Outside of the palace, Qiu Ling stopped in his steps and put a hand to his forehead. He sighed deeply, a bit angry at himself. Right now, he should go and return to Jing Yi. The problem was that he really didn’t feel like it. No, right now, he just … wanted to go and see Jing He.
He mumbled to himself for a moment and forced himself to turn in the direction of the palace where Jing Yi and he had been put for the time being. He had promised him that he would be back soon. And thanks to the talk with the Heavenly Empress, he had already lost quite a bit of time. If he didn’t go back immediately … Well, Jing Yi wasn’t stupid. He would know what was up.
He lifted his foot but then already stopped again, putting it down once more.
Thinking of it like this, Jing Yi would still think that he had gone to Jing He if he returned now. After all, so much time had passed. Even if he said that this hadn’t been the case and that he had just gone to the God of Justice and then had needed the Heavenly Emperor’s okay, Jing Yi would still be skeptical and think that he was lying. In that case, he might as well make it into the truth, right?
Qiu Ling closed his eyes and turned his face toward the sky, sighing to himself. It was really hard sometimes. The kind of decisions that needed to be made going forward … he wasn’t sure if he could.
In the end, his heart still won over his head and he returned to the familiar garden of Jing He’s palace. He looked out at the flowers and the pavilion where they had sat before, his gaze softening. If only Jing He could wake up. If only they could be sitting over there again, playing a game of weiqi, drinking a cup of tea, having a lovely conversation. Certainly, it would be pure bliss.
He shook his head and then turned around, slowly walking inside. Qiang Wei and Yi Zan looked up at him and then stepped outside without even needing him to say anything.
Qiu Ling sat down at the edge of the bed, feeling unbearable in his skin. While he was at the ascension platform and had protected Jing Yi, it had still felt like the right decision. He had been able to convince himself that he had to do this. That there was no other way. That he could just explain to Jing He when he woke up in the future. But now, sitting next to his lifeless body, his guilty conscience became ten times as strong as it had been before.
What had he done? How had he been able to do this to him? How had he been able to — for just one moment — ignore what would be best for him?
Qiu Ling reached out and took Jing He’s hand, gently holding it. He closed his eyes and slightly lowered his head, his brows furrowing. “I’m sorry. This isn’t what I wanted. I just wanted you to return as soon as possible. I did not want to leave you alone. I wanted for us to never be apart. But now, look at what I’ve done. It’s all my fault.”
His voice sank to a whisper. Well, he had nothing else to say anyway. Hadn’t he already been at this point before? But no matter what, he always returned here. He would apologize to either the real Jing He or his mortal reincarnation. And he wouldn’t be able to decide at all because he didn’t want to hurt either of them. He suffered. But it probably couldn’t even be compared to the suffering that he subjected Jing Yi to and that Jing He would be subjected to in the future. He definitely had no right to complain.
Qiu Ling sighed, opened his eyes, and looked up at the ceiling. If there was anything he could do, he would do so in a heartbeat. But since it was impossible, he could only continue to walk this path, hoping that somehow, he would find a way to deal with this better.
He leaned closer to Jing He, his expression grim. “Please don’t ever doubt that I love you. You are the most important person in my life. No matter what I need to do for us to be able to be together in the end, I will do it. I love you.” He kissed his forehead and then got up, slowly putting down his hand and looking at him for a last moment. Then, he turned around and left the same way he had come. For now, it was time to return to Jing He’s mortal reincarnation’s side.
Yi Zan and Qiang Wei stepped back inside, getting into position next to the bed again.
Qiang Wei couldn’t help but look at the door to the garden though. “His Majesty didn’t look good at all. Do you think something happened?”
Yi Zan glanced at him, not quite sure what to say. “Hasn’t he been looking like this every time he came here since His Highness has gone for his trial in the mortal realm? It’s been so long, he probably didn’t expect things to turn out like this. He’s probably missing him a lot. Before this, they spent almost every day together.”
Qiang Wei nodded and glanced at the body of the crown prince behind them. “I hope he’s going to wake up again soon.”
“Me too. His Majesty … he has always been a lot more cheerful around him.”
Qiang Wei nodded again and the two of them fell silent. In any case, there was nothing that they could do. Other than continuing to stand there and keep guard, that was.
Meanwhile, behind the screen on the other side of the palace, another person finally walked outside, motioning at the two Heavenly guards not to say anything. His expression was complicated and he finally moved in the direction of his own palace.
While he might dislike that damned dandy, it seemed that he honestly missed his son and hadn’t really wanted to replace him with that mortal reincarnation. That was at least something.