me?”
Yixing looked down at the floor, stammering slightly when he replied, “No-o…of course not.”
Kris shrugged, letting it drop as he continued, “Sorry, I…there were some issues I had to take care of. Sorry for making you wait so long for me.”
Sorry? You don’t have to be sorry. You never have to be sorry towards me because you’ve given me a new hope. That is something I can never repay. That was what ran through Yixing’s mind, but when he opened his mouth, he could not say it. The force would not let him.
“It’s alright,” he whispered and that was all that came out.
“Anyways,” Kris said as he ran his fingers through his own hair, trying to defuse the awkward situation, “you should tell me more about yourself.”
Himself? Yixing didn’t know much about himself. He couldn’t remember anything except for his name and that was all.
“I…my name is Zhang Yixing.” In the end that was all he could say.
Kris must has seen the struggles that were running through Yixing’s downcast eyes because he placed a hand on the other’s shoulder and squeezed slightly.
“It’s alright, Yixing, we can remember together. I’ll find your story with you.”
Yixing felt like he was going to cry. It felt nice, heartbreakingly nice to have someone care so much about him, to have someone say such gentle words to him when he was and always would be, nothing more than less than human – a monster.
“Why?” Yixing forced out, struggling to speak, struggling to break free, but above all, struggling not to cry. He didn’t want to cry in front of the other.
Kris shrugged again as he gave Yixing a light smile. “I told you Yixing, it’s because you’re special and I want to know why…it’s a desire in my heart to know you. All of you. So don’t worry about it, we’ll search for your past together. I promise.”
Yixing smiled his heart calming. Promise. Promises were the most miraculous things in the world because the moment they were made, the heart was bound by a mysterious magic. That was the power of promises.
Kris leaned back on the ground of the cave, lying down and resting as Yixing stood at a distance, watching him carefully. Even though Kris had assured Yixing time after time that he could not die, Yixing still felt uncomfortable being too close to the other. He was so desperately afraid of hurting the other in any way. Yixing was worried that if he was forced by the mysterious strings determining his actions to hurt Kris, he would end up hurting himself in that process; end up destroying his hope, his heart, his soul.
Suddenly the other opened his eyes and the flashing irises that reminded Yixing of brilliant light stared up at him, taking his breath away.
“Yixing, why don’t we go out into the world, away from this cave? I think you would like it out there, it’s beautiful, truly and maybe something would trigger your memories.”
There was so much hope in Kris’ voice that Yixing turned around. He didn’t want to shatter that hope and anticipation so clearly evident in Kris’ eyes. Yes, he desperately wanted to go out into that beautiful world, but Kris didn’t understand. Yixing couldn’t. He couldn’t leave the confinements of his lair. If he could, he would have a long time ago.
“I can’t,” he struggled to get out, “it’s keeping me in.”
That was the longest sentence against the force he had spoken ever. It took all of his strength to make it out.
Kris sat up, his tone curious, “It?”
Yixing only shook his head. He had no more strength remaining to answer the other’s question. And even if he did, how was he to explain to the warrior that he could not take actions out of his own will, that there was also an omniscient force controlling him?
When Yixing did not answer, Kris suddenly stood up and approached the other, forcing the demon to turn back around and face him. The warrior tried to get Yixing to look into his eyes, but Yixing focused on the pillar behind them instead, observing how demonic and not human his reflection looked.
After a long moment, Kris let go of Yixing’s shoulders. There was regret in his voice when he spoke. It broke Yixing’s heart into pieces when the softness in Kris’ voice penetrated into his ears.
“I’m sorry Yixing. I forgot…that you’re not like me…it’s alright, I won’t mention it again.”
Perhaps Kris understood more than Yixing thought, perhaps. But Yixing decided not to ponder on that too much, instead he found himself watching his reflection carefully, noting everything about him that was not human. Wasn’t this wrong? How could he selfishly keep Kris so close to him, in an underground lair so dreadful and far from the sun, when he was nothing but a demon with curled horns, fangs, and long claws capable of ripping the other’s heart out?
Wasn’t this unnatural?
It had been a month, or at least that was what Kris told him, since they met. Yixing was starting to get used to the other’s presence, how dark it was, how light it was, how the other’s voice would vibrate slightly when he spoke.
Yixing found himself counting the seconds he spent apart from Kris. It became a game, to see if he could predict when the other would show up and when the other wouldn’t. He had gotten quite good at it. That was another thing that had changed within Yixing, he had gotten good at something the force had not taught him.
Kris was slowly changing him.
One billion and three hundred million. One billion, three hundred million and one.
Silver flashed and the warrior showed up dutifully at the entrance to Yixing’s lair, at the exact time that Yixing had predicted. Yixing rushed forward, having gotten stronger and braver in his actions around the other, and smiled up towards the taller man.
“Kris! You’re back.” Yixing was slowly becoming better at speaking. Without telling Kris, he had been practicing whenever the other was not by his side. The demon wanted to be able to talk with the other normally, without the force dragging down his every sentence. A desire was what gave him the strength to ignore the pain that jabbed at his side each time he spoke without listening to the force’s commands.
“Yeah…I suppose I am…”
Yixing’s smile quickly turned into a frown as he tilted his head to the side slightly. The other sounded down. It was odd. Kris was always joyful around the demon, always smiling and encouraging. It got to a point that Yixing did not think the other could be hurt.
“What’s wrong?” Yixing asked as he pulled on the other’s sleeve much like a little kid would when worried about someone they loved.
Kris gave a weak smile at the other’s actions. He took a hand and ruffled Yixing’s hair, avoiding the horns. Yixing blushed slightly at the attention and focused his eyes on the ground. The feeling of being caressed was odd.
“Don’t worry about it, Yixing.”
Then the other suddenly perked up and grabbed onto Yixing’s arm, pulling him to the large center pillar of the lair. Kris took a seat on the ground and patted the space next to him, signaling for Yixing to sit as well. The demon hesitated only slightly before sitting as well.
“I brought something for you, Yixing,” Kris said as he removed a satchel that had been hanging on his back.
Yixing watched curiously as the other untied the bag and reached inside. A sealed glass container came out that was full of something Yixing did not recognize. He waited patiently for the warrior to explain.
Kris unclasped the container and held it out to Yixing.
“Hurry, have some, it’s already slightly cold and it’ll only get colder. They taste better warm.”
Yixing gave the warrior a wide eyed stare before looking back at the contents of the container that the other held out to him along with a mysterious curved silver object. White balls floated around in what seemed to be murky, white water. The demon reached out a finger and poked one of the balls cautiously. It was soft, squishy, and slightly sticky.
“What are you doing?” Kris asked as he watched Yixing poke another one of the balls. The demon was clearly fascinated by the softness of the object from the way his eyes slightly sparkled whenever one of the balls bobbed up and then went back down.
Yixing stopped his actions and glanced silently at the other at Kris’ question. He didn't understand what the other was hinting at, clearly he was making sure the unknown substance Kris held out to him was not dangerous. Wasn’t that why the other had brought it to him?
“You’re supposed to eat them.”
“Eat?” Yixing didn’t understand what it meant to eat. He hadn’t eaten since as far back as he could remember. He didn’t need to and there was certainly no reason for him to. Eating was a foreign concept, another area the force did not see the need for him to explore.
“Don’t tell me,” Kris started as his eyes widened in realization, “that you’ve never eaten before?”
Yixing shook his head. He hadn’t.
Kris laughed as he took the odd silver object and used it to spoon up one of the floating white balls from the container. He held it out in front of Yixing’s mouth, brightness shining in his eyes as he watched the other’s curious expression.
Yixing opened up his mouth, trusting the other, and nipped at the white, squishy object. He chewed it and as soon as his teeth sunk into the ball, a sudden sweetness overtook him. Was this the taste of happiness?
“Does it taste good?”
Yixing hurriedly nodded. Yes. It tasted good. He swallowed eagerly and then stared up at Kris with bright shaded eyes, asking for more.
“I’ll feed you then,” Kris said as a wide smile broke out across his face.
