sometimes I think about this and how she said “The person I admired and looked up to was never only a god that I could simply ask for the love between a man and a woman. His shoulders carry the lives of the universe - I always knew that. “ in the extra chapter and I c r y
You squealed as Jerome led you into another huge puddle. Your fingers were interlaced as the two of you ran, interweaving among the trees. You followed him.
Finally out of breath, he stopped and went to lean against a very large tree. “Come ‘ere.”
With a squeak he pulled you close, your free hand came to rest over his racing heart. “Jerome, can we stay here forever?” You giggled and rested your forehead against him.
He threw his head back and giggled with you. His blue eyes were shining, his hair was soaked. He looked down at you, his smile was wide and bright. “Yes, you and me will stay here forever.” Lifting a hand, he cupped your cheek. His thumb caressed you. “You are so beautiful.” You leaned into his touch.
You flushed, his intensity made you look away. He pulled your face back to look at him. “Don’t look away, you are like a flower. You are fighting against this rain and looking as lovely as you ever.”
“Oh Jerome, I will never get used to your words.” You pulled his hand down and kissed his palm.
He drew close. “I certainly hope not.” His breath was warm and sweet before he kissed you. Your heart swelled, a sliver of pain cut through you.
You didn’t understand why, perhaps because as the days had been going by, the love you two shared grew stronger and stronger. It was something you had never experienced before him.
Loving how your fingers felt interlaced, he ran back with you to the room. You were so beautiful, with your hair and dress clinging to your curves.
He barely closed the door, when he kissed you. Your lips were so soft as they gave themselves up to the kiss. Being with you, he was able to forget what he had done to get to where he was now. He was not ashamed, he only wished he could have handled it better. That publisher was getting obsessed, Nagiko was a handful and sadly he knew that in four short months you would have to head back to the states.
What would he do then? How would he handle not having you around. He could follow you to the states, his family could give him some support. It could work out.
Easily, he picked you up. He loved how you wrapped yourself around him. You were so delicate, his delicate little dove.
“Time to warm up, we can’t be catching our death.”
He brought you to the bathroom. “I will draw us a bath.” Going to the bath, he turned the knobs making sure it would be nice and warm. He looked over the bottles on the shelf. Cherry Blossom would be nice, he mused and poured some of the bath oils in with that scent.
Turning to you then, he gently took off your dress and panties. Afterwards, he stripped away his clothes. Like fallen leaves, they rested on top of each other.
He stepped in and then helped you in as well. Easily he wrapped himself around you, loving how you nestled close. Together you enjoyed the warmth of the water ease back into you as you sat there. The cool rain and puddles became a distant memory. He tucked some hair behind your ear, “That had been a lot of fun.”
You giggled into his chest. He loved the sound of it. “I’m glad you didn’t think it was silly.”
“Never.” He whispered. He moved his hands over your soft body. “Little dove?”
“Yes?” Your eyes twinkled as you looked up at him.
“Nothing.” He hugged you closer. If he didn’t, the pain of losing you would grab ahold of him. He really had to snap out of this. You were here, he was.
A deep sound came from him as he felt your lips on his throat. “Little dove.” He breathed.
It was the most exciting time of the year in Quinqui. It was time for harvest festival. This was a 7 day long festival with parades, performances from acrobats and a grand fair. Every year anyone related to Quinqui, no matter how far from home he might be, would make it a point to come. Even visitors from all over would gather here.
Bai Xian, the crown prince Ye Hua and their little son Ah-Li had also come to the fox den for this celebration. Ah-Li and Gungun were both super excited to go to the fair. Chong Lin was trying to keep them interested in other things long enough so that they could go only after the sun would go down a little. Bai Xian was so not wanting to walk around in the hot sun and had tasked Chong Lin with this duty.
She herself had come to Xiaobai's room and was helping her bathe and get dressed. Xiaobai had recovered quite a lot, but her wound still hurt if she tried to move quickly or even tried to comb her long hair. So Bai Xian had taken it upon herself to look after her favorite niece.
