Jinde looked at the intricate carvings on top of the coffin’s lid and slowly reached out, his fingers trembling. Beneath this was his child. He did not want to believe it. He wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened and go on living just like before when they were in the same world but unable to see each other, always evading and hiding …
He closed his eyes but his tears still gathered and slipped down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry.” He finally put his hand on the cold jade, his fingers curling slightly. “If I had known it would come to this, I wouldn’t have left you.”
Yes, after all that time, why had he still insisted on not seeing Jin Ling? Clearly, he had already reunited with Qiu Ling and had even found Chun Yin’s reincarnation. He had married again, following both the customs of the dragons and the humans, and had prepared to have another child. At any of those junctions in his life, he could have reached out and tried to reconnect, to mend the broken bond between them and create a relationship that was no longer tainted by Jian Heng’s interference.
Why … why had he not done so? Why had he refused to even try? Now, it was too late and all that they had had were those short moments on the battlefield while Jin Ling looked death in the eye.
They could have had so much more. No matter what Jin Ling had believed to feel, he was sure that beneath his crazy pursuit back then had still been the cute child he raised. Somehow, with enough time and enough patience, he surely could have convinced him to return to how things had been.
They could have been a family, the two of them. No, more than that. All of them could have been a family. Leng Jin Yu and he, Qiu Ling and Jin Ling, and the little one that was still in their shell … The five of them could have had what they had always wanted. Soon, there would have been the addition of Qiu Ling’s lover and with enough time, maybe even Jin Ling could find somebody he truly liked and get married if he was so inclined.
It shouldn’t have been impossible and yet, here he was, looking at the coffin that held the body of his child.
Jinde gritted his teeth and finally lifted the lid, putting it aside and looking at Jin Ling. His hands reached out almost without him noticing, his trembling fingers touching Jin Ling’s cheeks.
His skin had long turned cold but his features showed nothing but peace. His eyes were closed lightly and the corners of his mouth had curled faintly as if in his last moments, he had truly been happy.
Jinde leaned closer until his forehead touched Jin Ling’s. “I am so, so sorry. I … I failed you. From the moment you were born until the moment when you left, I failed you.”
He wished Jin Ling still could have heard him, to at least let him leave in the knowledge that he had understood how much wrong he had done. Unfortunately, it was too late for regret, too late to make up for anything.
He cried quietly before straightening up. Looking at Jin Ling’s slightly disheveled appearance, his lips faintly curved. “You would have hated looking like this even if it is in death.”
He himself had always paid attention to his appearance thanks to the fact that he had felt for a long time that it was the only thing speaking for him. He had never urged Jin Ling to do the same and even though he had sometimes praised him for being a handsome boy, he had taken care to praise his character and achievements even more.
Still, Jin Ling had taken after him in that regard. Much time was spent taking into consideration how the color or cut of a robe would fit him, how an accessory would enhance his looks, or how the way he did his hair highlighted some parts of his face.
Jinde had quietly accepted his child being like this. Anyway, he fit right in with the other dragons who could also be considered a bit vain for the most part and it wasn’t like he himself had ever modeled anything else. Seeing his hair slightly disheveled and the robe stained with blood and cut in the front, he felt like he couldn’t leave it at this.
Jinde opened his spatial ring and searched through it for a long time. Finally, he took out a robe. The color was a mellow green and there was some faint embroidery on the sleeves. Otherwise, the robe was simple, even the accompanying belt did not have much in terms of embellishments. He didn’t doubt that Jin Ling would have liked it though.
Carefully placing the robe over his arm, he started to take off the blood-soaked robe from Jin Ling’s body.
Leng Jin Yu had quietly watched and came forward when he saw his movements. “Let me hold that for you.”
Jinde looked up and looked at Leng Jin Yu in a daze. He didn’t want to think about it but he knew that Leng Jin Yu was aware of his relationship with Jin Ling. There was simply no way he couldn’t be. And yet … here he was, just quietly helping him with these small matters so he could peacefully say goodbye to his son.
Jinde handed him the robe. At the same time, he grabbed Leng Jin Yu’s hand, holding onto it for a moment. “I wish the two of you could have met.”
Leng Jin Yu nodded but didn’t speak further. Right now, this wasn’t important. Other things were. He shouldn’t make Jinde divide his attention.
Jinde smiled faintly and then turned back to Jin Ling, finally handing the blood-soaked robe to his husband as well and starting to clean the wound beneath until the last traces of blood were gone. If not for the gaping hole in his chest, one could have believed that Jin Ling was simply asleep.