It continued on like that. The two of them sat silently besides the central pillar, basking in each other’s company. Kris continued to feed Yixing the substance encased in the glass container and as Yixing ate, he was overcome by a feeling he had not previously experienced – the feeling of finding bliss in sweetness. But besides that, as Kris fed him, Yixing felt cared for and warm inside. It was that feeling of life again.
The container was empty and forgotten as the two sat next to each other up against the pillar.
“You didn’t eat any,” Yixing said as he realized he had selfishly eating all of the sweet balls.
“It was more than enough to be able to feed them to you. That is worth so much more than me eating them by myself. Thank you Yixing, for eating them. If you hadn’t…if you hadn’t…”
Yixing caught a flash of pain in the other’s eyes. It was a familiar expression, one he saw often whenever he stared at himself in the reflections of the white marble pillars. It was the misery in the eyes of someone lonely. Yixing realized then, that he knew nothing about the other. The entire time they were together, it was always Kris worrying about Yixing, but the other never shared anything about himself. A sudden emptiness filled Yixing as the truth hit him. He knew nothing.
The demon placed his hand over Kris’.
“You can tell me. I…I want to know.” He wanted to understand the other, wanted to be able to know and share the pain that Kris seemed to be going through. The other that was always so strong, always so composed…Yixing never looked deeper, never looked past the surface of the other’s eyes. And now, now he wanted to.
“Please tell me?”
Kris sighed softly as he closed his eyes and leaned backwards, his head hitting the pillar. Yixing’s hand kept still on the other’s.
“Today is a holiday, Yixing, one you probably don’t know about but it’s special to me. I just don’t know anymore. The Lantern Festival used to be her favorite festival.”
“Her?” Yixing asked, sensing that the ‘her’ Kris spoke of was extremely important to him. He couldn’t help but feel slightly jealous. Yixing liked thinking that he was the only one special to Kris.
“My little sister.”
Yixing fell silent; he had not been expecting that response. Yixing didn’t have any of his own siblings and if he did, he couldn’t remember. He wondered how it would feel to have a little sister. He would definitely pamper her and protect her from everything. If he had a sibling he would give the other his entire heart. Yixing's head hurt...why did it feel as though he had not loved someone enough in the past? His heart pained but he could not remember more.
“She used to always hang up those stupid paper lanterns and tell me that she was wishing for me to be by her side forever. And I would always mock her, tell her that one day I wouldn’t. I shouldn’t have been so stupid because now I really am gone from her side.”
Yixing felt Kris’ fingers clench.
“We would always eat yuanxiao together, that’s what I brought you. You’re supposed to eat it with people you love to celebrate reunion. But this year…this year I could not eat it with her.”
Very slowly, his hands shaking, Yixing wrapped his arms around the other. He held Kris softly in his arms, his entire being fighting now to cry because of the other’s pain. The force held no power over him in that moment, because his desire to mend Kris’ heart was too strong, too powerful.
“If you want to cry…I’ll watch over you.”
Yixing felt water on the exposed part of his shoulder as Kris cried silently. They sat in complete silence, neither speaking. After a very long moment, Yixing took a hand and started to pat the other on the back soothingly.
“It’s alright, Kris, it’s alright.”
Yixing felt as though he had stepped across boundaries into a world he had not previously known. Was this what it felt like to care for someone? This feeling of immense pain when the other pained, shattering desolation when the other cried, tears falling from his own eyes at the other’s sorrow?
This pain was a beautiful feeling.
“Tell me more about your sister, Kris,” Yixing said as he leaned against the other’s back.
The two of them sat against each other in the middle of the dark lair, relaxing in the presence of one another. It had been a few days since the holiday Kris spoke of. Since then, Yixing felt as though they had gotten closer. It was a good feeling.
“Well, she’s beautiful.”
Yixing closed his eyes, letting himself picture Kris’ sister as the warrior described her.
“She has soft, brown curls that wave slightly down her back. Her eyes are a honey shade; the doctors said she must have gotten a rare gene to have been born with such brilliant eyes. They always reminded me of gold champagne. Her skin is extremely pale, as though she has never seen the sun before, but it is not deathly, it is instead regal, as though she ruled over the spirits of icy winter. In the summer, she likes to wear long dresses that flow in the wind, always the inexpensive ones though. Every time I ask to buy her something more exquisite she always refuses, telling me she looks best in floral cotton, but to tell the truth, I know it is only to save me money. She is always telling me how I spend too much on her.”
Yixing saw only one thing in his mind as he listened to Kris depict his sister. He saw the undying love and devotion of a brother. In Kris’ eyes, there was only one thing his sister could be and that was perfection. Yixing smiled at the image Kris’ words created in his brain. This type of love was so purely white, even the breath of the sky would stain it.
“I wish I could meet her.” No sooner had the words left his mouth did Yixing regret them. It was a foolish wish, one he knew he would never be able to achieve.
“I wish she could meet you. I’m sure you two would love each other. She’s always telling me about how I need to find someone with a soft heart, a kind nature. I think she approves of you.”
“How do you know that?” Yixing asked, confused.
“I…I talk about you often and whenever I do, I think I see her smile. The doctors…the doctors tell me it’s a good sign. They say it is because she hears my voice and is happy for me.”
Kris didn’t respond and Yixing realized he had stepped too far. The demon could tell that there was something wrong with Kris’ sister, and the other wasn’t willing to share. That was alright, Yixing was willing to wait.
Yixing stood to the side, watching as Kris picked up a twig from the ground and tossed it up into the air a few times before holding it in his right hand and pointing it at the ground. The other started to drag the twig over and over again in the dirt, creating odd patterns in the ground.
Yixing stepped a bit closer, trying to make sense of what the other was doing.
The warrior was immersed in his work and did little speaking. His only sign of noting Yixing’s presence was how he would glance at the demon every once in a while and smile. Yixing would look away each time, flustered that the other might have seen him staring.
Eventually, after a long while, Kris lifted the twig up into the air as if celebrating something. Then he took several steps back and gazed down at what he had been drawing in the ground. After examining it intensively, Kris finally turned to Yixing.
“Look,” he said, “I drew you.”
Kris grabbed onto Yixing’s arm and pulled him over. Yixing glanced at the stretch of ground in front him, trying to make sense of the obscure set of lines and shapes Kris had etched out on the surface of his lair. He didn’t see how it resembled himself in the slightest. But seeing Kris’ bright expression, Yixing decided not to say anything.
“It’s good. It’s just missing something.”
Kris stared at him quizzically as Yixing took the twig from the other’s side and walked over to the side of the picture Kris had etched out. Once there, he too, started drawing.
Kris stood for a while before walking over as well and watching Yixing draw from over the other’s shoulder. He laid down his chin on the other’s shoulder as he watched, his breath slightly tickling Yixing’s sensitive neck. Yixing shivered slightly, uncomfortable at the contact.
“What is it missing, Yixing?”
He heard the other’s breath catch in his throat at his words. Then, Kris’ arms wrapped around his waist and pulled him close, drawing him to the warrior’s chest. Yixing’s heart beat rapidly within him.
“You really think so?” Kris asked as his hold on Yixing tightened.
Yixing nodded, unable to speak. The rapid beat of his heart rendered him speechless.
“I think I might like you, Yixing.”
In that moment, Yixing felt complete.
Kris’ fingers traced lightly across the long red scar on Yixing’s neck. The demon held still, wincing slightly in pain as the other did so. Kris had been adamant lately, always asking Yixing about things he couldn’t remember. Ever since the day Kris told Yixing his feelings for the demon, the other became increasingly occupied with understanding Yixing. It seemed as though Kris needed to know more about Yixing's past or insecurity would plague him. So Yixing didn’t mind, if the other was curious, he would be more than willing to let the other seek the answers he desired.
Lately, Kris seemed to be focused on the scar in particular, caught up on how Yixing had gotten it. The other seemed to think it was the key to Yixing’s story, his past, his everything.
“Does it still hurt?”
Yixing nodded. It hurt every time he took a breath, every time he caught it in the reflections bouncing off the white marbles columns, every time he even thought about it. The wound itself did not hurt; it was his heart that hurt.
“If I find out how you got this scar, what brought you to this place, what made you this way…would you want to know?”
