The beast's tusk broke off as the light faded in Shen Bo's eyes. The beast wailed as it slumped away, leaving behind its ivory horn.
"Shen... Shen?" Brother Feng crawled over to the body, pulling Shen's head into his lap. Trembling fingers brushed across Shen's cheeks almost like touching him any harder would break his porcelain-like skin.
"Shen, please, wake up," Brother Feng pleaded, cupping Shen's face. Lifeless eyes stared back up at him.
"Shen, I still have so much to tell you," Brother Feng's adam's apple bobbed, a lump getting caught in his throat.
"I still have to tell you about how I would run through the orchard during the hot summers and steal peaches from the kitchen. I would eat those peaches until I got sick,"
"I still have to tell you about the first time I held a sword. I could barely carry it and I sliced my hand open. That's why there's an extra line on my palm,"
"I still have to tell you so many things," Brother Feng rambled on, listing off his numerous memories, both the good ones and the bad ones. Some memories weren't even completely told.
"Bo, why? Why am I the only one talking?" His hand lowered to the tusk, his hand becoming wet with the pooling blood that was being absorbed by Shen Bo's robes. Brother Feng curled over, a pained and hoarse scream ripping through the air.
"WHY?" Brother Feng's body heaved with sorrow, his whole body feeling like he was the one that was impaled with the tusk. He got up, his legs wobbling like the peach jello the maids would make for him during the hot summers.
He ran. He could not think of anything to do but run. Run away from the warmth that now was colder than the biting days of December.
'Why? Why? Why does everybody around me meet tragic endings?' Dark thoughts consumed Brother Feng's mind as he ran through the forest, away from the bloody mess that lay behind him.
That warm smile. A smile that could warm even the coldest winter days. A smile that made it seem like everything would be okay. A smile that could bring the entire heaven realm to their knees.
'Dammit. Dammit. Dammit!' Brother Feng could only run. Run away from his problems. Run away from this life.
'Running away from your problems again, like the coward you are,'
'You're weak. You couldn't protect your mother,'
'I said shut up,'
'And now, the one person who made you feel happy, where is he?'
'I said shut up!'
Brother Feng couldn't feel his face, snot dripping into his mouth. All he ever wanted was to live a normal life. All he ever wanted was to have a happy life.
'Why did I have to stick around him? If I just left, he would still be alive,'
Shen Bo's kindness, his cheerfulness, his warmth. All of it wrapped around Brother Feng and gave him a hug, a hug that he desperately needed.
He stumbled into another clearing, falling onto his knees as he wiped his face, the dirtied sleeves of his robes becoming wet.
'This kindness, this caring nature. It felt so refreshing, so foreign, so different from...' Brother Feng's head shot up, his bloodshot eyes widening.
'Aunt Rong. Why does her warmth suddenly feel so... empty?' A strangled gargle came from Brother Feng's throat as all the pieces started to fall together.
'Aunt Rong, she lied to me. She used me,'
'Everybody uses you in the end,'
'She made me resent the people that truly cared about me,'
'You were only ever a stepping stone for her,'
'Why would she do that to me? What could she gain from using me?'
'Father! Is she going to harm father?'
'Have you forgotten your mother?'
'Mother! Mother... did Aunt Rong kill her?' Brother Feng got up, his hand clutched into a fist.
'I need to get out of here. I need to confront her,'
"Brother Feng?" Brother Feng slammed into a person, falling onto his butt. The person in front of him had also fallen.
"Brother Zhou?" Brother Feng asked in quiet astonishment.
"What happened to you? Are you okay?" Zhou asked, getting up and kneeling in front of him. Zhou looked so large to Brother Feng, his mind already broken from the death he saw.
"Get away from me!" Brother Feng shouted, shoving Zhou. Zhou stumbled back slightly before his face contorted into one of rage as he grabbed Brother Feng's wrists.
"Brother Feng! Calm down!" Zhou shouted back as Brother Feng struggled against Zhou's grip.
"Just stop! Nothing is going right! The entire world is against me!" Brother Feng shoved Zhou off.
"AHHHHHHHH!" Zhou started screaming as he fell over the edge of the cliff. A figure flashed to him and caught him, slamming into Brother Feng in the process.
"Are you alright?" Ye tried to ask, but Zhou had jumped off the edge of the cliff, Brother Feng plummeting into the ravine.
"Brother Feng!" Zhou shouted. Ye jumped off as well, summoning Amos into his physical state.
'Amos, get ready to catch us,' Ye ordered. Amos would have glared and complained if he wasn't scared at the three children falling straight into the power aura down below.
Brother Feng couldn't make a noise, only tears rushed out from his eyes, becoming droplets in the air as he fell faster and faster.
"You must be Feng Hui. What a shame that you died so soon," A voice floated into Brother Feng's ear. The world grew white as Brother Feng floated in an empty space.
"Hello?" Brother Feng called out. A beautiful woman appeared in front of him, reminding him of a lotus flower.
"Hello. I am Emes, Listener to the Unheard Wishes of the Dead," the woman introduced herself, bowing slightly. A slight jingle emitted from the small bells attached to her clothing.
