Outside, Jing Yi had stopped not too far away from Bai Fen’s palace. He turned his back to the entrance and his brows tightly furrowed. He knew it was irrational but he couldn’t help but be angry. The way Qiu Ling had looked at the painting had just driven home once more how much more important Jing He was to him. That wasn’t something that he wanted to see. But most likely, he had done that himself. Wasn’t it him who had insisted on wanting to do this? So where did he take the right to complain from? Since he had started it, he would have to live with it.
When Qiu Ling saw him from afar, he wanted to go over immediately but then stopped in his tracks. He thought for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts and understand where Jing Yi was coming from. Only when he was sure that he was calm enough to have this conversation did he go over there.
For a moment, he had the idea of taking him into his arms and just apologizing. But in the end, he didn’t do so. He hadn’t really done anything wrong. He had tried to find a compromise to Jing Yi getting to know Jing He by visiting his palace and seeing his body. That was the right step. And nothing that Bai Fen had said was a lie. Jing He was indeed like that. It couldn’t be denied.
He could understand that Jing Yi didn’t like to hear that but he couldn’t change the past or the perception that people had of his lover. So this was something that Jing Yi would need to learn how to deal with if he wanted this to work out. He could try and help him by talking things through with him but he couldn’t apologize for it if he hadn’t done anything wrong.
He stopped behind him, keeping quiet for a moment before he finally took the last step and waited beside him. “You don’t look as if this has really helped you.”
Jing Yi’s brows furrowed further and he gave Qiu Ling a look, not speaking up.
Qiu Ling also didn’t quite know what to say so he could only question slowly. “Is it that you’re angry with me?”
Jing Yi’s brows smoothed out a little when he heard that question. “Do I have a right to be angry? In any case, what was so special about that painting that you were looking at it all entranced? It’s probably a good one but is it really to that extent?”
Qiu Ling glanced at him, weighing his words. “Is it to that extent? I wouldn’t be able to tell you. You would probably have to ask An Bai for that. In any case, to me, it is not the skill that goes into painting it. Although it can’t be denied that he probably has that. You can’t forget that gods only mature after two thousand years. That was the age that Jing He had already had by the time I met him. Even though quite a few years of those were spent as a child that couldn’t do much, in his position, he would’ve started learning things at a young age. And even if he only spent a thousand years, that’s still a long time. I don’t think I need to tell you this.”
Jing Yi took a deep breath and looked up at the sky, not quite sure what to think of that. “After learning for a thousand years, he is that skilled and I’m just trash in comparison, is that it?”
Qiu Ling shook his head. “You spent those one thousand years cultivating, learning how to read and write, learning alchemy, learning how to defend yourself. It isn’t like that millennium was wasted.
“On the other hand, most of these weren’t something that Jing He was concerned with. He was born with magic and mastering it is merely a question of time and maturity. He didn’t have to painstakingly learn anything in that regard. And he surely didn’t need to learn how to defend himself.
“With his position, he doesn’t need to do anything. There will be people doing these things for him. So he had more than enough time to spend on learning how to paint or whatever else he wanted. That you didn’t is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your life is different from his. That’s just a fact, not some kind of seal of approval. One isn’t better than the other just because of what you do.”
Jing Yi lowered his head again, walking a few steps and crossing his arms in front of his chest. “So, what made that painting’s meaning so special to you?” What Qiu Ling had just said, he also knew it. It just couldn’t help this blind anger. It was probably his natural reaction to everything that had to do with Jing He by now. It wasn’t good that it was happening but what could he do? If it angered him, it angered him.
Qiu Ling slowly followed him, realizing that they were likely on their way back to their own palace. “I remember I mentioned that you are better at expressing your emotions?”
Jing Yi glanced over and nodded faintly, feeling that he had a faint idea where this was going. “That painting … was his way of doing so? I don’t get it. Wasn’t that just some scenery?”
Qiu Ling gave a hum, not quite sure how to explain himself. “Jing He isn’t a person that is too forthright. Things that shouldn’t be said, he would never utter them. And, well, in his mind, his feelings are part of these things that shouldn’t be said because expressing too much of an opinion doesn’t fit him. At the very least, that is what he thinks.
“But his paintings were a way for him to express what he feels without needing to say ‘those are my feelings’. He can just paint what he thinks about and he could pretend that it isn’t actually about that. What he was painting there was a couple under a tree, looking out at a lake and dreaming of a future together.
“He wouldn’t be able to say such a thing but he can express it that way. And because he usually wouldn’t speak about it, that kind of expression of his thoughts and feelings is something that is special to me. That is why I can’t help but be a little attached to this kind of painting.”
Author’s Note: As I announced yesterday, we’re starting OMF up again. The updates might not be completely on time yet but we’ll slowly get there!