Dijun had ventured to the kitchen asking his mother-in-law's help to cook something tasty and nutritious for his wife. His mother-in-law was only too happy to oblige. Finding not much else to do by himself Ye Hua had joined in too. They all chatted and cooked away a whole feast with sweet and sour fish, noodle soup, congee and various types of cakes. All of them were feeling very accomplished. Dijun and Ye Hua loaded two trays with all the food and decided to go to Xiaobai's room so they all could eat together.
When the two reached Xiaobai's room, she had finished bathing and getting dressed. Bai Xian was combing her hair and they were chatting. "Please don't tell whatever I am about to say, to Dijun. I don't want him to feel any more guilty than what he is already feeling.", Fengjiu was saying. Dijun signalled to Ye Hua to stop and not enter the room. They both placed the food trays on a nearby table and waited. Ye Hua signalled to Dijun that he will be back soon and left in search of their sons.
"Ye Hua is a true gentleman!", mused Dijun and continued to eavesdrop. His wife was about to tell something to her aunt that she thought would make him feel guilty. So? It wasn't going to be pretty. But he was quite thick skinned and he could handle it. At least that's what he told himself at that time.
Fengjiu continued reminiscing and talking to her aunt. She was talking about some of the hardest days of her life and it wasn't easy for her. But this was her aunt and she was one person Fengjiu did not mind being herself with.
"I waited for Dijun for 73 days. Each day was harder than the one before, but I waited. Everyone told me he had chosen to go to demon realm with Ji Heng. I chose not to believe them. I went to demon realm with Chong Lin to look for Dijun. There they told me he had been with Ji Heng. I was heartbroken.
I returned home here and was crying inconsolably in my room when medicine god Zhe Yan walked in. He sensed something off with me, checked my pulse and told me that I was pregnant. That moment! It changed my whole life.
I remember that night I did not sleep at all. But by the time morning came, I had made up my mind. God Zhe Yan had left me two pills - one that would abort and another that would preserve the baby. He also left a note saying he would support me no matter what I picked.
This was my baby. Mine and Dijun's. The only man I have ever loved. This baby was symbol of my unconditional love for Dijun. I knew he had loved me sincerely too. May be after seeing Ji Heng in trouble, he had decided to spend the rest of his life with her. But I knew when he had told me he loved me, he had meant it. I would keep this baby and live for the baby. This baby would be my whole universe from then on. I ate the pill that would preserve my baby.
Then I packed a few clothes, supplies to hide my birthmark, dress up as a man etc and left Quinqui. First I went to Sky Kingdom. Something in my heart was still not ready to let him go. I hoped to see him one last time. If he wanted to be with Ji Heng, all he had to do was tell me. I would get out of his way. But I didn't find him there. I knew I needed to be strong for this baby. Especially since I would be his only parent. So I let go of everything and left sky kingdom.
From there I went to Nether world, and checked up on Ye Quingti. I knew I would pay his debt no matter what. I left a trinket with Lord Xie Gu so he could reach me when he needed me to wake Quingti up. And then i went to mortal realm and stayed there until... "
"Why mortal realm? Didn't you know you would be all alone and you wouldn't be able to use your magic either? How could you have acted so foolishly, Fengjiu?", scolded Bai Xian.
"Aunt, I chose mortal realm because I did not want anyone to find me. I knew if any of you had learned that I was pregnant, you would confront Dijun and make him take responsibility for me and the baby. I knew what it was like, to stay away from the one I loved, I could never wish that for him.", Fengjiu explained.
Bai Xian rolled her eyes indignantly and continued with the questions. "How did you manage your pregnancy? Going into labor? The delivery? Did you take care of yourself properly at all?". She was seriously concerned.
