look at how my tears ricochet
“And you’re the hero flying around, saving face.”
The room is dark. It always is. Ren Ronghu shifts, making to light a candle, but Xiu Lihua makes a noise of protest, burrowing further into his chest, so he stops.
You weren’t the one that did it this time, Ren Ronghu thinks, bitter. So why? Why’s it always you playing the hero?
So they both sit there, backs pressed to the wall of the energy suppression chamber, Ren Ronghu’s arms wrapped around her sniffling form.
He will kill her one day.
He owes her no comfort. He owes her nothing. He has her trust, he has her compliance, he needs not get any closer, so--
Traitorously, he presses a consoling kiss to the side of her temple.
“Good now?” Ren Ronghu whispers, quiet, in case other ears are listening in. I owe you nothing, I owe you nothing, you owe me everything, I--
“It’s alright now,” Xiu Lihua murmurs back, voice so small. It’s something like their code for when things really are alright. Like a goodbye with one last touch of the hand. “You can go. Goodnight, ge.”
“And I can go anywhere I want, / Anywhere I want, just not home.
And you can aim for my heart, go for blood: /
But you would still miss me in your bones.”
“You’ve been keeping tabs on her, yes?”
“Mm. When you devised the plan to turn her against Ren Liufang, I approved of it--using Ren Liufang’s resentment was instrumental in ensuring her loyalty to our sect and against that awful child. Ren Liufang’s resentment was useful. I wonder, though, Ronghu: who is your resentment aimed towards?”
“I’m not sure what shizun is trying to imply. But all this one has ever shown was deference to shizun and the elders.”
“In exchange for?”
“Good. Make sure you remember that, boy.”
“I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace, /
’Cause when I’d fight, you used to tell me I was brave.”
“All those years,” Xiu Lihua pants, fingers digging into the dirt at the edge of the cliff. “Did they ever mean anything to you?”
Ren Ronghu says nothing, stepping forward wordlessly with his sword. He thinks only of his parents, only of retribution, only of duty to--
“Xiong,” she sobs, curling in on herself as he stops before her. “Please don’t do this. They’re using you--”
“I was never their pawn,” he answers, coldly. “They were mine. As were you.”
Xiu Lihua breathes heavily, making a broken sound.
Then, “Did I ever any mean anything to you?”
Ren Ronghu looks at her.
“What a stupid question to ask,” he says, “coming from someone as unlovable as you.”
He lifts his foot, and shoves her off the end of the cliff.
“And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake? / Cursing my name, wishing I stayed.
And I still talk to you (when I’m screaming at the sky):
And when you can’t sleep at night (you hear my stolen lullabies)
You had to kill me, but it killed you just the same.”
“I’m worried about you,” Wang Jianxue says, holding him by the shoulders.
“You need not be,” Ren Ronghu answers, tired. He is so tired.
He has not left this room since he--since. Ren Liufang has been banned from it, for fear from the elders of what she may do if she visits.
He stares out the window. He is done. He has had his revenge.
And it all feels so empty.
Sitting down on his bed, he looks at the yì board on the floor.
“One day, xiong, I’m gonna beat you at this game, I swear.”
“I killed her,” Ren Ronghu says, brokenly. He holds his head in his hands, as if to shut out the noise, “I killed her, Jianxue.”
“It’s alright,” Wang Jianxue answers, consolingly from his spot, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. “Ge, it’s done now.”
“You turned into your worst fears / And you’re tossing out blame, drunk on this pain,
Crossing out the good years / And you’re cursing my name, wishing I stayed.”
Ren Ronghu hears yelling, but he can’t make out words. Blood is pouring out of--so many places, he feels like it’s all he can register.
Xiu Lihua holds him desperately in her arms. Crying, again. Always crying. She’s been a cryer since she was young.
“I’m sorry,” he chokes out, but the words come out gargled from his throat. More crimson seeps through his lips.
“Don’t be sorry--” That’s Xiu Lihua, he thinks, but it’s hard to tell-- “Ren Ronghu, don’t you dare close your eyes, if you’re sorry, make it up to me! If you’re sorry, then you can’t just die and leave me again, damnit, Ren Ronghu! Shi Jinghui, where’s--”
Gently, he lifts a hand to her face. His sight is blurry, but he think she's looking down at him, now. He cups her cheek, softly as he can.
“It’s alright now. You can go,” Ren Ronghu whispers, to Xiu Lihua's protest, and the darkness pulls at his vision. “Goodnight, meimei.”
He closes his eyes. Breath no longer comes to his lungs. There is Xiu Lihua’s god-awful scream, a horrible wail, and then, at last.
It is dark.
“Cause I loved you, I swear I loved you /
’Til my dying day.”
Xiu Lihua calls Ren Ronghu “shixiong” because that’s how you address an older male in your sect / your martial older brother! Their relationship is brother-sister like and not romantic.