Jing Yi looked up at him, unsure how to react. “You know that I’m not really reconciled, don’t you?”
Qiu Ling lowered his gaze, his brows furrowing before he looked up again. “At first, when you were pretending that you were, I never believed it for a single moment. What you’re facing is something that would be difficult for anyone to handle. Believe me, even if somebody told me that I was the same and actually just reborn for a trial, I would also go and tell them to go pound sand. Who wouldn’t?
“The problem is that your case is really special. If it wasn’t Jing He, then maybe you could get around this. But with his identity and the situation that both of our races are in, there really is no way. So whether you like it or not, you will have to accept it.”
Jing Yi nodded. “Yes, I know that. It is just … it’s easier said than done. You know, when I think about it, it always makes me feel as if — no matter who I ask — Jing He is always more important. As if it is only his life that is worth something.
“My parents are dead. I never had many friends and, well, one of them is your subject so I am not even sure how much my friendship ever meant to Xiao Dong. It’s probably different with Shao Hai but it’s not like I’ve had any contact with him for the last millennium that we were in the mortal realm. You could probably say that that friendship doesn’t even exist anymore.
“As for other people, I never had any deeper relationships with them. I didn’t have a Master in the sect, I didn’t have any martial brothers or sisters that really cared about me. It was only ever the two of us. The few people that I got to know, they are either dead by now because they were mortals or I haven’t seen them in a long time. If I were to vanish now, it would change nothing.”
Qiu Ling looked at him, his expression grave. This feeling, he could somewhat understand that. Once upon a time, he had been in a rather similar situation. With his parents dead and him in hiding, there had been nights when he lay there alone, looking up at the sky, and wondered if he closed his eyes now and never opened them again, would it even change anything?
The honest answer was that no, it probably wouldn’t. He hadn’t thought that there was anyone who cared about him left. And what could he have really done? So in those nights, he had despaired. But in the end, he had refused to give up. He didn’t even know why himself. Clearly, he hadn’t seen a reason to carry on. But he had just continued as if it was the only logical step.
And now, now, he didn’t regret it. He had found a place for himself. Even though it had taken a long time, he was finally ready to completely fulfill his role as the dragon king. He had advisers that he could count on, a lover that would probably stay at his side forever, and with Jing He’s family, he had somewhat of a family of his own. In the future, the two of them would probably also have a child. There really wasn’t anything that he missed.
The problem was that he couldn’t even tell Jing Yi to just think of the future things that might come. Because to him, there was no such thing. There was no future. There was only one that awaited him and it wasn’t a good one. Thus, he could only keep quiet.
Jing Yi smiled wryly when he saw him like this. “You also don’t know how to comfort me any longer. Even though I hate to say it, but that is just because it is the truth. Right now, I am not important. But Jing He is.”
Qiu Ling opened his mouth but he didn’t know what to say. What Jing Yi had said was still right. There was nobody in his life but him. And even he … even though he didn’t really want to lose Jing Yi, he didn’t want to lose Jing He either. And he couldn’t bring himself to say that Jing Yi was more important than Jing He.
Jing Yi shook his head. “I know already. He has a family. His parents, his uncle, and even his uncle’s son and his fiance. Then there’s you as his future husband.
“As soon as he wakes up, I know that the two of you will get married. Even if it isn’t immediately, it will still be pretty soon. You don’t need to pretend otherwise. I can understand that. That is what I would do in his case as well.
“And then let’s not forget about the Nine Heavens and the dragon realm. He is the Son of Heaven, the crown prince of the Nine Heavens, the future …” He pondered for a moment how to say it, but wasn’t quite sure. “In any case, the future spouse of the dragon king. He’s important in so many ways. I can’t compare. And I will never be able to.”
“You were born a mortal. You were bound to lose people in your life. It is just that because you started to cultivate and went on a different path, you are now starting to feel alone. If your family had been immortal as well, you wouldn’t say these things now.”
“If, yes, if. But that isn’t the case. And we both know that, Qiu Ling. Actually, you don’t need to say anything. I know all the things. It just … makes me a bit angry. Because I would want to be special as well. Who doesn’t? In any case, I sure want to.
“And it doesn’t help that I constantly try to compare myself to him. The things he is able to do that I can’t. The things he had that I don’t. And no matter what I look at, he always comes out on top. It’s a bit vexing. And I’m absolutely not reconciled with that either. I want to find just one thing where I am better than him. Because when I think back to the memories that I have, I feel that he wasn’t that good after all. What’s so special about him?”
Without knowing it himself, his eyes teared up, making Qiu Ling opposite him feel as if his heart was breaking.