Yu Zhen kneeled before her, grabbing her shoulders before it hit the ground. Except, she wasn't unconscious. She had balled up her body, rocking back and forth like an estranged child.
"It's not real, it's not real, it's not real!" she mumbled under her breath, covering her ears.
Yu Zhen didn't think she would react like this. He thought he would spook her a bit before revealing the truth.
She would not stop trembling.
"Sunshine, what's wrong?" Yu Zhen quietly asked. He attempted to stop her bizarre behavior, but it only worsened.
"It's not real, it's not real, monsters aren't real, Bai Xueyue."
Bai Xueyue? Yu Zhen narrowed his gaze. So they weren't lying to him. He had the right targets.
Yu Zhen needed to do something. Was this a panic attack? He had never witnessed one before. Not knowing what to do, he reached out and wrapped his arms around her, but she struggled. Clawing, kicking, punching, she did all she could.
"Don't touch me!" she shrieked, "I won't go to the Underworld with you!"
Did she think he was a monster that would drag her to Diyu? Yu Zhen's features softened. He immediately regretted everything.
"My little Sunshine," Yu Zhen murmured, digging his fingers into her shoulders to force her to stop. She continued to struggle against him, fighting with all of her life.
Yu Zhen remained patient, even when she harshly scratched his face. He instantly grabbed that hand. She tugged and fought to retract her limbs.
"Monsters are real," he deadpanned.
She stiffened, terrified by his words.
"Everyone in this world is a monster."
"Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!" she cried, clawing at her throat for air.
Yu Zhen grabbed her other hand as well, forcing her to stop moving. "Are you afraid of them? Is that it, Sunshine?"
She did not know who Sunshine was. She only wanted to escape that room. She hated that room. It was dark, cramped, and there were strange sounds. Her stomach grumbled for food.
Li Xueuye began to confuse the present with her past. Everything merged together to form a gigantic nightmare.
"Don't touch me!" she screamed, her voice nearly shattering his eardrums. It was loud and reminded him of a banshee.
"Monsters may be real," he said and yanked her against him, embracing her. She wrestled against his grip, but could not overpower him.
"But I promise you, Sunshine..." Yu Zhen tightened his grip. A dark, menacing look flashed upon his face. "For all of eternity, I will slay each and every monster that dares to touch you."
Finally, she had stopped fighting against him.
"Those who harmed you will suffer a fate worse than death."
"You're lying. No one can kill them."
"I can, and I will."
"No, my demons won't die, for they do not live under my bed, but inside of my head."
Yu Zhen sucked in sharply. He didn't think her trauma had run this deep. "Then let us conquer those demons together."
"I swear on my life."
Yu Zhen felt his heart clench at her timid voice, like that of a terrified child. He was reminded of a soulless little boy trapped in his room. A little boy who never smiled or laughed. When he wasn't studying or writing, he was watching people. Watching them giggle and grin. Then, he'd sit in front of a mirror and practice the emotions, wondering what it felt like to smile and laugh.
"My little ray of Sunshine, you didn't even have to ask," Yu Zhen mused, fondly patting her on the back of her head. She didn't respond. Instead, she leaned closer to him, placing her head upon the crook of his neck.
"Shall we leave?" he gently asked, ready to give in to any of her wishes.
Li Xueyue gave a timid and quiet nod. She wrapped her arms around his neck, hanging onto him. Whether she was fully conscious or not, he didn't know.
Yu Zhen decided he would show her his masterpiece next time. He hooked one arm under her leg and easily stood up, balancing their weight. He effortlessly carried her against him. Secure and comfortable, she was tucked in his arms.
No one would be able to take her away from him.
Yu Zhen would never allow it. Those who touched her will lose their hand. Those who harmed her will lose their life. He will not have it any other way.
Not because she needed protection but because she was Li Xueyue, the one and only woman he had ever given his heart to.
At this exact moment, he didn't care about what she had done to him. He didn't pay heed to his broken heart. He pretended she didn't harm him beyond repair. He was a fool, but that didn't matter.
All that mattered was Li Xueyue.
- - - - -
Hu Dengxiao anxiously paced back and forth outside of the tent. "Tianbi, what am I going to do?!" he sniffed, "I'm too handsome to die young!'
Lu Tianbi opened her mouth to respond but closed it. "He's here."
"What? You mean my impending death is here?" Hu Dengxiao wailed. "I don't want to see the Grim Reaper so early! I'm only in my early twenties, I have so much to live for!"
Lu Tianbi ignored her babbling best friend. She straightened her spine. "Commander."
Hu Dengxiao squeezed his eyes shut and whimpered. Here goes nothing. He turned around and was prepared to drop to his knees and beg for mercy.
"Zhenzhen, I didn't know she would run off—" he paused.
Hu Dengxiao's jaw dropped open in shock. Li Xueyue was safely carried by Yu Zhen. The Commander's features were cruel and menacing.
Commander Yu Zhen of Hanjian was never a possessive man. He was rarely kind unless there was an ulterior motive. The duo had never seen him behave like this. He held Li Xueyue as if his entire world revolved around her and nothing else.
Everyone was shocked by their fearsome Commander's behavior. Who would've thought the Grim Reaper was capable of feelings?
Hu Dengxiao took a step back, letting his Commander through.
Yu Zhen didn't even glance at him. He brushed past his people without acknowledging them as he usually did. In long strides, he disappeared into the tent with his woman.
"D-did you see that?" Hu Dengxiao whispered, frightful that his voice would bring out the Grim Reaper from the tent. "I-I've never seen our Commander carry a woman, much less, hold one so endearingly."
"For the best," Hu Dengxiao said. "This is a good thing. He's finally acting human."
Lu Tianbi slowly nodded. "For a second there, I thought I saw someone else."
"Me too." Hu Dengxiao shuddered. "I never thought he would have this gentle side to him. I always thought his happy-go-lucky behavior around Princess Li was fake."
"Now we know it's genuine." Lu Tianbi pressed her lips together. "He wouldn't risk his reputation in front of all of his soldiers for just anybody."
"The intent is clear," Hu Dengxiao said. "Our Second Prince has officially found his Wangfei."
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