Yixing wasn’t sure, if his past was forgotten, it meant his heart had chosen to forget. Would he really want to know about something that was blurred perhaps so he would not have to deal with the pain of thinking about it?
“Yes,” Yixing finally said.
Even if the past was dark and full of cutting stabs, he needed to know. How could he start towards the future if he did not even know his past?
Kris returned a few days later with a large book in his hands. Yixing’s eyes did not focus on the book though. Instead he automatically rushed over and held onto Kris’ right hand, fingers tracing over the white bandages that clung to the warrior’s wrist.
“What happened?” Kris was hurt. Yixing’s heart clenched knowing that.
“It’s nothing; it just got sliced open in a fight.”
The other did not explain further and Yixing respected Kris’ decision to remain silent. He had already connected to dots by himself. There was no doubt Kris had gotten hurt in a fight to obtain the book he now held in his hands. Yixing got a feeling in his gut that that book had to do with him.
Kris handed the red covered book, leather-bound, to Yixing. Then he stepped back, as though waiting for Yixing to invite him in.
“It’s a record of the stories of all the mythical beings in Arona. Yours is included as well, of course. I…it’s your past, I don’t want to look at it if you don’t want me to.”
Yixing shook his head, laughing at the other’s concern. He wanted to do this. He wanted to share his past with Kris. The burden of being the only one to know something was the heaviest. Yixing didn’t want to carry it.
“Let’s look together.”
The two sat against the center pillar, huddle next to each other. Yixing handed Kris the book. He didn’t have the strength to open it himself or the strength to read it. Even though he had promised himself he would face his past, it was difficult.
“Read it to me.”
Kris took it gingerly in his hands and then gave a long look towards Yixing, his expression unreadable.
“Are you positive?”
Yixing nodded as he leaned his head onto Kris’ shoulder. He had never been more positive about a single thing in his life. This was his decision, purely, for the first time since a long time, he felt in control of his world, able to make his own choices.
Kris turned back to the book and opened it carefully with his hands. Then, he started to flip through the pages, looking for Yixing’s story. After about halfway through, he came to a stop.
“The Demon of the Red Scar,” he read, “Zhang Yixing.”
Yixing closed his eyes and let Kris’ words control the space around him. His hand entwined itself with Kris’ free one as a sudden emptiness filled him. This was it…his past. This was the past he had forgotten. What would change once he knew?
“Zhang Yixing is not like other mythical creatures. He was not born a demon nor does he have the heart of a demon. Rather, he started out his journey in a small village in the east side of Arona’s brilliant gates. There, he painted pictures of the river running through the village for a living.
He was content with his life and though he was certainly not rich, he had enough to get by. Everyone knew of his art, how pristine it was, how pure and at peace. Eventually, he became revered as the embodiment of a nature spirit or a guardian of the river.”
Yixing did not remember this river. He had never seen a river before in his life. A searing pain ran through his head as a picture flashed in his mind. A mountain. Tall and majestic, seemingly purple in the horizon. He stood in front of it; laughing as he gazed up at the point the tip of the mountain grazed the heavens.
“It got to a point that even people from far away started to take interest. In particular, a visiting prince decided to stop by the renowned river and see the artist for himself. He was the prince of Arona’s eastern realm, and though he was not the crown prince, the people loved him dearly. Legends were told of the prince by all and he had many admirers in the eastern realm; Yixing was no exception.”
Yixing felt Kris’ body tighten.
“But the prince was not truly what the people saw. He had a venomous heart, one that held vile poison. Yixing did not know this however, and as the prince came to him, visiting him each day, sitting by the side of the river as Yixing painted, the artist found his heart giving way to the sweetness of the other. Yixing eventually fell in love.”
Kris stopped reading.
“Do you remember this lover?”
Yixing could hear jealous teeming in the other’s words. It brought unknown happiness to his heart knowing Kris was jealous because of him. But truly, there was no reason for the other to be. Yixing did not remember falling in love with anyone. He did not remember a prince. He certainly harbored no feelings for the said ‘prince’.
Kris relaxed when Yixing snuggled a bit closer to him and continued reading, “Yixing went back to the other’s palace, sure that he had found the one he would give everything for. But the prince’s motives were not that pure. The other wanted only to have the symbolic artist by his side, to have nature itself on his side.”
Kris stopped again, fury shining in his eyes. “I hate this man.”
“Why would you hate him when I do not even hate him? When I don't even remember him?”
The warrior shook his head. “Because he hurt someone I love.” Then he started again, “But Yixing was blind in his love and did not perceive the darkness in the heart of the prince. He gave the other everything the other asked for…including his life.”
Yixing heard the other’s voice catch in his throat. His own self did not react in the same way. It was almost as though Yixing was senseless and numb to the story the book was telling. No…it was not because he was numb, but because this story was not his.
“The prince told Yixing that in order for the prince to live, Yixing would have to give his life. The other readily agreed and without hesitation, drew the prince’s long saber and sliced open his own neck, leaving a long red scar down the side of his neck.”
The image of a silver dagger flashed through his mind. A man approached him, holding a sharp dagger in his hand. He came closer and closer…
“In the moment of Yixing’s death, the prince finally revealed his true nature. He told the dying artist that he planned to frame his elder brother, the crown prince, for Yixing’s death. That way, he would be able to ascend the throne instead.
The trust Yixing held within him always, dissolved in that instance and he no longer trusted humans. His burning thirst for vengeance transformed him into a demon in the span of his last breath. But because of Yixing’s once human nature, he was infuriated with his own demon blood. Lost and desolate, he flung himself off the cliffs of Arona where he lives now, forever watching for intruders.”
The book suddenly dropped from Kris’ hands as the other jerked up. His body quaked with anger and Yixing could see the other’s knuckles stretched pale white as his hands clenched into fists.
“I’m going to kill him.”
Before Yixing could stop him, the warrior rushed out the lair, disappearing into the shadows were Yixing could not follow.
Stop, Yixing whispered in his mind, stop. He didn’t kill me…I wasn’t killed by a saber…I didn’t kill myself…
The dagger continued to flash in his mind, over and over again.
Kris returned, a few days later, a pale look on his face.
“East Arona doesn’t have any princes…”
Somehow, Yixing already knew.
“I was killed,” Yixing explained as he depicted what he remembered to Kris, “by a silver dagger, not by a saber. That story…I don’t know why, but it is a lie. My past wasn’t like that Kris. Even if I can’t remember what my past actually was, I can remember what it wasn’t.”
Kris suddenly wrapped his arms around the other, pulling Yixing in close to his chest. Yixing struggled slightly against the sudden contact and then relaxed as the other held him softly.
The warrior’s voice came in a soft whisper, “It’s alright Yixing, stop trying to remember. I’m sorry I was so selfish. I was so caught up with myself, always wanting to know what made you this way…but in the end, it doesn't matter does it? No matter what happened in your past I still love you because I’m in love with Zhang Yixing, not in love with Yixing’s past. Let’s forget about this alright? I want to look towards the future instead and I want you to be in that future I foresee.”
Yixing smiled, light shining from his eyes.
Then, suddenly, there was a flash of silver light and the familiar crush of rocks falling to the ground. Kris hurriedly let go of Yixing and turned around. Yixing’s eyes focused on the entrance of the cave as well.
There, in the mouth of Yixing’s lair stood a stranger.
Yixing shuddered as he took a step backwards. Please don’t draw your weapon, he begged silently, the force will take over if you do.
Kris stood in front of Yixing, drawing the other behind his broad back protectively. “Don’t worry,” he whispered to Yixing, “I’ll protect you. Just close your eyes, things will be fine.”
The stranger who was clad in silver armor, stepped forward, stepping foot into Yixing’s chamber. There was a long sword marked with roses in his hand. Yixing bit his lip and closed his eyes, trying to force down the strength of the force. It was coming at him strong. Intruder. He didn’t want to kill…he didn’t want to kill.
“Dragon Slayer Kris,” the voice of the stranger called, “you found such a rare demon and you did not share the information with the rest of us beast hunters? Could it be you have feelings for this thing? Is that why you have not yet killed it?”