"I did the best I could. I went to mortal realm and worked as a cook in a restaurant at that time. It was really hard work all day long. My body ached all the time and I was exhausted. But at least the owner who was an old lady, was kind to me. She let me eat leftovers and also let me take breaks often in my last month of pregnancy. She even revived me when I passed out from 3 days of labor pains and she helped me deliver Gungun safely. I am so grateful to her.
I was really sad when her son showed up 3 months later and wanted to force himself on me. I fought him, made him unconscious and ran away with Gungun. I did suffer physically and I was also very sad to leave the old lady to look after herself. But, I had no choice, so I did what I could.", Fengju tried in vain to make light of it. Bai Xian was appalled at what she heard.
And so was Dijun. He felt he had been too naive in thinking he could handle whatever he heard about her days in mortal realm. He had really underestimated her hardships.
Her days had been hard. When she had given him up, she had also given up her family and friends. All because of him. He knew he could never repay her for the things he had put her through.
"You are a Princess of Quinqui. You are the Monarch of this kingdom. You are the Empress of one of the most prestigious, powerful and revered god in the Sky Kingdom. Yet you had to work in restaurant and pass out from labor pains with no one to look after you. That's just so ...... ", Bai Xian was so furious, so flabbergasted that she could not find the right words at all.
"How can you love someone so much? How can you love him so much?", she asked incredulously to Fengjiu.
"Love is mysterious in its ways.", Fengjiu replied with a faint smile.
She knew her aunt was very angry. So Fengjiu reached for her aunt's hand. She hugged her aunt and wiped her aunt’s tears smilingly. Bai Xian's anger melted away. No one could stay angry at Fengjiu for long. With more tears in her eyes, Bai Xian planted a kiss on Fengjiu's head and held her close.
Dijun decided it was about time the ladies were interrupted. He wasn't sure he could bear to know any more of the hardships this delicate woman had toughed out because of him. He wasn't that thick skinned after all. He picked up the tray of food that had gone cold and heated everything back up with magic. He saw Ye Hua return with both the kids and together they walked in.
They sat in a circle and ate together. Both guys were pretty happy seeing their wives eat and praise the food they had prepared.
Dijun kept stealing weird glances at Xiaobai. She could sense something off about him. Was he worried about something? Was he about to go away soon and leave her for long time again? That thought scared her and made her very sad. But watching him smile at Gungun, she reasoned with herself that that must not be the case. She would have to ask him later when they were alone, she decided.
And she did get a chance to be alone with him soon. After the food was all gobbled up, Ah-Li reminded everyone that they had to go to the fair after lunch. So Gungun, Ah-Li, Bai Xian and Ye Hua all got ready to go.
“I will bring you sugar paintings, mom. Tell me what kind you want?”, Gungun said.
“Bring me back one dragon and one fox.”, she replied and exchanged a meaningful look with Dijun. That did bring back fond memories and a smile to Dijun’s face. She was happy to see her trick had worked to lighten his mood.
After they were all gone, Dijun closed the door behind them. He came back to her and helped her walk to the window. Although it was quite bright and sunny outside, the glorious willow tree in the yard provided just enough shade on the window seat. They both sat there with Dijun wrapping his arms around Xiaobai.
“What’s going on, Dijun? What’s been worrying you? Please tell me. And please be completely honest with me, ok? No matter how bad whatever that is, I want to know. And I want to work together with you to make it better. So tell me why you are so sad, so worried?” Xiaobai said looking into his eyes with sincerity.
“Xiaobai, I overheard what you were telling your aunt about the time of Gungun’s birth. I am feeling so guilty about that. As a husband I have failed you. Miserably failed you. I am so very sorry.”, Dijun’s voice cracked.
Xiaobai let out a long sigh and took his hands in hers. She looked at him, quite relieved that the worry wasn't anything about their future. She began to talk. “Dijun, what has passed is gone by. No matter what, we can never change it. So please let it all go. I do feel guilty about misunderstanding you, about talking to you coldly last time we met in the Sky Kingdom and keeping your son away from you for so long. But I am learning from it and learning to let it go. Let’s promise to always be completely honest with each other. Let’s start over, ok?”