"You're a benefactor?" Brother Feng asked. Emes nodded, a faint smile on her lips.
"You were the person that Shen Bo greatly admired. I was the only other benefactor that he had. His death brings you great sorrow, does it not?" Emes asked. Brother Feng's nose tickled as he held back tears, nodding his head.
"So, what do you do as the Listener to the Unheard Wishes of the Dead?" Brother Feng asked.
"I hear the wishes that the dead were not able to say. As Shen Bo was one of the children that hold my powers, he could hear the wishes of the dead and grant them, sending them off in peace. And as he is dead, I now must grant his last wish," Emes explained, her soft and angelic voice causing Brother Feng to relax.
"Why are you coming to me now? Shouldn't you have told me when he died?" Brother Feng asked. Emes's smile turned sad as she floated closer to Brother Feng.
"Child, as a rule, enforced by the ones more powerful than I am, I am not allowed to deliver the wish until the receiver is dead," Brother Feng felt his heart drop as her words processed through his mind.
"I'm... dead?" Brother Feng whispered. Emes nodded.
"I... I can't be dead. I still have to find my father! I need to warn him! I need to-" Emes hugged Brother Feng, allowing him to soak her clothing with tears as manic speech spilled from his lips.
"Shhh, child, do not cry anymore. Everything will eventually fall into its right place. You need not worry anymore," Emes comforted. She let him go and Brother Feng wiped his face.
"What did Bo want to say?" he muttered. Emes smiled and waved her hands, mist coming from the bells attached to her clothing. A spirit reflection of Shen Bo appeared in front of Brother Feng.
Brother Feng reached out, trying to etch every detail of Shen Bo's face into his mind. He didn't want to forget him. He wanted to stay by his side, forever and always.
"Brother Feng, or should I say, Hui. Please do not feel bad about my death, nor feel that it is your fault that I met my end. I am glad that I was able to spend some of my happiest days with you, and I am grateful that my life ended on a happy note. If you ever see this message, which I truly hope is not soon, I just wish to say that..." Shen Bo's face looked down, his porcelain skin flushing a bright pink. His finger twiddled together as he took in a deep breath.
"I love you! I've loved you since the first moment I've seen you!" Shen Bo finally said. Brother Feng was in shock as his heart beat painfully against his chest. Tears came down like waterfalls, his chest hurting and feeling like they would burst.
'Love...' the unfamiliar word found its way onto Brother Feng's lips as he mouthed that word, staring into his bright eyes, the warm smile that he loved having a twinge of bashfulness.
"I know that you may not reciprocate my feelings, but if you do, then I'm glad. Please, come see me on the other side, or even in our next life, and answer me properly. Okay?" Shen Bo's face disappeared after that. Brother Feng had forgotten how to breathe. How to talk. How to function.
'I... I love you. I love you too,' a single thought echoed through his brain. Emes smiled from the sidelines, the look of love all too familiar for her.
"Child, while I may enjoy you being here, I need to hear your wish as time is running out," Emes said, snapping Brother Feng out of his state of shock. Her smile widened as she saw the pink flush on his cheeks.
"Emes, please grant my wish. I wish to enter my next life with Shen Bo so we can spend all of our next lives together," Brother Feng said.
"Your wish is granted my child," Emes said, the world around him plunging into darkness.
"Brother Feng?" a voice called out. Brother Feng opened his eyes, blinking as a soft, angelic light entered his eyes. A familiar face entered his vision.
"...Bo?" Brother Feng croaked out, his eyes opening fully. Shen Bo blushed, falling back as Brother Feng shot up, not believing that Shen Bo was back in front of him.
"B-Bo? You called me by my first name?" Shen Bo asked, his voice squeaking. Brother Feng reached out and squished Shen Bo's cheeks, words of protest dying down.
"You died so soon?" Shen Bo asked as he calmed down. Brother Feng nodded absent-mindedly.
"You love me," Shen Bo's eyes widened as he covered his face and he groaned.
"I didn't think you'd see it so soon. I thought you'd see it in a couple of hundred years, maybe even thousands, not less than an hour," Shen Bo said, his words muffled. Brother Feng smiled and pulled Shen Bo into a hug, burying his face into the crook of his neck.
"I love you too," Brother Feng said. Shen Bo smiled and hugged him back.
"Ah, young love, such a precious and sweet experience," the two looked up to see a mature man smiling at them. He was tall and ethereal, a grand-looking spear in his hand.
"Well, my beloved Emes has ordered for me to bring you to your next life. And per Feng Hui's wish, you two will enter together and your fates have forever been intertwined with each other. Now go before my boss comes and asks why I ditched my station for a moment," the man ushered. He waved the spear in a circle, a portal opening up.
Shen Bo walked up to it and turned around, sticking out his hand for Brother Feng.
"Cmon, I want to be with you in my next life," he said with a warm smile.
'That smile. That damned, beautiful smile that I want to see for the rest of my life,' Brother Feng took his hand and smiled back, the two walking into their next life.
"May your fates smile kindly upon you, and may you two walk a long life of love and happiness," the man said as a blessing before disappearing.