“Yixing isn’t a thing!” Kris spat back, “You shouldn’t have followed me. I’m not going to let you hurt him.”
The intruder gave a loud laugh as he flicked his wrist, revealing a dart in his left hand. Yixing grabbed onto Kris’ clothes, his claws cutting through the fabric as he clenched his teeth. The force was pulling at him.
“Have you gotten soft-hearted Kris? God, I remember your haughty days, always going around, killing everything in your sight. Demons like this one, you’ve slayed at least a dozen, so why don’t you step aside and let me have my turn?”
Kris’ hand went to the long white sword hanging from his back.
“I won’t let you harm him.”
The other laughed again as he pointed forward his long sword. “Get out of the way, Kris, before I kill you too.”
A low growl sounded from Yixing’s throat, he would not allow the other to do harm to Kris. He started forward pulled not only by his desire to protect Kris, but also by the unyielding force. Kris grabbed onto his hand though, stalling him.
“Restrain yourself, Yixing…please don’t dirty your hands.”
Yixing stumbled backwards, shocked by the command of the other. Speechless, he watched as the shadow warrior drew his black dagger. It was like the first day they met. Kris stood with yin in one hand and yang in the other. Together, the two weapons were inseparable, undefeatable. But this time, Kris fought not against Yixing, but for him.
Yixing’s heart thudded in his ribcage. Don’t fight. The force pulled at him, threatening to rip his body apart, but Yixing held still. Kris didn’t want him to fight. Kris didn’t want him to lose himself. He would try, for Kris, for himself.
The battle became heated and rapid as blade clashed against blade. Small cuts landed on the bodies of both as the swords danced in the air, equally wielded in skill and valor by both fighters. But Yixing perceived a clear difference between the two as they exchanged blows.
Kris fought with desperation. His attacks were head on and he did not bother to fight defensively. Kris fought with a passion. Each of his strikes carried his heart. It was almost as though he was not afraid to die. Kris fought to protect the one he cared about, that was the difference.
Love was a magical thing and it was only love that held Yixing still in his struggle against the force that once again plagued him.
As Kris suffered under the wounds of battle, Yixing stood far behind him, shaking under the pain of the puppeteer’s strings cutting into his skin. Invisible lines ripped him apart, drawing blood in a metaphoric sense. He was being cut apart, into pieces. Never had he resisted so desperately.
I promise I’ll win for you Kris.
Promises were a mystical thing. Yixing gritted his teeth as he dug his feet into the ground. His claws dug into his palm as he clenched his hands. He had made a promise; he would not break it, not before he broke himself trying to keep it.
The battle continued to rage on and the gleam of metal reflected off the bright rubies embedded in the tall white marble columns, adding a blood shaded shine to the entire room. Then, suddenly, the stranger jumped back, catching Kris off guard. Kris automatically jumped back as well, holding his two swords crossed against each other in defense. But Yixing saw what the other could not see; Yixing saw the stranger’s eyes.
His eyes were aimed at Yixing, staring directly at his soul.
Time slowed down.
Yixing watched, unmoving as the dart the stranger had drawn earlier reappeared in his hand. He could almost hear the rush of the wind as the dart cut through the space with intensive speed.
Then, he heard screaming.
Yixing wasn’t sure which was louder, Kris’ scream or his own because in that moment, they merged together. It was a scream not for themselves, but for the safety of the other. Yixing no longer knew how to breathe. In that moment, everything stopped.
The dart came closer and closer. It was too late to avoid it so Yixing stood still and closed his eyes, waiting for the pain to come.
I love you Kris…I kept my promise.
The contact never came.
There was a low grunt.
Yixing opened his eyes.
Kris stood in front of him, his body blocking Yixing’s from the dart's path. Yixing didn’t have the strength to scream. He could only stand still as Kris’ body fell backwards, collapsing onto his own.
Yixing fell to the ground as well, holding the other’s shaking body in his arms. The dart had sunk its point deep into the place where Kris’ heart lay. Blood seeped out of the wound…black blood. The dart had been poisoned.
“You idiot,” Yixing cried as tears fell from his eyes. “Why? Why?”
Kris smiled as he reached a hand up and caressed Yixing’s cheek, wiping the falling tears from the face of the other.
“Because I love you,” he whispered simply. Then Kris redirected his gaze towards the stranger who stared back at him in utter shock. As Yixing continued to cry, tears dripping down his chin and falling down onto the ground beneath him, the two warriors exchanged gazes, each regarding the other. The stranger spoke first.
“At your stage, dying means the loss of over a year of effort…why would you step in front of the path of my dart? Surely you know that the poison I invented is fatal. There is no potion to cure it and no way to stop it.”
The stranger stepped forward, approaching the fallen two slowly. Then he pointed the rose sword out to Kris.
“Move aside so I can kill him.”
Yixing growled in wounded sorrow. He would kill the other. He would murder the other. How could he? How could this human being murder another in cold blood? What was the point of humanity if it could kill so easily?
Yixing was about to rise when Kris grabbed on to his hand. He stilled, once again remembering the other’s wish. It was at times like this that Yixing wished he did not love Kris as much as he did. He wanted nothing less than to rip the stranger’s limbs from their sockets. His entire life the force had programed him to feel rage, but only today did he truly feel it. Anger boiled in his blood, sending red to his eyes, it was Kris, only Kris that kept him rooted down.
“Please,” Kris replied to the stranger, “please leave and pretend you never discovered this place. I’m begging you.”
The other paused, his sword lowering.
“I don’t understand, Kris! Haven’t you been searching the past year and a half for a new title? A new weapon? A new glory? If you kill him…if you kill him you will probably obtain all of that, become even more famous than you are now, so why is it you are not doing anything? Why are you on top of not doing anything going as far as protecting this thing?”
“If I die, I can be reborn, I will lose nothing but a year’s worth of effort, a large sum of money, equipment, ranking, status. I will lose nothing I cannot rebuild with time. But he, if he dies, he disappears forever.” Kris’ voice hardened as he raised his eyes to stare directly into the eyes of the stranger, “Have you ever thought about that? For them, death is real. High ranking monsters don’t spawn again. They live once and they die once. Once they die, they die forever.”
The stranger took a step backwards, taken aback by Kris’ words, but after only a second of hesitation, he once again raised his sword.
“And so what if they do, Kris? Have you confused this game with real life? That beast you just gave your life to protect is nothing but pixels on a screen, programmed to run for our entertainment. It isn’t really alive!”
Yixing’s tears stopped falling. He wasn’t really alive?
“This is a game Kris, wake up! We come here to relieve our stresses from real life, to craft a second life, one where we can reach the heights we dreamed of but could never fight for in the real world. But don’t let that confuse you Kris, your body here, me, this cave, him, this world, none of it is real.”
He wasn’t real?
Yixing’s hands went to his head, clutching desperately at his temples. It hurt. His head felt like he was bursting open. What was the stranger talking about? Blood flowed in his veins, his heart beat, he could feel pain, could cry, could die. He had fallen in love, had given his heart to another. There was no way he wasn’t real.
But doubt rushed through his mind. What if the other was right? Was that why Yixing had no memories? Was that why he fought desperately against an invisible force – because he was just a piece on a game board, crafted only to serve for entertainment? Was all of this fake?
“You’re wrong. He is alive. His heart beats just like yours and mine, he breaths, he thinks, he has feelings all his own. He can feel pain, he can experience desolation, and above all, Yixing can die. I’m not going to let you harm him. This is his only life.”
“Why are you defending him?”
“Because I fell in love.”
Silence filled the room.
“I love him so I will give anything to protect him. If you’ve ever fallen in love, you would understand. So please, please don’t hurt him.”
Yixing’s heart hurt with each word from Kris’ mouth. How could the other love him so much? How was the other willing to give so much for his safety? He realized something else, too, Kris never once refuted the stranger’s claim about this world being a game.
The stranger’s eyes closed for a long minute, when he reopened them, Yixing thought he saw the sorrow of remembrance in them.