A deep sigh left Dijun’s mouth as relief washed over him. His Xiaobai was still willing to give him another chance. She was asking to start afresh with him.
“When did my silly little fox become so wise?”, he chuckled and petted her nose. Hugging her, he let out a long sigh. She shifted to be more closer to him.
He pulled her close and said, “Are you tired, Xiaobai? Sleep a little if you are tired.” He planted a soft kiss on her hair, “Be a good girl and take rest for a while. We can take a small walk outside later if you feel better.”
“Hhmm..”, she said. Then she sunk her head on his chest and closed her eyes contentedly.
Fengjiu thrashes herself awake. It is not even moonrise yet. She bites back a whine. Donghua-dijun has been away on an errand for days. She hasn’t had to sleep without him in decades, and now it seems she can’t.
She slips out of bed, lighting a single lamp, and fetches more blankets. She piles them in the bed beside her, carefully shaping an outline. As a final touch, she shapes their whitest sheet into a round lump for a head, and paints a face on it. It’s not the same, but it will keep her company until he gets back.
It had been somewhat quite these past few days. Dijun had settled into the Quingqui way of life slowly. His wife’s family, now his family, had slowly come around to understanding his past and forgiving him. They were never the ones to hold a grudge anyways. They knew he cared for Xiaobai deeply. He cared for Gungun deeply. There was nothing more they would ask of him.
Gungun had stayed with him all this while. Every time he looked at the little boy he was in awe. And he fell in love with his once lively, now comatose Xiaobai all over again. She had created this little miracle. For him. The two people in this room were his first ever real family in a few million years.
As Dijun watched Gungun read a book, he was surprised. Were little boys his age always this obedient and well behaved? Gungun had shown keen interest in reading as well as in learning new things. He had a natural curiosity to figure things out.
As evening came, Cheng Yu and Si Ming walked in. They greeted his majesty and Gungun. They inquired about the Little Princess Fengjiu. There wasn’t any change to report, but Zhe Yan had been to see his patient earlier that week and had sounded hopeful about her waking up soon.
”Would you like to come to the Sky Kingdom with me, Little Prince? I am about to head out and the Prince Ah-li had asked me to bring you along for a few days. Of course, if it is alright with Dijun?”, Si Ming asked politely after the initial conversation.
“Sure, Si Ming. I need to give you some instructions regarding things in Tai Chen palace. Gungun, say goodbye to mom. I will see you both out. Cheng Yu, do you mind staying with Xiaobai for some time? Gungun was reading to her, maybe you could continue?”, said Dijun.
“Sure”, said Cheng Yu gladly. She took the book from Gungun and patted his silver hair.
Gungun smiled and walked over to his mom. “Mom, please wake up soon. I miss talking to you. And I miss the food you make for me. I have been a good boy like I promised. Little Uncle Ah-li has invited me to Sky Kingdom. I will be gone for a few days. I will be a good boy. I will ask father to take good care of you. You get well and wake up soon, ok?”, he said as he held his mom’s hand and kissed it sweetly.
“Father, please take care of mom. Remember, don‘t let her get cold at night. Ok?”, he tilted his head and said to Dijun. Dijun smiled and extended his pinky in promise. Then they walked out hand in hand with Si Ming following behind.
Cheng Yu sat down near the bed and continued reading. It was a book about Buddhist Theories. Cheng Yu knew Xiaobai never liked that subject, but she didn’t know how else to keep Xiaobai company and make her presence felt. So she read on.
After some time, she felt Xiaobai‘s fingers move. Slowly Xiaobai opened her eyes. Cheng Yu bent over her surprised, excited and so happy to finally see her friend wake up. “Are you feeling better, Fengjiu? Are you still hurting?”
