Back at the foot of the mountain, Qiu Ling actually ended the kiss. Normally, he would never give up on an opportunity to get closer to his beloved but … This wasn’t the right time. Jing He’s mortal reincarnation still needed to learn about cultivation and he … Well, his thoughts hadn’t been quite there. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
Qiu Ling sighed and stepped back, holding Jing Yi’s hand for a moment before he stepped back. Maybe it would have been different if the actual person in front of him right now was Jing He. Maybe his thoughts never would have started to wander in the first place. But with it being Jing Yi … Well, that wasn’t important now.
“We were … on our way up.” He tried to tug at Jing Yi’s hand, making him follow him up again.
This time, Jing Yi wouldn’t have it though. If it had been a few weeks ago — before they visited the village where he grew up or his family in the capital — he might have thought that this didn’t concern him and that regardless of what was going on with Qiu Ling, he shouldn’t be a part of it.
But now, things were different. Even if he wasn’t sure if marrying him would be a good idea, he at least thought of him as a friend already. And friends should be there for each other. What more if … the feelings between them were starting to deepen.
Jing Yi just continued to stand on the spot, forcing Qiu Ling to stop as well and turn around to him.
“What is it? Didn’t you … Didn’t you want to learn how to cultivate? The place I wanted to bring you is up there so we should get going. It’s going to become late, otherwise.”
Jing Yi looked at him and smiled. Qiu Ling looked strangely uncomfortable right now. It was as if he would like to run away but didn’t dare to and also didn’t understand himself what he wanted to run from. It was weird to look at.
Jing Yi sighed and stepped forward, stopping right in front of Qiu Ling. Looking up at his eyes, he felt drawn to him, almost making him take another step. But that would be stupid, wouldn’t it?
He looked down and took a deep breath before looking up again. “Qiu Ling,” he repeated, reaching up and cupping Qiu Ling’s cheeks. “You know if you really love me, then you should also trust me. So if there is something bothering you, then we can talk about it. I’ll be here to listen and … if I somehow can, I’ll try to help you. Just as you’ve always helped me since we met.”
Qiu Ling nodded, though he didn’t plan to actually follow through with that. It was bad enough that he had lost his calm in front of Jing Yi once. That couldn’t happen a second time.
Jing He would remember everything when he woke up. Not immediately, but in the end, he would. He couldn’t let him see anything bad. Jing He should always feel secure at his side. How would he be able to do that if he saw him like this? He just … couldn’t risk that.
Qiu Ling closed his eyes and took a deep breath as well to calm down. When he was sure that he wouldn’t give in, he opened his eyes again and flashed a smile. “I’m sorry. I …” He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders as if he couldn’t quite explain to himself what had been going on with him. “I guess it’s because I love you so much. Seeing you suffer hurts me as well and knowing that I was close by but not close enough to actually do something to stop such a tragedy from occurring … that just hit me very hard now. I felt responsible for what happened to you.”
Jing Yi’s gaze turned softer. He had known how desperately Qiu Ling loved him. It had been plain to see when he broke down in front of him and actually begged him to accept his proposal. It had also been obvious when he went to gather the materials for the Amethyst Lightning Pill to help him achieve his dream and convince him to at least give him a chance. Maybe even after that, there had at least always been hints.
But it had been quite some time since he saw him this desperate. And this time, it hurt even worse. Maybe in a way, he felt a lot like Qiu Ling: Seeing this person suffer, he suffered himself. It was not a good feeling.
Jing Yi sighed and forced himself to continue to smile even though he just wanted to hug Qiu Ling and cry alongside him. “It’s alright. It wasn’t your fault. My father …” Jing Yi sighed. “He was attacked by a vicious person. Nobody could have known or done anything about it. Maybe there is anything anybody could have done to prevent what happened. Maybe … his time had just come.”
Jing Yi gulped, his throat suddenly feeling constricted. He had thought that he would feel better thinking about his father after talking for so long with his mother and telling her everything that had happened to him in the past five years in front of his father’s memorial. In fact, he might be feeling a bit better. But not by much. It still hurt to think of him and how their family had been robbed of so much time together. It hurt especially when he thought of how his beautiful mother seemed to have aged quite a lot in the past few years, probably much more than she should have. She missed him but he would never be a part of her life again. That wasn’t fair.
It wouldn’t be fair to burden Qiu Ling with something that had nothing to do with him either. No, it was admirable that he wanted to help him but this wasn’t his problem to solve. Only time could do that.
Jing Yi shook his head lightly, tiptoed and kissed Qiu Ling’s cheek. “Anyway, it has happened a long time ago. There is no need to worry about it now. Come on now. Didn’t want you to show me that place? I’m curious about it and I want to see if it’ll work so let’s hurry up.”
“Mn.” Qiu Ling took his hand again and they finally continued upward.