“I know what it feels like to be in love Kris, so I will honor your wish and leave. No one will hear about today. But as another human, I have to warn you. You may love him, but never forget he doesn’t exist. At the end of the day, this world is only a dream to you. He isn’t someone you can bring back with you. You should end this before you fall too deep.”
Then the stranger turned and leaved. But even after he had long disappeared from sight, the intruder’s words echoed in Yixing’s mind. You should end this before you fall too deep.
“You’re safe,” Kris whispered as his hand reached up and grazed once again across Yixing’s cheek. “You’re safe.”
Yixing didn’t respond.
A moment later, Kris shattered into a million shards of light, just as he did on the first day they had met. It was only then that Yixing realized, normal death did not happen like that. Only then did he realize that everything he had once believed to be true, was not.
He stood up and walked willingly back to the center of the room where the force had always compelled him to stand. This was his rightful place. Yixing had lost the will to fight. This was his only place – because Zhang Yixing, didn’t exist.
When Kris showed up the next day, Yixing did not move from the center of the room, he did not rush up to the other, he did not so much as look at the other, and he did not speak. He didn’t have a right to. Yixing didn’t want Kris to be in love with him any longer. The stranger’s words were right. He didn’t exist, when it all boiled down to it, he was nothing but a fleeting dream from which Kris would eventually wake. Their relationship was unsustainable. Even though Yixing’s heart pained, even though he so desperately wanted to keep Kris at his side forever, Yixing wanted Kris to have a real love. He wanted Kris to be happy.
Kris walked to the center of the room and stood in front of Yixing’s body. Yixing did not look up.
The other sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. Then he took a step forward, trying to lessen the distance between him and Yixing. Yixing retorted backwards. The distance between them wasn’t closable by something like a single step. A deep chasm separated them and it was an unending chasm – the distance between reality and not.
“Look, Yixing, I’m sorry I lied to you, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth.”
Kris didn’t have a reason to be sorry. Yixing was the one who was sorry. He was sorry he had overstepped his boundaries, developed emotions when he was not supposed to be able to even think.
“If you want, I can explain everything to you,” Kris’ voice grew in desperation as he spoke.
Yixing didn’t respond. He no longer cared. What did it matter? The end result would still be the same. No matter what Kris said, the other could not change the fact that Yixing was not real.
“Early this decade, the beginning of the twenty third century, a group of scientists created a new technology. They called it the Dream Emulator. It had the ability to manipulate the brain of the one who wore it to stimulate the formation of a different reality. A few years later, the first virtual reality game was invented. That is the game we are currently in, Legends of Arona. It was the first time in history that technology had been able to create a new world. Millions of players rushed into the beautiful, fantastical world of Arona, all hoping for their own chance to become legendary. It was a world that did not disappoint. The creatures in it were all strikingly realistic and the motions, design, quests, everything. It truly was another chance to live.”
So that was it, Yixing was just another part of this extremely realistic world.
“But Yixing, there is a limitation to everything. Even if the developers of Legends of Arona were able to create a new world, the people it created could never be considered truly real, because you cannot simply recreate a human mind.”
So he was less than that. Yixing cowered backwards slightly at Kris’ point. He was less than a human mind.
Kris grabbed onto Yixing’s shoulders, forcing him to stay put.
“But listen, Yixing, you are different. I realized that when I saw your tears when you killed me. You disobeyed the system. I became surer of that each time I saw you. Your smiles, your actions, your pain, all of it – you are more than other monsters in this world. You’ve developed your own mind. I didn’t understand how it was possible so I stayed by your side, trying to figure out your mind and reasons, but before I realized it, I had fallen in love with you, not the demon Zhang Yixing, but Zhang Yixing.”
Yixing stayed quiet. His heart was confused on how to feel. On one hand, it comforted him knowing that he perhaps did have a mind of his own and a heart that was real. If he did not, how was it possible that he struggled against the invisible force? On the other hand, even if that was true, it did not mean he was real. He would never be able to leave this lair, never be able to venture out into the world Kris belonged to.
“Once I knew clearly that I had fallen for you, I became aware of a single fact. In the end, it didn’t matter what you were, what mattered was simply the heart. I love you and that is all that matters.”
But to Yixing, that wasn’t all. Love wasn’t possible when one wasn’t capable of love.
Kris came day after day and each day it was the same. Yixing would stand still in the center of the room, unmoving, emotionless and Kris would stand in front of him and spill out his entirety to the other. At times Yixing felt his resolve breaking, but in the end, he held strong; the other deserved someone better than him. The other deserved someone real.
Yixing hoped that eventually Kris would give up and never return. When that day arrived, Yixing could be the only one to suffer and he would not mind. Yixing wanted to set Kris free.
Kris stood once again in front of Yixing, staring deeply into the other’s eyes though Yixing did not look back at him. Then he sighed and turned around. Yixing’s heart pained slightly, this was it, the other was finally giving up.
“Tell me what I did wrong.”
Wrong? Yixing never blamed or resented Kris. Kris had done nothing wrong.
“You can’t even name a reason can you? Do you think this is a game Yixing? Do you think you can just play my heart like this? Well, Zhang Yixing, whether you believe me or not, you and being in love with you transcended this false reality a long time ago. But if you can’t have the same confidence in our love, then this isn’t worth it.”
Kris walked towards the exit of the cave. Yixing’s heart called out to the other, breaking apart into glass shards at the other’s pained words. Desperately he wanted to run to Kris, but Yixing forced himself to stay still.
Before Kris exited Yixing’s lair completely, he gave once last glance towards Yixing.
“I loved you Yixing, but I guess that wasn’t enough for you.”
Then he left and when he did, Yixing heard the sound of two hearts shattering. Very slowly, Yixing sunk to the ground and wallowed up into fetal position.
“Kris,” he sobbed, dry tears rolling from his eyes, “Kris.”
Please be happy. Find someone real. Someone who can love you better.
Kris pulled the Dream Emulator off of his head and threw it across the room. It clanged against the wall. He never wanted to see it again. He never wanted to enter back into that wretched world where everywhere he looked he could see only Yixing. Why couldn't the other understand his feelings? Kris could care less if the other was real or not. What mattered was whether or not their feelings were real or not, right?
“Never mind that,” Kris muttered as he got out of bed and walked into the bathroom. It was useless thinking about it. Yixing had already ignored him for twenty days now. He could think about the other for an eternity, but even then, Kris doubted Yixing would ever accept him again.
He the faucet and splashed his face a few times with the cold water. When he looked up into the mirror, his eyes were red. It was clear that he had been crying. How could Yixing call himself not real when Kris’ heart pained so much for him, when Kris cried for him?
What did he do wrong?
Was it wrong to follow his heart?
Maybe it was. Maybe it was foolish of him to believe that love could transcend the boundaries of reality. Perhaps it was time for him to focus on living instead.
Kris wiped his face dry on a towel and then walked out of the bathroom. He threw on a simple, white shirt and a pair of jeans before exiting his room and then the house. His sister was still waiting for him. He couldn’t be like this, his sister needed him.
Kris nodded to a few of the doctors he knew as he made his wall through the pristine white halls of the medical building. He stopped in front of room 2301, his sister’s room, the one she had been in for three years now.
He pushed open the door. There she was, still lying peacefully on the white cot, a white down blanket pulled over her. Medical wires were attached to her arms and a heart monitor to her chest, hanging above her was a body condition measurer. But despite all of that, Kris still thought she looked beautiful. She would always look beautiful to him because she was his precious little sister.
Kris took a seat in the chair next to her hospital bed. He watched her silently, noting how her chest went up and down as she breathed in and out slowly; it was the only sign that she was still alive.
She had been diagnosed with a rare blood deficiency. It became serious three years ago when she fell into a long coma. Even with the high technologies of the new century, the doctors told Kris they could do nothing unless they found a viable blood donor. Kris had spent a long time looking, but in the end it amounted to nothing. Her blood had a special gene mutation, the same reason why her eyes were such an exotic shade, and thus, it would be a miracle for anyone to have transferable blood suitable to her body. With no other options, Kris could only watch her sleep forever as though trapped in time.
She was the reason he had started the game.