Fengjiu gave a faint smile and nodded. Then she mouthed her first word in several months, “Dijun?”, she inquired worriedly. Cheng Yu closed the book and said, “Well, Dijun... ” and glanced at the door.
Somehow this worried Fengjiu into a frightened fit. As if possessed, She mustered all her strength to cling tightly to Cheng Yu’s arm and pulled herself half up from her pillow. She asked urgently, “Cheng Yu, where is Dijun? How is he? Is he okay? If not, I don’t want to wake up. I don’t want to live without him. I can‘t live without him. I won’t... .“
Cheng Yu struggled to get over Fengjiu’s sudden outburst and tried to calm her down, “Shhhh... stop. Listen to me. Listen, please. Dijun is okay. He has completely recovered. He just stepped out to see Si Ming and Gungun off to Sky Kingdom. The Quixin toxic in his body has also been fully cured. Star Light ward has been broken and everyone is safe now. You are the only one still not recovered.“
Fengjiu let out a huge sigh and slipped back on the bed. A trickle of few tears still escaped from her eyes onto her pale face. “Dijun is alright? I am happy.“, she smiled. But then she caught on to something else that Ching Yu had said and asked worriedly again, “Wait, did you say Dijun went out to see Gungun off? You mean my Gungun? You know about my Gungun? Dijun knows about my Gungun too? Is Dijun very upset with me that I kept his son away from him for 200 years?” Fresh tears filled her eyes and her face was full of worry again.
”I am not upset. I am grateful. And I am so sorry, Xiaobai.”, Dijun who had just appeared in the doorway and had heard their last conversation, replied. He appeared to be in a daze as he ran to his wife and held her hands tightly. Cheng Yu made a smart and timely exit.
”Dijun, you are okay. You are really okay. I am so sorry, Dijun. I thought you wanted to stay with Ji Heng. I didn’t want my child and I to be a burden for you. I have known the pain of having to stay away from the one I love. I could never wish for you to go through that. I didn’t want my family to force you to take our responsibility either, especially if you had decided to be with Ji Heng. So I left. I am so sorry. I really didn’t do it to keep Gungun away from you.” Fengjiu said tearfully. She was tired from all the excitement of walking up and all the talking. She stopped to catch her breath.
Dijun helped her to sit up and supported her on his shoulder. He held her close and said, “Xiaobai, I am truly not upset. I am sorry. It was my behavior that led you to think this way. It was a miscommunication from my side that put you through all that. I can never forgive myself for it. But I do want to ask for your forgiveness. I will prove to you every single minute for the rest of my life that I am yours and yours alone. No one is more important to me than you. Please give me a chance to make it up to you. Please?” . Xiaobai held his hands firmly, dried her tears and nodded that she would.
Dijun felt like a heavy burden was lifted off his heart. He bent down and planted a lingering kiss on his beautiful wife’s delicate nose.
They heard footsteps outside their room. Cheng Yu had told everyone that Fengjiu had recovered and they had rushed to see her. Si MIng who had almost left had also come back with Gungun. There were words of congratulations and thankfulness all around. Everyone was trying to show her how much she was loved.
Gungun was the first one to rush to her bed and hold her hand. She kissed his forehead and smiled. Demon lord Xiaoyan could not stop boasting how powerful his friend Xiaojiu was. Third prince and Ye Quingti and Xie Gu were all bowing to her and showing appreciation.
Zhe Yan came forward to check her pulse. He declared that she was finally completely out of danger. “However, the recovery will be a slow process for sure.”, he explained. “You will be in and out of consciousness for the next few months. Try not to over exert yourself and rest as much as you can. I will modify your medicine for this next phase of recovery. Dijun, you need not give her any more of your golden blood. She can recover just with my medicines from here on out.”
Everyone was relieved to hear that. They saw all this excitement was tiring her out, so they all asked her to rest up and left. Dijun helped her lie back down and he laid down next to her himself.