After leaving the couple’s courtyard, Zhuning rested herself against Sixteen’s shoulders. She neither spoke nor ground her teeth. Sixteen piggybacked her for awhile before he suddenly spoke up. “Actually, you can be happy too. Nobody will stop you, you just, can’t get past the demons in your heart.”
Zhuning’s former words have carved themselves into his heart like a scar that would never fade. He didn’t know how to comfort others, but he could bring out the words he treated as scripture from his heart to her ears. Sometimes he felt like he and Zhuning were similar. Or rather, maybe all people were the same when faced with difficulties: helpless, confused, and afraid. But people could learn to be stronger from those challenges, too.
“Sixteen,” Zhuning suddenly shuffled against him. “Thank you for today.” It was a good thing he’d been there to stop her. After a moment of silence, Zhuning added in a voice choked with sobs, “But if I can’t take revenge, where am I supposed to go now? How am I supposed to find my happiness?”
“I’ll give it to you!” The blurted words scared both Sixteen himself and Zhuning. He thought it over and added, “I’ll give you, teeth grinders…”
At this, Zhuning patted Sixteen’s shoulders, signaling him to put her down. Then she took out a purse and made a bitter expression. “We won’t even be able to afford teeth grinders in the future.” They’d already spent most of the money they made from selling off things in her tomb.
“I’ll dig up graves for you,” Sixteen said docilely.
Zhuning looked up at Sixteen, seeing his earnest expression. Her heart softened as she enveloped him in a hug. “I’m glad you were the one who dug me out.”
Sixteen’s face reddened. His heart felt like it was about to burst out of his chest. He’d never felt like this before. His hands hovered behind Zhuning, faltering over whether he should hug her back.
It was almost daylight, so Sixteen piggybacked Zhuning back to the inn they’d stayed at yesterday. Zhuning was exhausted after all the fuss from last night and fell asleep gnawing on Sixteen’s shoulder guards. Sixteen gave the inn waiter a reservation fee and prepared to head upstairs when he saw a pair of boots on the threshold emblazoned with a Yin-Yang symbol. His eyes trailed up until he spotted a solemn-faced daoist dressed in black robes at the top of the stairs.
Zhuning murmured sleepily on Sixteen’s shoulder as she smacked her lips. “Mm, I want to drink blood…” Sixteen’s hands tightened their grip on her as he gulped. Cold sweat broke out on his back.
The expressionless daoist descended the stairs. As he walked past them, he said lightly, “Humans and monsters walk different paths. She shouldn’t be here.”
Once the footsteps were far away, Sixteen expelled a sigh of relief. But he suddenly realized he couldn’t heard Zhuning grinding her teeth anymore. When he turned around, he saw with surprise that he was piggybacking a giant log. The black-robed daoist had long grabbed Zhuning by the collar and dragged her into the streets.
The sun was slowly starting to peek its way past the eastern walls of the city. Despite this, Zhuning didn’t struggle in the daoist’s grip at all, but kept sleeping peacefully. Sixteen was seized with terror as he chased after them with a shout. “Give her back! Give her, back to me!”
But no matter how furiously he chased, the black-robed daoist was always three steps ahead of him. He couldn’t touch Zhuning no matter how he tried, nor pull her back to his side. The first rays of the morning sun shone upon Zhuning, revealing her porcelain white skin. Her eyelashes quivered before she slowly opened her eyes, those dark pupils glittering brightly with the light of the sun.
Sixteen couldn’t help but still his steps, only to see her shut her eyes and murmur, “A spring sun in March really is good weather.”
He knew that Zhuning had always loved the sun, and that she should go on to reincarnate, now that she understood her heart. But…
But, what about him?
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