Before she entered her resting state, when she was weak but still above to talk, she had made Kris promise her something. Kris still remembered his words even now: I promise, meimei, I’ll find someone, I promise I’ll find someone to love and someone to love me back so don’t worry about me. After she left, he fell into a long period of depression, there was no way for him to face a world where his sister was dead to the world, but Kris remembered his promise. That was why he started Legends of Arona. He needed to find an escape.
At first, he entered the game only to null himself from the pains of reality and thus he fought day and night, leveled like his life depended on it. But eventually he got tired of the continuous training, the game became pointless. That was when he remembered the promise he had made his sister and he realized he had not kept it.
Soon after, he met Yixing.
“I went to see him again today,” he told her, like he always did. Kris spoke about Yixing everyday to his sister, it was his way of telling her he had kept his promise. He also liked to believe that the other could hear him and that because she could, his words would bring her back to reality.
“I said goodbye to him…and it hurts so much. I feel like I’m dying inside. But meimei, I don’t hate him, I can’t find a single ounce of hatred in my body to despise him. I just love him too much. I never resented him, never blamed him, I just miss him so much.”
Kris took a deep breath as he tried to collect himself. He needed to tell someone the pain he was feeling inside before it suffocated him.
“To love someone so much only to have that love dissolved so simply, it hurts. Why doesn’t he see how much he’s hurting me?” Kris buried his face in his hands.
When he finally calmed himself, he raised his head and gazed once again at his beloved sister. It was then that he noticed a single tear leaking from her eyes. She had heard.
“You think I’m right, right? To love him so much, you think it’s worth it, right?”
Even though his sister did not respond, still asleep as quiet and motionless as ever, Kris could hear her answer. His heart knew she agreed. She supported him.
He flipped through the channels on his television, trying to find something to occupy his wandering heart. It had been a week, three days, and ten hours since he last went to see Yixing. To say that he missed the other was an understatement. Kris was dying inside. Something told him that the other was paining just as much. But even so, Kris could not bring himself to put the Dream Emulator on again. It was pointless unless he could find a way to make Yixing see a future for them.
Kris sighed as he finally set the remote down after flipping to a news station. Might as well focus on the real world since he would not be returning to his real world for a while.
A picture of a man’s body, perhaps twenty, appeared on the screen. There was a long slit on his neck. Kris shivered slightly at the bloody scene. This was what the world had come to, murder, theft, vice, this was why his other world was a better place.
“A man in his early twenties was murdered last night,” the news reporter dutifully began, “the police are already on the case. Surprisingly, they say it is quite similar to another case from three years ago. Three years ago, a twenty year old man was murdered similarly through use of a silver dagger and by a close relative. Even the area of damage is the same, both men were murdered by the application of a long slash down the neck. Of course, the coincidence between the two cases is merely coincidence since Zhang Yixing’s murderer has long been put behind bars.”
Zhang Yixing? A silver dagger? A long red slash down the neck?
It wasn’t possible! But Kris’ heart had already accepted it and when it did, it realized something important. If Yixing was based on a real person, wouldn’t that explain why he was able to overcome the game program? If all of this was true, wouldn’t that mean Yixing was real? Wasn’t this their chance?
There would be a way. They would find a way.
Kris dropped everything else and rushed into his room, pulling out his computer. Hurriedly he typed into the search browser: Legends of Arona developer headquarters.
Yixing stood unmoving from his position. For twenty days since Kris’ departure, he had suffered pain worse than his heart could stand. It was no different from his life before he first met Kris, but it felt worse because he had now experienced what it felt like to love someone and be loved in return. Having tasted that sweetness, Yixing could not forget it. But most of all, Kris’ last words to him had cut into him, slicing apart his soul cruelly.
Of course he did not view their love as a simple game, of course he trusted in the other, of course he loved Kris…but those were the exact reasons why he had to let the other go. Kris had a life out there, a sister, a home, people he probably he cared about. Yixing didn’t want to rob Kris of the freedom to live without attachments in the real world. He didn’t want to become that burden dragging Kris down from reality. Reality was such a beautiful thing, Yixing wanted Kris to relish completely in it. As such, he would rather become a fleeting dream, a distant memory in the other’s life.
As for himself, he would remember Kris forever. You don’t forget the face of your first, last, and only hope. You don’t forget the voice of the person who served as your light. You don’t forget the heart of the one you loved.
Forever silent he would be and that silence would be the best proof of his pain. Kris couldn’t see that, but for Yixing, being silent was more painful than speaking, because being silent meant giving up. That was the state he was currently in, a state of desperation. He did not understand just how much the other meant to him until now, but Kris had already left and Kris would never return again.
He should just give up now and submit willingly to the force. The force could take away his pain. The force could help him forget.
Yixing closed his eyes.
“I loved you, Kris,” he whispered.
“I love you too, Yixing.”
Yixing’s eyes flashed open. There was no way! But there he was, the only occupier of Yixing’s heart. Kris stood, once again, in that familiar cave entrance, smiling at Yixing as though nothing between them had ever changed. Why did Kris always have to show up when Yixing was about to give up? Why did Kris have to make him drink the poison of dangerous hope?
“I missed you,” Kris whispered as he walked over to Yixing’s side and automatically took the other in his arms, “and I’ve already heard how you feel about me. I’m not going to fall for your silence again.”
Yixing struggled slightly before relaxing and letting himself fall into Kris’ arms. He could not refuse the other, not when the other’s arms wrapped around him so tightly, not when Kris’ embrace was so warm, not when Yixing had missed the other so much, too much.
“I missed you, too.”
“I found a way for us to be together, Yixing,” Kris said as his hold on Yixing tightened. “And when we are, I’m never going to let go of you again.”
“A way?” Yixing asked, hope pounding in his heart. Why was it Kris always brought him hope? It was almost as though the other was a blessing, a miracle sent to Yixing to bring light into his life.
“I discovered something about your past, Yixing, after I left…I discovered it in the real world.”
Yixing’s heart beat stopped. There was no way.
“You were once alive, Yixing, you existed.”
This wasn’t possible.
“You were killed by a close relative…you were killed by your brother.”
It all came rushing back at him then.
His name was Zhang Yixing. He had an older brother. He loved his brother more than anything in his life, but perhaps it was only because he felt sorry for the other. Growing up, Yixing was always the favored one and he could only watch as his brother wallowed in the corner.
The dagger flashed in Yixing’s mind, the face of the man holding it now becoming clear. It was the face of a man who looked similar to Yixing, but with a sharper jaw, sharper eyes. It was the face of his brother.
Yixing fell backwards slightly as he remembered that day.
“What are you doing, ge?! Put that weapon down! You’ll hurt yourself…” Yixing screamed as he watched the other draw a dagger that flashed silver from his pocket.
The other shook his head as he came closer to Yixing, forcing the other backwards. He held the knife out to Yixing, showing the blade to him.
“Do you see this dagger? This is the dagger that cuts into my heart each time someone tells me how much I should be like you. Does that even make sense?” A loud, crazed laugh came from the throat of the other before he continued, “I hate you Yixing. And if it wasn’t enough that everyone preferred you, you had to be the stupid idiot you are and make sure to care about me. Where does that leave me? Your ridiculous, righteous kindness towards me only makes me hate you more.”
Yixing stumbled backwards.
“Why?” He whispered as he looked around desperately for a way to run.
“I hate how good you are and there’s only one way for me to be as good as you.”
A sharp scream sounded from Yixing as he watched his brother lunge forward and the blade come closer and closer. It sliced through his neck, slashing through his skin and causing blood to splash out.
But as Yixing watched his brother hold the now bloodied knife in front of him, Yixing did not think of the pain. He thought only of how sorry he was. He should have loved the other more, should have...
Yixing collapsed in Kris’ arms. This was why he had wanted to forget his past, because it was his fault. All of it was his fault. If he had loved his brother more, things would have been different.
“How…how…how is he?”
Kris suddenly pushed Yixing back, holding the other at arms-length, and looked down at the other with a serious expression. His voice was tinged with disbelief, “Are you kidding me? How could you care about him? He killed you!”
