The next morning, when Leng Jin Yu opened his eyes over in the dragon realm, he first checked on Jinde. His husband was still asleep but his brows were furrowed tightly and he seemed restless.
Leng Jin Yu sighed faintly but he hadn’t expected anything else. It would take a long time for Jinde to heal from this. He lowered his head again, quietly gathering his lover into his arms and trying to give him some peace of mind through his warmth.
Jinde’s lashes fluttered and a moment later, his golden eyes opened, staring ahead blankly. That night, he had dreamed. He saw that child’s beautiful smile, the way his caramel-colored eyes shimmered in the light so much like his own. Unfortunately, before he had time to savor that view, it was already replaced by the bloody sight of Jin Ling dying in his arms.
Not even a whole day had passed since it happened. In fact, he still couldn’t believe it either. His Jin Ling … he couldn’t just be gone, could he? No, it seemed impossible. That child he had gone through so much heartbreak to have and raise to adulthood, he couldn’t just disappear from this world like that.
Jinde tried to convince himself but as soon as his eyes closed, he would once again see Jin Ling’s blood-soaked robe, that faint smile on his lips, and the happiness in his eyes while he looked at him. His child … had actually died in such a way.
Jinde pressed his eyes shut, not wanting to think about it any longer. His hands clenched unwittingly, his nails digging into his skin. No matter what he wanted, there was no way not to think about this.
Leng Jin Yu had noticed when Jinde stirred. He raised his head again and gently brushed back his hair. “Did I wake you up?” His lips moved to ask how he was feeling but finally, no sound came out. That question … it was too useless. Of course, Jinde wouldn’t feel good.
Jinde opened his eyes and turned, his gaze lingering on his husband’s face. “It really happened, didn’t it?” He didn’t actually need anyone to tell him but he still wanted to hear it from Leng Jin Yu. Just in case …
Leng Jin Yu’s gaze softened, his brows faintly furrowing together. He had almost never seen Jinde like this. He was … so vulnerable at this moment. It wasn’t what he was used to. It wasn’t something he liked to see either. “Yes, he … he is dead. I …” He glanced in the direction of the courtyard, finally sighing. “I placed him in a jade coffin for now and had Xiang Yu keep an eye on him. I figured … you might need some rest before deciding what to do.”
Jinde nodded faintly. Yes, he never could have done anything yesterday. Today … he still just wanted to turn around, to pull up the blanket, and pretend that none of this was real. At the same time, he didn’t want his child to lie out there alone.
He turned in Leng Jin Yu’s arms and tightly gripped his robe, leaving a few drops of blood behind. “We … we should send him off. It’s best to do it soon. I … I don’t want him to be alone out there.”
Leng Jin Yu nodded. “Let’s do it today then. Right …” He thought of yesterday and wasn’t quite sure how to bring it up. He had told Ru Shu and the others that Jinde would be happy to see others who cared about Jin Ling but then, this might also be a reminder of how his son had lived in the demon realm for so long.
No matter how he thought, in the end, he couldn’t just keep this back. “Six people from the demon realm arrived at the palace yesterday. Apparently, they were married to Jin Ling. The new king let them go to deliver a message to Qiu Ling and the Heavenly Emperor. They are still waiting here for now and would leave for the Nine Heavens after we send him off. Would that be alright with you?”
“Jin Ling’s spouses?” Jinde looked at his husband at a loss. He had known that Jin Ling had married. The first time it had happened had been a while after he was exiled from the dragon realm, long before Jin Ling became the demon king, and even long before Jinde’s soul was injured and he had to leave the immortal realms.
Later … he didn’t pay too much attention. To him, it was best to imagine this child of his living a good life while not hearing any specifics. To suddenly have six spouses turn up at once … it felt odd.
Jinde kept quiet for a long time, his fingers still clenching Leng Jin Yu’s robe. “Let’s have them there, yes.” Either way, they had been connected to Jin Ling and from the fact that the new demon king had sent them here, it seemed that they weren’t demons. The feelings they had had for Jin Ling should have been genuine.
Leng Jin Yu nodded. “Alright. I’ll have somebody notify them when it’s time.”
Jinde gave a hum but didn’t move. They had said it should happen today but he couldn’t bring himself to get up and get ready. If he did … it really wouldn’t be long anymore until he had to say his final goodbye. He just … didn’t feel ready.
Leng Jin Yu didn’t urge him either. He knew Jinde would need time. Whether it was today or in the next few weeks or even months, he would have to slowly come to terms with what had happened and find a way forward in this world that no longer had Jin Ling in it. He could not rush him. Not now, not never. He needed to give him this time and just do whatever he could.
They quietly lay next to each other for a good dozen minutes before Jinde looked up. “I … I want to see him.”
Leng Jin Yu simply nodded and got up, taking out a robe for Jinde to wear and helping him get ready before taking him out into the courtyard. Then, he motioned for Xiang Yu to come and wait with him, just silently watching as Jinde walked up to the jade coffin to say his final goodbye.