Yixing shook his head. “But Kris! He killed me because he was forced to…I was always chosen over him, always. Imagine the pain he must have felt. And…and despite all else, he is my brother!”
Kris sighed as he placed a soft kiss on Yixing’s forehead and then proceeded to warp his arms around the other again.
“He is in jail…your heart is too kind. That is why I have to protect you.”
Yixing allowed himself a slight smile as he sunk into Kris’ warm embrace, a light blush spreading across his cheeks from the kiss. This simple warmth was enough for him to be content forever.
“Aren’t you curious why you are here if you belong out there? If you died in the real world?”
Yixing straightened up. He had forgotten the important part in his memory of his brother. Kris was right. He was curious. This wasn’t right.
“After I found out, I went straight to the developer headquarters. They let me in after I mentioned your name. It is no surprise they did because their conscious probably felt dirty after what they did.”
Yixing raised his eyebrow at Kris' choice of words.
“You’re part of an experiment Yixing.”
“Three years ago, the WTO scientist union perfected a soul preserver. Actually, it was more than that. They discovered that the soul was a tangible object stored as a golden liquid in the frontal lobe of the brain and they realized then, that life didn’t end when the heart stopped beating or when the body failed, but rather, life ended when the soul died. In other words, as long as one kept the body preserved and the soul alive, one could become alive again even after death. It was a technology invested in by the government as an attempt to bring back the innocent deaths of the world – victims of murder, war, terrorism. A perfect world where no one innocent will die.”
A perfect world where no one innocent would die. Why was that phrase familiar?
“Do those words strike you as familiar?”
Yixing nodded. He had heard those words before somewhere, but he could not remember where.
“It’s because you said them.”
Yixing stood in front of a large audience: the secret society, government agents, renown scientists, military personal, official representatives from each country. He breathed in, calming his nerves, then started to speak.
“We’ve finally done it, discovered the human soul. After two years of research, research that I am honored to be a part of given my young age, we’ve finally discovered the properties and location of what we term as the ‘soul’. This is the beginning of a new era, a perfect world where no innocent will die. My team and I will be experimenting more and hopefully, one day, we’ll be able to bring back the victims who are unjustly taken.”
Applause rang in the room as he finished speaking and Yixing gave a slight smile. This was the world he wanted to fight for. No one deserved to die. He wanted to stop it, to give people who went unjustly a second chance. That was his dream.
“I-I…” Yixing stuttered. This was his dream. This had all started with him.
Kris nodded, confirming the thoughts that ran through Yixing’s head. “You joined the research team when you were eighteen and over the course of two years, you and the other brilliant minds in the group completed research for the human soul. There was only one thing left to do.”
“Test it,” Yixing finished for Kris. It was coming back to him now. “But of course, there was no one trustworthy enough to let in on such a big secret and it would not be worth it to put dangerous technology to testing on ourselves…but even so, before the technology could be advanced, we had to know if the soul was strong enough to sustain itself and speak for itself without the consciousness of the body and brain,” Yixing’s voice became stronger and stronger. The burden of the force that had always weighed him down was disappearing.
“Your death came at a good time.”
This was his purpose. This was the reason he was here.
“When they heard the news, they automatically brought your body back to the lab and took careful procedure to maintain it, at the same time, they extracted your soul. It was the perfect opportunity to see if the soul could live on its own. To test it, they placed your soul in the body of a computer created monster, one that was against your true nature, to see if you could break free of the constraints placed on you by the simple will of your soul.”
The dots were connecting in Yixing’s head and he could see it all, the picture he had been trying to piece together was now clear. This was why he was always in constant struggle with an invisible foe, always pained, always desperate to break free – because his soul was fighting to live.
“At first, they were worried. For two and a half years, you struggled against the system but could not break free. They had almost given up hope.”
“I had almost given up hope as well, but then I met you.”
Kris smiled and unable to help himself, placed another kiss on Yixing’s forehead. “And you broke free.”
Yixing felt light inside, as though a heavy shadow had been lifted off of him. At last, he could see the brightness surrounding him. He had completed what he had been sent here to do, he had found something more than what he expected to, and most importantly, he found someone he was willing to live for.
Yixing wrapped his arms around Kris’ neck. He pulled the other downwards until their noses touched. Then, he leaned up and pressed his lips against the other’s lips. Kris’ eyes widened in shock but after only a split second, they closed and Kris’ lips moved eagerly against Yixing’s. The other’s arms looped themselves around Yixing’s waist and pulled him in, holding Yixing taunt against his chest. Warmth enveloped them.
Love was a magical thing. Yixing had always believed that and he was surer of that now than ever. To love and be loved, that was life.
When the two finally pulled apart, both were gasping for breath and both shared the same breath. Yixing gazed up at the other with pure affection in his eyes. For the first time in twenty days, he felt allowed to love the other. He saw a chance. Yixing knew the other saw it too.
“They told you they could revive me, didn’t they?”
Kris nodded, a bright grin spreading across his face. “Tomorrow, they will commence the procedure tomorrow…but only if you agree of course.”
Yixing cocked his head to the side. This was his second chance at life, his chance to return to the world he belonged in, his change to be with Kris. Why wouldn’t he agree?
“What do you mean?”
The grin slowly disappeared and Kris’ face once again became solemn. “The technology isn’t perfect yet…there are risks involved. You might not wake up…and…they told me even if you did wake, you would not remember anything from the past three years, the years you spent here. You will forget me as well, forget us.”
Yixing’s hand dropped. His resolve was still clear, but his voice was no longer enthusiastic when he spoke.
“I still want it done.”
“Are you sure?”
Yixing nodded. He had never been surer in his life. This would be the one most confident decision he made in his life, Yixing knew it would also be the most correct decison he would ever make.
“Yes, I am. Kris, I need to take this risk. I want to be there, at your side in the real world. I don’t want to be stuck in this cave any longer, I don’t want to be just pixels in a false reality. I want to love you fully…and, besides that, I want to complete what I came here to do. This is my dream, Kris, my dream to making a more perfect world. Please go tell them I want the procedure done, help me complete my dream.”
Kris gritted his teeth but nodded, respecting the other’s decision. He turned and walked towards the exit of the cave, hurrying so that he would not change his mind before he told the scientists at the headquarters Yixing’s real decision. But before he could disappear completely, Yixing’s voice stopped him.
“I promise I’ll wake up, Kris, and when I do, I want the first person I see to be you. I promise I’ll remember you.”
A silent tear leaked out of Kris’ eye before he exited the cave completely.
Yixing watched the other’s retreating back and as it disappeared into the shadows, he couldn’t help but feel as though this was their final goodbye. The next time they saw each other, would they be the same?
“And if I can’t keep my promises,” Yixing whispered, now that Kris was gone, “I love you Kris, please don’t forget that and forgive me for being selfish.”
If he did not wake tomorrow, even then, Yixing would not regret his decision, because in his heart, going back had always been the true purpose. That was the end his soul fought and lived for. But even so, Yixing could not help his tears from falling as he realized the pain Kris would have to suffer through if he truly did not wake. Kris would have to suffer through it alone.
Kris sat outside the operating room, watching the scientists and medical team rush in and out with a sense of urgency. Fear radiated in his chest at the concerned faces of the personnel but he did not stop any of them to ask questions. He worried that he would disrupt them and that that disruption would result in fatal things befalling Yixing.
Yixing, his heart cried, Yixing.
Kris didn’t know how he would handle himself if the other was lost. Would he hate Yixing for leaving him? No, he would probably hate himself for letting the other allow himself to be experimented on.
Kris was silent, completely. His silence was just another indicator of the wounds forming on his heart. He understood now what must have gone through the other’s mind whenever silence was forced upon him. Silence was the ultimate demonstration of pain because it meant the silent acceptation that you could do nothing to stop fate from drawing out its course.
There was a sudden loud beeping from inside the operating room. Another group of doctors rushed in and a group rushed out, fear clear in their eyes. After a few minutes the beeping stopped.
Kris sat silently through it all but he could not prevent his eyes from misting up from the stabs striking at his heart with each beep of the machine.
You made me a promise Yixing. A promise.
There was a loud drone and then it stopped. The operating room doors swung open and the person who Kris identified as the top personnel stepped out. He took off his face mask and gave a pained grimace to Kris.
“It doesn’t look good. He’s struggling.”
Kris stood up without speaking and walked towards the room. He needed to be there for Yixing. He had to be there.
“You can’t go in there!” Cried the doctor’s assistant as he tried to pull Kris away from the swinging operational room doors.
Kris flung him aside but then another came and another. He continued to try to struggle forward but he was dragged down by the efforts of the assistants. Eventually he was reduced to his knees, trying desperately to claw his way over to the operating room. Tears of desperation stung his eyes.
“Please let me go,” Kris pleaded, begging with what remained of his broken voice, “I need to be there for him.” He wanted me to be the first person he saw when he woke up.
“I’m sorry sir, you can’t! The room is off limits.”
Kris pounded his fist against the pristine marble ground.
“Please constrain yourself,” the assistant continued.
Then after a long moment, the head doctor spoke, his voice solemn, “Let him in.”
“But doctor!” The assistant objected.
The doctor shook his head as he met Kris’ eyes. “I know Yixing well. You are the one he would want by his side. You are the one he needs now. I…I…I’m sorry I can’t do more. But at least let me allow you in, so that the last one to see him can be the one he loves most.”
Kris’ heart broke. No. This wasn’t possible.
He tore through the operating room doors and pushed past all of the staff before collapsing at the side of the operational bed. There Yixing’s preserved body laid, frozen as it waited for its soul to return.
Kris took a hold of Yixing’s hand, holding it in his own. Why was it so cold?
“You made me a promise, Zhang Yixing!” Kris cried at the frozen body, “If you don’t keep it…I’ll…” What would he do?
“I’ll stop loving you.”
The pulsing of the heart rate monitor stopped. There was another loud beeping followed by silence.
Kris screamed at the staff, jutting his finger at the monitor, “What the hell does that mean?!”
The head doctor shook his head regretfully.
“It means his body is most likely unwilling to receive the soul in again.”
Desolation filled Kris’ entire being as he turned back to Yixing’s frozen body. Please, he prayed, please give me a miracle. I need him in my life. I need Zhang Yixing to be in my world. He made me a promise…
There was another loud beeping.
Kris closed his eyes.
Yixing felt very light, detached from the world, the heavens, the earth. He was floating in a sullen emptiness that was nothing yet everything at the same time. A bright light shined above him, calling him. It was a golden heaven. He could go to it, it seemed to welcome him forward. Slowly, Yixing started to float towards it, he could finally end his pain.
Who was calling him?
Whose voice was that? Why did his heart hurt when he heard it?
You made me a promise Zhang Yixing, I’ll never forgive you if you don’t keep it! I’ll hate you forever and then I’ll hate myself because I hate you.
Yixing jolted forward. It was his voice.
He needed to go back.
Yixing’s eyes flashed open. A bright light blinded him, causing him to see black and his vision to blur, then his vision slowly started to clear. There was a loud droning in the distance followed by a series of rhythmic beeps. He felt something warm holding onto his hand and heat at the area near his side.
There was the sound of crying.
Don’t cry, Yixing thought in his head but he could not say it out loud. He tried to move his hand, but he couldn’t not do that either. His entire being felt extremely weak and drained. Even his thoughts came sluggishly.
Where am I? He did not recognize anything surrounding him. All he could see was the large bright white light hanging above him. Why am I here?
“You promised, you promised,” came the sob of a man, “I was a fool to trust your lies.”
Whose voice was it?
Yixing struggled to move his body and his lips. He wanted to see the owner of the voice. He wanted to see the man it belonged to. But no matter how desperately he tried, Yixing could not move. His entire being was filled with an odd numb sensation as though he didn’t have a body at all.
Please, he begged his limbs, please let me move so I can see him. This voice was the reason he had come. He was here to keep a promise. He was here to reunite with someone.
The image of a man’s smile flashed in his mind. Who did it belong to? Why did remembering it make Yixing feel so warm and safe inside?
There were more loud beeps and the sobs of the man eventually died out to silence.
Please say something, Yixing begged. He didn’t want the other to be silent. Silence was just another mask for pain. Yixing didn’t want the other to pain even though he did not understand why he cared so much.
“God damn it Zhang Yixing, I loved you so much!”
Yixing jerked up. His body automatically turned, responding to the speaker’s words. There, besides him was the man. Honey shaded hair, light chestnut eyes that were dotted with tear stains, a light white shirt donned his shoulders. He looked so familiar.
“Yixing?” The other called as he flung himself at Yixing, hold Yixing tight in his arms. The feeling of being held by this man was not foreign.
“I knew you would come back to me, I knew you loved me enough to do that.”
“I love you Yixing, I love you, and this time, I will never let go of you ever again.”
A name suddenly flashed in Yixing’s brain.
“Kris?” Yixing made out slowly as he willed his irresponsible lips to move.
The other’s arms suddenly tightened around him, holding him as though the other was afraid to lose him.
“Thank you, Yixing, thank you for remembering.”
“Kris,” Yixing whispered again, his mind now clearing. He was sure of himself now, Kris, was someone important to him. Kris was his hope. The face of the person who was your last hope…was a face you would never forget.
He repeated it over and over again because it was the only thing he could say and the only thing he wanted to say. Yixing wanted to carve that name into his brain so that he would never forget it. This was the name of the man his heart pained for, this was the man his soul had returned for, this was his hope.
This was life. Yixing had finally found it, what he had been searching for all along – what it meant to be alive. Life was the eternal searching for the one you were meant for. Life was the eternal pain when the one your heart belonged to suffered. Life was the blissful joy of reunion, the tears associated with parting, the finding of perfect love. The dawn of life began with a single thing.
They had been right all along, life started with the soul.
Kris smiled as he watched Yixing take a seat by his sister’s hospital bed. There were now two chairs where there had previously only been one. It had been a few months since Yixing’s return. He had been through physical theory and mental treatment in order to recover control of his body after three years of losing it. The other was now well again but more impressing, a miracle as the doctors called it, was the fact that Yixing remembered everything.
Kris knew it was not a miracle though, it was love and the power in promises. Yixing had taught him that. Love and promises were a magical thing, Kris believe that now, Yixing had made him believe because their journey could be called nothing but magical.
As he sat now, by Yixing’s side as the other took his sister’s hand, Kris felt his world forming into a perfect union. He too had kept his promise. He had found someone to love and someone to love him back. He had found Yixing.
“Meimei, I’m finally meeting you,” Yixing whispered to Kris' frozen sister, “I almost can’t believe it. You really are beautiful, just like Kris said you were.”
Then, the other leaned down and said something softly into Kris’ sister’s ear. When he rose, Kris thought he saw a soft smile spread on his sister’s face.
“What did you say to her?” He asked.
Yixing shrugged as he gazed down once again towards Kris’ sleeping sister. He took a hand and her cheek lovingly.
“Just that I would take care of you from now on and that she could finally rest.”
Kris was silent because any words would have destroyed the perfection in that moment. Thank you, he said in his mind, thank you Yixing, for teaching me love.
This was love, a beautiful, fleeting thing that always hit you in the least expected moments, and once it did, you would never be able to free yourself from it again, and you would never want to.
I really liked the way this one turned out. That being said, I wrote it in two separate sittings in a span of two days so I apologize if some parts aren’t perfect. I suppose you can say I was too enthusiastic about it to stop writing, hence why I’m posting it up so early as well since I want to get it reviewed.
I suppose one of the main reasons I like this particular piece of mine is because I think it wasn’t rushed and I liked the fact that the ending brought everything together. It really was a pleasure to write and there are tiny things in here that really made it mean something special to me (the yinyang symbol, the yuanxiao, Kris’ sister, Yixing’s brother, the stranger). It’s the small things in the fiction that I fell in love with. Of course, also the general meaning. I think there are many different ones once I finished writing this, but the key one I held in mind when writing it was this: life and love are intertwined so closely that love itself can transcend the boundaries set by life.
Anyways, if you made it through the extremely long read, congratulations, tell me what you thought below and love you guys! Happy 2014 ^^